“Popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners, clothespins and construction paper: Made with love by little hands, the most precious ornaments cost almost nothing, but the memories they hold are priceless.” — Susan Stafford Kelly
This quote is from a story in the magazine Our State: Celebrating North Carolina, titled “A Handmade Holiday,” about ornaments children make with simple items like old buttons, rickrack clippings and glitter on popsicle sticks or construction paper to hang on the family Christmas tree.
Last year, before everyone took down their trees and packed away the ornaments and trimmings for another year, I asked a few readers about their favorite ornaments. They blessed me with their photos and wrote descriptions of them.
In the home of Randy and Dayle Blackmon, there is a special ornament on the tree and also a special decoration that greets visitors at the front door.
Dayle describes the clear plastic ball ornament: “This Christmas ornament is filled with crushed oyster shells from our local rivers and a shark’s tooth hidden inside. My cousin, Eve Pinckney, made this for me and I treasure it because it was made for me by someone special and from the banks of the Chechessee River.
“Our ‘door-greeter,’ Saint Nicholas, was handmade by our cousin, Peter Veneto, several years ago. Saint Nicholas has adorned our porch every Christmas. This is a prized possession and we store him away carefully every year. Peter is from Boston but has relocated to Chechessee after retirement.
“Chechessee River is a place where we spend summers and still crab, fish and play every summer, along with our children and grandchildren. These decorations mean so much to our home because they are remembrances of a favorite place where many memories were and are still made.”
‘The ornament of a house is the people who frequent it.’ — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Another local couple, Ron and Eileen Stoor, has their favorite ornament, with Eileen saying: “Our Snoopy in a biplane has been our Christmas tree topper since we got married in 1970, the same year we set up our nativity scene. Again, we had very little extra money. We had cut down our tree and could afford lights and a tree stand. No extra money for ornaments.
“Snoopy was supposed to be a gift for my nephew, Scott, but we were told shortly before Christmas that he had asked Santa for it so we could not give him a duplicate. We loved the Snoopy cartoon so we decided to use it as our tree topper and it has been there ever since. We never thought about replacing it and all our ornaments that we use now are mostly old, some given to us or made by me and some purchased on trips as reminders of where we had been.”
William and Susie Johnson from Fancy Gap, Virginia, shared photos and memories of their favorite ornaments. Susie said one of her favorites, given to her by daughter Elizabeth, is a disc of ceramic embossed with a red cardinal she painted.
Also, they always have on display a small Charlie Brown Christmas tree decorated with small red ornaments and colorful gifts tags from presents given to them by their granddaughters Rachel and Claire.
‘I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.’ — Charles Dickens
Sylvia Underwood always has 4-5 angels hanging on her tree, including one given to her by a hospice worker friend and a special one purchased from Cracker Barrel that has a porcelain head with strings of pearls layering her skirt.
But her favorite angel is the one used as the tree topper, a beautiful white angel that lights up and was bought from Nash Drugs on Hilton Head Island in the early 1980s.
Nephew Greg Johnson of Bluffton always has several Christmas villages on display, including a downtown village with shops, restaurants and a post office. Then he has a “Peanuts” animated scene reminiscent of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” And of course, he always has a nativity scene on display.
‘Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.’ — Charles M. Schulz
A lot of parents have an ornament recognizing their children. Don and Charlene King have “Baby’s First Christmas 1979” for their son Kevin. Forrest and Jessica Tanner have one of son Logan’s hand print pressed in a blue disc of salt dough, made when he was 3 and a half years old.
As parents we can’t help but think, as Susan Stafford Kelly stated in her story, that while little hands can’t manage perfection, they make a memory worth preserving.
‘One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clean it up too quickly!’ — Andy Rooney
As a special extra “ornament,” so to speak, on Dec. 21, Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer at night, making the Christmas Star visible for the first time in nearly 800 years.
Merry Christmas to all!
Jean Tanner is a lifelong resident of rural Bluffton. She can be reached at [email protected]