zaterdag 24 december 2016

And so this is Christmas

I confess I am not much of a Christmas person.

It's not that I have anything against Christmas, mind you, and I certainly don't begrudge anyone their Christmas traditions, but I just ... don't feel it.  I feel like I am on the outside, looking in through holly festooned windows at other people celebrating the day.


At the danger of sounding like a right old Scrooge, the thing I do not like about Christmas is the spend, spend, spend mentality which seems to take over even the most frugal of people.

It doesn't help that I'm working in the centre of Antwerp, near the city's main shopping street. At this time of year, it's a hazard venturing outside during lunch breaks, as there's a constant threat of being overrun by what I call the Christmas Zombies, who are on a mission to spend their hard earned money on the most useless of presents.

Family heirloom from Jos's parents


Still, in spite of all this, I put up a Christmas tree, even if only to display my vintage Christmas ornaments, consisting of family heirlooms as well as flea market and charity shop finds.



The ghost of Christmas past only shows me the odd snippet, which will have to make do as looking through the photo albums of my childhood, there don't seem to be any photographs taken at Christmas.



Having only a very small family (both my parents were only children), we always spent Christmas day at my parents' house, together with both sets of grandparents.


We had a tree, which my mum and I decorated at the start of the Christmas holidays. And we had a nativity scene, peopled by little plaster figurines which had been my mum's since she was a young girl and must therefore date back to the 1940s. The manger itself was made of plywood by my dad, its roof draped with cotton wool snow.

My mum's 1940s nativity set

On Christmas, my dad picked up both sets of grandparents for a family get together.


Presents were exchanged, but apart from one year when I got a much coveted Barbie outfit, I can only remember boxes of chocolates and monogrammed hankies.


The women generally had to make do with luxury soaps or cheap cologne, and there were always boxes of cigars for the men.

A set of my parents' best glasses






Some kind of sweet white wine, of which I was allowed a sip, and which tasted revolting, was poured in my parents' best glasses.
















After I left home, I didn't go home for Christmas for years, spending it with friends instead, or with my ex boyfriends' families, although it wasn't always on the day itself. For many, many years I lived without a Christmas tree or indeed any Christmas decorations at all.

Icicle decorations which belonged to Jos's parents





Only after I met Jos, did a sort of Christmas routine enter my life.

We went around to my parents for dinner on Christmas Eve, and we spent Christmas itself, which we re-christened "Pyjama Day", lounging around the house, with just the two of us.













This tradition is still standing, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

After my mum died in 2001, we took over Christmas Eve dinner, first at our house, later at my dad's.

Now that my dad is no longer with us, there will be another shift in our traditions, which feels a little strange but liberating at the same time.








Whatever your Christmas traditions are, I am wishing you all a happy and stress-free one!




24 opmerkingen:

  1. Merry Christmas to you, Jos and Phoebe I hope your Pyjama Day is wonderful xxx

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    1. Thanks Melanie, I hope your Christmas was wonderful too! xxx

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  2. Those doll's clothes and fairy lights are just lovely and what a fab selection of vintage baubles. They're enough to make anyone want to embrace Xmas!!
    I'll be thinking of you on Xmas Day, the first one is always hard. I love that you and Jos are embracing a new tradition without your Dad. Me and my fellow DRS members will be raising a glass to you tomorrow. xxx

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  3. very pretty vintage baubles!!
    i could swear that the ones from jos´ parents - bells and the topper -came from lauscha/thüringen! is there still a box with a producers name on it?
    your x-mas bio sounds like mine :-)
    since we live in the railroad house we have a fire tree in the salon - glittery decorated. but no presents, no dead goose.
    today we made cookies - hubby loves animal cookie cutters and decorating with almonds and such. we had fun and now very healthy sweets for the next weeks :-)
    have it "gemütlich" <3 <3 <3
    xxxxxx

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    1. Mmm, cookies! Unfortunately, there's no box, we're already glad that some of these fragile baubles have survived all these years. Jos is sure they are German, though, as most of the pretty glass ones came from Germany. Oh, and I hope you had it "gemütlich" too! xxx

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  4. I love these images. Thank you for sharing your Christmas memories.

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  5. Merry Christmas!!! I love the vintage ornaments. So fragile though! X

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    1. Hope you had a lovely Christmas. The vintage baubles are fragile indeed. We did manage to break one, luckily it wasn't an heirloom ... xxx

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  6. Have a peaceful Christmas, Ann, and a Happy New Year. Those decorations are so pretty and we have some similar ones. I also hate all the shopping frenzy at this time of year so we have escaped to the Cotswolds for peace and quiet! xxx

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    1. Hope you had a great Christmas in the Cotswolds, Claire. You were so right to escape! xxx

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  7. I kind of get the impression you're not the only one who doesn't like Christmas in Blogland. I'm reading lots of unenthusiastic posts. But despite that, I hope you have a nice time, you and Jos together in your PJs! xxx

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    1. Hope you had a great Christmas, Tania. And you'll get to see us in our PJs in my new post ;-) xxx

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  8. We don't have any family left, really so it was the three of us playing board games all of Christmas day (and eating far too much). I like the sound of a quiet day spent in your PJ's.

    The beautiful ornaments would be pretty displayed in a bowl at any time of year.

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    1. Playing board games with just the three of you sounds like a nice thing to do on Christmas Day. And it can be done wearing PJs! xxx

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  9. I've never had much family only child and not close to my mother or cousins,

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    1. I've never had much family either, and you cannot choose them, so it's better to spend a quiet Christmas with people (and animals, obviously) you love! xxx

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  10. What beautiful baubles!

    There's no one 'right' way to do Christmas. I like seeing how everyone enjoys their days off. As with weddings, Christmas is best when it's done in a heartfelt and personal way, not with too much money spent all because someone else somewhere far away says that's how it should be done.

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    1. We're lucky that Phoebe is not interested in the baubles. The only thing she does is sniff at the underside of the tree, so we hang the fragile ones higher up. And indeed, there's no right way to do Christmas. Hope you had a lovely one! xxx

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  11. Your vintage baubles remind me of ones we had when I was a child, we always got them out year after year (some people buy new every year nowadays and 'theme' their decorations!!!) so I expect they are still in my dad's loft. I agree with you Ann, it seems most people think that Christmas means spend, spend, spend... it seems vulgar to me. I was working on Xmas Day and quite happy to be there. x

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    1. Unfortunately all of my parents' baubles were broken and long ago replaced by more modern ones. We were lucky to inherit the few remaining ones belonging to Jos's parents, after his brother died two years ago. xxx

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  12. These decorations are gorgeous! Andy and I are slowly collecting a range of decorations, we add one or two each year. It makes decorating the tree a trip down memory lane.
    I love the idea of a pyjama day but we're always so busy over Christmas we'd never find the time.

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    1. That's a really nice idea, Hazel. Our collection was built up slowly over the years as well. We added two more vintage baubles this year ... xxx

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