I've been putting off telling you, but I ditched the artificial tree.
I tried, really I did, but my heart wasn't in it. I couldn't even bring myself to put any decorations on it, and nor could anyone else. So I asked my son what he thought of getting a real tree, and he jumped at the chance. Before you could say "tree", the two of us were at the shop round the corner, the tree was bought and up.
And then I did begin to enjoy decorating. I love getting out the old things that the kids made when they were small, and I love hanging stuff in the same place as it hung last year. And remembering where we bought some of the others.
The knitted socks were made by my son, for hubbie and me, when he was 9. His teacher got her mother to travel down from Donegal (about 3 hours from Dublin, where we live) and stay for a few days to teach the class how to knit! I helped with stitching on M on mine and P on hubbie's. On top of the tree are 2 angels, made by the girls round about the same time.
We have a gold bauble bought on a trip to Disney, some painted eggs bought in Salzburg, and some lovely silver decorations, made here in Ireland by Newbridge Silverware- a church, a Cinderella carriage, a carousel. These were all gifts, one per year, from a friend.
One of my Christmas traditions is that I send these Newbridge decorations to my 3 nieces who live in the UK. I picture them opening them, and perusing what each one got. And I picture them helping to decorate their tree each year by hanging their own decorations on the branches. I hope they enjoy them, and that it gives them some sense of their Irishness. My own children, however, scorn the idea - they think my nieces would prefer to get money than decorations. Maybe now, but in the future they may appreciate them, and tell their own children about the Irish aunt who annually sent them - who knows?