December 15, 2010

Magic moments

The tree is up in the House of Norrington!

It is an event I absolutely treasure, and get ridiculously sentimental about, but every year  we are faced with the same dilemma. The living room is triple height and could, in theory take a 9 foot tree, (and that is in a sensible position, the kids are all for moving out the sofas and having the tree in the centre of the room which could go to about 20 ft - eek!). We have on several years gone for the 9 footer, but it is a major deal. It gets chosen, as annual tradition dictates, at the local town Saturday market from a family that sell them there every year. It gets delivered later the same afternoon, by which time the decorations have been retrieved from the attic, the Christmas carol cd has gone on and a celebratory ginger wine poured for the grownups.

So far so festive and jolly, but that is the easy bit. Richard then spends about an hour outside in the freezing cold, often lashing rain, denuding the tree of its lowest branches and whittling down the hefty trunk which we have realised does not fit in the stand. And he is not, umm, a natural lumberjack. Numb hands, red nose, a couple of minor lacerations later, he arrives in the house, triumphant but with the set jaw that is the tension give-away with my beloved!!

Then, swiping furniture and dropping needles, the tree makes the lumbering journey across the living room, ("watch the lamp!" etc),  and  into its stand. The whole 'getting it straight in the stand' is a good 15 minute team effort involving poked eyes, squealing children and increasingly terse dad. Only it still leans. Crank up the cd and pour another gingerwine. Cue more heaving and swaying and the the lingering possiblity of a major crash/crushed limb plus an unseasonal swallowed expletive or two. I know you can imagine the scene. Still deemed a health risk so out comes ladder and steel wires. I am not making this up. Another half an hour later a spagetti-junction of wires attached to beams holds the tree in place and, oh joy, the decorating can begin. Except the kids have long since wandered off and it is possible that mum is getting a just a tiny bit tiddley on the ginger wine as the cd hits its third loop of fa la blinking laaas.

So you see, a cute 4 footer seems so beautiful to us! Comes from the same sellers, but still with roots in a pot so no stand stand-off, far less needle drop and can be replanted outside later. Win-winnity-win all round, (except for the tree sellers who get very cross with us for wimping out of the giant tree purchase)! Up it goes on the sideboard, easy as you like, cd playing etc, everyone happy and cheery and ignoring the 16 year old who says he prefers the big tree. This year we went for mainly blues, whites and silvers, but we rotate our collection, only buying or making a couple of tree decorations each year (this time it was the glittery pine-cones left over from the wreath-making). And every year the magic moment comes, again dictated by the traditions of the House of Norrington, when all lights are turned off and after a noisy count-down, the tree-lights are switched on. Genuinely, a rather lovely moment. I always take a peak at the kids' faces.

We have put up a few other decorations, but I don't go completely mad - just a few things we love or have collected from outside. Christmas cards go up on our dining room bookcase, the wreath has made it to the front door with another on the inside of the garden door,

 and a last one on a windowsill.

Our most treasured Christmas item is a tiny fold-out book, made for us by hand by my lovely sister. She designed and made the whole thing, and I really think it is a work of art. It reminds us of aspects of the Christmas story with each letter of the alphabet. Amazing and will be a little family heirloom,

There are white pin lights up at some windows, and foraged loveliness, hogweed seedheads that I sprayed silver,

and, in little vintage glass vases,  other seedheads that I sprayed with silver glitter, (love spray glitter but the photos don't pick up on the effect unfortunately, its not quite as subtle as it looks!). It is not really overtly Christmas-y, but seasonal in an understated sort of way that I love,

So if it all looks a little understated and plain for your tastes, fear not - the kids are off school next week and that is when the home-made technicolor paperchains and baubles get made! Bring it on!

***Heaps of Christmas decorating inspiration at Southern in my Heart  on Friday***


  1. You had me fooled "good and proper," Belinda. That initial photograph of your tree seemingly reaching high up into the planned it that way, all along! I was empathising hugely with all the effort you'd had to go and was ready to award you and your husband the "Best Parents Ever!" medal (poked out eyeballs frost bitten nose, lacerated fingers, tiddly Mom, indeed!) and "I kid you not," but I honestly gulped in surprised amazement at the end of your sorry tale when finally confronted with the picture of your sedate 4 footer! Clearly, I'm a bigger sucker than my family think I am!

    Far more sensible way to go - well done! Love your decorating and the naturalness of it all - definitely not into garish and over the top myself! Your tree decorations are beautiful, blues and silvers work so wonderfully together.

    I love the heavy, solid beams and wooden doors and windows in your home and the whites and creams of your furnishings complement it all so well! You have a beautiful home. Thank you for sharing it with us and giving us such a good chuckle.

  2. All looks lovely and just as I imagined.

    Smart choice with the smaller, live tree. Enough stress around this holiday.

    It's 7:30am here, my tree is lit, your tree is beautiful, I'm off to shower and go wrassel flowers.

    Enjoy your day.

    xo jane

  3. I can sooooo picture the scene and ssshhhhhhh - it's always the men that make them don't you think?

    I love all your silver twinkly bits - so lovely.

    Nina xxx

  4. Just by see the photos being posted you could really feel the Christmas Spirit around you. :-)

  5. It looks so lovely and understated and glamorous and welcoming. There are so many photographs of lovely trees out here in blogland, we could have our very own Christmas tree festival.

  6. It all looks beautiful and twinkly. My poor tree is still sitting outside the back door, having been too busy to clear it's final place in the living room. The market was a huge success, thanks for your comment. My litle fingers are trying to work as hard as they can to produce more stock for the market this weekend! Alas, I think they will only be able to work hard enough to produce for the Saturday and we may have to opt out of Sunday - biten off more then I can chew, me thinks.

  7. Oh Hogweed! I love new English teatowels match.

    Your home is steeped in charm and the details look like they have age and the wood has a warm patina...would love to see more of it :)

    We plan to get a small tree this year too. With our new kitten Pepper we are trying to keep things safer...

    Hope that your week goes well.

  8. Brilliant description of the 9ft monster being hauled into place.....we have the exact same performance.
    Every year I suggest a manageable size tree for the sideboard, but no, it is a "man" thing and we have to get the monster!
    I think the ginger wine will be replaced with a G&T to combat my stress levels this weekend....
    Julie x

  9. Hi Belinda,

    Your tree story sounds a bit the same like our story. Especially the husband part and the entrance of the tree into the living room :-)!

    You chose some pretty colours for the decorations. I love the sprayed seedheads. I will try to remember this for next year!! After a week in the hall, our tree is finally up as well. Hurray!!

    Enjoy your evening!

    Lieve groet, Madelief

  10. What a lovely tree. We went the smaller tree route several years ago, but I do have to admit missing the monster. Enjoy the season. Thanks for sharing with us.

  11. It's surprisingly easy to get a bit tipsy while putting up the tree, isn't it?! Last year we had a massively tall tree and had exactly the same problems as you describe here. There must be a solution to the stand-issue. We uphraded to a bigger and heavier stand this year which has helped no end.

    Last year, one of our children 'accidently' pushed another one into the tree and, I kid you not, half the needles feel off. :-(

    I love the idea of a Christmas countdown for the light-switching. I might introduce that next year. We always get my husband to put the star on top of the tree as the last decoarion. He declares Christmas officially open and we all clap!!


  12. it looks gorgeous. we wanted a tree in a pot this year but the only one left was really wonky. I imagined each year it would grow wonkier and wonkier.... next year I won't leave it so late.....

  13. Thanks Desiree, so glad you like what you see!

    Jane, do you get to slow down at all between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Thanks for the kind words.

    Nina - you and me both for the silver twinkley bits!

    SPF - We were def in the zone!

    The stands aren't rocket science are they Sarah, they should be better designed, yes indeed they should!!

    Hi Driftwood, it could end up a very cutting edge wonky art installment you know!!

    Maggie, thanks so much, and it is fun seeing all the trees.

    Brilliant news that all your hard work is paying off, F inthe Forest!

    Julie - they still believe size matters!

    Webb, I know I kinda miss the monster too!

    madelief, I loved the pics of your decorations - gorgeous, I think we have a love of some similar things with decorating?

  14. Hostess, thanks for your lovely comment, so glad you like my home, I thought of you spraying the hogweed cos I know your weakness for it!!

  15. ps Hostess, off chance you might like the header too!!xx

  16. I'm always intrigued by other people's tree/decorating traditions. We have our own convictions about these things; but then doesn't everyone? Your decorations are lovely -- and you are at least the third person I've spoken to this year who has elevated (ahem) their height-challenged tree.

    (So it's called hogweed? I've always wondered. Really, it deserves a prettier name. And you've reminded me that I've got some dried allium stalks/heads in the garage that I meant to spraypaint gold.)

    Thanks so much for visiting me! It's good to meet you. x

  17. You have a beautiful Christmas home! It is easy to over-decorate, but you have stayed on the safe side. Personally, over the years, I now prefer as little decorating as possible.

  18. Oh, I am definitely thinking of adding ginger wine to my decorating experience next year! Sounds like your hubby needed it the most after battling the tree! :-) Your home looks so gorgeous and I love the little fold-out alphabet Christmas story book. Thank you so much for sharing this at my Inspiration Friday party this week!
    Merry Christmas,

  19. Thanks for visiting B, and I couldn't agree more about the Hogweed, it needs a glamourous name!

    Mette, I think the same.

    Vanessa, loved the party!

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