A few years ago, I was wandering through the Christmas Cave here in Penrith, one of those popular warehouse-looking retail/wholesale outlets that had just opened up in Penrith for the first time. The place had some very reasonably priced, larger-sized plastic Christmas baubles, especially made to go on outdoor Christmas trees, ie. because the garden had lots of blue flowers in it at the time, I bought a package of metallic blue balls.
It was a bit of a challenge getting enough baubles up into the higher sections of the huge pine tree in the backyard. Essentially, from chair height, it entailed grabbing a fist full of foliage, pulling it towards me, looping the bauble into place, then letting go. Unfortunately, I managed to launch at least two baubles, as if on a Medieval catapault, over the back fence and into the neighbouring yard. (The neighbours did eventually toss them back over.)
The decorated tree looked amazing but, after a few weeks of the hot Penrith sun, most of the baubles had lost their metallic sheen on one exposed side, so the next Midwinter Christmas, I had to place them other side out. Of course, whenever the wind blew, they'd rotate around to expose their faded sides. By the time of the next outing, the were more plain aqua than shiny metallic blue and I needed to purchase some glittery gold plastic shapes to supplement the decore. These new ornaments have lasted surprisingly well over the years, although last year I seemed to be missing one faded blue bauble and one glittery gold bonbon shape when packing everything away.
That was also the year I stepped back from my chair to admire my work after decorating the tree, only to end up in the pool: clothes, watch, wallet and all. I limped about with a sprained ankle for the rest of November, all of December and most of January. The things we do in an attempt to celebrate Christmas with a little flair.
Anyway, after last year's soggy debacle, I was rather reluctant to go climbing for my Midwinter Christmas in July, and I still didn't find time to paint the round baubles with some strong, outdoor-resilient glue, and smother them in new glitter, in time for this Christmas, either - and then we had one day where it absolutely bucketed down with rain for most of the day - so it looked like the backyard was going to be decidely less festive this year.
Then, yesterday, as I was making breakfast, I looked out to my decoration-free yard - and, hanging high in the tree, was a lone glittery gold bonbon ornament glinting in the morning sun! It was one of the missing trinkets from last Christmas season. Hidden for an entire year, the massive downpours of rain we had on Christmas Eve had exposed it from wherever it had been, lost inside the tree. Another miracle of Christmas, I guess!
I had an immediate urge to race out with the chair - or maybe a stepladder this time - and put up the rest of the outdoor decorations, but I noticed the pool smirking at me, and recalled the pain of my ankle the year before.
But wait, there's more! This morning I went out into the yard and my eye was distracted by a flash of blue: sitting beneath the pine tree is a single blue Christmas bauble! It, too, has spent at least a year, lost in the densest part of the tree, and had chosen Christmas Day to drop back into sight.
Truth is stranger than fiction, and bizarre coincidence is alive and well in Penrith... Either that, or it really is a sign that God has a sense of humour. (Some of my crueler "friends" have told me that the vision of me falling into the backyard pool while decorating my pine tree last year was the real proof that God has a sense of humour.)
Above left: For 2004, the goofy-looking horse (left) came from a specialist Christmas shop, probably the one in Leura in the Blue Mountains.. At right, a miniature picture book of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr Seuss (bought from Angus & Robertson to use in class that year), plus a last minute addition: a Grinch-as-Santa ornament, found at the Parramatta Collector's Fair - several years after searching for one (especially popular after the Jim Carrey movie came out). Better late than never.
Above right: For 2003, a tiny teddy bear ornament, originally attached to a Christmas gift from my cousin, Christina. The glamorous giraffe in the shoe, seemingly inspired by "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert"(?) is applying lipstick. She came from the specialist Christmas shop in Leura in the Blue Mountains.