Advent Calendar / 5 December
This is another page in my first photo album, from the Christmas when I was 16 months old. (Compare yesterday’s post.)
Mum’s drawing of the Christmas tree brings back memories, too. They used to have Swedish flags in the tree, like that, pinned into the tops of a twig. (Getting them in there, usually came with some - well, let’s call it ‘muttering between the teeth’ - because the end of that flagstick was sharp, and so were the needles on the spruce!)
I think the tree depicted might have been inspired by my paternal grandparents’ tree, because they used to have those old-fashioned sweet-wrapper kind of ornaments, and the small “tomte”/Santa figures made of yarn; and I think back in those days they also did still have real candles in the tree, not electric ones.
The tree at my other grandparents’ house was different. For one thing they must have had electric candles in theirs, because what I remember best about it is that they covered every little light-bulb with something called “angel’s hair”. I guess it was meant to resemble snow. I can’t find any picture of that.
Our Christmas tree at home was kept rather strict. Mum and dad did not want all kinds of ‘odd’ ornaments in it. I guess they thought that would disrupt the symmetry of things. However, when we moved into a bigger house, we used to have a second, smaller tree in the kitchen as well. In that one my brother and I were allowed to hang our own strange and wonderful creations from school, or other odd pieces of decoration. What those might have been, I hardly remember any more. Only that they were not to be mixed with the “proper” ornaments in the big tree.
- Now this is a “proper” classic Christmas ornament! -
The Christmas tree was not put up, or at least not decorated, until the day before Christmas Eve. Traditionally I think parents did this after the children had gone to bed, so that it was just there as a surprise in the morning. My memories, however, include a lot of muttering, not only about those flags, and the star at the top, but also about getting the tree itself to stand straight, and getting the light-chain untangled (it really is a mystery how a carefully folded light-chain always seems to manage to tie itself into knots all by itself in its box from one Christmas to another – but I suppose it gets bored, having nothing else to do for so long!), and then getting the lights evenly distributed across the tree, and… Well.
The first ten years of my adult life, I never spent Christmas in my own flat, and I never bothered about getting a Christmas tree. My own personal traditions came to be centered more around Advent than the actual Christmas. I was also somewhat “allergic” to Santa/gnome-figures, so for many years didn’t have any of those either. (I blogged about this last year in The Return of the Gnomes.)
Now since many years I have a small artificial tree, only 60 cm high, which I do decorate every Christmas. It serves me well enough! I usually put it up just a few days before Christmas. Never this early. The whole point of the Advent time in December for me is that it is supposed to be a gradual thing… Just like the Advent calendar.