diamond geezer

 Thursday, December 07, 2023

It was St Nicholas Day yesterday so I put my Christmas decorations up.
It's not a date-related tradition or anything, certainly not my tradition, but this year the day I spotted the box of decorations was 6th December so out they came and up they went. It would've been more accurate to use the conjunction 'and' rather than 'so', as in "It was St Nicholas Day yesterday and I put my Christmas decorations up", but that would have been a less hooky opening sentence.

You're supposed to store them in a box in the attic, but I don't have an attic.
Also they're not in a box, they're in one of those open-topped plastic storage cartons like you find on the pavement outside poundshops. Mine's blue. I also keep my Hallowe'en decorations in it, and a Happy Birthday banner, and a 40cm-long chunky pencil somebody once gave as a gift (I've never used it but it fits in this box if stored diagonally).



First out of the box is my Christmas tree.
I don't buy a fresh tree because that would be wasteful, not least because I go away over Christmas and it wouldn't be seen. Mine's artificial and only a foot tall. It's made from multiple strips of wire shoved into a wooden base, decorated with 'berries' and 'cones' and with a red ribbon tied on top. The branches all fold upwards for easier storage, although I usually bung it back in the box as is. I don't remember where it came from but it was probably a gift from the family in my early years of living alone, so I didn't feel like I was missing out.

I don't have any tinsel or baubles.
They're still in the family box, which I suspect is in an attic or at least at the back of a dark cupboard in Norfolk. Some of those baubles go back decades, especially the pinecone-shaped ones which I suspect my grandmother hung from her tree when she was only a mother. A highlight of unwrapping them was always reading the scraps of old newspaper they were wrapped in and see what was on TV back then. These days the house where our throwback decorations are stored no longer has a tree, and the main family tree is curated to a different thematic standard where mass-produced baubles and austerity angels simply don't fit in.



My fairy lights are always a trial to untangle and relight.
I always mean to wind them up sensibly, and I usually assume I have, but when I come back and start the unravelling it takes forever. It took over an hour last year, and all to no avail because they never relit, even after I'd given all the lights a nudge. I even changed the fuse bulb, because I had the foresight to keep the spares all those years ago, but that didn't help. I didn't fancy changing the 99 other ordinary bulbs because life's too short so the set's essentially dead. I miss having lights down my hallway, they really help to brighten the winter gloom, but the best time to buy a new set is in January not December so I'll have to wait.

My main decorations are a set of eight soft toy Christmas characters.
They're about 15cm high and have a gold thread sticking out of their heads so you can hang from something, probably a tree. Mine just stand up. They came from Costco, a generic set of eight which I was surprised to discover I actually liked rather than all the other festive tat they had on the shelves. They were bought in October 1999 during the week my last relationship combusted, as part of a last chance burst of retail therapy. The day's purchases included a dustbuster and an entirely unnecessary champagne bucket and totalled £202. I resented paying given we'd be splitting up imminently, but I made sure I walked away with the soft toy characters and this'll be their 25th Christmas.



The penguin has taken up position beside my digital radio.
The reindeer is alongside, above Frazier Chorus.
The snowman is sitting between two dusters.
The toy soldier stands in front of my barometer.
The polar bear is on the shelf beside my dead laptop.
Santa Claus is balanced on my wipeclean whiteboard.
The brown bear sits atop an empty Mini-Cheddars tub.
The gnome is blocking the infrared window on the video recorder.
I move them around every year, there isn't a set position, but the windowsill and the top of the CD rack are the prime positions. The Mini Cheddars were one of last year's Christmas presents and this is the first time the empty tub has been useful. The barometer was also a Christmas present but a long time ago because it was 'made in the GDR'. The snowman is the worst at sitting upright. Don't worry about the gnome getting in the way, I won't be watching any videos over Christmas.

I also blew up my inflatable Santa.
I'm pretty sure this was given to me by a mischievous colleague at work, every workplace has one, thanks Val. It has all sorts of connotations but it's just an innocent inflatable flat-faced gentleman with a big sack and an erect hat. It took me five blows.

I have another Santa on a bike.
Don't ask.



Finally I balanced my Mum's last Christmas card on the telly.
The card's hand-stitched and an unusual shape, and I keep it in the original envelope (postmarked 11th December 2009) so I don't mislay it between Christmases. The photo shows it on top of my old telly where it was much easier to get it to stand up. My new telly has no cathode ray tube so it's much harder to balance it, and a light draught or a bit of nearby hoovering can cause it to topple. The top of the telly is the closest my living room comes to having a 'pride of place', or at least it's the direction I'm most likely to be looking. I have alas just noticed I've positioned it slightly off-centre, maybe two centimetres too far to the right, but I'm not moving it because there's no guarantee I could get it to stand up again.

I only have one other card so far, but there's plenty of time.


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