Saturday, 24 December 2016

Of artificial Christmas trees and memories of Well Hall in December

I don’t have a picture of our old Christmas tree.

It was bought in the late 1950s and served us well both in Lausanne Road and then at 294 in Well Hall, and was still in use till Dad died in 1991.

Mother was the romantic one of the pair.  She wrote plays, short stories and laboured on an unfinished novel of life in south east London.

But like all women of her generation she could be extremely practical and unsentimental, hence the no nonsense, no pine needles artificial tree.

It was really just a wooden pole painted green with a series of green brush cleaners with blobs of white.

Long after we had all left home dad continued to bring it out and even while he grumbled at “all the bother” he still dressed it and gave it pride of place.

Even today in Chorlton surrounded by natural Christmas trees our old artificial one has a special place in my memory, and underlines that simple truth that all of us bring to the event a set of traditions reaching back deep into our family history.

So a little bit of the late Edwardian and inter war Christmases experienced by my parents rubbed off on me as a child and rolled on in to how we celebrate the event.

For us kids it began with the arrival of Uncle George, the obligatory visit to see the Christmas lights on Oxford Street and the brisk walk up to the High Street or the woods after the presents had been opened on the day.

The evening began with a game of monopoly and followed on with whatever the television had to offer.

And in the long ago days, dad would be back at work on the 27th, Uncle George stayed on for the January sales and that was pretty much it.

The tree once taken down joined the box of glass decorations and those large pear shaped lights on a shelf in the big cupboard in the hall and it was grey and cold till spring.

Pictures; glass decorations from an advert for 1950s Christmas decorations on ebay and Christmas in Chorlton from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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