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

The Mail on Sunday - - Tina Weaver - By Paul Drury

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.

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 car- ols 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. ‘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 i s now mar­ried and l i ving 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.’

CEN­TRE OF AT­TEN­TION: Aileen Stir­ling, cir­cled left, with her fam­ily and the Christ­mas tree in 1958; preg­nant with her daugh­ter Joanne in 1976, cen­tre; and pic­tured this year with the 100-year-old tree

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