Before we get too far away from Christmas, I want to share with you some decorations that I hold dear. (I wrote about The Mister's in this post a few weeks ago.)
In this post I wrote about the ornaments made from sequins, beads and pins in a house in Ohio City and how they reminded me of the ornaments my Grandma Evelyn made for me. She wasn't my biological grandmother, but she raised me like she was. Grandma Evelyn was the nanny my parents hired when my mother went back to work after I was born. She was with me every weekday starting when I was six weeks old until the end of my third grade school year. Even after she stopped working for my parents we kept in touch until shortly before her death when she moved from her apartment to a nursing home. Like all of us, she had her flaws, but, in the long run, hers really didn't matter to me. In addition to giving me a decade-long obsession with "The Guiding Light" and a cynical attitude about the government, she also gave me a lot of love, which far outweighed the other stuff. Here are two of my favorite Grandma Evelyn ornaments:
Even though I was a bit of a tomboy this sparkly pink ornament still really appealed to me, but the jack in the box was my favorite.
In my previous post about this kind of ornament, I said that I was having trouble finding kits to make my own. My awesome crafty friend Haley (and author of Labor of Love: Tales of a Knitting Mom ) recommended Herrschners where I found this cupcake along with several others. Thanks Haley!
While Grandma Evelyn's ornaments are placed at the top of my tree so curious little hands don't pull the pins out, this guy is heavy and needs a home on one of the lower boughs.
My Uncle John enjoyed baking bread, rehabbing old houses and making things out of stained glass. For a couple of Christmases during my grade school years he made a lot of stained glass Christmas decorations and gave most away as gifts. This soldier decorated the tree at my parents' house for most of my childhood. They also have three wise men, two angels and two candle holders Uncle John made for them, all out of stained glass. I'm not sure what happened to the wise men or the angels, but the candle holders were one of the first things I noticed when we visited my parents this Christmas.
Unfortunately, at the time when Uncle John was making his stained glass creations, I was more interested in factory made gifts from the mall than those lovingly handmade by my relatives. I'm not sure I ever showed any appreciation for his work while Uncle John was alive. I hope other people close to him did. This summer it will be fifteen years since he passed away. For Christmas, I honored the house-rehabbing part of Uncle John my making a donation to Habitat for Humanity at The Alternative Christmas Bazaar at church.
My Uncle John was the husband of my mom's older sister, my Aunt Diane. My mom had two sisters, but I never knew my Aunt Nancy even thought she was only a year younger than my mother and they were great playmates. She died of a brain tumor right around her seventh birthday. Since she was so young when she died, she didn't have very many possessions, but she did have some dolls. Nancy's angel doll adorns the top of my parents Christmas tree every year.
I love the sweet face on this doll. She has bright features, but she still looks like an innocent little girl.
The last decoartion I want to show you is part of a pair, but when I was ready to write this post I could only find one. Each year when this reindeer and his doppleganger come down from the attic I give one to each of my girls to play with for the holiday and I'm not sure where The Milk Belly Princess has hers squirreled away.
This little guy doesn't look like much. He's not handmade or old enough to be considered "vintage," but he does play music...sort of. If you squeeze his tummy, a voice that's supposed to be Santa yells "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!" and then some sing-songy little children say "Santa Claus is coming to town." Before we had children, I used to startle The Mister by putting one of these in front of each of his ears and blasting him with Christmas cheer.
This silly stuffed animal is special to me because it was given to me by my Grandma Audrey (my mom's mom) on one of her last Christmases before she died. She was an elementary school teacher and had an affinity for the kinds of decorations and holiday celebrations that small children enjoy. This made her a big hit with me even after I wasn't so small any more. She also had some serious mental health issues that made visiting with her on a bad day akin to walking in a mine field. But this reindeer toy reminds me of the best, happiest parts of her...and isn't that how we all want to be remembered?