My “Story Tree” or the stories behind the ornaments …

For those of you who didn’t know; I lean towards the more historical, traditional (gasp and clutch the pearls), crafter, homemade and vintage inspired decorations of holidays, so my tree is often a mix of old and new.  its been that way since I first started to put up a tree (or rosemary bush in those really lean years). Even though these days I put up a smaller tree and yes – its a 1/2 tree, meaning its doesn’t have a back so I can put it flush against the wall to save some room; I still keep track of all my old favorite ornaments and rotate them each year. So while I add a few new ones each year (especially owls). It’s the usually the older, bruised or gifted ones that have become some of my favorites. Why? Because they tell my and my friends stories.

I was never one for fancy ornaments and decorations; rather I always found those that could serve to make me pause a moment to remember, to be an archive of sorts and tell the story of shared pasts, of friends, of families; the good times and the bad. Each year in November, (and yes I always put the tree up the weekend after T-day, unless I am on the road), it is a treat to open the boxes (oh, maybe all 12 of them) and unpack them. img_5641Deciding on which ones get to come out that year. It becomes a sort of “Mission Impossible” episode.

Some of mine; like the angel that has sat at the top of my tree for the last 20 years; and who before that it sat on my family tree since 1965. Yea, her “golden” wire skirt is tattered and torn, but she still gets to be the last thing I put up each year. I even had to make do with a new wand from her a few years back. Thank goodness for cliffs having something just right.. <grin>

Amore recent addition to the “family”; is the Santa diorama. I found this up in the Russian River several years ago at a church bazaar. When I saw it, I knew I was going to buy it. But the best surprise was when I asked someone working to tell me about it, she asked me did I want to meet the woman who made it. I said yes, and she came over with a lovely knowing grin on her face.  She said she knew right away I was going to want it. She told me how she had made it 40 years ago. Her husband built the box custom for her, and all the pieces she either made or custom ordered them. She even wallpapered it. Back then she said it has cost her almost a $100 to make.  I looked at Paul and he smiled, saying go ahead, you know if you don’t you will regret it. So I asked her how much, and she smiles and says $20 and make sure I gave it a good home.

These faded glass ones from a senior nieghbor many years ago. After she died, the family just left boxes of her ornaments on the street. It was sad to see them be tossed aside. Too much trouble to even gift or donate. But I love the dulled luster they offer tucked in the tree, like small candies.

A new one from my mother was delivered this summer. These ceramic trees used super popular back in the 70’s, in fact many of them were made during ceramic classes by crafters. Recently they have been put back in production, but I knew we had two and asked for one of ours. This particular one sits on a bourbon bottle base and wasn’t handmade by mother – my sister has that one.

Some of my other  favorites have come as “thank you’s”;  acquired over the last 20 years after the annual open house, when I get ornaments from friends who attend and realize my quirky little tree is a home for those odd, old or sentimental ornament they had as a kid or the one from Mom’s house that they no longer can use because they don’t put a tree up or it doesn’t match the “theme” tree.  Even the notes telling the story of each,  are saved.  Like this rusted bell, even to me as a way of saying goodbye to someone.

They each have a story to tell and find a home here. Maybe that’s why I always resonated with the seasonal story of the  “Rudolph and The Island of Misfit Toys”.

They all have a home on mine and are become “real”. I guess my tree becomes the playroom from the Velveteen Rabbit; only instead of a playroom it is a tree, where they become real again by being displayed and loved on my “story tree”.