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Our Inspiration

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The Inspiration for Ochristmastree

Possessed of a longstanding passion for all things handmade and an unashamed Christmas junky, I found it difficult to find beautiful handmade Christmas decorations in Australia, particularly those that do not break after falling from my floppy real Australian Christmas tree!  So I decided to design my own and find someone who could hand make them.  After several trips to Vietnam I knew that Vietnam had the sort of hand sewing tradition for which I was looking.  I also decided that I didn’t want to commission a factory to make them but to help people in Vietnam who really needed to work. So by commissioning several community groups to make these decorations ochristmastree is helping disadvantaged Vietnamese workers to earn vital income to improve their quality of life. 

So why bother with Christmas decorations?

I have a large blended family, 5 kids, and Christmas is a really important part of our family time together. I find that creating family and childhood memories is all about creating small ceremonies, that do not have to be religious, but that are memorable for both kids and adults.  These memories don’t really have to pertain to any particular value system or religion. The 'feel good' aspects of Christmas are pretty universal and are essentially about connecting with family, friends and good will to all, particularly those less fortunate in life than us.   So getting out some Christmas decorations every year, decorating a tree, any type or size or shape of tree, the door, table, lamp or staircase is a lovely and simple way to create some family and friend traditions and memories.

Christmas in Australia

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If we are full on busy at work right up until Christmas Eve evening and trying to get out the door to go on holidays the day after Christmas, then it is easy not to bother too much with Christmas.  So why bother?  I think we do because even by making a small effort to decorate the house and make some special food we can succeed in creating that special and intangible feeling of excitement and warmth that is Christmas. My own lucky experiences of Christmases in London, New York and in Germany helped me fall more in love with the magic and special feeling that is really tangible in those places at Christmas. Even if Christmas day is a scorcher and we are off to the beach, we can still feel a little bit of this magic by creating a Christmas feeling that works for us here in Australia. It doesn’t have to be tacky…or cheesy… or even childish.  It can be stylish without taking the style thing too seriously. I personally like a little bit of kitsch, good kitsch, and some colour and fun.

Some slaves to 'good taste' may even feel the freedom to relax the rules around life being '50 shades of beige'.

On the other hand

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…some of us feel a complete heaviness around facing another Christmas with the dreaded family or 'rels'.  We hate the spiral of bad kitsch, consumerism, shopping, sugary carols and the ever advancing earliness of the Christmas retail push.  The seemingly inescapable, debt inducing and often last minute panic to dutifully buy presents that we know are not appreciated or may even be reviled leaves us feeling disenchanted and jaded. It is arguably the worst time of year to be newly divorced, bereaved, single, childless, homeless or just lonely.  Yet Christmas still has a hold over us…it does. Perhaps if we could only allow ourselves the possibility, we might be able find a small, even silly, bit of enjoyment in it - despite and in the face of our cynicism and 'coolness'. 

I believe we might find this small, possibly silly and maybe even fun, piece Christmas spirit by 'keeping it simple' and connecting with the ancient meaning of the Christmas tree and some of the simpler messages behind Christmas traditions. Traditions that have roots stretching back many centuries - long before any concept of a ‘jolly fat man in red’ became popular and commercialised.  More on this subject later and the meantime….

…we have created an alternative and more beautiful bearer of gifts

For all those who are a bit 'over' jolly old Santa, we have made a short film to help us all imagine a more beautiful bearer of gifts and the sort of style that Christmas could be for all of us!

View the film “Special Delivery” on the home page.

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By Catherine Oates Smith

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