Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Memories of Christmas 5 - Final Post for This Series! YEA!!!

Correction is needed on this post!  I misspelled the word "boll" when I spoke of a cotton boll ornament.  I hate it when I misspell a word because I'm a very good speller.  But my Mommy is twenty times better and she caught it for me!  Thank you Mommy!  So here's my correction - the word is "boll", not "bole".  Jan

The last post for this series!!  Yea!!!  Thanks to those of you who've stuck it out through all 5 (that is, if there are any of you left! Ha Ha) I've been posting about some of my favorite Christmas ornaments and hoping my children and grandchildren will remember the importance of them when I no longer inhabit this plane of existence (i.e., croak the big one).  Believe it or not, I've deleted at least twice as many as I've posted photos on, and that doesn't even account for all the ornaments which I didn't take photos of!!  I definitely have enough to start my own Christmas store!  Except I couldn't sell them! I have made a HUGE effort in giving both daughters and now my granddaughter special ones now, rather than having them inherit them.  Oh well, let's get started!
My beautiful Angel Tree Topper, inherited from my Dad's Mom, Grandma Hoffman!  This was always on the top of Grandma's silver aluminum tree each year and I LOVED her (and still do!).  Her head is glass and the rest of her is made from gold tin foil, with the exception of the glass ball ornament she's holding!  She has her own special container that she's packaged away in and every time I take her out and look at her, I think of all those wonderful Christmas memories down through the years!   
The first car Nigel and I had when we got married was a little red Volkswagen Beetle, with a black "racing stripe" (naturally!) between the front and back fenders! I admit to taking artistic liberties with the ornament above by marking this same line with a black Sharpie marker. 
This is the "God's Eye" that Laura made for me in school when she was little.  As I mentioned earlier, it's nice having Laura's as well as Isabel's. Like mother, like daughter!
This is one of those ornaments that Laura wishes I'd never bring out.  It's a wooden spool with multi-colored felt pipe cleaners wrapped around it.  I think she was probably in 1st grade when she made it.  What can I say? We Moms love - and save - lots of funny little things!
See what I mean about Mom's saving things?  This is a painted noodle necklace Isabel made for me about two years ago.  I also still have the paper bead necklace that Liz made for me when she was little! See! You can put anything on a Christmas tree!  I certainly do, and it makes it all the more charming and special!
A special ornament made by Liz when she was little! Yes, this is one she'd prefer I never put out, but......... too bad!  Mom's rule!!
I know you think this may be weird, but there's a story behind it (with me, there always is!).  My Dad, who died in 1998, ALWAYS used Old Spice After Shave when we were growing up.  And I do mean . . . ALWAYS.  Later in life I think he changed to something else but I'm not sure which.  But the one we always remembered was the Old Spice.  So when I saw this small bottle, I knew it was destined for our Christmas tree.  It brings back so many memories! And every time I see that bottle, I think of Dad.  That's the beauty of a Christmas Tree for me; they're like microcosms of our lives over the years.  For instance, when Liz was visiting over New Year's a couple of weeks ago, she was going through some boxes of things she'd packed away when she first left home.  She came upon some trophies (which I admit are too big for the tree) which Isabel wanted to keep and two medals she won when she was playing softball, around 8 - 10 years old.  Her plan was to throw them out!  "NO WAY" said I!!!  Guess where they're going to go?  I remember all too well sitting on those hard bleachers, watching her play, rooting for the team, etc.  They'll make a wonderful addition to the tree, as well as bring back happy memories!  
A pine cone angel, also from Liz.  I have more items from Liz than I do from Laura because Laura was always very critical of her work.  And if she didn't like it, she'd destroy it before bringing it home because she knew I'd want to keep it.  The little stinker!! 
A family favorite - our Cotton Bole Angel, made from a real cotton bole. Many years ago, Nigel's sister Marian and her husband, Gary, who are from England, visited us here in Alabama.  They had never seen cotton in its natural state so it was quite a shock for them to actually see a field of cotton growing beside the road, and inside the city limits no less! We still have one or two fields left, but they're dwindling fast, being taken over by new housing developments. Anyway, during their visit we unexpectedly came across these cotton bole ornaments, which we naturally "just had to have"!  I still remember how excited Marian and Gary were when they first saw the cotton.  It was so nice to see something they considered "new" which we'd been taking for granted.  Not only that, but my memories up to that time consisted of when I was very young growing up on a cotton farm.  One summer we had to "pick" the cotton. We didn't have quite the same level of excitement about it then, I can tell you! It's backbreaking work, out in the open fields with no shade, hot humid sun blasting down on you, while the state bird (AKA: mosquito) incessantly feeds on you while your fingers get torn to shreds as you try untangling the cotton from the bole and from the cockle burrs! Now some of you may think this is a bit melodramatic, but to those of you who've never picked cotton, be my guest!
Yes, another Hallmark! Isn't he cute?  It's nothing more than different colored and sized buttons, with a wire wrapped around for the arms and a face "penned" on with ink!  Genius! 
A nod to Nigel's English heritage - the well known, but swiftly disappearing red English Telephone Booth.  Just as they are in our own country, phone booths are becoming obsolete because everyone has a cell phone now.  They were deliberately painted bright red so they could be easily spotted.  Another classic English landmark is the bright red painted mail boxes; sadly, these two are disappearing.  Not all change is good!
Liz' first Christmas ornament - a hand carved, hand painted wooden cradle we bought in Wiesbaden, West Germany, when we were stationed there in 1985.  Yes, I said West Germany.  That was before East and West Germany reunited and became Germany.
This charming little baby buggy was Laura's first Christmas ornament in 1981!  It's actually a Hallmark and the wheels actually move!  I missed it in this photo, but there's a little "baby" underneath the "quilt".
I can hear the moans again! Liz painted this when she was just a few years old and begged me not to bring it out when she got older.  Naturally I completely ignored her and exercises my Motherly rights!
At the same time, Laura painted this ornament!  Yes, more moans!  I'm so glad I persevered and kept them both!!  Although I have to admit at one point I had to hang them in the back of the tree, hidden from sight, because I was afraid both girls were going to take them off and throw them away when I wasn't looking!
Isabel's reindeer, made from Popsicle sticks, last year in 2nd grade!  Or was it from 1st grade?  I can't believe how fast the time flies!!
A special ornament that Laura brought me from Afghanistan.  The detail on this is fabulous!
A favorite cat ornament, in memory of a lovely cat we had years ago.  His name was "Maxwell Smart" because he was just as silly and clumsy as his character's name implied.  And he was forever getting into trouble, not out of meanness, but simply out of curiosity.  We called him Max for short and he'll always have a very special place in our hearts!  We love you Max!!
Gotta L.U.V. cats! We certainly do in the Fursdon Household!  Our dear friend Rita gave me this ornament years ago and I just love it! We even have a Christmas Tree dedicated to cats!  Hard to believe, isn't it?!  Yeah, right!  Okay, I admit it - I like different themed trees!  So any time someone wants to get me something special, a cat ornament is always welcome!  The wheels on this ornament actually turn! Cute!!
Bless his little heart - this sweet little kitty is one my Gran painted years ago and gave to one of my girls; can't remember which one so to be fair, I've decided to keep it for myself! Now isn't that nice of me - to avoid any conflict?  I'm like that, you know!  As for the green wire around his neck, it's the only way I've found so far to hang him to a tree with.  So we're actually pretending that it's a leash.  So there!
Hilarious cat ornament from my Aunt Pat several Christmases ago!  I LOVE the fish bones hanging from it's paws!  And the fact that he's just ever so slightly rotund - just the way I like my cats!
This is actually a piece of jewelry my Aunt Pat gave me years ago!  The little butterfly is on a spring so it moves, as if trying to escape the clutches of the cat!  Isn't it adorable?  There's another piece of jewelry in the family, belonging to my Aunt Von (my Mom's oldest sister).  It's a pewter cat, Siamese I think, and it's pregnant!  I kid you not! It's actually very pregnant, with a little rounded tummy that is so sweet! And the amazing thing is that it's rather old - not something you would have found easily during it's heyday!  The family tradition is that all the females who get pregnant get to wear the pin.  I wore it for both my girls, Laura wore it for Isabel, and so on.  I wonder who will be next?!  Hmmmmm......Hey Von - if you're reading this, try to send a photo of the preggy cat and I'll put it on the blog!
This exemplifies one of our current cats, Dundee (named after the Dundee brand of Marmalade that is delicious, but more importantly, is the color of our Dundee).  He's a lovely slob, happy as can be and LOVES to be cuddled and babied!  He lost his Mother to a car accident when he was too young and hadn't been weaned yet. To this day, he loves to get up against any fabric that happens to be super soft (i.e., t-shirt material, fleece jammies or throws, etc.).  He then proceeds to knead with both his front paws while he literally sucks on the material.  It can last quite some time too and the fabric, whether you're wearing it or not, is quite drenched when he's through.  But he's worth every minute of extra attention we give him!
This ornament accompanied the other ornament above (2 cats in a tub) that our dear Rita gave us.  The wheels on this one also move.  For the longest time, I sat them out in the bathroom, but now they're immortalized on the Fursdon House Cat Christmas Tree!

This little Nativity was made in Mexico from tin!  My Mom found it at a garage sale about 20 or more years ago and paid all of .25 cents for it!  It comes in it's own little tin box to store it in.  Each of the figures has a little device in the back to allow it to stand on its own.  I love it's simplicity.  This is the first year I've displayed it on the old Grandfather Clock.  But I think next time I'm going to create more of a vignette that brings it the attention it deserves. 
My Williamsburg style fruit plaques!  I LOVE these; I made four of them so far.  I got the idea from two places - one was a book on Williamsburg at Christmas, in which they use real fruit to decorate with, and the other was from my mother-in-law, Valerie, who made similar ones for her own home.  Once I saw hers, I fell in love with them and I especially liked the idea that I wasn't using real fruit, which I consider a terrible waste.  I've actually thought of making these and selling them on my Etsy shop. Does anyone out there think this is a good idea? I'd love to hear your opinion!  I also have two larger versions done in red apples, as well as a half-circle of red apples that is displayed over our front door.  Like I said - I'd love to hear if anyone thinks this might be a good idea! 
Isabel's latest artwork!!  I love the reins and the reindeer!  Not that I'm prejudiced, you understand!  Ha Ha
My little Hole in the Wall Gang Christmas Mouse!  He actually came off an ornament that spelled out "Christmas" and he sat on top of it.  But the ornament kept falling and breaking.  So finally I got rid of the words, which were looking pretty sad, and just saved Mr. Mouse.  He's only about an inch tall and I display him in my kitchen garden window where I've created Santa Village, complete with my favorite cardboard houses liberally sprinkled with glitter, as well as multiple tiny Santa's of every description (and species!), with snow and rolling hills and evergreen trees dotting the landscape!  Christmas is such a magical time for me!
Although I didn't include a photo of the whole village I wanted to include this little Santa. Believe it or not, he's one of a pair of earrings made in the 1950's!!!  Our dear friends Pauline and Morgan Lynch gave them to me this Christmas, and I do not exaggerate when I say that only the day before, I'd made a mental note to myself that I needed more miniature Santa's for my village!  And Voila!!  Here they were!  All I did was remove their earring fittings and they worked perfectly!  Aren't they precious!?!?! 
Here are three of the miniature Santa's in Santa Village!  The one in the middle was actually in a little snow globe on the top of a pencil (in place of an eraser)!  Silly place to put a Santa, so I broke the globe, dried him off and he's been with me happily ever since!  The other two Santa's are both from my Aunt Pat who appreciates miniatures the way I do!
Another miniature Santa - and his Reindeer - also from my Aunt Pat!  She spoils me!  And she understands me!  Either that, or she just humors me!  Ha Ha  The neat thing about this ornament is that it's hinged so he reindeer can sit in different positions.  If I'm not mistaken, she bought one for herself too.  Generally speaking, that's our rule - if we like something enough to satisfy ourselves, we know the other one will love it too!
A lovely keepsake from my youngest daughter, Liz! I forget what grade she made this piece of artwork but I framed it several years back because it was beginning to get a bit worn. Some years I leave it out year round!
This hilarious little monkey belonged to my Dad.  I'm not sure how he came across it, or why he kept it.  He usually didn't do this sort of thing, but when I found it in his possessions after he died, I wanted to give it a special home.  For years I think it was with one of the girls, but now I've taken possession.  And remember - possession is nine tenths of the law!
Mrs. Santa Claus - ceramic ornament, created and painted by my Aunt Pat when she was working with ceramics!  It's lovely to have such keepsakes!  I think she gave us this ornament when we were first married.
A very special ornament from a very special lady.  Virginia Douglas Lavender ("Ginny" to us) was a dear friend of the Fursdon family long before I knew them.  And she welcomed me with open and loving arms when I met and became engaged to Nigel.  She took me under her wing and taught me so many wonderful things, including my first loaf of home made bread!  I truly cherish the times I was lucky enough to spend with her.  She passed away a few years ago, but lives on in our lives in a myriad of amazing memories.  She was a fabulous cook, but used simple ingredients that always tasted as if she'd spent hours and hours on it!  I have many recipes from her, but one of my favorites was her home made soup.  She called it "Potage Garbage"! She said she started with a good stock and potatoes (the "potage"), then literally put in every left over from the week's cooking that would suit.  It was never the same, except for the fact that it was DELICIOUS!!!  How I miss her!  Here's to you Ginny!
Ginny was a big fan of the tales of Peter Rabbit, and she bought these ornaments for my girls when they were little.  Ginny was an avid animal rights activist back when it wasn't popular to be so.  And cats were her weakness.  She often teased she had the only "cat house" in town!  One of my favorite memories was when she named one of her latest cats (saved from the pound more often than not) to Purr-ple.  So his name was Purr-ple Lavender! 
Isabel's favorite ornament!  A Hallmark no less, so she has very good taste!  These are little reindeer house slippers and if you push a button in the back,their little lights on the end of their horns light up!
A lovely bit of ephemera, saved from a corsage that had long since seen better days!  They're from Japan; would they be from before World War II?  Maybe not.  Doesn't matter though; they're so sweet!  I still haven't decided how best way to use them.  But one day...... 
Have you ever seen such a sweet albeit rather rotund reindeer?  Especially on snow skies?  Now you know why I had to have it among my collections!  What a physique!!  It lets me know what I'd look like on skis!
A sweet little stocking cross stitched with an angel - another cherished gift from Ginny Lavender.
This is one of my Hole in the Wall Gang ornaments.  I love his look and the fact he's just hanging in there!  It reminds me of how I feel when I'm in the middle of the Christmas rush!
One more funny story! Actually, I have more than just the two Santa's photographed here, but I must have deleted them by accident.  Oh's the story.  When we were in West Germany, in Nuernberg to be precise, we went to one of their department stores called WertKauf (pronounced "Ver Coff").  It's their equivalent of our Wal-Mart (or at least it was back in the 1980's).  Anyway, it was at an After Christmas sale and right about the time of Easter.  We were having a great time, checking out all of the different items and so on when all of a sudden, in the middle of one of the aisles, I noticed a very large cardboard box, about 4 feet square in size.  And it was FILLED to the top with small packages of Christmas ornaments that apparently hadn't sold, as well as hand-painted wooden eggs for Easter!  At the time, they were priced to the U.S. equivalent of about 25 cents a package, and there were 4 Easter Eggs in each package!  So Yours Truly went wild, digging down deep into that box to make sure I got every single one they still had!  In retrospect, I'm sure I looked quite interesting to say the least, with my rear end stuck up in the air as I dug deep down into that box like a true American Shopper, determined to get what I wanted!  Poor Germans - they had no idea what they were in for when we entered their country! Ha Ha  But I have to say - Germans are lovely people and they always made us feel as if we were family!  As a matter of fact, we still  exchange Christmas packages with a family who took us in when we were in Nuernberg all those years ago (1991)! Lovely warm-hearted wonderful people!
Interestingly enough, two years ago, a dear friend of mine gave me one of these ornaments, which was in its original Woolworth's package, which dated back probably to the 1970s!  She'd bought it at an antique shop in town and knew my love for Christmas and antiques!  So they've obviously been around for awhile!

Guess what?  This is it! No more photos!  Whew! I finished it!  I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get to the end! Bet you were wondering the same thing!  That is, IF you mangaed to make it this far with me!  But I hate starting a project and not finishing it.  Something about my anal retentiveness that just won't let me do it, at least without major gnashing of teeth!

I hope I haven't bored you too much, but truth be told - I did this more for me than anyone else. And for my girls and my granddaughter, none of whom will appreciate it much now.  But perhaps in future? 

Anyway, hope you all have a lovely evening.  May God bless, Jan