Because we have Wonderful Builder in, earlier this month we broke it to the children that there would be no decorations or tree this year. We would be going away for the holidays, we stressed, to a house where there is always a huge tree, garlanded stairs, etc — bliss — so it’s not like they won’t get their fix. Nods of acquiescence all around.

However. The closer we hove the more pleading the looks, so at the weekend out came the box: M’s idea was to decorate their rooms and only their rooms. A little bit of Christmas.

Well. Almost every single decoration and the tree lights along the hall later, I’ve decided that children are much more sensible than adults. Again.

It looks like Christmas. It feels like Christmas. They took two hours stringing tinsel along their beds and paper chains across their ceilings. Baubles on every knob of their chests of drawers. And two nights ago when the lights first flashed on it was, as they say, magical.

Never mind that last night the lights, um, flashed off. So I’ll be at the hardware store today, trying to find a fuse bulb for a five year old set of lights. And probably end up buying a whole new string. It’ll be worth it…


Tatted starAmongst the decorations come my grandmother’s tatted ones, made many many years ago and carefully preserved year on year in a square, christmas-y box. They are strung with red ribbons, starched stiff. We only have five.

M in particular is affected by the concept of time. Yesterday she put on her tiny silver ring, bought last year in France. One of her most precious things she says, because (this seven year old says) it ‘holds memories’. Her shelves are full of objects gathered at such and such a place at such and such a time: wool caught in the fence of her infant school playground, a stone mouse from Pisa, a tiny china bear from her best friend, a ‘key’ she fashioned out of strong grass, a small enamel painting of St Francis of Assisi she chose at the place itself. Etc.

I feel I have no way to disperse this for her, and perhaps I don’t need to. I too have felt it all my life, and remember crying on my twelfth birthday because I would never be eleven again. Sigh.

I suppose that while she makes and arranges objects to remind her, I most often use words to do the same thing, e.g. the memoir work on this site about my beloved grandparents.

M has formed and reflected her life from things around her ever since she was old enough to grasp and hold. There’s no getting round it, and though I know this attentive, sensitive way of getting through the world isn’t a simple (or lucrative!) path to follow…I don’t think she (or we) has (have) any choice. She’s on it.