When I was 10 years old, my mom put my 4 year-old sister and me into the car and drove us to the machine shop where my Dad worked. It was lunchtime on Christmas Eve. The employees, about a half dozen in all, had stopped work for the day and were gathered around the lunchroom table where the boss was providing a celebratory Christmas feast of cold cuts and holiday cookies. I don’t remember much more about that day. As a little girl, already anxious for Santa to arrive, I was surprised and excited hough when the office secretary handed out a small, wrapped gift to each child. Inside each package was a Christmas tree ornament. It was not an expensive gift, just one of those cheap imports you find today on the rack at the Dollar store. But to me, it was a priceless treasure.
My family did not have a lot of extra cash and so our Christmas tree ornaments were limited to the small collection of glass Shiny Brite baubles that my parents had purchased when they were first married. We did not have any of the shaped glass Santas or flocked reindeer that decorated the trees of my more well-off girlfriends. That’s probably why the cardboard and paper bell along with a small, wood nativity ornament that I received the following year, became so important to me. Although I did not know it at the time, they were the first two pieces of an ornament collection that I would spend 50 years building, and which I continue to expand.
My collection has no rules. Modern glass creations by Christopher Radko, Waterford, and Old World Christmas hang side by side vintage Shiny Brites, plastic Jewel Brites and even handmade craft fair purchases. When will it ever end? Not likely any time soon! Every time I decide that I couldn’t possibly fit another bauble onto my tree, I stumble upon another that is a must-have.
It’s Christmas once again. Let the unpacking begin!