When I was a kid in Austria, we had a Weihnachtspyramide, or Christmas pyramid.
For those not in the know, a Weihnachtspyramide is a traditional Christmas decoration with its roots in the Erzgebirge of Germany. It’s a kind of carousel with candles around the base which, once lit, power a propeller at the top. The centre scene of the pyramid is usually the Nativity and it can have one or several tiers.
The one we had when I was growing up had three tiers – angels at the top, shepherds and their sheep in the middle and the manger at the bottom, surrounded by three spinning Wise Men. I can’t have been older than six or seven when we acquired ours and I fondly remember several Christmases where we couldn’t get the pyramid spinning no matter how hard we tried.
Yet there it sat, year upon year, through every festive season. Surrounded by candles, whether they powered the shepherds and their flock or not. Then in the mid-1990s it suddenly sprang into action. It’s spun ever since.
For me, it symbolises the best of family Christmases back in Austria – where I have celebrated every festive season in the last 25 years or so, bar one. It reminds me of my mum and dad, roast chicken and celebrating British Christmas on December 25, when everyone around us was marking the occasion the day before.
But Weihnachspyramide are not that easy to come by and I was very excited in December when I found a second hand one, only for it to fall through at the last minute. I was gutted. So when Ian spotted one at the Christkindlmarkt in Vienna, he suggested we buy it straight away. It’s a little smaller than the one my dad still has but aside from that, is pretty much identical.
My father, Ian and I my dad all chipped in for it so not only is it a lovely reminder of Christmases past, but is from my favourite city and two of my favourite people. It embodies everything that is Christmas for me.
The pyramid was carefully escorted back to the UK from Austria in hand luggage and it now has pride of place on the dining table. While it may be well past Christmas Day, we’re still firmly in 12 Days of Christmas territory and it’s been spinning every day for the past three.
We spent New Year’s Eve with some friends, and the Wise Men did a turn for them too. So not only does it remind me of home and Christmases past, this one is now taking on a story of its own and I look forward to lighting it in December.
I’m not one for new year resolutions but as the festive season draws to a close and a new year begins, it does make me think of the things I hold dear. And for me, it always comes back to family and friends.
So as we start 2015 my main resolve is, as ever, to spend as much time as possible with those I love and care for, no matter how far away they are.
All the best for 2015. Let’s be sure to make it the best year yet.