Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holidays - O Christmas Tree

Hello! We're fortunate to have several U-Cut Christmas tree farms nearby, and were also fortunate this weekend in that the weather was good for traveling to one to cut our tree (we've had some very snowy Decembers that have made such an excursion a slippery trip). 

Got a 7' Canaan fir (a balsam variety) on Sunday and now I'll show it off in its full glory:

As you will soon see, I'll have close-ups of some of the dozens of ornaments hanging on our tree. The tree skirt was made by my late mother, sometime in the late 1980's-early 1990's. The angel tree topper came from my husband's grandmother -it's old but I don't know how old. Will have to research this. 

Our daughter was recently at someone's house for the first time on Sunday and commented on the designer-style Christmas tree she saw there. Just two colors of ornaments were on the tree, she reported - silver and gold. "Our tree doesn't look like that", she added. I told her that the family might have another, more casually-decorated Christmas tree in a different part of the house. (she was there to tutor a younger girl and so only saw a small portion of the residence). 

Our tree has such a wide variety of ornaments, it'd be a very long post if I showed a representation of each kind! So I really had to limit myself - and still have several photos to share.

A very talented artist friend made the above, based on a series of paintings she'd done on The Twelve Days of Christmas (I recently learned that the same friend painted a meaningful scene for her mother-in-law as a Christmas gift one year - I can't imagine a nice present than that!)

It was a big deal to my husband when the Chicago Cubs won their division in 1984!

Also courtesy of my husband's background is this ornament showing off the Slovak flag and "Vesele Vianoce", which is "Merry Christmas" in Slovak. For years I'd greet my dad with this saying every Christmas morning and he never remembered what I meant each year! I have found that Slovaks don't seem to be very well-known outside of their own group, and I count myself among those who didn't know anything about Slovakia until I met my husband. They need better PR, I tell him. 

Several of our ornaments are from where we used to live or from places we have visited. The above represents the Olde City section of Philadelphia, the oldest part of town. I used to love to walk around there and admire the 18th C. buildings. 

I purchased this San Francisco ornament in nearby Sausalito, CA while on vacation there in December 1997. I'd heard nice things about the shopping in Sausalito and so looked forward to our stop there. Unfortunately, once we got to the commercial district I decided that it looked a lot like Petoskey, MI - which is not to say that was a bad thing, just that Sausalito wasn't as unique as I'd imagined it to be!

Above is the ornament I'd crafted for our daughter last year - almost everything you see on it is a vintage item. The foil star on top of the tree represents my most prized thrift store find last December - a bag of various Christmas-themed printed foil stickers was mine for a mere quarter. (I assume these were to be used to decorate presents after they'd been wrapped.)I could hardly believe my good luck!

At the same thrift store visit, I picked up this vintage ornament for a dime - another excellent price!

I'd picked up several vintage ornaments when we lived in Stevens Point, WI (1988-1991) - they were dirt cheap back then! I love the Saturn-and-stars images seen above.

I also found the darling crocheted stocking ornament at a garage sale in Stevens Point. I bought several of these at a nickel apiece. Even back then that was a bargain!

I've made many of our ornaments over the years and the above is one I made last year, from a 1960's-era beaded ornament kit I'd picked up at an estate sale for 50c. Don't laugh - I've now seen completed ornaments of this type being sold by antiques dealers!

However, I'm happy to buy a handmade ornament from a secondhand source if I like how it was made, like this colonial-style clothespin doll figure - 75c at a church rummage sale last year. 

I bought this very well-made handcrafted ornament at a thrift store for 50c two days ago. The detailed touches made me speculate that someone had purchased it at a craft show. If so, I wonder what they'd paid for it there? A crafter had spent a fair amount of time making this.

This rooster was purchased along with the previous ornament. Since everything Christmas-related is now half off at that thrift store, I paid 14c (rounded up from half of one quarter) for him. I liked the use of the cheery older fabrics and figure I can display him all year round in our kitchen.

The last two ornament photos demonstrate that some things don't change:

I'd colored the above ornament as a first-grader in 1966 and gave it to my grandmother that year for Christmas. After she died in the late 1980's it was returned to me. 

Our daughter colored this angel as a kindergartner in 2000. She did a better job than I had with mine! She did glitter accents to boot. But basically the size and shape of these paper angels are very similar, and both have an opening on the back to slide the angel onto a tree branch. 

Last but not least, one of three boxes of vintage ornament hangers I've bought at thrift stores for a quarter or less. Like a lot of other things, ornament hangers fall into the "they don't make them like they used to" category - I have found vintage hangers to be much sturdier than the ones manufactured today, so they're just the thing for heavier ornaments. I haven't seen current ornament hanger packaging with cute graphics like the Santa above either!

I could have gone on and on with the showing of other ornaments but thought it best to limit myself to a few. Now, if it was only as much fun to take them down as it was to put them up...