Posted by: christinelaennec | December 18, 2012

Getting ready for Christmas in Aberdeen

This year, for the first time ever, the ME-stricken Dafter actually allowed me to help her set up the Nativity set!  Believe me, it was an honour and a privilege.  This is the arrangement we came up with together:

The Nativity set, 2012.

The Nativity set, 2012.

Last year at this time, when she was still recovering from four months of infections and before the ME really took a grip, she was well enough to do two Nativity scenes from Playmobil, traditional and modern.  However, I was pleased that she was well enough to do it at all, and with my help, this year.

One of the things I love about Aberdeen at this time of year is the Christmas-tree-in-the-bay-window tradition.  There are many Victorian buildings with two “dwelling-houses”, and thus two living rooms with bay windows, one on top of the other. On many streets you’ll see two Christmas trees seemingly stacked up, like this:

Christmas trees in bay windows, Aberdeen, Dec. 2012.

Christmas trees in bay windows, Aberdeen, Dec. 2012.

It’s not uncommon to see four Christmas trees in close proximity, where you have two sets of bay windows side by side – but I haven’t managed to get a photo of that.

Here are the Music Hall and Union Street with their Christmas lights:

The Music Hall and Union Street, Aberdeen, Dec. 2012.

The Music Hall and Union Street, Aberdeen, Dec. 2012.

About three weeks ago, when the moon was full, I happened to be in town running errands in the late afternoon.  I stopped to watch the full moon rise from behind the Town House spire at the Castlegate.  It’s a difficult thing to take a photo of, but if you look at the centre of the photo below, can you see the moon coming out from behind where the clock is seemingly hovering in the sky?  It was a beautiful sight – and over so quickly.  Soon the moon was sailing away.

Full moon peeping out from behind the townhouse tower (with clock).  Aberdeen, end November 2012.

Full moon peeping out from behind the townhouse tower (with clock). Aberdeen, end November 2012.

Another of my favourite sights is the leopard made of lights, who slinks through the wee garden across from the Central Library.  I’ve written here about the symbolism of the cats of Aberdeen.   I don’t suppose Karen, who lives in the forest where real cougars prowl, would be so fond of it as I am!

leopard made of lights, Aberdeen, Dec. 2012.

Christmas lights leopard, Aberdeen, Dec. 2012.

And so to home and our own Christmas tree, which is as pleasing to me as ever:

Our Christmas tree, Aberdeen 2012.

Our Christmas tree, Aberdeen 2012.

I hope you’re all enjoying this time of year, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.  Our family had a funny (I thought) conversation recently about the reports that the world will end this coming Friday.

The Dafter:  “Happy Apocalypse Week!”

me:  “Oh darn, I haven’t sent all my Apocalypse cards yet!”

Michael:  “Well, it’s not as if it’s the end of the world.”

Perhaps we’re easily amused, but it’s good to laugh!



  1. Everything looks lovely! 🙂

  2. My kids would love a Playmobil nativity set!!! 🙂 I love the Christmas trees in bay windows! I miss this kind of beauty in the Midwest……One of my fondest memories from Airdrie was taking a walk down a street such as you mentioned one dark Christmas Eve and staring in all the houses at the lovely trees. It also made me feel a bit lonely, so far from home with no family, but it was fun to mentally join in with all the loveliness going on inside too and it felt very Old World.

  3. I like the little angel, and indeed the whole nativity scene. Seeing lit up Christmas trees in the dark afternoons is one of the things I like most about this time of year. I’d forgotten about that lit up leopard in Aberdeen, it’s amazing!

  4. lit-up Christmas trees in bay windows … simply divine!

  5. I must be easily amused, too, because I chortled at your family’s apocalypse conversation! I can imagine how the moon photo must have looked in person. A few weeks ago, on our way to church one evening, Miss Priss and I spotted the rising moon, full and glorious with Jupiter just next to it.

    Your tree is bright and happy. I’m sure it brings you much joy.

  6. Light and light-heartedness in darkness is so…enlightening 🙂 Thanks for the illumination, Christine. There is some snow swirling around the valley today, and Mt. Hood is shrouded in a bit of a blizzard according to the news reports. Joy to you and yours. xx from Gracie

  7. I’ve been enjoying sitting in our living room with the Christmas tree (and lights) for company. It’s very cheering. Love your Nativity scene, I have one of those Playmobil sets, somewhere… I haven’t seen it for a couple of Christmasses now 😦
    Glad your daughter was able to join you in setting it up. Oh and silly jokes are so important!

  8. So glad you shared your Christmas photos! I love to see how people decorate for Christmas around the world. The trees in the bay windows are
    lovely — would love to see the ‘four’ if you can get a picture.
    Good to see that the Dafter is enjoying getting ready for the holiday.
    Merry Christmas to you all!

  9. Trees in bay windows are one of the great treats of our winter darkness, aren’t they? Yesterday I was walking through the Trinity area of Edinburgh (very des res territory), and encountered the syndrome I have called ‘tasteful Trinity trees’. All these gorgeous houses, each one with a more tasteful tree than the last, to say nothing of the exquisitely illuminated bay/box/holly standard trees outside the front doors.

    How lovely to have done your Nativity set-up together.

    I had forgotten about the impending Apocalypse until you reminded me!

  10. Thank you for the beautiful photos of your lovely Aberdeen, with the full moon behind the clock tower and the pretty holiday lights! The Dafter’s nativity is wonderful and it is so good to hear she is feeling in the Christmas spirit despite her illness. The Christmas trees in the bay windows are very nice and I do love the leopard. I wonder if big cats once roamed Scotland? Do they still? Love your doomsday humor. It feels good to laugh a little. Your tree is very pretty. xx

  11. We have wildcats, slightly larger than the domestic cat, sadly endangered. The Christmas Pictures were all lovely Christine and Dafter thanks! Have a lovely one.

  12. Lovely photos. Nice to see the Playmobil nativity set. Hugs to you all.

  13. Happy Christmas, and that was truly funny! Made me laugh too:)

  14. I laughed at your joke (and that’s a significant event!) but much more significant is that the Dafter still has a sense of humour.
    In relation to nativity scenes, by the way, my daughter lived with a French family once and was there at Christmas. She said in their nativity scene they left out the baby Jesus until *the* day….and so now I do that too.Do you know if this is just some idiosyncratic Montpellier thing or is it maybe a European custom? I suppose I could google it but it’s much more fun to ask you and I suspect it’s the sort of question for which you do know the answer!

  15. Lovely festive photos. 🙂 Your Nativity Scene is so cute, my fav part of Christmas. Buon Natale e Felice 2013!

  16. How interesting to have all those bay windows adorned with Christmas trees – so beautiful and festive.

    I hope Dafter is in better health this year. You can tell her that my daughter’s cat Cupcake likes to play (quite irreverently) with the Baby Jesus. Jillian has to look for Him every morning to see where Cupcake hid Him.

    Merry Christmas, Christine! ❤

  17. I’ve been missing my blog-hopping time, and I wanted to pop in with a quick hello. I’ve been missing you. I hope you are having a very, very wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas, friend.

  18. Dear everyone,

    Thanks so much for your comments, festive wishes and stories. I’m glad some of you laughed at our jokes!

    Karen, as Jill says, there are small wildcats in Scotland. There are also regular sightings of “big cats” in Scotland and England. If you google “big cat sightings Scotland” you will see photos of puma-like creatures slinking about. For some reason, however, there doesn’t seem to be an official recognition that they exist. Perhaps they don’t know what exactly they are. I’ve heard theories that they may be escaped exotic pets, or the descendants of the like.

    oldblack, I didn’t know about the tradition of the baby Jesus only appearing on the 25th, so I have no light to shed on this! The French families that I’ve known have all been non-religious so I don’t even have anyone to ask.

    Stacy, perhaps Jillian’s cat is French (see oldblack’s comment)!

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