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Shirley Ann Parker

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My English Christmas Memory
by Shirley Ann Parker   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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How things have changed! When we were little, it would have been unthinkable to buy a Christmas tree that would be thrown in the trash after use.

Every year our little spruce tree in the back garden was dug up the week before Christmas to be put into a clay flowerpot and decorated. It would have been unthinkable to buy a tree that had been chopped off and that would die.

Some of our favorite Christmas tree ornaments were family heirlooms, not valuable in a material sense but precious to my parents.

For example, instead of a star or an angel for the top of the tree, we had a turquoise bird known as The Peacock. He was, too, even though the tail feathers didn't seem quite right somehow. The feathers were a beautiful turquoise but did not display the “eyes” of the real peacock tail, and they didn’t fan out. But to our enchanted eyes, he was magical. Nowadays we have an angel but “then” was long ago and far away.

We didn't string popcorn to decorate the tree, but all year we'd been saving silver paper from sweets (candies). This is similar to aluminum foil but thinner and easier to shape. The pieces were molded over my mother's thimbles to make various sizes of bells.  Next, the bells were threaded on colored string and hung in small clusters all over the tree. We were also allowed to hang toffees and wrapped, homemade sweets on it.

Colored glass balls, little painted wooden soldiers, and other tiny toys were also hung on the branches. To complete the scene, we clipped on the very small candles in their old-fashioned holders, although my father seldom allowed them to be lit because of the fire danger.

Each Christmas stocking contained a single, huge Jaffa orange, along with walnuts, almonds and chestnuts, and a long stick of peppermint rock that was about an inch in diameter.

On January 6 (Twelfth Night), we replanted the Christmas tree in the back garden to grow taller for next year.

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Reviewed by Judy Strong 12/21/2011
I enjoyed this article about long-ago Christmas traditions. I, too, remember a more hands on kind of celebrating. Thanks for reminding us.

Judy Strong
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 12/14/2011
well done
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