Christmas sentiment: ‘His 92-year-old tree is important’

Steve Rose, 74, felt it was time to say a fond farewell to the tree which has been decorated every year at the family home in Markham, near Caerphilly, since 1937.

But while he was keen for a new family to have a vintage Christmas, these readers are still hanging on to their old trees and decorations.

The Christmas tree in the same room for 92 years

Derek Stanton and his Christmas tree

Derek Stanton’s three daughters are under strict instructions – they must never get rid of his Christmas tree.

The 92-year-old was born on 5 December 1926 and his mother Winifred and father Job decided to buy one of the first mass-produced Christmas trees from the local Woolworths in Ilkeston for his first Christmas.

It has been brought out every December since then and placed lovingly in the same living room – Derek and his wife Henrietta, 88, still live in his family home.

“It brings back so many memories for him,” said his youngest daughter, Sally, 52.

Derek Stanton as a baby with his mother Winifred

“You can imagine why it’s so important to him – it’s been there since he was born.

“He said we have to put it up when he’s gone. His dad had said to him “never throw it away” and he never has. And he’s told us the same.

“My grandfather was a bit sentimental and I think my dad is the same.”

Sally was with her parents last week when they put up the tiny tree for the 92nd year.

“When I was younger, we always used to have a big, real tree in the parlour and dad’s tiny tree in the living room,” she said.

“It is always exciting getting out the tiny baubles to decorate it. He still has some of those too, although quite a few have broken.

“The tree isn’t in bad condition, although we have to stick a few of the branches back on with Sellotape. But dad tells everyone about his tree and they all love it.”

‘Baubles remind me of my late daughter’

Jeanette Phillips' Christmas tree

Getting baubles for the Christmas tree in the early 1950s brightened up the festive decorations in Jeanette Phillips’ childhood home.

“We used to cut down a real tree from the local woods and decorate it with small candles as there were no electric lights back then,” said the 71-year-old, from Hook, Pembrokeshire.

“However, my father never lit the candles as he was afraid the tree would catch fire – he was quite safety conscious, which I suppose was a good thing.

“I remember my parents buying our first Christmas baubles when I was about six – and I still have them now.

“They are very tiny so they go at the top of our Christmas tree even now – alongside decorations bought when my children were little. The eldest is 48 now!”

Jeanette Phillips' children, Andrew and Jayne

Jeanette loves bringing our her old decorations – and the memories they bring back are all the more poignant after her 19-year-old daughter Jayne died in a car crash.

“The baubles are all stored in an old food mixer box which my husband and I were given as a wedding present nearly 50 years ago – now it has scribbles and notes which Jayne made on it over the years,” she said.

The old storage box

“And I even wrap the glass decorations individually in kitchen towel that must date back to the 1970s – it’s orange!

“I keep using them as they bring back so many happy memories – such nostalgia.

The old storage box and orange kitchen towel

‘I love my 69-year-old Christmas lights’

Stephen Taylor's Christmas lights from 1949

Stephen Taylor has a set of Rico Christmas lights bought in 1949 and they still work perfectly.

“My mum and dad bought them for my elder brother John’s first Christmas – he’s 69 years old now,” said the 63-year-old from Manchester.

“They are quite special as they hold a lot of family memories – I lost my mum when I was 12 but we had lots of brilliant family Christmases.

“They are in their original box – it’s a little bit tatty but it’s not bad considering its age. I have got the lights now as I inherited the family home when my brother got married and moved out.”

The Rico decoration set box

Stephen says the lights have stood the test of time – with the odd replacement bulb.

“The lights themselves are as good as new,” he said.

“They started to get a bit erratic a few years ago – some of the bulbs started to go and I would replace the odd one and it would cause another bulb to blow.

“But then with the dawn of the internet I managed to find the firm that made the original bulbs – so I got new replacements.

Stephen Taylor (left) with his brother John

“I use them every year without a problem and get a lot of people asking me where I got them from as they hang above my mantelpiece.

“I say to them “you won’t be able to find them now”. It’s amazing really – we live in such a disposable society and most people probably get new lights every few years. But these have kept going.”

Stephen Taylor's Christmas lights from 1949

‘This tree will bring back so many happy memories’

Liz Mostyn Jones' Christmas tree

Liz Mostyn Jones still has the artificial Christmas tree her parents bought for her first Christmas back in 1961.

“I lost [dad] five years ago and my dear mum in September this year, so this will be my first Christmas without them both,” said the 57-year-old, from Llandudno.

“This little tree will bring back so many very special and happy memories of Christmas with them both.”

‘Seeing it for the first time, my eyes nearly popped out’

Joyce has had her Christmas tree for more than 80 years

Joyce Hatley’s artificial Christmas tree is nearly as old as her, at 82 years old.

Her parents bought the tree when she was three years old and set it up as a surprise while she slept.

“My mum and dad went out to do Christmas shopping and they hadn’t got a tree,” said Joyce, from Windermere.

“But, at the last minute, a big lorry came with big artificial trees on it and they got one.

“They set it up at night when I was asleep. My mum said that when we got up in the morning and I saw it, my eyes nearly popped out.

“We’ve had it now for years and years. Every year it is put up with the same things decorating it.

“We have two daughters and they loved the tree. We did say a while back that it was getting broken down and we would have to throw it out and our daughters said we just couldn’t do that.

“It was really battered from all the years we had it so my husband, Herbert, was able to restore it and do it up again. It has lots of wonderful memories for me.”

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