From the BFMS Forum
19 December, 2009 – Holly and Ivy
Our children grew up in a large Edwardian house. Its ground floor extended back a long way and included a former outdoor lavatory, now part of a ramshackle conservatory. Rows of moulded plaster grapes, somewhat battered and encased in generations of white paint, joined the walls of the living rooms to the high ceilings. In the middle of the main room there was a ceiling rose. It was speckled with pinpricks.
These tiny scars were made in the ceiling rose every year, at Christmas. They were the marks of drawing pins holding the decorations which were then stretched to reach the four corners of the room (the room where the piano was). Our family lived in that house for 30 years.
At the back of the house there was a long, never totally-conquered garden with an ancient pear tree. A bay tree, brought from our previous home, grew near it and was about 20 feet tall when we left. Beyond the bay tree were gnarled apple trees, a rambling raspberry patch, blackberries, elder, cow parsley, nettles. There was a small holly tree.
And there was ivy, which, with holly berries, wild rose hips and leaves from the bay, made rich, spicy decorations for the living rooms and a home-made wreath decorated with yellow winter jasmine to hang on a nail on the front door, where the marks from previous Christmas decorating remained.
Today Mrs Llew was putting up Christmas cards in our new house and as she worked I spotted the marks of drawing pins from previous Christmases here. It will be our ninth. There is no home-grown holly or ivy. We have no wild roses. In this country town we, for the sake of the neighbours, must have a tidy garden.
Our absent daughter would recognise the piano though.