Friday, December 03, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories No. 3: Christmas Tree Ornaments

Christmas Tree Ornaments

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

Growing up, I don't remember any particular heirloom or cherished ornaments. I do remember stringing popcorn once or twice, and I know we made paper chains and ornaments for our classroom tree at school.

However, I do have many cherished ornaments on my tree today. Many were made by my dad's older sister, who presented me with a box of them on May 2, 1987, at my wedding shower. Tucked in the box was a note:

Dear Miriam,

These things have a very special meaning. I have been making them through the years and would have given them at a shower like this for Chris' wife-to-be. Please know that love was made into each one. I want to share that special love with you & Norm.

Aunt Louise

Chris was my aunt's oldest child, a cousin just three months younger than me, who died unexpectedly in his sleep in his dorm room at Gonzaga University on December 15, 1985. Naturally, these ornaments are very special, and I always think of Chris when I set up my tree, as well as his younger sister Carrie, who was in the hospital with brain cancer the day of my bridal shower. She passed away shortly afterward on May 14, 1987, just 12 days before my wedding. She was to have been my maid of honor. The slide show below shows just a few of the beautiful handmade ornaments:

My aunt has continued to make ornaments over the years, and they've joined the box of originals to make quite a collection. One of my favorites was the doll see below, made from a napkin and tablecloth set that belong to my great-grandmother, Marie (LEWIS) ROBBINS. Marie had purchased the linens from Lillie's Department Store in Coopersville, Michigan and embroidered the corners and edges herself. Aunt Louise had inherited the set, but it had become damaged while in storage. She salvaged the materials and created these cloth doll ornaments, and gave one of each to me, my sister, and our girl cousins. So it is doubly sentimental to me.

I also have many ornaments that bring me very happy memories; clever crafty ornaments given by my mother's sister-in-law; still others by students and co-workers, more family members and friends. Some of my favorites are the six from when I worked at my children's elementary school. The principal always decorated the tree in the foyer with a fantastic theme rivaling anything you could see in a magazine. One year it was gingerbread men, another a sports theme, still another everything nautical. Each staff member would have a matching ornament with his or her name on it and the year as a keepsake. Our principal always started the new theme with his wife's school's tree (she was also an elementary school principal); then the following year, our school would get the decorations. The next two years, the decorations would go to two other schools; so everything was recycled and enjoyed by many students, staff and families around the district.

This post is a part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" meme created in 2007 by Thomas and Jasia. You, too, can write your own Christmas memories, either for your personal journal or blog. Visit Geneabloggers to participate and to read others' posts on these topics.


Heather Rojo said...

I love that little doll made out of the linens. My mom used to pull fancy hankies out of her pocketbook during long Sunday services to entertain us girls when we were little. With a few knots she could turn a hankie into a doll to entertain us (long New England sermons!). We always hoped she would pack her fanciest hankies on Sundays because they made the prettiest church dollies. She would unknot them during the recessional and pack them back into her pocketbook, signalling to us that services were almost over. What memories your photo has brought back!

Mary said...

What a wonderful story and precious memories thise ornaments are. Thanks for sharing!

Miriam said...

Thanks, ladies, for dropping by. I realized the slide shows were not working and corrected them, so you may wish to pop by for another visit.

Greta Koehl said...

Love the slide show - I believe I have that same little green horse. And the stories about your aunt and the principal at your children's school are so inspiring. Thanks for posting this.

Miriam said...

Your welcome, Greta!