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Decorating the Christmas tree

Christmas is a big event in the UK. The Americans have Thanksgiving and the Dutch have Sinterklaas – but we love our Christmas! One potent symbol of this festival is the Christmas tree and as I open my box of decorations to put on the tree, I get to use some of my favourite Christmassy words. Even the word decorate reminds me of the more traditional term deck as in the carol ‘Deck the Halls’. Firstly, the fairy lights go on (not Christmas lights as they call them elsewhere) – these may be glowing, or flashing, or even chasing. Then come the long, bushy garlands of tinsel, which throw scintilla flecks of light across the walls of the room. I add baubles of every hue, of satin and glitter and glass. Finally, I toss on some lametta. There’s a technique to this, to spread it evenly, avoiding clumps. And there’s my tree, smelling of resin and green, and passers-by on a chilly night see it aglow and feel warmed.

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Beth Penfold

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