Thursday, January 6

Packing up Christmas

Well, the festivities are over and twelfth night is upon up already - and with it, it's time for the decorations to come down.  I'm sure I can't be the only person who finds the prospect of an un-decorated house a little bleak, so I like to make a little ritual of putting everything away.  The tissue paper is smoothed out and stacked up and one by one I wrap the baubles, reminding myself of the story behind each one.

The three tin Santa Clauses (or more properly Père Noëls) were discovered in a very chic Parisian homeware boutique.  Tom had surprised me with a weekend in Paris for my 29th birthday - he'd organised everything from Eurostar tickets to hotel to presenting me with a guidebook as we got on the train to London, and even arranged my time off work!  I spent much of the weekend half expecting him to propose (which he did, a year later, on a second trip to Paris.)  As it was October, I really didn't mean to start shopping for Christmas, but these guys were just too sweet to resist, and I'm so glad I didn't as every Christmas I have a special reminder of a wonderful trip.

The beaded fruits were collected on trip to Italy.  One winter I took myself off to Rome to do my Christmas shopping.  I found a cosy bed and breakfast near the Porta Pia and spent four days walking all over the city, exploring the Colosseum and the Pantheon, buying delicious treats from the Christmas markets and little delis, refuelling on pizza, gelato and incredibly good espresso.  I was a single girl then and never bothered with a Christmas tree, instead I would pile a beautiful bowl with fruit and baubles, so when I found these in one of Rome's most glamorous department stores they seemed absolutely perfect for me.

My Gnomies have been with me for as long as I can remember.  As I understand it, they are a German tradition, brought into our family through my Steiner education.  Every December, instead of an advent calendar, my mum and I would construct a Gnomie garden.  Moss would stand in for a lawn, some twigs & pine-cones became trees and a scrap of tinfoil made a shiny little pond.  The Gnomies would magically appear overnight (in reality, painstakingly handmade by mum from pipe-cleaners, felt & wool), and each night in Advent they would bring a new gift - something simple like a tiny purse, a pretty gemstone or a sugar mouse.  Although it's years since I made them a garden, I still like to bring the Gnomies out of hibernation each year.

New decorations are added to our collection every year - the angels, snowflake and the handmade green glass bauble were gifts from my best friend and her parents, the tiny solid glass fruits were a sale find a couple of years ago - the boiled-sweet colours catch the light so beautifully - and the red mercury glass baubles were bought in the faded gentility of Jenners in Edinburgh, for the first Christmas after Tom and I moved in together.  And now they are all wrapped in tissue paper and cardboard and put away in the big box marked "Christmas," ready to come out again next December.

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