ANN FOTHERINGHAM – Boxing clever at Christmas

I THINK that I may have now officially, finally, absolutely seen it all ...

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as far as festive gift ideas go.

Flicking through one of my shiny Christmas catalogues, which arrive daily by the sleighload at this time of year, I spotted it.

A Christmas Decorations Storage Box, a snip at £12.99, comes with "insert trays to safely hold up to 32 baubles" and a "divided lid" for fairy lights and other bits and bobs.

It's ideal for keeping items "organised and dust-free" and points out that as we "put such a lot of time and thought into choosing our decorations, not to mention the cost, it makes sense to take care of them."

Who are these people who live in a world where this is possible?

Presumably Kirstie Allsop is one, as she thinks we all sit around making vintage cushion covers and discovering the joy of crafts of an evening.

Christmas decorations aren't meant to be stored neatly in a sparkly holder.

They're supposed to be stuffed into an old crackers box, so that the threads on the baubles get all tangled up and you have to spend a month sorting them out.

There are no "insert trays" in our box. That would deny my husband his annual exasperated mutterings about the tinsel getting wound up with the fairy lights, the annual hunt for spare bulbs and where-the-hell-is-the -snowman-for-the-top-of -the-tree-anyway?

When I was growing up, the opening of our tree decorations box was like delving into a treasure trove of memories.

There was near mutiny from my brothers and I when mum suggested we throw out the Santa made out of cotton wool, tissue paper and a toilet roll tube, the cross-eyed fairy with the wonky leg and the 70s baubles. They might not get on her tree nowadays, but are lovingly preserved in an ancient Safeway bag.

I love hand-made decorations, in all their gluey, glittery glory. I have a friend who has two Christmas trees: one her children get to decorate with the stuff brought home from school, the other all properly co-ordinated and which the kids don't get anywhere near.

But our tree is packed with stuff our boys have made, from the weird little plastic hama bead reindeer to the disturbing silver angel with its giant head and googly eyes ("I didn't have time to draw in the rest of her face," explained the four-year-old).

There's a jewel-encrusted paper Christmas tree, which my nine-year-old made at playgroup when just a tot, a Rudolph with a spongy red nose, and a coloured-in Santa with a yellow beard.

I don't really care if they are squiggly or if the glitter falls off, they are part of my family's Christmas. Memories in the making.

I'll keep them forever, too - so maybe I will invest in that storage box after all.

Families

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