Oh baubles!

It’s Christmas tree day at our house. Up it goes. And out they come from boxes, from last year’s newspaper, the decorations and baubles we’ve collected over the years. Some of them the naïve creations the kids made that now embarrass yet please them in equal measures. The vintage ones I have picked up, because there’s nothing quite like glass for glistering. I cannot imagine buying a new set, a replacement ‘colour scheme’ every year. It doesn’t chime with today’s need to be eco-conscious, but, more than anything, there are memories in those cardboard boxes.

Some are from places we’ve travelled. I try to buy a new decoration from each place. There’s the little Hema grachtenpand from our trip to Amsterdam just this year, and a terracotta house from Greece; then the wooden ones from Germany and Czechia; a porcelain one from Paris, elegant, of course, next to something glitzier from New York; then a sleepy Egyptian camel. Others are from here in the UK. Most are from Europe, in fact. It’s the destination I have been able to afford in recent years—lucky to be able to afford that, I know, to have taken the children to some of these places.

The Christmas tree, as any school pupil here will know, was popularised by Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert, in the 1840s. Though some say it was imported by Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, years earlier. Whatever the case, it is a European tradition we have all taken up with delight.

My passport runs out in a couple of months. I have no current travel plans for 2020, though we’re assured that in the year post Brexit, there will be few immediate differences. After that, who knows? Still, I will be applying for a new one. I have possessed a passport all my adult life, cannot imagine not doing so. If it weren’t for our proximity to the rest of Europe, not to mention the relative ease of travel in being—having been—in the European Union, I wonder if that would have been as much of a given.

It will be navy blue, I guess, my new passport. Like they used to be, supposedly, in some rose-tinted good old days. This seems to matter an awful lot to some people, a symbol, I guess. Matters to them in a similar way to the sovereignty and democratic powers that we never actually lost. A quote from actor, writer, and director David Schneider on Twitter: ‘On passports, I still think the best idea is to let people choose their own colour: Maroon [EU] passports = you can continue to travel freely, live and work across Europe. Blue [UK] passport = you cannot do any of that but you have a blue passport.’ I wish.

And of course, in any case, it’s not ‘the same’ as before. The passports, for one thing, will be made in France, a wry joke, and will be smaller, more practical than the old cardboard covers, which were stiff as a proverbial upper lip. Is that a symbol, too? Because we won’t be the same either. I wish we could admit, as a society, what we have gained from Europe and its community—more than Christmas trees, more than holidays and travel, even more than pizza, pleasant though those elements are.

I am European (if not, then what continent am I from?), but something is ending. I don’t have to like the current situation. Much as those who insist ‘just get over it!’ refused so persistently, often noisily, over the decades, to ‘like’ the EU. But yes, it is over. The debate is done. For now, at least, and for a while yet to come.

It hurts. But we knew it was going to happen. I thought it might be a tough time of year for all this, flung fast into the ‘acceptance’ stage of grief. In the event, it’s handy, the genuine need to stand up, get on, to make a Christmas for the kids, the family.

Whatever side of any discussion you are on, Season’s Greetings, a warm and wonderful Hanukah, happy any and all of the holidays to you.

29 thoughts on “Oh baubles!

  1. It’s interesting you consider yourself European more than British. So a globalist more than a nationalist? I tend toward the latter. We could have some interesting conversations.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not necessarily more European than British, but both, liking that these can co-exist. We’re all many things. But that’s interesting, it depends partly on context, but I probably would say ‘British ‘ rather than ‘English’. And that, too, may change, as Scottish leaders call again to vote on independence. I understand, but it’s more flux, loss. Interesting times.

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      1. Pardon me for intruding… 🙂 “Both” you say. That is the key. I see it as several layers. My parents were form Brittany. I have a Breton name. (Brian is a translation). First layer. Born in India. Another layer. Raised in Africa. Add a layer. French. European… Married to a Colombian. Living in Mexico. etc. (I’m now feeling like a mille-feuilles)
        If we think layers, rather than opposing states or stages, we may find solutions to many current issues. 🙂
        Cheers.

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        1. I agree. If we recognise we not only are many people in one, but also have many origins, we may become more broad minded and less narrow in perspective. That feels further away in UK than for a long time.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Indeed. A narrowing of perspective for a country that once ruled over an Empire where the sun never set. Now it’s “clamming” up time. hang on, the UK will open up again… Cheers.

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  2. Michael Graeme Dec 15, 2019 — 5:34 pm

    I enjoyed the feeling of being European, and British, and I’ll miss both. It will seem a much smaller thing, just to be English. But then I suppose to be European is more than just a passport. At least I hope so.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We can feel European without being in the EU of course – but I wonder if others will see it that way from the outside. I agree it’s certainly more than a passport.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Michael Graeme Dec 23, 2019 — 11:34 pm

        Yes, I remember travelling to Paris in 2012 and, in a city famed for its rudeness, being made to feel more welcome and “at home” than I ever had in London. I wonder if that will be the case after Jan 2020.

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  3. I agree Libre Paley the debate is done and we are leaving the EU though I still think it’s a mistake. Thursday’s election result so we’re told was a resounding endorsement of Brexit, as for me I’m not so sure personally I think Labour ran a disastrously appalling campaign, full of outdated nationalisation policies which didn’t work in the 70’s and certainly wouldn’t ever again.

    (Btw you reminded me my passport runs out in 2019 but I’m still unsure if I’ll bother renewing.)

    Finger’s crossed 🙂 hopefully the EU won’t be to hard on us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Everything crossed for 2020 – that we don’t get the hard ‘macho’ Brexit. It’s going to be hard to move on, but on we must.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. English and British were interchangeable to me when I was a child, when we emigrated to Australia we were English, but in my mind still British and a fully integrated Aussie. We belong to so many clubs; the Commonwealth, the English speaking world and we have been a part of Europe. With a husband who is half Scottish and Ukrainian how coud we be anything other than a European family? Our very ‘British’ icons are often European Jews; Elgar and Handel both British and European, music more important than our little island. We have to come to tems with the fact that most Leavers have no regrets! I found it hard to decide who exacly to vote for; I think Remainer and Leaver divisions have been replaced by Caring about society and the planet and Not, but that is too simplisitc!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That gives me hope that we can find enough cross-cutting issues to forget about the divisions. Thank you for the forward-looking perspective.

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  5. An interesting thought to collect decoration form here and there. Never thought of it.
    I am truly sorry fro what is happening to the UK. And to Europe generally. Europe has been good to all. Farage notwithstanding. (Kept peace for close to a century) And I have not heard one single piece of a decent project for the UK outside of the EU? To become Singapore mixed with Macao across the Channel? What is the vision? None. (No vision in France either, just accountants…)
    I remember the blue passports… We Frogs had them too… (Not so original I guess)
    I watched the first episode of WWII on Netflix last night. Eerie to see and hear Neville Chamberlain coming back from München and say in an old-fashioned posh accent: “I have brought peace back. On this paper.” (More or less) And he waves the paper he signed with Hitler on the side, not even including Daladier in the negotiation…
    It has become a growing concern to me that Mankind has never been so educated in its entire history. Literacy, higher education, what have you. And we keep electing morons… That may be the root of our current problems worldwide…
    Regardless, Joyeux Noël and all that my dear Libre… (Libre? Liberté? Freedom shall prevail)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some people (we know who!) remind me of the George Bernard Shaw quote from ‘Man and Superman’, which goes, I think, ‘They are not intelligent; they are only college pass-men.’ If only intelligence and education were necessarily the same. Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année 2020.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There was a book written after the Vietnam war whose author’sname i forget. “The best and the broghtest” about Kennedy’s men. McNamara et al. Who the best of their generation and sunk the US into the vietnam war. 😬 (and right now we don’t exactly have the best and the brightest! Let’s hope they don’t take us to war. Meilleurs voeux aussi. May 2019 bring you the new job of your dreams.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I recall Obama reminding us ‘you get the politicians you deserve.’ As a society right now, perhaps we do.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It’s a more or less universal saying… 😦

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            1. Though, sadly, no less true through repeating

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Indeed. Happy 2020 Libre.

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  6. That collection built up over the years is so evocative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you; they are much treasured.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. that’s a nice collection. As for the thing about Brexit I’m not one to follow news, much less news about politics – what else is there anyway? – but like on the twitter quote, UK is still in Europe, right? they didn’t find a way around that, did they?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we are still in Europe geographically, though out of the political and economic union. I feel like putting my head under a pillow away from politics right now too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, that was a sarcastic question 😉
        The bad /urgent news always reach under the pillow, so you wouldn’t be missing anything you really should know.
        Hope you have a wonderful new year!

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        1. Apologies! a topic I am afraid I have lacked humour on. And I’ll need a sense of humour for 2020! Best wishes for a great year.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. That blue passport will remind you of everything and the old passport will be a good thing to reminisce in the yore. Your writing is beautiful – wishing you and your loved ones a merry Xmas and a happy new year

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your perspective. I still will have a passport – not a right everyone in the world gets. All of the best to you for 2020.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True that my friend. Wish you a fabulous 2020. Happy holidays

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  9. Hope you had a nice Christmas. Happy New Year!

    Like

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