Words on Wednesday: the Christmas tree

The Christmas tree is such a symbol of this time of year, that it is hard for me at least to imagine Christmas without one. My father always made such a bit thing of Christmas and the tree, that I guess that has stayed with me down the years. I still remember the magic of Christmas morning, seeing our tree (which seemed so big as it touched the ceiling) finally decorated with cotton wool snow and…the fairy who had flown in overnight to take her place at the top.

Since we moved to New Zealand we have had an artificial tree, given that of course it is summer here. It stands in our living room window and even if the sun is shining brightly, it still looks festive and cheerful. There are two new decorations this year. First up is this delicate leaf, sent to me by one of my nieces, It shines and sparkles and looks really pretty against the tree. It was supposed to arrive last year, but ‘Covid-post’ meant that it couldn’t be sent until 2022 (the US post office said no post was going to New Zealand last year). Never mind, it is here now.

I know many other bloggers such as Carol-Anne over at Fashioned for Joy also have memories or stories about their decorations. These two little figures were I think picked up about 25 years ago, but not sure exactly from where. I love them with their cheery expressions. They always sit in the top half of the tree. In the distance on the left you can see one of three red apples which also must be about the same age, and are always dotted about the tree. Yes you can spot Swedish flags..we have two sets of them, one line of Finnish flags and one of Norwegian, plus some very traditional Danish hearts you can see below, to remind us of our European roots an traditions.

There are some more recent Southern Hemisphere additions as well: a sulphur-crested cockatoo from Australia and this bright coloured sequinned parrot, the other new addition this year.

There is a new fairy on top of the tree this year representing the New Zealand Christmas tree, the pohutukawa. I bought her up several months ago and thought she would be ideal for the tree. The old fairy is still the same one from my childhood, redecorated a couple of times by my mother. She has retired at last from tree duties and now sits on one of the bookshelves, watching over us all still.

Last year I spotted this happy ballerina, and couldn’t help but pick her up. You can see one of the Danish stars to the left. I also think the little reindeer with a stripe sweater and jaunty scarf looks fun, and I could imagine him dancing with the ballerina should they come alive.

Elsewhere in the room we have a traditional Swedish julbok or Christmas goat (you can read about the most famous one here), a little choir which is from my childhood, and another traditional Swedish shelf decoration of Christmas elves.

Finally, my favourite decoration that I think features every year in the blog is the little French drummer boy, given to me the same year my niece who gave me the silver leaf at the top of the post was born. He looks so happy and cheerful, and I always make sure he sits in the middle of the tree. I won’t tell you how old he is as it will give away both our ages, but suffice to say he is considerably older than his youthful appearance belies.

Do you have any favourite decorations that come out year after year?

Thistles and Kiwis is a Wellington, New Zealand based blog written by Barbara, who likes cats, summer, good food and pretends to garden.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis. If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com or lofgren@thistlesandkiwis.org


  1. You have beautiful decorations for your tree! Your post reminds me of Christmas trees in my youth – always real trees. We have used fake trees in the past as well as spekboom, thorn trees and once even a potted peach tree. My youngest granddaughter (six) has asked for “a real tree, Granny” so I will pick a small one from the surrounding area tomorrow – I leave it until only a day or two before or else the heat here causes the needles to fall.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a lovely post, full of Christmas cheer! Your tree decorations are great, and full of memories, and the julbok is very festive. Coincidentally on Monday evening we watched (via Zoom) a pair of folk singers doing a festive show. One of them (Vicki Swan) is Swedish by birth, married to a Brit and living in southern England. She was telling us all about the julbok legend in general, and in particular about a giant julbok. I didn’t catch the name of the place where it can be seen, but I think it must be the Gavle Goat that your post links too. Vicki was saying that today she would be flying out to Sweden and hoped to see the Gavle Goat, but added that this was by no means certain as it is a favourite target of arsonists. It often doesn’t make it to Christmas Day, let alone 12th Night! Hopefully she was in luck, as it looks pretty spectacular.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes the giant julbok is in Gavle and yes it does often burn down – once I believe someone even had a bow and arrows that were set alight! I think in the past couple of years it has survived, but sometimes it has burned down right at the beginning of December.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What an interesting and lovely post. I think the Little French drummer boy is my favourite. We have lots of memories attached to our Christmas decorations too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How I love this post. Your Christmas decorations and both lovely and meaningful (and fun and colorful and joyous!). Your feature photo of gold orb + moose reminds me of quiet winter forests. The leaf is beautiful and all the fairies! I love that your childhood fairy continues to have a restful place of honor. Thank you for sharing all of this with us and for mentioning me with it!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.