A few weeks ago I interviewed Julie Goodwin (of Masterchef fame) about Christmas and cooking and music, and she said, “Everyone make their own traditions.” I think this is especially true in regards to the festive season when families come together (or not — it equally could be a tradition to spend Christmas apart for various reasons) and follow the familiar rituals they’ve developed over the years.
In my family, over the past 10 years it’s become a tradition to make our own Christmas “tree”. This was partly born out of a visit my mother and I made to the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, where there was an exhibition of trees made from all kinds of materials including plywood and cardboard. The other part of the reason for creating our own trees was the pretend, plastic one we’d had for most of my childhood was getting rather tatty and really needed replacing.
That first year I wasn’t there for Christmas (on account of being in France), but my mum created a tree for our family’s coast house out of driftwood and shells. The next year at home we had a wire coil that we wrapped fat, fluffy gold tinsel around so it looked like a golden line coiling its way from roof to floor. Others have included a cone of blue and white tissue paper (made from garden mesh with squares of paper squashed in). My parents now have a kind of permanent wire coil arrangement that can be hooked up to their ceiling and hung with ornaments (many of which have been salvaged from various sources including the ever-entertaining local tip).
I have my own fake Christmas tree, about two-thirds my height and begrudgingly bought by a past boyfriend who didn’t really believe in all this Christmas decorating nonsense. But this year I wanted to use a red and gold theme but not have to buy all new decorations, so I decided to make my own. Et voila!
It’s made from dropped eucalypt branches I collected from trees around my suburb (much to the disgust of my dog who not only had his run cut short but had to contend with his person fetching sticks when that’s clearly a canine job). I peeled the bark off (most of) them and then spray painted them gold. Some of the branches are a bit patchy where I didn’t quite get the paint on all sides, but I think the mixture of gold and brown is nice (besides, you don’t notice unless you get up really close). They’re standing in a red pot bought from the local hardware store, with sand filling the pot so the branches stay in place. The baubles are made from string using a kind of papier mache method, which I found over on Wednesday Custom Design, and then painted red. I got better at them as I went along but over I’m very pleased with the effect and am wondering if I might hang them somewhere else once Christmas is over. The whole thing is finished off with gold-wrapped presents with red ribbons (when I pick a theme, I’m determined to stick to it).
I’m rather pleased with how it all came out and my skeptical housemates (who were very good about having their living room taken over by my crazy crafting notions) have also conceded it’s actually quite nice. Now what can I do next year?