22 December 2011

& about the ChristmasTree


There was every kind of gilt hanging-thing, 
from gilt pea-pods to butterflies on springs. 
There were shining flags and lanterns,
and bird-cages, 
and nests with birds sitting on them, 
baskets of fruit,
gilt apples, 
and bunches of grapes. 
Lucretia P. Hale's story The Peterkins' Christmas-Tree 1870.

In 1846 Queen Victoria and Prince, Albert, were illustrated in the Illustrated London News. They were standing with their children around a Christmas Tree. Victoria was quite popular and the English embraced their first Christmas trees, long a tradition with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, with East Coast American Society following.

On one branch there hung little nets cut out of colored paper, and each net was filled with sugarplums; and among the other boughs gilded apples and walnuts were suspended, looking as though they had grown there, and little blue and white tapers were placed among the leaves.

 Dolls that looked for all the world like men—the Tree had never beheld such before—were seen among the foliage, and at the very top a large star of gold tinsel was fixed.-  Hans Christian Andersen's story of The Fir-Tree

Decorations were quilled snowflakes and stars, tiny sewn pouches for secret gifts and paper baskets with sugared almonds in them. Bead decorations, fine drawn silver tinsel was imported from Germany, Candles lit the tree. By the 1850's the frenzy of the decorated tree brought about the production of  intricate glass bead garlands &  garlands made from necklace 'bugles' and beads made in Lauscha Germany.

This year I've decorated two small table top trees. This is a seventeenth century tradition- similar trees were decorated for each member of the family &  set on tables with each person's packages stacked under the tree.

So about these two small trees- one of them has actually disappeared- smothered under the ornaments-mostly RED ones. Many favorites, old and older. The second small tree is in the Living Room. It sits on a brown velvet skirted table and is filled with sentimental favorites, felt ornaments,beaded and sequined made by the hand of my GranMa Bess. Others painted by my mother, some memorials to beloved pets, to Christmases past-family photographs, etc.

 Each year a decision is made-to do a large tree- or not to? The first year the dreaded "faux" tree was introduced at home, my parent's home, there was a decided chill in the air. The quality of these beasts improved over the years. I insisted on taking one of them when my parents started giving away certain treasures-One man's trash, as they say.  This tree, well- it is bedraggled-but once the mass of ornaments adorns it- it is a wonder. There's something about that tree-
Magic I think.
This year it remains in the attic, maybe next year.

Philip Treacy & Emma Watson-the tree
photograph by Tim Walker-the toys



  1. I adore my cotton batting tree!

  2. Patricia, I love that tree! I used one on a client's white breakfast table-bare with vintage metal skaters under it on mirrored table runners for the children to play with. They love it. Happy Christmas I hope you and yours are all tucked in for the holidays. pgt

  3. I love it when you share photos of your house! Those trees are great. Merry Christmas to you!



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