Today Ruth and I went to visit a museum for the first, and last, time (more on that later). But on the way home, we passed Ikea in the car and we were so close to stopping off to buy a Christmas tree. In the end, we didn’t get one.
- We’re away for a few days over Christmas, so we won’t be at home to enjoy the tree on the day itself anyway;
- We’re trying to save money like mad. Our ailing boiler (Americans: read ‘water heater’) has finally given up the ghost, choosing the most expensive time of the year to pack in. A new one is going to set us back nearly £2,000, we’re told (and will set back my debt payoff plan too, sadly);
- We have a suspicion our deranged dog would either tear bits off a Christmas tree or find a way to get a pine needle stuck in his paw and land us with a vet’s bill on top of the boiler bill. He’s sneaky like that.
I like Christmas and I have nothing against Christmas trees. I think they’re lovely. But for one reason or another, our decorations have taken a decidedly minimalist turn this year. Here’s what’s passing for the tree at our place:
We’re planning to go out into the woods in the next few days and find bits of holly, ivy and pine cones to decorate the house with. It’s something we did last year and it looked really bloody cosy.
And after all, there are other ways to get in the festive spirit.
The museum we visited today, Red House in Gomersal, West Yorkshire, was once home to a good friend of Charlotte Bronte and featured as Briarmains in her novel, Shirley. Even in Charlotte’s day, the house was already nearly 200 years old. Each year, the museum celebrates a 19th century Christmas, as the Brontes would have known them.
But this was its last, because it is being closed down by its local council in a few days to save money.
Staff and helpers had dressed up in period costume, the normal entry fees were suspended, there was a historical musical group playing all kinds of weird traditional English instruments, and people in the kitchen had cooked up cheeses, chutneys and mulled wine. The whole place was decked out – you guessed it – with cuttings of holly and ivy.
It’s a place I’ve lived half-an-hour away for more than a decade, but never thought to visit because, you know, I can always go another time. Today there was no more putting it off.
There were lots of other people who had the same thought. The place was packed. And maybe a full house is the best Christmas decoration going.
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