News, Culture & Society

Bought your Christmas tree yet? This family got theirs 100 years ago

It first proudly graced the home of the Stirling family in 1918, just weeks after the guns of the First World War fell silent.

And now, astonishingly, the same 3ft Christmas tree is set to be decorated by family members for the 100th year running.

The wind-up decoration, which even plays carols, was first bought for £2 10s by shopkeeper Robert Muir to celebrate the birth of his son, also named Robert, on December 9, 1918.

Mrs Stirling with the tree, while pregnant with daughter Joanne in 1976

Aileen Stirling, pictured left with the 100-year-old Christmas tree this year, and right while pregnant with daughter Joanne in 1976

It has since passed to Robert Snr’s granddaughter, Aileen Stirling, in whose home it now takes pride of place. 

‘It has been part of my Christmas for as long as I can remember,’ said Mrs Stirling, 67, a retired bank worker from Renfrew, near Glasgow. 

‘We used to play a game with it. Someone would place a chocolate on one of the branches and the children would stand around it in a circle.

‘It would play a Christmas carol and turn around for a few minutes. Whoever was nearest to the chocolate when it stopped got to eat it.’

Remarkably, given when it was bought, the tree was made in Germany. When wound up with a brass key, it rotates and plays carols including Ihr Kinderlein, Kommet (Oh, Come, Little Children) and Stille Nacht (Silent Night).

‘My grandfather ran a newsagents in Renfrew and the tree was placed in the window to bring in the customers,’ said Mrs Stirling. 

Aileen Stirling, circled, aged seven with her mother, sister and other relatives, along with the Christmas tree in 1958

Aileen Stirling, circled, aged seven with her mother, sister and other relatives, along with the Christmas tree in 1958

‘That shows you how unusual it must have been at the time. We stayed in the flat above the shop and my father inherited the tree when his dad died. Since I got it, I’ve made sure it has been dressed and placed in a prominent place in our house.’

The tree has featured in many family photographs over the years. Mrs Stirling was seven years old when she posed with her mother, sister and other relatives for a snap in 1958, and by 1976 she was pregnant with her daughter, Joanne, when she appeared next to the tree. 

‘Joanne is now married and living in Spain and misses the chance to turn the key on the tree,’ said Mrs Stirling.

‘On Christmas Day, I hold the phone near the tree while Joanne says, “Play me the tree, Mum.” It’s like a member of the family.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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