Philipa’s Christmas: How Arts Decoratifs create joy

This is the house, so glorious with colourful Christmas arts decoratifs that it could well be used as Santa’s cave.

It is laden with the exotic style and Christmas cheer of  new-found Goolwa friend Philipa, who sits amidst the living room’s splendour with her doggie, Misty, on her lap.

Misty has a festive collar, too, which tinkles as she jumps from Philipa to tear around the room.

Of course, the Christmas tree is a splendid thing with its cluster of wrapped gifts, but it is the cheery overall festive theme which delights.  The twinkling lights and pretty pine garland strung above the kitchen cupboards, the tub of tinsel and baubles and pine cones positioned at the window and the placement of myriad things, which makes this such a special place.

“I bought the laurel pine garland and decorated it,’’ she says.

“I am a country girl, you see and a farmer’s daughter, so we have always been self-sufficient.’’

Now she switches on the piece de resistance, a magnificent piece of decorative China, an animated  snowman, and like magic, tiny Christmas figures begin to revolve around its open core.

The single-fronted glass house exudes Christmas style from the street where the full glory of her decoration is visible because of its window walls. The front approach is stunning, too, with a beautiful Christmas wreath on the door and the decking dotted with tubs of bright red geraniums and lone green miniature pencil pine.

“I like to make my house cheery for people driving by and they see that this is a happy place,’’ she says.

“It makes them smile.’’

“I like the excitement, the anticipation and I love the decoration of the home at Christmas, the whole preparation for celebration.

“But I also love the spirit of Christmas; the spirit of giving, of being able to receive graciously.

“Keeping the spirit of  Christmas alive for children is paramount… the happiness, the excitement, the anticipation, for children to see this is a happy time.’’

Yet, behind all the beauty of her environment and her warm words, lies a Christmas story of absolute tragedy which befell Philipa.

Sitting here amongst the twinkling lights, the draped tinsel, the table decorations and her carefully displayed Christmas treasures of a lifetime, she tells of one Christmas 19 years ago, when she was helping a messy friend to clean her house for Christmas.

It was on December 9 and her three year old daughter, Felicity was with her. One minute she was playing with the white kitten of the house, and the next minute, Philipa saw that her little girl was no longer there. She found her face-down in the backyard swimming pool. Felicity had opened the door behind her mother’s back, following the kitten, who had used the kitty door.  Philipa applied mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until the ambulance arrived, but it was too late.

“There I was vacuuming my friend’s house and I guess Felicity found she could reach the door handle,’’ says Philipa.

Christmas to Philipa could so easily be a season of mourning.  Yet she chose not to.

“Life is only what you make it. Even the Christmas Felicity died, I was determined to feel some joy, to capture a little of the spirit of Christmas.’’

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