Saturday, January 21, 2012

Memories of Christmas 4

Yes, I'm still at it!  For those of you just tuning in - LUCKY YOU!!  I've been posting about some of my favorite Christmas ornaments, writing a few lines about each, and hoping that my children and grandchildren will remember the importance of them when I "croak the big one"!  Of course, I could have them buried with me, but they wouldn't be able to lift the casket! Sorry kids! Gotta LUV me! So here we go!!

One of my granddaughter Isabel's baby rattles! She kept it forever before she finally gave it to me about four years ago, "to put on the tree, Gummy, but it's still mine, okay?"  And it's graced the tree ever since!  I like to think of it being on her tree eventually. When she was little we called Isabel our little "Busy Bee" as she was forever getting into everything! Quite the curious one, but curiosity is what it's all about, isn't it?  An inquiring mind will take you far!!   
My Aunt, Pat McCay, used to do wonderful things with her ceramics!  She had her own kiln and made lovely items for the family!  It's been years since she worked on them, but here's a sweet reminder!  We were always in awe of how realistic she made her faces look.  Another artist in the family!  Actually, on my mother's side, I think most if not all the females are heavily gifted in the arts in one form or another! 
This is a ceramic ornament that my Mom made.  Pat taught her how to shade the colors and so on.  Mom always says she isn't as talented as her two other sisters, but I beg to differ!  It's interesting though; every one of us have our own "specialties".  Mom writes poetry and is a very gifted writer.  And she has the patience of a saint!  She had to! She had me for a daughter! 
Although this ornament doesn't belong to my paternal grandmother, Grandma Hoffman, it's the kind she always put on her aluminum tree so when I saw it at a thrift shop, I knew it was destined for my tree!  It has a sweet innocence about it and I cherish it!  Remember kids - it's hard to imagine now, but back in the 1950's, plastic was in its heyday. Before that, it was glass and metal. Grandma Hoffman loved all the ornaments and different items that were coming out.  I remember she had one of those very large, plastic three-dimensional nativity sets.  It was huge! It sat in her front yard, lit up from within by a large Christmas light placed inside.  It was painted "realistically" (or at least as realistically as plastic could be in those days) and my brother Larry and I were always awe-struck when we saw it go up!  She also had plastic "candelabra" she put in each window of her house, lit up to welcome Santa Claus!  At least that's what Larry and I thought!  And of course there's the church music box I showed you earlier that plays Silent Night.  What lovely memories! 
This ornament and the one below were created by the girls' dear sweet Auntie Doreen, who lives in England.  She's a fabulous knitter, crocheter, you name it.  Actually, these ornaments don't do her justice at all.  I have knitted dolls, about 15 or so of them, that she gave to the girls each year as they were growing up.  The detail work is phenomenal!!  Perhaps I'll bring them out in the spring and post about them! You'll be amazed!  But she knew these were for the girls when they were very little, so she made them as indestructible as possible! 
This was the girls' favorite of Auntie Doreen's ornaments.  The lid to the mailbox opens and the girls would put letters to Santa inside, or sweet little notes to Mommy! I have them still! And the flag actually raises up and down, so Santa knew when there was something inside! 
For the life of me, I can't remember if my youngest, Liz, made this, or did Isabel?  Brain dead I'm afraid.  Girls - help me out, will you?  I remember it was made at school and it took pride of place that year, right in the middle of the tree! It kills me that I can't remember as well as I used to, because I've always had a fantastic memory!  Scream!!!  Oh well, I guess it's a great time to start writing all this down now! 
Isabel made this in her Day Care! He's so cuddly and cute and squishable!  This is another one she finally gave to me, but only for the Christmas tree.  I can just hear her, years from now, howling because I've kept it all this time!  Oh well, the rights of Mothers and Grandmothers is NEVER to be questioned! 
Another of Isabel's ornaments, completed in 2nd grade.  This is what we always called a "God's Eye".  She made several that year, which is neat because I still have one that her mother made too!  And yes, that is a Hershey's Bar ornament you see beside it!  Because my Mommy LOVES me and she KNOWS how much I ADORE Hershey's chocolate!!!  You can toss out all the Godiva and Giardelli (sp?) and that other "stuff"; Hershey's is my absolute favorite!!!  I've never visited the factory in Pennsylvania because I don't think I'd come out alive!  But when I was in grade school, I remember reading an article about it and I kept that article, with lots of yummy photos, for years and years! I wonder where it is now? Hmmmmm.........
This brings back fun memories!  In 1986, we were stationed with the Army in Fort Hood, Texas.  Nigel LOVED to water ski and he wanted a pair of skis of his own, but he knew they were expensive and he'd probably have to wait some time before getting any.  Well, Jan decided otherwise because Nigel rarely said he'd like to have something in particular.  His usual response when I asked him what he'd like for a birthday or Christmas present was, "Oh, I don't know. Whatever you get is fine with me.  I'll like it because it comes from you."  This may sound terribly sweet, but I can tell you it gets very frustrating when you're hoping for ideas!!  Anyway, I knew he wanted skis, even though he hadn't asked for any, so I bought him a really nice pair. I think I probably had to put them on lay-a-way for several months, but needless to say, he was ECSTATIC when he saw them at Christmas! Well, right after I found them that summer, he went water skiing with some friends, using borrowed skis.  And the silly goose kept trying to convince me that it was really easy and that I should give it a try!  Yeah, right!  That same summer/fall, I learned how to cross stitch, using little kits I found at Wal-Mart.  So I created my own little design and this is what I came up with!  
I think if I were asked what my all-time favorite ornament was, I'd have to say this one.  It's simplicity belies it's importance!  Gran made it for me, along with several other felt ornaments you'll see below.  I've always loved him, my little Gingerbread Man, and each year I put him on the tree where he looks straight at me. 
Another of Gran's ornaments, made just for me!  How I treasure them! 
I think Gran was always a little frustrated in her later years that she couldn't create what she felt were better or more artistic items. She knew how talented her three daughters were and I remember her saying she didn't know where they got their talent because she didn't have any herself.  But one day Mom told me that even though they were extremely poor when they were growing up, Gran always made sure they had pretty clothes to wear.  She did this by creating them herself, and all the girls in school would comment how pretty my Mom's and Aunts' dresses were. Later in life we would tease Gran about how she always saved everything, even little snippets of cloth and thread (and I'm talking tiny snippets too).  But that was how she was able not only to survive, but actually thrive while raising three girls so few years after the Great Depression.
So here's to you Gran!!  The Artist who started it all!
Little bells Gran crocheted; I think everyone in the family has some of these! So sweet! 
Gran's felt bird.  I love the heart shaped wing! 
A little felt wreath from Gran.  I remember when I was little, Gran would always bring out her "bits and pieces" during the early Autumn. This allowed her to hand make Christmas presents for all her family and friends, which were extensive!  That's my goal - to hand make Christmas presents this year.  Gran - I'll need you to cheer me along the way! I don't have your fortitude! 
Simple, but sweet.  From Gran. 
Although it looks a bit "well loved", this little package was on Gran's tree when my Mom was young.  There's another one too, with faded red stripes, although I don't think I photographed it before putting them away. 
The last photo for this post.  Gran loved Cardinals!  Right after Thanksgiving, Gran and all her daughters, and Yours Truly of course, would go Christmas shopping. One of our favorite places at the time was a store called Importers Warehouse, where Pat found this little Cardinal.  Gran loved it! We so enjoyed these shopping forays, even though we usually took Gran home early because we wore her out!  Then we'd all go back out for several more hours.  Afterward, we'd return to Gran's and show her all our "goodies".  We had so much fun!  That's the kind of fun I want for this coming Christmas - and every Christmas from now on!  Time to do special things with Isabel that will give her the kinds of special memories I have now!

That's it for this post! Hope all of you have a wonderful day! With God's Blessings and Peace, Jan