Posted by: christinelaennec | December 23, 2011

Craobh na Nollaige / the Christmas tree

I just love Christmas trees, especially ours!  We get our tree from the Forestry Commission.  They mark trees that need to be cut to keep the forest healthy, and sell them at the beginning of December.  I love the smell of the tree in the room, and I love putting the decorations on.  This year, the Dafter helped:

The Dafter is a Christmas-tree hugger!

We were pleased with the results.  You’ll notice that we have a Christmas Fairy at the top of the tree.  When I was growing up, I think we used to have a star at the top of the tree, but Michael’s tradition was that of the Christmas Fairy, and he felt strongly that we must have one, and so there she is!

The Christmas tree in the evening

This year, I said to the Dafter as we decorated the tree together:  “I think I could tell you where every single one of these ornaments came from.”  “No thanks!  I’ve got other things to do between now and Christmas Eve!” she cheerfully replied.  (I had to laugh.)  In fact, she knows quite a few of the stories behind the ornaments, and that made me very happy.  There’s no reason why any of you should be particularly interested in the ornaments, but I thought I would share some of the stories with you anyway, just because it’s my blog and I can!

Tinker ornament, great-granny's beads

One of my most cherished ornaments is the salt-dough one I made of the paw-print of our beloved cat Tinker.  He was blessed with extra toes:  three extra toes to each side of the usual four+toe claw.  In October 1996 he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, and during our last few weeks together I pressed one of his paws into the dough to make this ornament.  (Two of his extra toes didn’t make an impression.)  He died on Boxing Day that year.  I often think of him, and remember the amazing rainbows that appeared to us the next day.  The green, yellow and silver strand of beads have been handed down to me from my great-granny May.

Straw ornament from Bishop Hill and one of the matroshkas

During the four years that Michael and I lived in Illinois, we often drove up to the village of Bishop Hill, which in the 19th century was a community of Swedes seeking religious freedom.  Even now Bishop Hill retains a distinctive identity (“utopia on the prairie”).  We bought these beautiful straw ornaments there.  I was amazed to discover, when researching my family history from my computer here in Aberdeen, that two branches of my family had lived a few miles from Bishop Hill in the 1870s!  We also have two beautiful sets of Russian matroshka ornaments, given to us by our dear friend Olga.

Tiny knit stocking, glass bells, great-granny's beads

Here you can see May’s glass beads again – they merge into blue ones at a certain point.  The very finely-knitted stocking was one of the ornaments I remember as a child, and we used to say it was the cat’s stocking.  The glass bells we bought here in Aberdeen, and I love to ring them as they have a very sweet sound.

Izaak Walton Inn moose, and Mr & Mrs Santa

In 1991 Michael and I took the train from Illinois to Oregon for Christmas.  On our way we stopped for a few days in the beautiful Izaak Walton Inn, which is a short walk from the train tracks in Glacier National Park.  It was a memorable few days, and I loved the cross-country skiing.  The moose ornament is a souvenir from that trip.  To the right of the moose is Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, lovely painted wooden ornaments from our dear friend Caron, who is also a knitter.  You can’t quite see it, but Mrs. Santa is knitting!

the Dafter's reindeer

I made this for the Dafter from a kit quite a few years ago.

Last but not least, here are two “ornaments” that are on the mantlepiece.  The plate was my inheritance from my Granny‘s Christmas china set.  I have such fond memories of the times when we spent Christmas with them, and of seeing the festive table set with this china.  The card is one that I put up every year because I like the Dickens quote.  There is something about the collective goodwill of this season that would be wonderful to experience at other times of year.  But then, perhaps that would be utopia!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, full of good cheer.  And for those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas, I wish you a very happy 25th of December!



  1. I love your tree, and your little ornament stories….as you have probably seen ,on one of my christmasplates is a cherished ornament from a good Aberdonian blogfriend.. :)….Have a wonderful Christmas Christine…
    Erna xx

  2. Lovely to read about someone elses ornament collection and to see your lovely tree. Do you still have snow? It is the most diabolical weather here, rain…rain…and more rain. I think I might need to paint a snow scene on the window for Christmas day 😉

    Have a peaceful merry Christmas
    Love and hugs
    Heike xx

  3. Your tree sounds as if it should be in a story book! We used to always get our tree from the Tyrebagger Forest, but were told they were all imported to sell as Christmas Trees. So since then we have bought from a local farmer who supplements his strawberry/raspberry fruit farm with growing trees.
    I just love the smell…

  4. Christine, I enjoyed seeing and learning about some of your ornaments. Your tree sounds like ours: lots of memories attached to many of the ornaments. I have a few ornaments that came from my parents’ first Christmas tree, which are nearing their 50th birthdays! Then there are the handmade ones: a green ball with my name on it in glitter, which I made in the fourth grade, and some salt dough ornaments I made and my daughters painted when they were toddlers.

    A very happy Christmas to you and your family, Christine! I picture you all round your fire with a lovely snow scene outside your windows…

  5. Your tree is very beautiful and quite special with all of it’s lovely memories. So nice to see the Dafter with a beautiful smile. I do agree the scent of a real Christmas tree is like no other. I love your Grannie’s keepsakes, especially the beaded garland and the Christmas plate. I hope you make wonderful memories of your own this Holiday Season. Blessings to you and your family. xx

  6. Love to read of your tree history and memories. I gave a few of mine away to my daughter last year, so we have some new and some old this time. Wishing you all a wonderful time over Christmas. xxx

  7. i love the stories of your ornaments. our tree is a bit like that too. as i put them on the tree each year, they often remind me of friends and memories that are precious. i like your Dickens card and we have a star on our tree now but thanks for reminding me of the memory of my childhood when i believe we did have a fairy on our tree. wishing you a very merry Christmas and special times with friends and family.

  8. Merry Christmas! I love reading and hearing the stories behind tree decorations, that’s what makes a great tree. I have some straw ones too, originally bought because one year I just used some branches and needed very light decorations. They also remind me of my childhood so even though I have some more interesting ones now I continue to use them every year as well.

  9. Happy Christmas Christine, I love your stories about your ornaments – it’s a wonderful way to collect memories! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday xx

  10. I love the story of all your ornaments and your tree looks so festive I am sure you had a wonderful Christmas day which will continue through to Hogmanay! Happy and successful New year to you and your family


  11. Christmas Day has flown past. Just now I have a quiet moment between bouts of after-Christmas sale shopping. I wanted to stop by and wish you all the joys of the season. As the quiet week approaches, may you find time to do all the things you most love. May you know, each day, how very blessed and loved you are. Happy Holidays, friend. ~ Relyn

  12. A very belated Merry Christmas!

  13. Beautiful post, Christine…I loved the photos and the stories. So many special memories all tied in with our ornaments…no doubt, your daughter will tell these same stories to HER children someday.

  14. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family and I love your tree. So much nice ornaments you have !!

    BTW I just love reading the book Plain and Simple, it just if i’m there too, together with the writer. I LOVE this book !!

  15. Dear all, I really can’t believe this was of any interest to others. Thanks for all your stories of Christmas memories, and thank you for all the good Christmas wishes. They worked!

    Erna – I hadn’t recognised it when I first saw it, but sure enough!

    Heike – in the end we had a green Christmas, which made for a change after the last two years.

    Jill – that is a worrying thought: would the Forestry Commission lie to us? Perhaps we should look for an independent source too…

    Karen – thank you, and we did make some lovely memories. My favourite is probably that Michael went to the supermarket at 7 am on Christmas Eve – in his pajamas! (With clothes over.) He did beat the crowds. I wondered if everyone else there was actually in their pajamas too?

    ajb – Interesting that your family used to have a fairy! I like the star on the tree very much too.

    Carin – I should definitely reread it!

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