We cousins were locked upstairs!
The gate leading downstairs had been closed, preventing us from entering the lounge. Instead we gazed longingly at the shut door. We all knew what lay behind it.
“I heard Father Christmas’s sleigh bells last night,” my baby sister, Megan, said excitedly, “and I woke up this morning and there was my stocking overflowing with presents!”
“Yeah, I also heard him,” my sister Liz replied giving me a big wink over Megs’ excited features.
“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” my cousin, Anne said under her breath. “Do you think they’re awake? Shhh, listen…”
Eight pairs of ears strained attentively.
“Yep, they’re definitely up….”
The lounge door opened and my Dad came grinning towards us. “Happy Christmas, everyone!” he said unlocking the gate.
We surged into the lounge and literally stopped short and gasped. We each had our own pile of presents grinning at us from the lounge floor. And lording it over everything was the Christmas tree. It sparkled with masses of ornaments that had been used for as long as I could remember. Strangely enough, they didn’t seem to suffer the detritus of old age. They seemed to glow and sparkle deeper with a scintillating shine each year. Festooned with Christmas lights, the tree laughingly welcomed us into the room. I loved Christmas trees as a child.
I still love them today!

Christmas trees carry a feeling of warmth, laughter and good cheer wrapped within their boughs. It is said that they originated in Germany. In the winter, when the snow had fallen thickly, branches of fir trees were often carried inside by devout Christians. It was a way of reminding themselves that all was not dead. That life was still continuing and Spring would soon be here.

In the 16th century, Martin Luther, the German reformer, was walking home one night and the stars sparkling through the branches of the trees, entranced him. Getting home, he tried to explain the magic of that moment to his family.
“I wish you could have seen the sky through the trees tonight. It just took my breath away! Wait, I’ll try and show you.”
He erected a tree in his main room and tied lighted candles to it’s branches.
“There, that’ll give you some idea of the magic I experienced.”
That gesture caught on and people began to candle light their trees. The Christmas tree lights had arrived! When the light bulb entered the scene, it gleefully took over.

In the Middle Ages, the Christmas tree played a part in many European countries. It did not feature at all in America nor Britain. Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and were looked down on by the general public. In England, Oliver Cromwell preached against the “heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.”
My instant reaction to this was wanting to ‘goose’ Oliver Cromwell and point out that ‘sacred events’ are also able to be joyful occasions filled with laughter! In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts bought out a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offence. People were fined for hanging decorations! To be surrounded by such thinking, I am sure that I would have rebelled and like Joan of Arc, would have been burned at the stake!

Thank goodness, in 1846 the British Queen Victoria married Prince Albert from Germany. He bought some of his traditions with him and that included the Christmas tree! A sketch appeared in the Illustrated London News of the two of them together with their children surrounding a Christmas tree. Queen Victoria was immensely popular not only with her subjects but world wide. What became popular in court was emulated in the country as a whole. Not only in Britain but with America immediately following suit.

The Christmas tree had arrived!

Mums’ Christmas Tree

Last week, I arrived at Mums’ house and stood at the front door, my face creased into this enormous smile. The Christmas tree was up! It was vibrating with it’s lights and ornaments. With Christmas! I instantly wanted to break into song with Deck The Halls With Boughs of Holly, Fa la la la la la la la laaaaa….

Val’s Christmas Tree
B’s Christmas Tree

Mums is fairly frail this Christmas, and she had put up the Christmas tree herself. Sitting there at the table, singing along to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and other wonderful carols, she created a bit of Christmas magic for everyone that enters her lounge.
My friend, B, has a totally different Christmas tree and so does my golf coach, Val. Isn’t it strange how Christmas trees are like dogs. I mean, they are very indicative of their owners!

What infuriates me is that in this age of political correctness, some Americans and English people have stopped using the term Christmas. Instead of saying: ‘Happy Christmas!’ they will say, ‘Happy Holidays’. I will joyfully wish my Jewish friends a Happy Hanukkah! In the same way, I will accept a Happy Christmas from them. By saying Happy Holidays it is negating what is very precious to some people. Do these Happy Holiday people then have a Happy Holiday tree gracing their lounge, I wonder?

A Christmas tree epitomises Christmas to me. Christmas is about love. It is a time of family, friends, food, giving and sharing. Looking at a Christmas tree, big or small, I glory in it. My mind instantly turns to a stable in Bethlehem all those years ago. I picture a young teenage girl giving birth to the most influential being in the world, the Son of God. I think of wise men, shepherds and Angels.
I think of Christ!

With a smile, I wish you all a joyous Christmas!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
how lovely are your branches!
    In beauty green will always grow,
    through summer sun and winter snow;
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
how lovely are your branches!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
you are the tree most loved!
    How often you give us delight
    in brightly shining Christmas light!
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
you are the tree most loved!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
your beauty green will teach me
    that hope and love will ever be
    the way to joy and peace for me;
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
your beauty green will teach me.