Me and my Christmas tree

Sheila Kitzinger, childbirth expert
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Indy Lifestyle Online
My tree is one of the more expensive ones that aren't supposed to drop their needles. It is a gold, bronze and white one which suits the all-white sitting room.

This year I've got a feminist tree - full of symbols of women's power to give life. At first I was going to make birthing women out of papier mache but it was incredibly difficult.

I told Jenny, one of my five daughters, about the problem, and she and her partner Diana decided to make birthing goddesses and birth symbols out of delicate ceramic which they then painted.

The birthing symbols include the hooked diamond which represents the woman giving birth and the maze, a symbol of women's generative energy. There is also a wonderful Cretan snake goddess with a snake in each raised hand, and also an Aztec goddess givingbirth to humanity. I have added gold stars and frost shapes, golden and white balls and some traditional white angels - I don't think they are male, they look very female to me.

My husband was born in Germany, so carrying on a German tradition we will light the candles on the tree and open our presents on Christmas Eve. This year Laura, my 10-month-old granddaughter, will be the angel under the tree who helps to give out the presents. When my daughters were little we had a company of angels. For years they wore their father's white shirts and wings made from wire coathangers and white crepe paper.

We don't go in for Father Christmas. We used to, but one year my father, who was Father Christmas, caught his beard alight in the Christmas tree candles. He rushed out into the garden and had to be rolled on the wet grass in a rug. It was a traumatic experience.

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