About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Monday, November 16, 2009

When Christmas was Magical

This week's Fun Monday assignment is all about sharing some of our oldest possessions. Our host this week, Ari_1965 at Beyond My Slab , asks us to share some photos of our oldest possession and explain how we came to own it. Why have we hung on to it for all these years? For all of you who get crazy when you see or hear anything Christmasy two months before December 25, I apologize in advance. I'm with you. Thing is, the oldest possession I have is a rather fine collection of glass Christmas ornaments, many probably were made in the 1920-30s.

There was a time when I loved everything about Christmas--the sights, sounds, smells, and celebrations. I especially loved decorating my home with all the treasures I had collected over the years. A month before Christmas, I cleaned and polished everything, shopped for presents and wrapped each one in special paper and topped each gift off with a simple bow of fabric ribbon. A week before Thanksgiving I started watching the local tree lots and nurseries. When would they start selling Christmas trees and live greenery for homemade wreaths and roping? My tree of choice was always a fresh fraser fir from the mountains of North Carolina. Its fragrance was the essence of Christmas and its sturdy branches were spaced well to hold the largest and heaviest ornament.

Once I had the noble fir home and had gotten it to stand upright in the tree stand--a big challenge since I usually worked alone--it was time to get out my treasured collection of glass ornaments. For several years I rummaged through antique stores, flea markets, and yard sales on the lookout for the brightly colored ornaments that people gave up in favor of coordinated tree decorations in the 70s and 80s. These ornaments gleamed against the dark fir branches and multi-colored tree lights. I especially searched for ornaments made in West Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Here's a sampling of some of my most prized ornaments:


In the lower portion of the photo you can see two examples of reflectors that fitted underneath a Christmas light bulb. The reflections from the colored lights made magic on the tree. In the center of the photo notice the brightly colored pendants. They were made in Poland.

Starting in the upper left corner, here's a close up of some extra large ornaments made in West Germany. I found these at an auction--about 10 in a box. Those with the indents are quite special:


Moving on to the upper right hand corner you can see examples of tinsel decorated ornaments, a pear shaped clear ornament with a tableau inside, and chenille tree that fitted over a bulb:

On the right the smaller, brightly colored balls are from Poland and Czechoslovakia and were made in the 1930s.

In addition to these European glass ornaments I also collected other unusual shapes:

Beginning in the lower left corner, the red clown is very old and almost patriotic. Perhaps made especially for sale in the U.S. Moving clockwise, you can see my collection of glass musical instruments. Also notice the lamp with a green shade and gold lace fringe--a great find. Beside the lamp are some of my favorite shapes of Shiny Brites. These familiar striped ornaments where manufactured in the U.S. after WW II and hung on many trees, along with large colored lights. In the front center are three kugel grape clusters. These ornaments are German and can be identified by their heavy weight and flat ornamental cap.

I stopped putting up a Christmas tree the year that Willie was a pup. I couldn't stand the thoughts of him breaking any of the ornaments or turning the tree over. Both catastrophes were distinct possibilities. That was 13 years ago. I haven't given these ornaments away so maybe there is a tree in my future. . .

Now be sure to check out the possessions that other Fun Monday participants are still hanging on to. Do you think it's true that we are our "stuff"?

14 comments:

wendishness said...

Very nice ornaments indeed. They remind me a bit of mine. Though I don't have any from anywhere other than Australia, I've got some colourful ones that are a bit older than myself.

I have always liked a lot of different colour on a Christmas tree, not the one or two colour ones, I like it to look as though it's made of love with a mottled assortment of colours and shapes etc.

cynicalgirl said...

I remember ornaments like that. Ours are long gone now. Like you, we haven't had a tree in years (no room in our tiny apartment), but we're beginning another stash of Christmas decorations with our own memories.

http://cynicalgirl57.wordpress.com/

Jan n Jer said...

Oh Faye they are beautiful and I remember quite a few like yours, that we decorated our tree with when I was a child. Its a shame you cannot put a tree up to enjoy these cherished treasures. Glad your holding on to them...maybe Willie is settled down enough to maybe try once a gain.

Lil Mouse said...

I think what we have says a lot about us. My MIL gave us some old ornaments that were in her family, but they were very beat up, so after the first year, we stuck them on a smaller tree, and then in a bowl instead of letting them dangle precariously. Mostly, it just seemed like she wanted to be rid of them. I don't like 'gifts' like that. If you truly think I'll like something, that's one thing, shoving something in my hands and saying, take these I don't want them is something else...but my husband won't let me get rid of them. They're staying in the box this year.

Debs said...

I remember the ornaments my mother and grandmother had years ago and I would love to have some of them now. Yours are beautiful.

Hopefully you'll be able to hang them in all their splendour at some point in the future.

Janice said...

Oh, Faye. What treasures! Mama has all of our old Shiny Brites and some of Nanaw's, I think. I hope when they become mine I'm not in Flylady mode, so I don't just toss them all!

I like Lil Mouse's idea of putting them in a bowl. Or, how about in those tall, covered jars? After all, you've already gotten them out.

karisma said...

Oh they are beautiful! I especially love the balls. So colourful. I used to have quite a few crystal ornaments but over the years the kids got to them. I have a couple left though. Funny you should say you put them away when you had the puppy. My sister in law up until this year kept her tree in a playpen so my nephew could not reach it. This year she put it up early for some unknown reason and thought at 3 he was old enough to leave it alone.

My daughter was babysitting last week when he came to her and said "Oh NO, I bwoked the twee!" He had ridden past on his scooter, tripped and knocked it down! He did not break it but the ornaments all fell off. I thought it was quite funny, his mother did not, it took her hours to decorate just right! LOL!

Ari_1965 said...

I bought a couple vintage German glass grape ornaments for a friend who collects grape things. I love glass ornaments. You have a wonderful collection.

Sayre said...

Oh, those are gorgeous! We have a few like that, handed down from parents and in-laws. We are very careful with them and use them again now that ZBoy is old enough to not upset the tree.

Pamela said...

mama had a set of the glass fruit -- and there is one raspberry left which my brother claimed. His only son died 3 years ago - so I wonder where it will go and be cherished when....

Lane said...

I really hope there is a tree in the future Faye, even a small one, up out of Willie's way. These are just too beautiful, not to be on show once a year. I adore the blue (West German) one with the flowers on it.

My mother has a string of big plastic flower tree lights bought in the 1950s and they all still work.

It's been great catching up on your posts Faye. Did the Slanket arrive? And does Master Wille want one too?

Stephanie, Mama Dramatist said...

Those are truly lovely!!!

My Grandmother had some like that. Don't know what happened to them.

Now I'm all missing her....

ChrisB said...

I love them, they are so pretty. Sadly all the glass ones we has when I was a child got broken.

The Church Lady said...

Oh Faye, I just love your delicate Christmas ornaments! They are all very beautiful! Very nice keepsakes. I started a collection of ornaments for my tree many years ago. My Christmas tree adorns many ornaments of all shapes and sizes from many different places I have traveled in my life.

Thanks for sharing your special collection. I think you should try a tree this year.