Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Tree Is Up

Are you a real tree family or prefer the decorative plastic kind?

Maybe the more correct initial question should be do you celebrate Christmas, and if you do, HOW do you?

We 'do' Christmas and Chanukah. We have a tree and all the trimmings, but we don't go to church. We light the Menorah and play with dreidles, but don't go to Synagogue (tho I did as a child).
MissM participates in the school Carol Service, and we love going to hear the kids sing, but we don't participate in the religious aspects of the service.

It surprised me then, that a few ladies didn't participate in the Christmas Lunch last week because they 'don't celebrate Christmas'.  I still find that hard to understand ...... Diwali isn't my festival, but invite me along to participate or observe and I'm there!!!!!!!!! Chinese New Year, Japanese New Year,  SinterKlaus you name it. What's the point of living in a multi-cultural society if not to participate in different celebrations, especially when invited to? It's not a judgmental thing, just a why-not thing.

MissM's school in Winchester and here in Dublin have Carol Services in the local Church. In Winchester, it was a private service in Winchester Cathedral! How exciting!!!!!!!!!!!! We don't participate in the religious aspects of the service, but we respectfully stand when asked. It was a wonderful experience, even if we didn't get the full meaning of the service.

We didn't celebrate Christmas as kids; I don't feel like I missed out on anything. It just wasn't done in our home but we did celebrate it with friends. Love a good Christmas Carol.

Like a lot of people, the true meaning of Christmas, and Easter has been lost to companies like Hallmark and retailers. There's a competition in the air to have the best decorated house, or be invited to the most parties. And do not get me started on the stress associated with the right gifts for people.

You can probably gather I'm not religious, tho even I get angry at the lack of spiritual and the huge amount of material this time brings. Several close friends are religious, and this is a very important time of year for them. It's always very touching to be invited to share time with them and their families over this period, and we relish the opportunity to do so.

But I digress.

The TREE is the topic of conversation.

Our very first real Christmas Tree is up and decorated. The plastic one which we have decorated every year since MissM was born, bar one (it was still on the boat coming over to Japan from Ireland) is still in it's box in the attic.

We started to focus on tree decorations when MissM was born. I bought G one that said 'Daddy 2004' and MissM one with her name on it and 2004. Didn't think to buy one for myself with Mummy 2004 .... so when MissM went to hang all 3 together this morning she was surprised there were only two. When I explained why, she said, typical. Not really sure what that meant, and didn't ask.

If we've been chatting together for a while you know we left Sydney for Dublin in 2006. We had 2 fabulous years there. Made a lot of friends and a few really good ones who we are still in touch with and see when travel plans allow. Taking their gift decorations out of their boxes always takes time as we reminisce. 

I bought this stunning bauble (above) from Waterford Glass factory when Mum and I toured there. Along with all the sparkly silver Newbridge ornaments, it's a favourite from 'the first time we were here'.

From Dublin we moved to Yokohama. While Japan doesn't celebrate Christmas (generally speaking), the Japanese fully adopt and LOVE any thing to do with a party, decorations, and gift giving/receiving, so Christmas in Japan was as festive as ever, without the religious aspects on display.

We had a Christmas craft fair at school as a fundraiser and some of the creative Japanese ladies made these amazing baubles from pieces of Washi Paper. They also decorated eggs with Washi Paper.

From Yokohama, we moved to Winchester, UK. Winchester was the capital of England, and Winchester Cathedral is the centrepiece of the city and Christmas. The Christmas Markets are held in the Close, around an ice skating rink. We had a great Christmas when my brother, SIL and kids joined us from Sydney.

Not sure if these are supposed to be on the tree, but that's where we have them, alongside an London Bobby (policeman), a Royal Guard from Buckingham Palace, a London telephone box, and a double decker bus, along with the Harrods green shopping bag and Bear (which I bought in 2006 on my first visit to London with MsJH).

The other wonderful thing about our tree is that each year SIL buys MissM and I an ornament, and I buy her and the kids one each. I always try to make ours something memorable from our travels, while they choose to do a Sydney/Aussie theme or a ballet theme (for MissM). One day, each child will be able to hang their ornaments on their own tree. It'll have to be a huge one for all the decorations they'll have collected by then.

We also hang our wreath, a gift from Mr & MrsH and family. It arrived as part of a HUGE Christmas hamper one year and we treat it with kid-gloves so it lasts.

And that's how traditions are borne, and continued.

They keep us rooted to where we're from, and where we've been.

We look forward to December every year for all of the above reasons.

For all the Christmas' past, and all the Christmas' to come.

What's hanging on your tree?
What special memories are there?
What traditions have you adopted from friends or places you've lived?
If you don't celebrate Christmas, what do you do at this time of year?

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