Thursday, 3 September 2009

It's September, it must be Christmas!

Actually, I meant to write ‘It’s August, it must be Christmas!’ but I am a little late with this blog.

There are groans galore when the first Christmas cards appear in the supermarkets. They are on the shelves before Halloween goodies are in place for 31st October and before fireworks are sold for bonfire night. I’m one of those groaners when I see such products on sale. I just have to mention one thing…

For many years I have associated August with Christmas as that’s when the Christmas goods come in to the wholesalers. The slight difficulty here is that retail customers only decide what Christmas decorations or trees they want in December or at the earliest, November. Most of the trade goods have gone by that time and so choice is more limited. Supplies have to be topped up with some products bought at retail prices. Goodbye profit!

For some deep rooted psychological reasons, Christmas is an unwelcome or unhappy time for a few people. For me, the longer Christmas lasts the better. It goes on for around a whole month in our household. We do, however, limit present giving to the one day. Oh, and the day after.

I can still remember my childhood Christmases when we would wake up before dawn and open up the presents placed in our Christmas stockings. Not the usual pillow case for me and my sister, no, some of my father’s customers had hand made a felt stocking for both of us and attached our initials in a contrasting piece of felt. After opening these presents, we would go downstairs and stare open mouthed at the little piles of presents there. One year one of the presents was a large tent, already assembled in our living room.

In the evening, family members would enjoy the food and drink prepared by my mother. It wasn’t until many years later that I realised that it wasn’t such a lovely time for mum as she was working flat out the whole time! The family would bring presents and there would be another mad unwrapping session. How easy it is to buy a child’s affection with just a few hundred gifts.

Yes, my childhood memories and the joy of watching my own children at Christmas makes this a lovely time of year. Some of my childhood Christmas memories are still crystal clear.

The only drawback of the holiday season is when I am told off for re-arranging some of the Christmas baubles after our children have decorated the tree.

After many years of insisting that we have a real tree, I have recently converted to artificial. The deciding factor came when I bought two trees: one for installation on the 1st December and one to replace this a few days before the 25th so we had a really fresh tree for Christmas day. As I was reinstalling the decorations on tree part two, I thought that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Two installations and two removal and disposals. Hmm.

The artificial Christmas tree we have now is really lifelike and has fooled quite a few people. To improve the ambience, I usually stuff some real Christmas tree branches behind the radiators so there is a hint of pine in the air. Of course, that way there are still the traditional needles to clear up, thus ensuring a more realistic experience!

I have used various pots, tubs and barrels for our trees over the years. I like the appearance of the wooden half barrel although this doesn’t retain water. A plastic version of that is better for topping up with water but in a warm environment, it only gives the trees a few extra days life. This year I am going high tech. I will be using a version of the illuminated plant containers. I will, of course, make them available to anyone else who wants them. The seasonal version can be seen at Merry Christmas!

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