Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Tale of TEN Christmas Trees!

You may recall that I told you how, a long time ago, at Halloween, my wife and granddaughter - Pat and Giselle dressed up as witches and accidentally scared the daylights out of the 'trick-or-treaters'? (Here is a link)

At the time I promised I would tell a Tale about a similar event at Christmas....
                               .... Here it is...

We married three months before Christmas in 1959. I'd been conscripted into the Air Force and therefore money was scarce ...nevertheless ... we bought 'our tree.' It was artificial and only about 18 inches high. 

And so the tradition started:

THE FIRST TREE of Christmas:
Is 'our' tree, and, 53 years later, is still the first one we put up, with the original fairy and some of the decorations still held by the original string.

Each year, thereafter, we bought a 'live' tree and then spent the rest of the year cleaning up the pine needles. We needed an artificial tree but they were a bit primitive, until I spotted one in a 'Macey's' in New York and bought it home. 

THE SECOND TREE of Christmas:
Is the 'American' tree. It was state of the art, but now looks a little like toilet brushes stuck on a broomstick. The tree decorations I bought with it are wearing out. But..hey! It's family and been with us 45 years.

We carried on with the two trees until Giselle started infant school in 1995/6. She asked if she could have a party and bring friends ... in the event ... 35 children were scheduled to turn up with their parents!  It's a nice old Victorian house, 110 years old ... and it loves kids, and kids love it; 35 kids would do nicely!! 

We decided a new tree would look well in the dining room and bought a nice fairy to go on top. 
Just before  they all arrived the new fairy fell from grace and her china head broke and wings came off. Ever resourceful, I glued on the wings and put an old Barbie-doll  head onto the fairy. Pat covered the head with a veil... nobody would be any of the wiser. Within minutes, all the children were pointing, 'Look, Barbie with her wings upside-down!'

THE THIRD TREE of Christmas:
Is the 'Barbie' tree ... still with her wings the wrong way up!

Each year we added a tree, which the children had to search for. 

THE FOURTH TREE (in the hall) of Christmas:
Is the 'Toy' tree...

THE FIFTH TREE (in the library) of Christmas:
Is the 'Purple Butterfly' tree ...

THE SIXTH TREE of Christmas:
Is the 'Golden' tree ...
                                   or it would be if I hadn't ruined the photo.

THE SEVENTH TREE of Christmas:
Is the 'Hall' tree...

THE EIGHTH TREE of Christmas:
Is the 'Little Landing' tree...

           Another Photographic gaff!!

THE NINTH TREE of Christmas:
Is the 'tiny' tree... (took them ages to find this one)

THE TENTH TREE of Christmas:
Is the 'BIG' tree. 

As you can imagine, each year the children grew older, entertainment was getting more difficult. 'Charlie Chalk,' the clown came twice. Magicians, Entertainers and Punch & Judy shows came and went ... but then ...they were all suddenly 13... Teenagers!!! Instead of a party,  they wanted to put on a play!!!

Pat had been an actress before I dragged her down to my level and so she she was in her element. She obtained the performing rights/script/music for Roald Dahl's, "Snow White and the Seven Jockeys".  She hired a theatre and off we went.

On the big night, they sold out, all the money to Cancer research. 

So successful was the production that demand for more was heard. The police wanted to give us a financial grant to get poor kids off the streets, the local educators offered even more  money!!! 

AND SO:The "Conisbrough Youth Theatre" was born. It was madness... kids turned up to audition...Pat turned nobody down!

Here are some of them....

I wrote the stage adaptations', made the scenery and (coming from generations of tailors) made the costumes.

The kids could do no wrong in Pat's eyes... although it was manic to me ... it was avant-garde to Pat. 

We did, 'The Magic Costume Box', 'Oliver' and ......'Grease'!! 

I have to tell you ... they ROCKED!!

The original bunch had a final party at the house with a full blown disco.


There were Christmas Carol Singers outside on the evening of the party! Our lot threw open the double storm doors at the front of house and sang the rehearsed chorus from 'Grease!' The Carol singers stood open mouthed as the 36 sang loud and long.

At the end of the party they sang the theme from, 'Titanic', and everyone cried .... and it was all over. We ALL retired: University waited for some ... two went onto the stage ... one teaches at a drama academy ... some married and are now mothers.

Pat and I wait for the next generation... but my granddaughters are all career girls!   ....Guess we'll fill in the time with Gatepost Pictures.



  1. Dear John and Pat,

    What a wonderful story, and I thank you John for sharing the delighted tale of the 10 Christmas Trees. God Bless you and your family and yes A Very Happy Christmas to all of you. And a very Prosperous and Peaceful New Year.

  2. What a wonderful, wonderful story, John! I love all your trees [the ones you could get photos of] but my favorite is the purple butterfly tree.
    My dear John, I wish you and ALL your family a happy Christmas and a healthy, prosperous and peaceful New Year!

  3. Ten Chrismas trees! And a great Christmas story! Thank you John! To you and your family Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

  4. John - you should write a book! And I'm not joking - Seriously - you need to write a book! Your life is so full of such interesting stories and they need to be written down its so precious!
    Your house must look like a forest!!
    Wonderful story - have a wonderful Christmas :0)

  5. Oh a fabulous history and wonderful story. John, I am thinking there is nothing you can't do! Have to admit, I laughed about the angel with the Barbie head and upside down wings!

  6. Wonderful holiday post, John. I love the "march of the trees!" And what a happy-looking bunch of young thespians!
    MERRY CHRISTMAS, and I'll count on seeing you around cyberspace in the, what I hope will be HAPPY, NEW YEAR!

  7. Dear John, today you brought me in a great tour,
    memories and your home as cozy as your blog with whom I feel connected.
    Your art world and your emotional world,
    have been for me a pleasant meeting on Blogger!
    I wish you and your family happy holidays and a wonderful 2013!

  8. Thank You for sharing your wonderful story John. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! I look forward to many more posts in the New Year!

  9. I ALWAYS enjoy your stories, John, and the pictures of all of these trees are so wonderful!!! Such beautiful memories!
    I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New year!!!

  10. wow those trees are wonderful....very Christmas-y!! Loved the story and the Barbie Angel. Charming!

  11. What a beautiful Christmas story, John. The story of a life!
    I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Ciao!

  12. Es una historia preciosa, una historia de vida y de ilusión. Feliz Navidad para ti y los tuyos!

  13. A great read, John - your stories always make me feel so full of life, bursting at the seams! I love the stories, the heartfelt pleasures that you convey, the excitement and happy outcomes - and the tree photos are so exuberant - I love it all! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful life of achievement, happiness, adventure and daring with us! A very Merry Christmas to you and your lovely, lively family, John, and best wishes for a most fabulous New Year!

  14. Wonderful, touching. All of the trees beautiful! Each one Even the broomstick with the toilet brushes! (I could not stop laughing at that one - I had to tell my wife what was going on. Then came the fallen angel Barbie one and I laughed again!) I love the story of the children's theatre and how it started. So wonderful and touching..I join in the chorus, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year! (though maybe one more post before then??)

  15. John, you're one in a million - is there no end to your talents. This is a brilliant 'Xmas story' and I enjoyed every second I spent reading it. You and Pat are very special people and I'm sure the Conisbrough Youth Theatre love you to pieces.
    Have a wonderful Christmas and all the best for 2013.

  16. Lots of good wishes for the Christmas and the New Year!

  17. wishing you and your family a very happy christmas john ..many fond memories of your productions .

  18. Diez maravillosos árboles de Navidad, eso es dar rienda suelta a la imaginación y a la creatividad. Y preciosa la historia que nos cuentas, gracias por compartirla.
    Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo. Abrazos.

  19. Okay - no other blog can top this one. great story told in great style with photos to boot. I would love to hear your voice tell it John. I imagine you have a great voice...maybe something like Richard Burton?
    Hope you and Pat enjoy your Christmas. Thanks for all the comments and support on my blog.

  20. What a lovely read, John.

    A very Happy, Holy & Peaceful Christmas to you, your family and all your Readers.