Tour de Tree

Two days until Christmas and I’ve signed off from work, so now I can sit in the living room and admire our tree in the daylight.

Here’s a tour around some of my favourite ornaments.

This guy is new this year. I’m calling him Humpty Dumpty but my French friend called him by another name.

One of the three magi, this one is huge. He came from a Christmas shop in Stratford-upon-Avon, where I was impressed by the size, the detail, and the shiny sparkliness of him and his camel. There were two other magi for sale but this was the brightest and most glitzy of the three and that’s how he got my vote.

One of many ornaments I bought in Russia when I lived there some years ago. The Firebird – beautifully hand painted in exquisite detail.

Another Russian, some kind of winter princess. I think I picked her because she had a friendlier face than others. You don’t want someone on your tree who looks like she thinks she’s too good to be there.

Two lucky symbols here. Blending in with the green of the tree is the tiki from New Zealand. Air New Zealand in fact. We found it in my Dad’s bedside drawer when tidying up after he died. He never flew with Air New Zealand, so it must have been a gift from my older sister many years ago and he kept it. It sits up high on the tree, next to the evil eye from Turkey. I like to think by putting these two high up on the tree, they will protect our Christmas.

Because you can never have too much protection at Christmas, Durga also sits up near the top of the tree. She came from Pushkar in India. In Hinduism, she is the protector of all that is good and harmonious and battles the forces of evil. Definitely someone to have on your side at Christmas.

The last of our lucky pieces are these chillies topped with a cabbage from the Chinese market in Singapore. (Chillies are also lucky in India, and people use them to keep evil spirits out of their shops and homes.)

The parrot, the cactus and the pineapple – they all come from Central America. The pineapple I think came from Guatamala, but the cactus, the parrot and several other colourful tin ornaments came from a tiny shop in Oaxaca. When I find a shop that has things that make good Christmas ornaments I get ready to hand over all my money.

A different kind of tin ornament. We bought made six or seven tin toys from a stall at the Lille Christmas market. Again, hand made, but crafted with such love and detail, with small parts that turn and move and spin. The delicacy of construction is a thing of wonder.

Shop bought in London, these guys, but cute. Three little cheerful robots that are just pleasantly colourful and retro.

This glass ornament and its two companions have their origins closest to where the story of Christmas took place. I bought them in Jordan. Simple shapes – balls and bells – but unexpected to find something for Christmas in a country which doesn’t celebrate this feast day.

On our last pre-Covid trip last year, we went to Kruger National Park in South Africa before crossing over to Mozambique to visit with friends who were living there. We loved these beaded animals that were for sale in shops and markets and although we wanted some to represent the “big” animals we saw, I was also keen to have this Guinea fowl. These chicken-sized birds scuttled around the Kruger camp sites, not paying us humans much attention. I wanted something to remember that.

I’ve got ten of these. Russian, again. Little church or small-house ornaments, again hand painted in beautiful detail. I remember my Russian teacher getting exasperated with me when I had to talk about what I did on the weekend. “I went to this site/museum and then I went to the market nearby and I bought decorations for my Christmas tree.” I should be able to remember the word for Christmas tree ornaments but I only remember the word for the tree – yolka.

How do you decorate your tree? Do you go with a theme or do you have a collection of family heirloom ornaments that you’ve acquired over the years?

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