I got my new camera! And I love it! Still learning how to use it, but as promised, I have some snapshots of our Christmas tree to show you today.
I find it funny that growing up, I swore up and down that I’d always have a tree that “matched”. I loved the ones that were all one color, or all one size of ornament, or had some theme that pulled them together. When I became a snotty teenager, I turned my nose up at our family’s tree, with its mismatched ornaments.
When I got my first real tree, I bought a matched set of red ornaments from Target. It was lovely at first, and then my cat, Charlie, decided to make the tree his personal jungle gym. I came home one afternoon and he was laying IN THE BOUGHS about four feet off the ground. The little shit. He batted the ornaments off the bottom half of the tree and shook pine needles to the ground, and my poor dear roommate took the tree down the day after Christmas because she just couldn’t stand looking at it anymore.
He pays penance now, every year, by getting dressed up in a costume of my choosing: Santa, Elf or Reindeer. I’m not ashamed to be one of those weirdos who likes to dress cats up in holiday clothes. IT SLAYS ME.
Ninja Bob had to dress up like a reindeer, even though he technically didn’t do anything wrong.
That story didn’t wholly connect to my larger point, but I really wanted you to know about it. Back to the real story.
The matching red ornaments were not all that I dreamed; they were cheap, plastic and dropped glitter everywhere. And worse, they were completely impersonal. After using those ornaments, I realized that my tree was missing the heart and soul that made me love the holiday tree when I was growing up. So I donated them and have been using a collection of mine and Jon’s ornaments since.
This year is the first time our tree really started coming together. Unlike last year’s sparse tree, this year I added homemade cinnamon ornaments and some vintage glass ball ornaments to our personal collection, and we’re never going back. It’s finally working.
I’m going to give you a little tour, and some history into why I love it so much. This first picture is a little sequin ornament. This one is incredibly special to me, because making these ornaments was a favorite pastime of my Grandma Berta. She passed away many years ago, but the Christmas trees of her children and grandchildren all bear these lovely sequin ornaments, like little footprints that Grandma was here. She made HUNDREDS of them, of all different kinds. My aunt has a really sweet newspaper article featuring Grandma Bert and her creations.
This red one was made by me under her supervision when I was 6 or 7, when she came to visit and brought her box of supplies:
This was one of Grandma’s…a more sophisticated bell than mine, wouldn’t you say?
She also made one for each of her grandchildren with a baby picture…here’s little vintage me:
(Did anyone else have baby portraits in front of backdrops like this? There’s another one of me in front of a neighborhood of houses on both sides of a street, and I swear to you, until I was old enough to know about portrait studios I thought my parents just plopped me in the middle of the road for that shot. And I spent a good amount of time seriously pondering the safety risk of doing such a thing with a small child just for the sake of a picture.)
This one was given to me by my mom, a fancy fabric elephant who is one of my favorites. He’s Charlie’s favorite too, along with a little red fabric mouse with a pipe cleaner tail. The elephant and the mouse don’t get to hang out on the bottom of the tree anymore.
When my mom was over one night, she pointed out a little wooden bear my grandparents gave me, with the year 1987 on the back (my mom was awesome about dating our ornaments). “That’s more than 20 years old!” she said. WHAT?!? That can’t be right. But it is. Oh, dear, little bear. You’re vintage now, too.
Next up, the cinnamon ornaments! I chronicled the emotional rollercoaster of these last week. I made little men and stars and trees and circles and bells and by the end, I was so over it. But aren’t they darling? They smell delightful, too. We keep the living room doors closed overnight (see the aforementioned Charlie story for explanation), and in the morning it’s extra warm in that room, and you can really smell the cinnamon. People keep asking if you can eat them….but no, you probably shouldn’t eat glue. Recipe is here if you are interested, but be warned, three batches take a LONG TIME.
I topped off the tree with some glorious striped and stenciled mercury glass ornaments picked up from my treasure hunting this year at estate sales, thrift shops and flea markets. Aren’t they just lovely? They really knew how to make ornaments back in the 50s and 60s.
Tell me, friend, do you have a favorite holiday ornament or decoration? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!
**An important note, added in hindsight–check out what happened to this tree less than one month later. It’s horrifying…and fascinating.**