Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Tradition of Christmas Ornaments Continues.....

Oh, You better watch out, You better not cry

You better not pout, I’m Telling you why.

Santa Claus is coming to town.

Little tin horns, little toy drums.

Rudy-toot-toot and rummy tum tums.

Santa Claus is coming to town.

Little toy dolls that cuddle and coo,

Elephants, boats and Kiddie cars too.

Santa Claus is coming to town

— from Christmas traditional “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” J. Fred Coots, Henry Gillespie (c) 1934

Vintage Perry Como performance paired with a very old cartoon here:

Near the top of our Christmas tree is my very first doll, a tiny, miniature baby doll tucked into a handmade red stocking. My maternal grandmother, Grandma, gave it to me on my first Christmas and I treasure it, along with many other special ornaments today. When I look at the doll, I can’t help but think of one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” a song that my other grandmother, Granny, often sang to me in my early years. Somehow, the doll and the stocking remain linked in memory together with the lyrics of the song, bridging the years and connecting my grandmothers to me.
My brother and I with our Grandma - I'm about ten years old.

Although the stocking was not my only “first” ornament, it is the sole survivor. A beautiful lavender glass ball trimmed with gold was my mother’s contribution to my first Christmas but it did not survive a tornado in 1975. Many of my other early ornaments were also lost but I have enough of the original set that each evokes memories from Christmas past.

The tradition of collecting special ornaments began when my mother and father each brought a few special ornaments to their collective Christmas tree. With my arrival, my mother began selecting at least one new ornament for me each year until I had a large collection. The tradition has continued with my own children and it takes several hours to unpack, and then place each ornament on the tree.

Although there are far too many ornaments to list, some favorites rank high, both in memory and in position on the tree. Some of the other ornaments that Grandma made now hang high, close to the two remaining stars of an ornament set that dates to the 1930s. One of the two stars has long been marked “Granny” and it hangs beside two small glass ornaments from the small Christmas tree that my cousin and I forced upon her in her last years.

A Ronald McDonald ornament was the gift of college friend and roommate Joyce Hays, who passed away a few years ago just before Christmas. A small hand knitted bell hangs on the tree, knitted by a former co-worker, Barbara Koscheski, who also made a very large Christmas stocking for me back in my KBTN years.

Each of my three children has a Baby’s First Christmas ornament on the tree and additional ornaments that reflect their personality are added each year. Patrick’s ornaments include a yellow school bus that predates his school years because he longed so much to be big enough to ride the bus with his sisters. He also has a ceramic train and many more.

My daughters’ ornaments include tiny glass angels, Victorian style miniature purses, and two small baby dolls not unlike my own first doll.

My own “last” doll, a small porcelain doll with a red dress and white apron, also hangs upon the tree.

Upon marriage, my husband was inducted into the ornament collection process. Musical instruments, boots, and other icons mark his place on the Christmas tree.

One white glass ornament from a box remains from the ornaments I selected when I was in the third grade. A silver-painted pinecone on a red ribbon is almost as old as I am.

By now, my children remember many of the stories behind the ornaments. As my daughter Megan reached high to hang a small star from Christmas 2007, she said, “Maybe someday when I am really old, my kids and grandkids will hang this up for me the way we hang up Granny’s star.
Wouldn’t that be neat?”

It would indeed and I hope that our tradition endures as long as there is a Christmas

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