Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Dec. 3 Tree Ornaments

Did your family have heirloom or cherished ornaments?
Did you ever string popcorn and cranberries?
Did your family or ancestors make Christmas ornaments?

Having reminisced about the Christmas tree and the memorable holiday delicacies, I'm glad we are getting around to putting some bling on our Christmas tree.

 I love unwrapping the ornaments and seeing them again after spending almost a year safely tucked away out of sight but still have the ability to bring a smile to my face when I welcome them to this years Christmas celebration.

I can recall only one time when my family attempted to engage in recreating a Little House on the Prairie Christmas and stringing popcorn and cranberries. It isn't as easy as you think. The popcorn has to have aged - making it undesirable for eating but perfect for stringing. As long as you have the correct gauge needle and you place the needle just so ... probably one of the reasons why we only did it once and as I recall, the (very short) string of popcorn and cranberries adorned the outside shrubs with the rationalization that the birds would enjoy having a Christmas treat.

When Al and I celebrated our first Christmas together I recall being more than a little disappointed at the lack of Christmas decorations for our tree. Like so many young married couples we didn't have the funds for a tree let alone ornaments but somehow we managed to afford a couple packages of gold garland and a few boxes of ornaments. As I recall, my parents gave us a couple strings of lights.

It was during this first Christmas that my mother gave us our first heirloom tree ornaments: two glass ornaments given to her by Mr. and Mrs. Olson, neighbors of my paternal grandparents. The Olson's, immigrants from Sweden by way of Chicago, were an elderly couple whose house my sister Lisa and I loved to visit whenever we could. Mr. Olson smoked a pipe and the smell permeated the entire house and it seemed as if they always had a litter of kittens, which was always a delight to two little girls.

I'm not sure how my mother ended up with some of the Olson's Christmas ornaments but they are my most treasured holiday decorations. They are placed high enough on the tree to be well out of the reach of those cocker tails which are in perpetual motion. You may have noticed on the ACCM December 2nd post, the ornaments on the Christmas tree with the adorable English cockers sitting underneath, are placed well above cocker head-level and for good reason.

Here is a Christmas ornament I made at sometime during my elementary school career; a toilet paper roll covered with heavy foil paper and my initials written on with gobs of Elmer's glue and sprinkled with glitter. I know I am going to sound like an old lady ... but they don't make glitter like that anymore.

This Santa ornament is as old as my wedding dress. Two weeks after our wedding in September 1971, Al was shipped overseas for a tour of duty in Vietnam. My mother purchased a small artificial tree, made a number of felt ornaments to withstand the time in transit and sent it on its merry way. It meant so much to him but unfortunately the Army would not allow Al to bring the tree and ornaments home. He gave the tree and the ornaments to one of the Vietnamese women on base, except for one and smuggled this Santa home.

I love the myriad of Christmas decorations and ornaments that my mother has painted and presented to us over the years. She is a gifted artist and I look forward to sharing my mother's talents during other ACCM posts.

Ornaments in the cherished category, without a doubt, are the ones made by my children during their childhood; made of felt and Popsicle sticks, gold and silver sprayed macaroni in various shapes and sizes, they are all treasures. Certainly many of these fall into the category of ones that "only a mother could love."

I think about another ornament I made as a child - two sections of an egg carton glued together and decorated with glass balls and, once again, my name written in Elmer's glue and red glitter. It has been many, many years since anyone has thought of me as a child but when my parents are trimming their Christmas tree, when that ornament is unpacked and placed on a branch,I know they are transported back to a time when their oldest daughter was a skinny little girl who could barely contain her excitement waiting for Christmas.


Dar said...

Cindy, Your ornaments are precious. I couldn't help but smile at the homemade ones and the glitter...sweet memories for me also. I remember each of us getting to put our name on a glass ornament to call our own...they are long gone and broken, not by puppy tails, but by the perpetual motion of 9 kids around the Christmas tree. I love the old ornaments and have several. Mom brings hers out each year. Remember the old heavy tinsel? I still love that stuff.
Thanks for sharing your ACCM's. Love it.

Carol said...

Enjoyed this post, you write wonderfully, almost poetic.

great photos too!!

Cher' Shots said...

Wonderful Christmas memories ~ as Darla said our Mom has some very old ornaments that she puts on her tree... wish is always the most beautiful tree of the year. My oldest daughter was born on Dec 19 on her Great Grandma's birthday. So Grandma occasioinally gave her ornaments from her collection for her birthday. Needless to say, she treasures them. Grandma passed away just short of turning 102.


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