Friday, December 19, 2008


It hasn't seemed to me, as I thought about it the last couple of weeks, that we have that many Christmas traditions worth writing about. That may sound a little cynical, but it isn't really. It's just that the traditions our family has are shared by so many other families around the country, and some of them, probably, around the world, that anything I could write would just be a few hundred more words in a heap of similar verbiage.

But Diane's Mom (lost that link!) had a wonderful entry on one of her family's traditions, the annual Christmas tree ornament, and that sent me straight to my camera, and then to my tree.

I love this tradition. I first heard about it maybe 48 years ago, as a young 4-H'er. My 4-H group had met, as usual, at our leader's home for our monthly meeting. It was the holiday season, and the Christmas tree stood in the living room. At some point during that meeting, she explained to us that she always got each of her children and her husband an ornament each year. The tree was full of lovely ornaments, which clearly had meaning to her and her family. I made up my mind, then and there, that when I grew up I was going to do the same thing.

(For anyone who might wonder: the Christmas trees of my youth weren't slouches either. Mama had ornaments that we'd cherished for years, lovely blown glass, bubble lights, and also the non-plasticized tinsel you used to be able to get, which was so much lovelier than the stiff-yet-prehensile junk they sell today. We just hadn't embraced that particular tradition.)

True to my resolve, I bought or made an ornament for my husband and myself each year, and then for the children when they came along. Our tree was wonderful!

I never considered that someday the kids would grow up and take their ornaments with them! They all married within a year and a half of each other, and on top of that my husband and I divorced. That first year after the kids had all gone, my tree looked bare indeed.

Well, then. A chance to do it all over again! And I did, at first just for myself, then later, for my new husband. These are some of the ornaments I cherish:

I saw this wonderful Santa with a dear friend, Linda Golaszewski, and loved it, but couldn't afford it. Dear person that she is, she bought it for me later. I nearly wept when I unwrapped it, and it has place of honor every year.

One of the things I love is fairies. You'll find them all over my house, although they mostly reside in the kitchen and my office. My husband, on the other hand, collects bird cages, and has, over the years, populated most of them with flocks of artificial birds of every description--blown glass, ceramic, quilled metal, mirrored forms, wood shavings, even felt. At Christmas, all things winged flock to our tree, and nest or flutter in the branches.

This baby fairy usually sits on a shelf in the kitchen. The lovely pillow-like blown glass ornament is a memento from a fellow cast member in the Christmas Revels, Quinland Porter. I think of her every time I unwrap it, and each time I see it on the tree, and smile. She is our Queen, whatever role she plays!

A poignant little ornament, purchased in remembrance of our little grandson, who never saw his first Christmas, but tried so hard to live!

This is (don't laugh!) the fairy that most reminds me of myself. My Mom has a photo of me running in just that pose when I was little. Hanging lower, on the right, is the little Northlander I found as a reminder of the Revels Northlands show. I had a lovely time as Queen Witch Lohi in that one, and still find myself singing in Swedish, Polish, and several other languages of Northern Europe. The music of those lands simply perched in my heart and never left.

I made a whole flock of these fabric angels one year, about thirty years back, in many colors, and with many facial expressions. They were great fun to make, and my Mom still poses hers across the mantel, amongst garlands of greenery. The little blue and white fairy was a gift from one of my stage "daughters", Claire. She was only eight at the time, and made it herself. I never put it away. During the rest of the year it hangs from a cabinet knob in my office, to remind me of her.

Don't you just love that pompom caterpillar? My ex brought it home from work one day, and it was love at first sight for me. And Jack Frost there? What a find he was! Stuck in a box of random Christmas stuff at an estate sale, and priced at a dollar. I still smile at my good fortune. Next to him, a pressed paper Lucia girl, another reminder of Northlands traditions.

I did the little ceramic mouse back when the girls were very little. They still have theirs, too. The apple fairy was something I couldn't resist at an antiques mall, and the star with the snowman...ah. That is special. Auntie Jewel brought that craft to one of our annual week-long craft get-togethers, a (usually) spring tradition. This is our first Christmas without her.

Another fairy, and a fool who reminds me of a dear, and hilariously funny, man who has played The Fool many times, in many shows.

The medieval boy was another score--$1.99 at the Goodwill. His foot was broken. I used jewelry findings to cap both his shoes, and presto! Better than new! The "Greetings" ornament is one I made my husband for our first or second Christmas as married folks, which would be sixteen or seventeen years ago.

I do love the fairies! The blue and white bear was a gift from my old music partner, Paul. He gave it to me at least twenty years ago, knowing how I love blue and white. He is still a cherished friend, and though he lives far away now, we write, and hope to play and sing together again one day.

One style of the birds DearHusband collects, these made from narrow strips of metal, and decorated with beads and tiny jewels. I thought they were so unique and wonderful!

I embroidered disks of pink satin for each member of the family one year, including my parents, disguising the letters of our names in the flowers. Somehow, when the ornaments were distributed to their new homes, my ex got mine, and I got his. If you use your imagination, you'll see that the flower "spells" T-I-M, reading from top to bottom.

Another of my husband's birds, probably the only blown glass cockatiel I've ever seen, and well-loved for its subtle coloration.

Last, at least of the ones I couldn't bear to leave out, and certainly not least, the little angel that used to top my mother-in-law's tree each year. It won't fit on the top of our tree, so it always stands as close as it can get. I love her, wherever she lights.


MauB said...

What a wonderful tradition! My mother had an ornament from her very first tree - so fragile now but the memories and link to our past are priceless.

Ta-Dah said...

Hi Anitra-
I love all the pictures. We have a similar tradition here. My boys each have a box of their special annual ornaments and they talk about how they will have them on their grown up trees. I've been meaning to comment back to you for a while. I still have a bunch of those mosaics and I love to trade. Lets talk after the holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

storybeader said...

I do love your angels, and your handmade fabric ones are so cute. I hate to see anything caged - what a great idea to put artificial birdies inside! I love it!
♪♫♫Wishing you a Merry Christmas♪♫♫♪

Andrea said...

What pretty ornaments!

EyePopArt said...

Wow, you have some really cool ornaments!

Jeannie@WeddingFavorIdeas said...

These are so adorable! I just love that gnome ornament (at least I think it's a gnome). So cute!

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