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Christmas Tree-ditions: Dave Spencer’s Top Three

 

Photo by Dave Spencer

By now, I would imagine most folks have already put up their Christmas trees. On the WBKR Facebook page, I recently asked about the oldest ornaments on our Facebook friends’ trees. And so I started thinking about the ornaments that have always been a part of my family’s holiday traditions. Three of them stand out in my mind.

THE CHRISTMAS “TEAR”

The Christmas "Tear" (Photo by Dave Spencer)

The Christmas “tear” is one of a set of hand-blown ornaments that was made in Germany for a royal family–we’ve never known the name. When my mother was in nurses’ training at the University of Louisville back in 1953, she had a roommate whose father died while they were in school. Upon this man’s death, his daughter learned that she was a descendant of this royal family. The ornaments were divided among the last living family members. She received three and gave one to my mother. We have no idea how old it is, but since we’re talking German royal families, I’m guessing at least a century. It seems sturdy, but just in case, I try not to touch it. The “tear” has hung on the family tree my whole life and I want to keep it that way. Yes, my sister and I each have our own trees, but the one at Mom’s is the “family” tree. It gets all the heirloom ornaments…like the ceramic bell.

THE CERAMIC BELL

The ceramic bell. (Photo by Dave Spencer)

When I was a kid, one of my mom’s friends was really into ceramics–took a class, everybody got ceramic stuff as gifts for a couple of years…the whole shebang. So, one Christmas–when I was in second grade–she made Christmas tree ornaments. There was one for my sister and one for me. And they featured oval centers where photos could be placed. So Mom put our school pictures from that year in the centers of those ornaments. Well, that was the year I was sitting in the living room, goofing off, and being a dumb kid. I reached over onto the chair-side table and grabbed a pair of pinking shears and stupidly cut a big block of hair out of my bangs. It was two days before we were to have our school pictures taken. I begged Dad to take me to the barber shop for a haircut to balance out the damage. But he said, “No, you shouldn’t have been playing with scissors and your hair’s gonna stay that way.” He was right. But I was 7. At the time, he was wrong. But it didn’t matter what I thought. So the picture was taken and THAT was the one Mom used for the ceramic bell ornament, which hangs on the family tree to this day. You know how they say, “One day you’ll look back on all this and laugh?” Well, they’re right.

IT’S UGLY…BUT IT’S FAMILY

The polyester maroon, gold, green, and plaid thing..with jar lids. (Photo by Dave Spencer)

Now, every time I see this next ornament, I always laugh. This happened the same year as the ceramic bell/pinking shears incident. I was in Sunday School, and the teachers wanted us all to make Christmas tree ornaments. They brought out this big box of stuff. We were to pick at least four items out of the box to make our ornaments. Now, I have long claimed to not have an artistic bone in my body. And, I believe this ornament bears that out. I grabbed a styrofoam ball–I actually think that might have been required–two jar lids, some odd green and gold bordering material (for lack of a better term), and some plaid polyester. Sounds like Art Department Fear Factor, doesn’t it? Anyway, my little 7-year-old hands got busy putting this ornament together. And voila–a strange and very non-descript maroon, plaid, green and gold Christmas ornament with plainly visible jar lids. And my mother says she will never have a tree without it. Ah, Moms.

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