|Four decades of decorations, 2017|
Given that both had been born in the late 19th century and lived well past the middle of the next, they will have seen many changes in how the festive season rolled out.
At the heart of their Christmas will be the ones they experienced as children which will in turn have been partly fashioned by how their parents had celebrated the event back in the 1850s and 60s.
|A big tree, 2013|
These will have included listening to the old King’s Christmas broadcast on the wireless, his daughter’s made via the telly, and receiving those seasonal telegrams from an ageing uncle who always forgot to post a card.
They may have had a tree, which on balance I guess would have been real but could have been like an artificial one like ours in Well Hall Road, which Dad had bought in the early ‘60s and was essentially a green wooden rod set in a block with wire and brush branches sticking out of the sides.
Here in Joe and Mary Ann’s house, we went in for real ones, which over the years became taller and now require a bit of surgery to get them to fit into the space between the floor and ceiling.
|The baby tree, 2013|
A big one and a baby one, for which I blame our Joshua.
Added to which the spare branches became mini trees stuck in flower pots in each of the lad’s rooms, and are now used to embellish the hall.
The one constant are the tree decorations which in their way tell the history of our family Christmas.
Somewhere and I guess they will be with one of my sisters are those gaudy glass ones mother bought in the 1950s along with the small green candle holders which you attached to the tree in the days before electric Christmas lights.
Our decorations only date from the '70s, but have been added to over the decades and pretty much tell their own story of how we have celebrated Christmas.
My favourites are those red, green and gold glass globes which catch the reflection of the lights but shatter easily when they fall.
|Rosa's nativity scene, 2015|
Others were bought from the German Markets, or the posh shops in town and some were hand made by the boys.
In Italy, Rosa and Simone don’t have a Christmas tree, but instead have a nativity scene which has grown over the years as they add more figures, many of which come from the street of nativity figures in Naples, where you can buy everything from a miniature baby Jesus, to a Trump caricature or a set of the latest team players for Napoli, Roma or Milan.
|The big red bauble and friends,2017|
It was bought in the old Woolworths opposite Piccadilly, has survived being dropped as well as being attacked by the dog and a succession of curious cats, and has made its way from Grey Mare Lane, via Ashton Under Lyne and finally in 1976 to Joe and Mary Ann’s house.
In the process we have discarded the Christmas tinsel, used up four sets of lights and gone from those wonderful bright coloured ones to simple white with an option on blue influenced lights for the baby tree.
But that red decoration has stood the test of time and is now a full decade older than our eldest.
Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson
*The story of a house,