Guest Post: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things – Getting Fewer All The Time

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Lace Snowflake

A holiday guest post from writer Patti Winker:

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes.  I open the closet door and look at the boxes piled to the ceiling…

and I close the closet door.

These are the boxes filled with the stuff of Christmas.

As far back as I can remember (and where memory fails, family photos fill in the blanks), Christmas has been a season of decorating.  There was the huge tree, often cut down and dragged home from some far off woods.  Evergreen branches were cut and brought inside to be artfully arranged across the windowsills and on the fireplace mantel.

The walls, windows, and mirrors were covered with cotton ball snowmen and construction paper Christmas trees.  Paper chain garlands and popcorn strings were draped on the tree.  There on the top of the tree perched the angel, crafted out of an empty toilet paper roll and lots of gold and silver sparkle.  She was especially angelic when her inner-light shown brightly with the aid of a strategically placed Christmas tree light bulb.

Along with all the boughs, countless handmade ornaments decked our halls.  Years and years and years of school projects created our Christmas decor.  With 11 kids in the family you might expect that.

There were probably a few store-bought ornaments, but I can’t seem to remember them… oh, except for the lead tinsel.  Boy, that stuff hung prettily.  I’m just glad my Dad was the only one who took charge of hanging it.  He said it was because he was the only one who knew how to do it right.  Thanks Dad.

Fast forward to when my daughter was growing up.

Once again we have the handmade ornaments from the classroom or Girl Scouts or hobby.  Added to that are the new ‘collectible’ ornaments, the keepsakes.  Also, perhaps because buying ornaments was such a new experience for me, I loved shopping for them. I have to say, I found a lot of unique ornaments and decorations that I still love to this day.  Then, the crafting bug took hold and I created even more ‘treasures.’  We often had multiple trees just to hold all the goodies.

Yes, I can think of many, many ornaments and decorations that I have loved for years.

And they are tucked neatly inside those boxes.

Fast forward to today.

We now have our grandchildren’s construction paper Christmas trees and other delights decorating our walls, windows, and mirrors.

Much of what I cherished from the past is either in my daughter’s house or in those boxes.  Very few decorations see the light of day anymore.

When we moved from Wisconsin to Florida, we downsized.  I knew this would happen, but what I didn’t realize was just how much our focus on decorating for Christmas would change.  Partly from necessity (lack of room) and partly because, well, it’s just too hard to drag everything out, again… and put it away, again.

Now we pick and choose a few items that mean something special to us.  Some years we choose the paper cutout snowflakes my daughter and I made.  Some years we choose the little felt skates my daughter made in Girl Scouts.  Some years we choose all the angels.  Some years we choose the handmade ornaments my sister and I made.

As we get older, we decorate with fewer and fewer things.  Yet, the boxes remain.  Piled high, behind closet doors.  I can’t see letting any of those treasures go.  They’re safe there.  Just like the memories attached, I think they can stay put.

Christmas Tree

Thank you so much, Barbara, for allowing me to share my Christmas memories with you here.  I believe our stories are important because they reveal the common threads that run through our lives and connect us all.  In my blog, RemarkableWrinklies.comand in the stories I share in Tangerine Tango, I try to pull the past experiences into the present so we can sort out some of the mysteries of who we are.  Since we tend to remember special events so much more than everyday life, I guess it’s only natural to wax nostalgic at Christmas time. (Here’s where I apologize to my grandkids because the stories are starting to pile on and repeat… insert eye roll.) Thank you again, Barbara, and may you have many memorable moments this Christmas to create plenty of eye rolling from your grandkids someday!

Top Photo:  We do choose to bring out a couple decorations year after year.  One is my Gramma’s hand-tatted lace ‘snowflake.’  I don’t believe it was ever intended to be a snowflake per se; probably more of an example of tatting lace.  But, I like to think of it as a snowflake.  I hang it on my pine cone wreath (made with my sister from pine cones collected in part from my Gramma’s yard) to remind me that I should have taken my Gramma up on her offer to teach me how to tat.  {{sigh… when will we ever learn}}  Also, this little lace snowflake is a reminder that some things, just like some memories, and some people, should simply be treasured forever.

Black and White Photos:  Our tree (above), and yours truly in the ballet costume (below) that Mom made for me and my sister for our Christmas program, circa 1958.

Patti Christmas Ballerina

19 responses »

  1. I’m still “hanging” in there with most of my children’s handmade ornaments. And last year, we added some of the creations from my stepsons-to-be. Most of the elves, snowflakes, stars, etc… are almost 20 years old and I’m noticing some disintegration, but I love having them together representing our new family.

    • “hanging” in there – cute, Lisa. 😉 It is nice to have each family member represented. And, isn’t it fun just unwrapping them from year to year? I still will go into my boxes and look through my ornaments sometimes just to remember…

  2. Oh how I miss the tinsel ( or what we called icicles) on the tree. My Mom had to do it herself so they were hung one at a time and not clumped together. When I had my own tree, I wasn’t quite as picky, but they did have to be hung nicely. But then I brought cats into my home. And those things are really dangerous for them. After several times of having to watch them hang out of their behinds and having to cut them off, I decided no more icicles. But I still miss them.

    • Oh yeah, Gail… the tinsel was awesome, wasn’t it? My Dad took control, which was a good thing for many reasons. It was fun to sneak a little though and ball it up. Lead. sheesh! And, yes, I have cats now so tinsel is not a good thing at all. I have gone to using ribbon for garland, which is cool, but this year we have a 1 year old kitten so we’re even hesitating putting up the tree. He still sees everything in the house as toys for him. 😉

    • “our hearts just keep expanding” – beautiful thought. Yes, downsizing is necessary for many of us. How many people do you know who still live in their first home? Something I learned having to be selective with my ‘things’ is if I look at an ornament (or any item I’m considering whether to keep or not), if I feel really happy when I see it, or I get teary eyed, I keep it. 😉

      • Good emotional benchmark! I distinctly remember opening a carefully wrapped nursery school dough handprint, framed and decorated, and my first thought after 30 years of carrying it around in a box was “Will my adult child want this, or will she throw it out?” That thought made me cry!

  3. Nice. I always envied the Christmas tree, the trimming parties, and the ornament collections.
    Lovely traditions that truly speak to the holiday which you don’t find in a shopping mall.

    • Yes, Lisa, the traditions can seem so little – like putting those little candle figures on the windows, for instance (you can see in the ballerina picture.) The original candles are long gone now, but my sister found the same ones in a vintage online catalog and ordered them for us all. Seeing those candles again was an incredible feeling. Traditions for any and all holidays is what it’s all about.

  4. I have given my daughter all her ornaments we collected through the years for her when she was at home. I love seeing her very first metal engraved ornament to her collection of glass Barbies all over her tree when I visit. I will do the same with my son when he starts putting up his own tree. I have decided this year I would put up a tree, (sometimes I just put out some of my antique ceramic ones instead), but, this year I am only putting on lots and lots of lights. No unwrapping every ornament and wrapping it back up in a couple weeks. We had them ALL out last year when the grandkids were in town and they decorated the tree ( they were 3, 5 and 6 years old..SO.MUCH.FUN!). I will stick to bringing them all out on the years the grandkids come to our house for Christmas…..other years they can stay tucked away safe and sound.

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