We all have colds. But that did not keep my son from fetching the Christmas tree from my wardrobe and insisting that we put it up. I promised two weeks ago that we could put it up on the long weekend (school curriculum day and Melbourne Cup Day tacked onto the weekend). Previous years the tree made several excursions from the wardrobe, so I feel we have done well this year. Last year it came out in Winter, as my son claimed he would never feel happy again if it didn’t, and we were recovering from a nasty flu at the time, so I found it impossible to refuse. And I was very glad that we put it out. In the Winter light it was a magical object, even without the lights.
The tree originally belonged to one of my grandmother’s sisters. The first year we put it up I thought of it as a smoking tree. The smell dissipated that season, thank goodness. But I do like it that our tree was hers, and that it was made in Italy, and that I can be sentimental as well as ecological with the tree. I also love the pleasure my son takes in decorating it. We do it together, so I spread the heavier decorations evenly about the tree, close to the trunk, while he sorts the lighter decorations along the branches. My niece used to do the same. I replaced the old string of globes (I was horrified when I noticed I had been using a string that had been repaired with duct tape – how had I not noticed?) with a string of LEDs a few years ago. I love the low energy requirement of LEDs. I used to feel the heat from the globes, while these stay cool and are surely much less of a fire hazard, not that I leave them switched on overnight. I was not keen on the idea of seeing a tree go up in flames at any time.
So Christmas is fast approaching, and school commitments will make the time go quickly. The Christmas wishlist is already discussed a little too often for my liking. He used to look forward to the Christmas pudding and seeing his cousins a lot more than the presents. However, big Lego sets seem to be the topic of discussion at school, and I am grateful to Charles Schulz for a series of comic strips in which Lucy points out to Rerun that if their mother doesn’t want them to have a dog, she will somehow prevent Santa Claus from giving them one. Father Christmas discriminates.
We have also had discussions about how children we might consider naughty still receive presents from Father Christmas. A classmate was considered too naughty to receive presents. However, I still remember the shock I had in grade 3 when I learnt that an extremely naughty boy had received a lot of presents for Christmas, and I have told my son of that shock. These discussions become wishy washy as I guess the motivations behind the actions. Naughty boys who don’t receive presents would be very angry and resentful, and would surely become even naughtier if they were neglected. Father Christmas would want them to be happy and know that he cares about them, so they would receive presents too. And of course, I don’t want people behaving well in anticipation of material rewards, or thinking that slight transgressions would lead to such dire punishment as being the only child (he knows) to not receive presents on Christmas day.
But for now, we will just enjoy the Christmas tree, and all of the toys who cluster around the base to admire it.
note: panda adapted from “Felties” by Nelly Pailloux; green teddy from “Knitted Bears” by Claire Garland. Knitted rabbit was a gift, so pattern source unknown.