21/11/2018
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Christmas in bygone Glasgow - Scottish nostalgia

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Family memories of Christmas in Glasgow in years gone by. By Alison Cunningham.

I’ll always remember the day when my mother phoned to tell me that she was having the Christmas tree cut down The tree had reached the height of the gutters and was blocking the sun from the front of my childhood home in a Glasgow suburb. My mother had had enough.

Although I‘d moved into my own house many years before, it was still ‘home’, and the tree was part of that. It had grown up with me, since the dreary Twelfth Night when my father and I had planted it.

The Christmas tree

We had always had a real Christmas tree, taking pride of place in the bay window of the lounge. I loved the smell of the tree, and the glitter of the baubles twinkling in the light of our one sparse string of fairy lights seemed magical. For the three or four weeks of the festive season we would spend a lot of time in the lounge to make the most of the tree – a room reserved during the rest of the year for tea with visitors and special occasions. My mother enjoyed the tree too, but we would hear her mutter under her breath about the falling needles getting everywhere. 

In those days there wasn’t a huge choice of trees; it was a traditional Christmas tree or nothing. So one year my father decided to splash out and buy a living tree. By the time we were sitting back eating freshly baked mince pies I was smitten – with the decorations, the lights, and plenty of tinsel around the pot, the little tree was glorious. Everyone who called in that year admired it, and my mother had few complaints about falling needles.

Twelfth Night

But best of all was Twelfth Night. After the careful wrapping of each precious decoration in tissue paper and boxing up the fairy lights, my father said we might as well plant the tree in the garden since it was still alive. He didn’t expect it to last the winter, but on that dreich January day we went out, dug a hole and ceremoniously planted the wee tree.

Of course it did survive the winter, and the spring, and many other springs. I marvelled each year at the soft bright green needles that would sprout from the end of each twig. It thrived and spread until we had to cut off some branches to get the car past it in the drive. But now it was as tall as the house and my mother was determined that it had to go.

I paid the tree a farewell visit before its demise.  Looking up into the dense foliage brought memories flooding back, of simpler days and many merry family Christmases when the tree and I were both young.

QUICK LINK: Memories of Christmas 1944

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