Monday 11 December 2023

Christmas Nostalgia

 Our Christmas decorating was completed last night. As always, it was a trip down memory lane as each bauble and decoration was put in place.

The tree.

Until I was in my late teens and living on the farm, the 'tree' was found on Christmas Eve. For Aussie country folk, this meant looking for a Eucalypt/gum tree sapling, or cutting a branch from a larger gum. When I was small, my brothers and I slept on the verandah of our house. I can clearly recall one Christmas [about 8 years old] that the tree was opposite my bed and on waking in the dark, squinting to see if Santa had been. This was repeated numerous times until sun up. Santa had left me a lovely blue and white sewing box. I kept it for countless years.

In 1980, I married Frank, an Englishman. Our first Christmas together was the first and last time we had a gum tree. Frank went driving, until he found a small pine tree growing beside the road. A few years later, the Lions Clubs would have them for sale. As you will quickly note below, our fir/pine trees don't grow symmetrically, so it wasn't long, with the advent of artificial trees, that Frank went shopping and not chopping.

1986 and 8 months pregnant with our darling son Stuart, plus my parents.


1991 - the artificial tree with our draped lights. Stuart and Matthew leaving treats for Santa.       

2007 - Frank went shopping again. a] he was tired of adding the lights and b] the tree was too large with the lower ceiling of our new home beside the golf course. This one came with fibre optic lights.

This was our first Christmas without our sons. Stuart was working in Banff, Canada, and Matthew was studying at Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado.

Note that the fireplace isn't going to be required at this time of year. In fact, it was removed not long after.

2023 - Frank is concerned that the lights aren't all working. It looks pretty good to me.

You may have noticed our Christmas stockings in the previous photos. We still use our originals and we have added stockings for Kim, Ben and Nora. Hopefully one day they will be here, for them to be filled. The cover for the base of the tree was made by Mother and is as old as Stuart

The majority of the decorations we have just placed on our tree, date back to the early years of our family.
These are 40 years old and are part of a collection of 24 bought in Sydney in 1983. Frank's Mum had visited from the UK, and when school finished for the summer break, we took her on a road trip.

My Dad passed away in 2003 at 88. He was in a Nursing Home for the prior 3 years. You can imagine how special this star is, made by Dad.

These ornaments are treasures made by Stuart and Matthew in their Prep year of school.

These are two of many handcrafted baubles of the 80's, made by students and given to Frank who was the Deputy Principal.
There are also 5 or 6 knitted characters, made by a dear friend in the 90's.

The final touch to the tree involves a facetime with Ben and Nora. They tell us where to place their new ornament. Ben wanted to be beside the Grinch and Nora beside Santa. Kim had sent me the photos.

I love my Christmas wreath, made from the dried vine of our one and only grape vine, grown in 1990. The wreath would have been created the following year.

Once the boys were at Uni, and Frank had retired, we managed to travel once a year. The first holiday included the Christmas markets in Vienna, Budapest and Prague.

The white Christmas cloth was bought in Budapest. The pine cones in this bowl were first painted white in the 80's and have been recycled in many decorative forms.

This white cloth was bought in France on another holiday. The Santa has been with us a long time too.

My angel candles were also bought in Sydney, on the road trip with Frank's Mum. They were lit that year, [in the heat] but I can't bear to let them burn down, so are placed on our table just as a decoration. The glowing globe was this year's purchase. It was bought at our local Post Office, the day I was sending my parcel to Canada. The line was long. I hummed and hawed as the queue moved slowly, and when it was reduced in price, I just couldn't resist!

Frank's Mum passed away in 2015. This was one of her favourite garden pieces.

And a few photos of our more recent decorations. Each has a story.

Our Crib has been a part of our Christmas since 1984.

So many wonderful memories relived, but tinged with the sadness that our family members are so far away. Thankfully, we live in the time of modern technology, so they are close if not in person.

I would love to read your comment.


  1. Your words and photos tell so many beautiful stories! I love that blanket hanging on the brick wall and wonder did you make that? The childhood memories of celebrating Christmas are what I find heart-warming!

    1. Alexandra, the blanket squares were created last year. The tree that I had sewn them too, died, so I had to u pick all the pieces and rejoin.
      Here's the link to last year, where I have noted that in your comment then, that your temperature was -31C. I guess you would like some of that cold back.

    2. I went back to read that blog post again and also to look at your blanket in this post. Now I want to knit a blanket!

  2. I loved seeing all your Christmas decorations! I hope that someday your grands are able to join you for the holidays.

  3. Thanks, Linda. I do hope it will be soon.

  4. So many beautiful memories! Wish you would spend Christmas holidays with your children and grandchildren next year!

    1. Thank you Marji. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

  5. I have never seen a gum tree as a Christmas tree. Love it. Great memories, Helen. Thank goodness for modern technology!

  6. Marie, I wish I had a photo of at least one gum tree Christmas Tree, but photography was very limited back in the day.

  7. Lovely to share your happy family memories. I love putting up the Christmas baubles too with all their memories. B x

    1. It was also lovely going back through the photo albums to find these photos.

  8. Delightful memories-- Thanks for sharing these. So many memories come flooding back this time of year. Merry Christmas!

  9. Special times, Bill. I was always disappointed for my boys that they didn't have lots of cousins close by to share Christmas with, as I had. My cousins and I still meet once or twice a year.

  10. Merry Christmas to all!
    Very beautiful memories that modern technology allows us to see!
    How interesting for us from different countries!!

  11. I loved this round up of your Christmas trees and Christmas treasures. Dad used to go out and cut a she-oak from the bush. I still remember the smell of those trees but have always had an artificial tree in my homes.

  12. Ah, the she-oak. Now that jogs the memory. I don't think we ever had one but friends did.

  13. I enjoyed seeing all the nostalgic ornaments and Christmas decorations, Helen. Ours also hold many memories from Christmases past.