A couple of weeks ago, I read an Instagram post by Jen at ‘Mum in the Mad House‘ about Christmas performance anxiety and it really resonated with me. So much so that it made me realise I felt a bit ashamed to share pictures of our Christmas tree or our Christmas decorations because I felt they were so ordinary and possibly on the shabby side…
It hit me a few days later when I got home after work that our tree made me feel very happy, every single time I looked at it. It’s our first ever Christmas tree as a family. It is OUR tree and we all love it.
Yes, our Christmas tree is wonky, messy and definitely not professionally decorated, unlike so many beautiful ones I have seen on Instagram in the past few weeks. Our Christmas tree looks a bit like an elf vomited coloured felt onto it. No, we haven’t got a Christmas tree in every room. Our fir is not a majestic, sustainably grown in a pot, colour-coordinated tree that’s worthy of a John Lewis Christmas catalogue, but at the end of the day, we’re not a John Lewis catalogue kind of family, are we?
This little Christmas tree looks like us, ever so slightly ‘rubbish dump chic’, with the old red blanket under it, the felt star attached with Gorilla tape to the wonky top, the fairy lights I got from a project to make my garden prettier 4 or 5 years ago. Most of the things we put up are homemade and perfectly imperfect.
But you know what? Whenever we open our boxes of Christmas decorations, we all get really excited and keep interrupting each other with, “Remember when…?” memories those shabby little decorations summon up. I blooming love that!
I’m a single mum with four gorgeous kids full of fun, crazy and arty ideas. None of the decorations on that tree were bought with a perfect aesthetic in mind, BUT every single one of the things we hung on that tree has meaning for us.
The felt star on the top is the first Christmas decoration I ever bought when I was sharing a flat with my friend Cé as a newly qualified teacher at the start of the noughties. This adorable little fairy is from my friend Anna.
I made most of the felt decorations when my children were babies and I actually remember making them, when I did them and what I was doing then. I made the slightly creepy-looking gingerbread men when 4-week-old Jumpy spent a week in hospital with pneumonia.
The mini stockings were made when Beanie was a newborn and I remember how relaxed I felt when she slept for stretches that were long enough to let me craft for a couple of hours at a time. She was a colicky baby and being able to hand sew and not feed, comfort or carry my wailing baby in my arms or a sling felt so therapeutic. For a few years after that, I made felt decorations for my children and family. Love our little mittens (tutorial here).
My friend Esther whom I met at really old-fashioned and hilarious NCT meetings sent us some of the gorgeous homemade decorations and I really treasure them because they’re so special. Check out her Peg It Dolls Etsy shop here.
The bell we got on the Polar Express years and years ago in Devon is pretty special too. We all boarded the train in our PJs and met Father Christmas onboard. He gave the children a bell each. Towards the end of the ride, my sister-in-law who was holding Beanie pointed out there were nits moving around on her head. It was our first encounter with the creepy crawlies.
There’s also the penguin from Cé’s mum Catherine, who passed away a few years ago and was such a role model for me as a mum.
We plopped a few candy canes on there too and the wonderful little wreath I bought from my friend Lynne’s shop. This little rainbow wreath from Lynne at ‘Oh Positive’ (website here, Etsy shop here) will always remind me of 2020, the year we all stayed at home.
And of course there are loads of decorations made by my children, from half-broken salt dough stars made at school to paper hanging thingies to beautifully painted wood slices during Art classes with Ali (Instagram here).
I blooming love our Christmas tree and I am proud of it.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t believe everything you see on Instagram. A lot of the seemingly perfect things you see on social media are curated to death. They are heavily staged and they do not represent perfection, happiness or something you should strive to achieve to the point of breaking down about it. Be you, be proud, switch off or unfollow when it gets too much.
Oh, and Joyeux Noël!