A woman has revealed how she beat the coronavirus blues and raised her family's spirits by leaving her Christmas tree up all year.
Festive-fanatic Victoria Gauden, 37, from Caerphilly, Wales originally put up and decorated her tree on October 1 2020 in a bid to cheer herself up after learning of government calls to scale back festivities.
When family illness delayed boxing it all back up after Christmas, she decided to leave the tree up for good and has since re-decorated it 140 times, to reflect different events through the year.
The mum of two's tree won’t be decorated with Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve this year, but in the meantime it will help to spread some cheer.
Gauden says the twinkling lights on the tree gave her and her family hope in difficult times.
“The only thing that made me think things would get better was looking at the lights on my tree," the youth worker explains.
“I’d sit there at the end of each day just staring at them and they gave me hope.
“I didn’t want to take it down.
“I was thinking of all the excuses to keep it there."
Gauden had been left feeling devastated about paring back her usual 20-plus family gathering on December 25th last year because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Then daughter Demi, nine, caught Coronavirus on January 4, and the family found solace in the twinkly tree-lights which brightened up their evenings.
Having first re-decorated the tree with banners and balloons for her partner Shayne’s 42nd birthday on January 12, the festive fanatic decided to keep the artificial greenery up in the corner of the living room all year.
With the tree being treated as a permanent piece of furniture in the living room, it was then decorated with seasonal decorations to celebrate birthdays and big events throughout the year, and to also help raise awareness for charities including the NHS, Sepsis Day and World Suicide Prevention Day.
For Halloween the tree was festooned with cobwebs, spiders and skulls, whilst Pancake Day saw it draped with colourful drawings of pancakes, mini Nutella pots and sauce-pans.
Meanwhile whoopee-cushions and joke chewing-gum hung from the branches on April fools’ day.
Her Paralympics themed tree featured a history of the games, and she hung little germ decorations and hearts from the branches on sepsis awareness day.
Watch: Britain has ten days to save Christmas.
Gauden also lit up her tree for world suicide prevention day, decorating it with yellow ribbons and little inspirational quotes.
“People who had relatives who had committed suicide shared my picture of the tree and my post, I felt it had a real impact,” she explains.
“I love that I’m helping to raise awareness about things.
“A parent shared my 'go gold for childhood cancer' tree and social media post, in September, and I realised the trees were making a difference to people, so I kept going."
Gauden’s fun festive tree antics are on display in her open plan living room which overlooks the main road.
But she doesn’t mind and quite likes the locals admiring her tree, believing it’s a great conversation starter for the neighbours, who frequently gather to have a look at the tree for its updated look.
This year her tree won’t be decorated with Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve, as Gauden works hard to cram in as many charitable and awareness days as she possibly can.
“The day before I put up the Christmas decorations will be a grand finale," she explains.
"There will be a decoration for every fun day and every awareness day we have had over this year.
“I love the quote: ‘when we spread awareness we spread hope.’
“I just wanted to share positivity.”
Additional reporting SWNS.