We decorated our Christmas tree a couple of nights ago and as usual put my childhood fairy doll on the top. I don’t know exactly when she was bought but I can’t remember a Christmas without her.
We must have had her before 1958 because that was the year my sister and I were given our first vinyl dolls. I was seven and my sister was five years old. The Christmas tree fairy doll is made out of what we used to call “pot” and we noticed the difference to the vinyl dolls. The fairy doll’s hair is just moulded onto her head but the new vinyl dolls had “real hair” which was rooted through pin-holes in the head and could be washed and combed. The arms of the fairy doll are jointed with elastic bands and her legs don’t move at all. The new vinyl dolls had fully jointed arms and legs which didn’t fall off like the pot dolls did.
What a lot of our family history the fairy doll has witnessed. She was looking down from her perch when we got our new baby sister just in time for Christmas in the early sixties. She must have noticed when Michael (my husband-to-be) made his first visit to my family home just after Christmas in 1974. No doubt she joined us in our tears when we found out mum’s cancer had returned one Christmas at the start of the eighties. And a few years later she’d have enjoyed the laughter and excitement when I stuck her on the top of the tree at the village school where I had my first headship. She came with us to each of our new homes and has seen Tom, Toby and Caleb come and go. And now she’s up on the top of this year’s tree waiting for the festivities to begin.
Whether or not the fairy doll will see Santa disappearing up the chimney this year is anyone’s guess!
For years the fairy doll spent the months between each Christmas packed away with the rest of the Christmas decorations in an old leather suitcase that had belonged to my dad.
His mother gave it to him when he volunteered for the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm during World War 2. He packed his stuff into it when he went off for his initial training at HMS Royal Arthur. Once he was enrolled he got a RN kit-bag but he kept the suitcase anyway. Throughout childhood the suitcase accompanied us on our annual summer holidays and our first family trip to London. Even empty it’s really heavy but that was the style for luggage in those days. Eventually the leather handle broke and attempts to repair it with string always ended up in disaster so the suitcase was relegated to being a storage box in the loft.
A couple of years ago the leather developed a strange, greeny-grey mildew and I decided it was time for it to go to the tip. I don’t know what caused the mildew but it didn’t look very healthy. So I photographed the suitcase for posterity and dumped it.
I’ve still got some Christmas tree decorations left over from when we were children.
But I don’t hang them on the tree anymore as they’re so fragile and lethal when they shatter. Just a few twinkling lights and red / gold tinsel and baubles this year. And, of course, the old fashioned fairy doll on the top.
Thanks for reading my blog today and hope you and your family have a very Happy Christmas.
Cathy and Michael (aka Santa in the above photo).