Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Memories

Since first grade, Christmas trees have always meant one thing to me: the Gingerbread Man. I won him during our school party that year. Mom proudly put my name and date on the back and thus an annual tradition was born. From then on each child in our family received an ornament with a similar theme: such as a Drum or Angel in a variety of colors to maintain the peace on earth. When we left home, the box went with us, allowing good memories to be built upon in our new homes.

I looked at our tree today and realized the Gingerbread Man had become part of the history of Family Christmas Past. Yes, being interested in my family tree has led to a visual nod to that gene pool each year. Anyone who sees these ornaments immediately thinks, "1950s!" And it's true, because we literally grasp several of the ornaments from our childhood trees when our Moms decided to update their tree motif.

But some of my favorites are the ones I "rescued" after my Grandma died and her daughter went into the nursing home. I've been staring at those ornaments for so long, they're like a part of me. The little cabin and Santa are over 75 years old and so fragile they've almost become transparent. I love the little blue pine cone and remember when Grandma's sister actually had tree LIGHTS like that...along with some little birds that have flown the coop. I love the detail and variety of shapes those ornaments came in...a visual reminder that there are times to slow down and appreciate the beauty of something small and delicate.

Then there are the ornaments that have become legend. Like the year our country home was overrun with mice...and my other grandmother, Memaw, made me an ornament of a mouse sleeping soundly in a walnut shell, complete with quilt. The same year I got the one below it for my husband, who had to set all the mouse traps. Our joke is we put it on the bottom branch to remind the mice whose house this is.

Maybe the best part of these little treasures is all the memories they bring back to life. Grandma and Memaw may be singing "Hark the Herald Angels" with that actual group now, but every year at Christmas they're in the room with the tree and me. Smiling.


Bonnie said...

My mom had and probably still has a lot of the old fashioned tree decorations. We also made a lot of our own. We had to handle the old ones with care. I don't think she puts up a tree anymore though. Well, she is 87 and my dad 89, so I guess somethings had to end. She still does the dinner for the entire family up in PA though!

Middle Ditch said...

I found some old stuff when we had to clear the house after my mother died. One was a little bird with red eyes and a silky tail. I remembered with tears in my eyes that it used to be my favourite.

Every year it is in my tree now and I love it.