Monday, December 25, 2006

On the first day of Christmas

I was very slack/busy this year and almost didn't get my Christmas tree up in time. The school year went right up to the Thursday of last week (21st), a week later than we used to experience in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s - and soooo inconvenient for doing Spring cleaning, decorating for Christmas and relaxed shopping. The last few years, in order for the Easter break to be longer, we break up later and it seemed like I was still writing comments for students' report cards when I shoulda oughta been tidying up around the house.

Last night, I was still decorating the tree and it occurred to me that I can relate many anecdotes about my Christmas ornaments. In the early 80s, I'd read an article in one of my Mum's old "New Idea" magazines, of a young married couple, so short of money after their wedding, that they had no money left to buy many decorations for their first Christmas together. They ended up pooling their cash and buying just one single ornament, which they dated - and thus began an annual tradition: of buying one, perhaps fairly expensive, unique ornament. Over the years they built up a Christmas tree full of important memories, and the cumulative effect of such a, um, well-hung(?) tree is infinitely more special that one covered with the contents of a bag of el cheapo baubles from the local Two Dollar shop.

The idea really appealled to me, especially because there fashion and decorating trends are even reflected in Christmas ornaments - certain styles, colours, glittery effects, commercial tie-ins, etc that firmly root a particular ornament to a time and a place - so when I knew I was about to buy my first home unit, I used a trip to the USA (December 1983) to start my hunt for unusual ornaments, to scrawl dates upon and perhaps to imprint some favourite memories, for my own tree. Of course, I couldn't restrain myself to two ornaments that first year, and I've usually try for one expensive, and one el-cheapo-but-cute, ever since. Watch this space over the twelve days of Christmas!


Above left: For 2006, a Hallmark "Superman Returns" over the Daily Planet; and a Homer Simpson as Santa, complete with stolen candy hidden behind his back. The Superman came from a local Target store and Homer from "The Simpsons" was a souvenir of the recent staff shopping trip (the Christmas Cave at Alexandria).

Above right: For 2005, a silver and frosted glass snow ballerina from a Christmas store cut-price sale in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains; and Spiderman carrying a webful of toys, purchased from The Phantom Zone comics collectibles shop in Parramatta.

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