Anthony Bidulka’s Christmas tree spectacular
On December 4, 2014 7:00 AM
Crime writer Anthony Bidulka is no grinch. For 20 years the award-winning author has hosted a Christmas party for 200 of his closest friends that showcases the seven—yes, SEVEN—ornamental trees he puts up in his home every year (his partner Herb hides out in a hotel the weekend the decorations come out).
Anthony shares with us the inspiration behind this year’s crop, from the colours of The Wizard of Oz to the lives of the mice who once lived in their country home.
THE OZ TREE
“Each year, in the upper level living room, is The Big Tree. This is the tree I always decorate first and is the most elaborate (although many would disagree). This year The Big Tree is The Oz Tree. I’m not sure if I understand why, but so many people I know watch The Wizard of Oz as a tradition at Christmastime. I was inspired by the dark, almost brooding green of Emerald City and vivid red of the field of deadly poppies (I know, not very Christmas-y) in juxtoposition with the joyousness of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion.”
THE MUNCHKINLAND TREE
“The Munchkinland Tree is the companion to The Oz Tree. In all the years I’ve been doing multiple trees, this is the first time I’ve attempted to create two trees with a variation of the same theme. As I began collecting items for what was to be one Oz-themed tree, I quickly came to see that I was dealing with two quite opposite and contrasting colour palettes (as in the movie). I began to doubt the smarts of doing this tree, but once I decided to separate the two, the concepts began to gel. And hey, didn’t George Cukor do the same thing with the movie?”
THE HAWAII TREE
“2014 is the second appearance of this tree, the first being in 2010. Hawaii is one of our favourite places, so it made sense to do a tree to commemorate it. But frankly I found it tough finding Hawaiiana stuff that isn’t too kitschy.I’d pretty much abandoned the idea, but then I remembered that whenever we’ve gone to Oahu around Christmastime I’m struck by the exuberant use of live poinsettias as decorations. So I decided to use that as my base, then add a few select pieces that represent Hawaii to me, like the cool-o surfer-dude-vans, ukuleles, and the lovely handmade hula dolls I found on one of our recent trips. The only thing missing is a Mai Tai.”
THE LIGHT BLUE FAIRY TREE
“I could probably find a better name for this tree. Of all the tree themes this year, this is the eldest, having made its first appearance back in 2002 when I found the collection of fairies at a local Christmas craft sale. There are seven or eight fairies in all, each appearing to be elderly and having one whooping good time (which is why I love ‘em). The light blue and billowing silver add a nice bit of whimsy to this one.”
THE BURGUNDY/GOLD TREE
“This is one of two purely-based-on-colour theme trees this year. I’ve done a burgundy theme tree many times (2005, 2007, 2009) and used gold as an accent a lot, but I hadn’t combined the two yet. It was actually inspired by a new tree which was described as ‘cream’ but turned out to be more of a yellow/gold… Actually, it kinda matches my hair. Oh great! I have Christmas tree hair!”
THE MOUSE TREE
“In 2011 I found some interesting mouse ornaments which I used as part of a Red Cardinal Tree, and that’s what set me off on trying to find more mice (not a sentence you hear every day). It really came together last year when I found this huge mouse (on the right of the tree). After that it seemed that everywhere I looked I found more and more mice until I knew I had enough to stuff a tree. The first year after we built our house, we had mice. We had invaded their country home territory, after all. So this tree is dedicated to all those mice who gave up their homes for ours.”
THE NAVY ON WHITE TREE
“This is the second tree based solely on colour. Navy. Not blue. Navy! Well, okay, it’s blue. I did a blue tree back in 2007 because I had a bunch of blue decorations I hadn’t used. It was one of those mini, 3’ tall trees (now long-retired). I wasn’t very inspired. Oddly enough, that year someone told me that little blue tree was their favourite because it was kind of like a Charlie Brown tree. I loved that. What re-inspired me some years later was finding a navy coloured tree. I ended up not getting the tree, but did find plenty more decorations, so I decided to do it anyway. At the last minute I switched from using a standard green tree to a white one, and put it in the wine cellar, which already makes it very popular with many of our guests.”
In 1999 Anthony Bidulka left a decade-long career as a chartered accountant to pursue writing. He has since published ten books, including eight in the Russell Quant Mystery series. His latest novel is The Women of Skawa Island.
Photo credit: Hogarth Photography