One of the most fun things about Christmas is decorating the house. Every family has their own traditions that we usually honour each year as if it were a sacred rite. So how do you decorate your Christmas?
For us the decorations usually go up a week before Christmas and come down a fortnight after. This year, however, things got pushed forward slightly. Why? Dad had an idea. When dad gets an idea, it can only mean trouble.
Late Sunday morning and we hear a lot of rustling going on. Mum goes to investigate, and from my room I hear thing like: 'Where's my plates?', 'Why's clothes dryer in the dinning room?', and 'Be careful with my lamp.'
Dad tells her not to worry, or in other words, 'mind your own business'. One thing to note about dad when it comes to his ideas; he'll start off doing things very secretively, wanting to just get on with things and not get bothered by anyone, but no matter what, never fail, the rest of the family ends up having to get involved.
Case in point: dad announces that he wants the tree and decorations out of the loft, which is at least a two-man job, so mum had to give a helping hand. Then, because he is not the most technically minded individual, he recruited me as a photographer.
At this point, you understand, he still has not told us what he is up to. I eventually figure out that he wants to take festive photos of our teddy bears so that I (see how I'm involved again) can upload them onto the computer and order him some customisable Christmas stamps.
Dad was the set designer, I the cameraman, and Mum the clean-up crew.
The Tree is the centrepiece of Christmas; it is where the family gather on Christmas morning, after Santa has left all the presents under its dazzling branches. Are there any special tree traditions you follow?
Ours is a twenty-year old artificial tree, which we decorate with twenty-year old decorations. They are worn out, past their best, and every year our twining gold stars become barer. One year, we will be twining just a piece of gold elastic around the tree. Every now and then Mum buys a new decoration from the shop, which I rather hesitantly allow her to hang up. I prefer our old decks, no matter how close to the grave they are.
Decorating starts with the traditional tree lights fiasco. You know how it is. You pack them away in January and they are all working. You get them out in December and half of them won't light up. Result: a last minute scurry to the DIY shop before it closes.
The tree might be the most significant part of the decorations, but you want the rest of the house to be merry too. Are you a minimalist, or do you go all out?
We go for a the creative approach and use pine cones. When I was little, I would collect conkers and pine cones, then spray paint them gold. We still have the pine cones, and hang them up around the house.
The staircase is decorated with a garland, and we get greeted by Santa and his reindeer as we go down the stairs.
I've seen streets so lit up that the street lamps aren't necessary, I've seen model Santas climbing up people's houses on a rope. I've seen inflatable snowmen on balconies. And I've seen these things stay up long after Christmas.
Inevitably the enthusiasm that went into putting all the decorations op in front of the house is not equalled when it comes to taking them down again. Are any of you guilty of leaving the fairy lights on the roof all year round?
As pretty as the decorations look outside the house, we don't bother with this part. We prefer to keep Christmas a private thing, and a little less loud. We have had some natural decorations come our way though.