Christmas ornaments can tell a tale. A tree with children’s homemade attempts tell the visitor: beloved children live here and we celebrate their efforts. Ornate glass Radko ornaments say: this home appreciates fine craftsmanship and has the money to indulge in them. Ornaments from national parks and different countries speak of a family that enjoys travel and likes to commemorate their trips.
I have a combination of Christmas ornaments. Whenever we travel, I collect an ornament so that I can look at my Christmas tree and remember warm memories and fun trips we have taken. On our tree you will find the Statue of Liberty, astronauts from the Kennedy Space Center, M & M’s playing the saxaphone from the M&M store in New York city, the Loch Ness monster from Scotland, Tinkerbell from Disney and ornaments from Yellowstone National Park and cute Canadian mounties.
We also (much to my son’s chagrin) put up his charming, homemade ornaments he made as a young boy. They bring back sweet memories of homeschooling and holiday anticipation. And then there are the old ones. The antique
My mother had such a massive collection of Christmas ornaments that you could never put them all on one tree, so every year we would sit down and pick a theme. It could be just silver and blue colored ornaments. Or just homemade red and white ornaments. One year it was silver, gold and crystal icicles. We would never take the attitude “less is more” on our trees and instead invoked Dolly Parton’s philosophy, “more is more!” And we would pack that tree with ornaments, garlands, beads and spun glass to resemble snow drifts. The unspoken rule was: if you can see green, you need an ornament there.
One of the homemade ornaments she made that I think is particularly charming are the Little Drummer Boy drums. She started with styrofoam forms and covered them with a combination of ribbons and trimmings to resemble drums. The top had criss-crossed pipe cleaners for drumsticks. Adorable!
But my favorite Christmas ornament are some strange little homemade red bells. They were made by my grandmother during the Depression. Nobody had any money to buy anything. People made clothes for their children out of the cloth flour sacks that their flour came in. Times were tough and rarely did people pay my grandfather for the work he did as a doctor. For my grandmother, spending money on ornaments was unthinkable. So she solved her dilemma with milk bottle caps. Back then, the milkman delivered glass bottles of milk to every household. Sealing the top of each bottle was a red foil cap. My grandmother took these bottle caps and fashioned them into little conical red bells and strung them together into a cluster.
These red bells speak to me. Every Christmas, through hard times and good times I place them in the tree and they remind me that no matter what is happening in politics, the economy or personally, there is always a reason to celebrate. That year after year after year, there is a reason to ring bells, real or pretend. It symbolizes hope. It commemorates that something special has happened. And we get the opportunity to slow down, celebrate and remember Jesus’ birth every year.
What’s your favorite ornament and why?