Last weekend we put up our tree and other decorations. I have only the vaguest memories of having a real tree whilst growing up and it's so vague I'm not even sure whether it's a false memory. For my family, it was artificial all the way. And we had a small living room so it was always a small tree. I swore that as soon as I got a house of my own, we would have the biggest real tree I could find.
So we did. Our previous house had very high ceilings so I bought a 7 foot tree and covered it in decorations. Chickpea was about 5 years old and, the first time she saw it, she stood open-mouthed in awe. Her eyes travelled slowly up the tree until they reached the star at the top - it was a magical moment, like something out of the movies.
We had a real tree for a few years but eventually the convenience of artificial won out. I was tired of trying to squeeze a large tree into a small car - hard work when it was new and covered in net, but hazardous when it was fully open and shedding needles everywhere! Lately I've been tempted to get a real one again though smaller. Since we now have 'green' bin collections, it would also be much easier to dispose of.
However, this year we're sticking to the tree we've had for over 12 years. It's about 6 feet tall and is assembled by slotting the metal branches into plastic cups which go up the trunk. My least favourite part of decorating the tree is putting on the lights - oh, how I wish I had one of those new-fangled pre-lit trees!
The rest of our decorations are also traditional and gathered over the years. The windowsill has a candle arch and this artificial foliage, plus wonky candles.
And, of course, you can never have too many Father Christmases! The Four Santas were made at my quilt group a few years ago. Their bodies are filled with rice so they're pretty heavy.
And we have several ceramic ornaments which I gradually collected in the New Year sales at a local garden centre. This is Chickpea's favourite.
My favourite is Santa Bear because he's also a wind-up music box and plays 'Have yourself a merry little Christmas'. His reindeer friend plays 'We wish you a merry Christmas'. I have a musical snow globe too but none of us can work out what the tune is - something classical.