A tree of my own

This year I have my own tree for the very first time. In the past, I’ve spent Christmas under other people’s trees — my parents’ or my cousin Elaine’s, or I’ve been abroad on my own somewhere and improvised. I feel a bit ambivalent about having bought a fake tree, but there it is. I was going to try and find a cedar tree that we could plant in the garden afterwards, but time was running short — Baki had a cookie decorating party today, and I thought we ought to have a tree up for it. (And now that the party is over, I have this wonderful, light and liberated feeling. I feel exhilarated by parties in the same way that I am by running. That is to say, I rejoice when the deed is done.)

I stayed up late one night last week to unpack Fake Tree and straighten out all the branches. Then I wound a string of lights around the center of the tree, since that’s what my cousin Bill always says to do (I might not seem to be paying attention, but I am).  Now, I might not have had a tree, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have any decorations. My Auntie Ga used to send me an ornament for Christmas every year. This is the first one I ever got from her:


Then, after she died my cousin Elaine sort of picked up where she left off, and this is one from her:


Then there are a few other oldies, like my old Tusker earring, made out of a bottlecap from Kenya’s fine lager:


And an opulent, gold leafed egg that I am always amazed has made it through another year:


And an ornament that is especially precious this year for having a message in Uncle Herbie’s precise hand:


At the end of the night, the tree had all of my old ornaments on it and I thought it looked pretty good:

tree before

But this is also the year that I was reunited with all of the ornaments that I grew up with, and the following day while Baki was at school, my mother and I put them up, including Auntie Ga’s snowflakes:


And our Roman angel, which my mother just told me she got at the Vatican, so I guess it deserves its lofty perch.


And we added a new ornament this year, as well; Baki chose this one in Abu Dhabi:

abu dhabi

So that in the end, the tree looked like this (and seemed to me quite unashamed of not being real):

tree after

I hope you will forgive me if I am stating the obvious, but this is the first time I have done this. And it seemed somehow significant that these little symbols of my past had been united for the first time. I was struck by how some ornaments’ significance has changed with the death of loved ones, and was happy to be adding a new memory to the collection. It makes me wonder how the boys will react to these ornaments in years to come, and if they might one day be decorating trees of their own.

At the moment, it seems the furthest thing from their minds.


14 thoughts on “A tree of my own

  1. Bill Linet - Elaine Louie

    Hi Siobhan, Your tree looks beautiful with all of the ornaments that you have collected throughout the years. The tree that I put up this year, has only a portion of the ornaments but I did include my mom’s snowflake ornaments that she had crocheted for me, along with my dad’s heart for each of us. I also have a collection of ornaments from my mom, which was a tradition when she was alive. Now that you have your own tree and are collecting ornaments, I will carry on the tradition faithfully. The tree looks especially great in front of the screen! Merry Christmas to all! Wish we were there to celebrate with everyone, but know that we are thinking about each and every one of you. Much love, Elaine and Bill

  2. Your tree is gorgeous and has so much memories, how wonderful. I gave each of my kids an ornament every Christmas starting with their first Christmas (and still does). Some years they will receive a set. When they had their own home and tree, there collection filled their trees.

  3. What a great tree! I love that you’ve so many ornaments from your youth and Christmases past. I’ve very few of the old-time ornaments from home but I do have the tree, though it won;t be put up this year. As for your boys, I think they’re still a bit too young to worry about what’s on the tree. For them it’s all about what’s under it. 😉

    1. So true! My parents used to put the presents under the tree early, but I’m taking the easy road and hiding them until Christmas night. Just another instance where I appreciate what they put up with…

  4. I love the signifigence of the ornaments. Last night, my son was handing things to my granddaughter to hang, and telling her who made them, and at what age…it was so sweet.
    Your First Tree is perfect.
    Merry Christmas.

  5. I have you in my reader, but somehow I never see you!

    Your tree is lovely, and it is so fun to see all your “new” old ornaments! Hope your Christmas was wonderful!

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