December 03, 2009

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

December 3 - Christmas Tree Ornaments
Did your family have heirloom or cherished ornaments? Did you ever string popcorn and cranberries? Did your family or ancestors make Christmas ornaments?
Popcorn and cranberries: never! Hawaii is a warm place, and also very humid. The combination of climate and food attracts bugs - huge inches-long roaches - that will come after dark to eat anything not properly stowed away. No, no food on the tree - not even candy canes in wrappers!

I already mentioned our origami ornaments in a previous post, so I'll write about a different way we've collected ornaments over the years. We have the requisite "First Christmas" lovebirds and "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments. We also have stuffed sheep, koalas, and needlepointed plastic canvas shapes. We have angels and Energizer Bunnies a-plenty. We buy balls every couple of years, or so, as they break or lose their glitter.

But we also have a collection of one-of-a kind hand-crafted ornaments representing gifts I've made for library staff over the past 15 years. I started this tradition when Daughter was an infant, by crocheting lacy bookmarks for select staff I worked closely with. The following year, I decided to include everyone on the Central Library staff, and the year after that, I included everyone who worked in the building - up to 150 people! I forget what the first ornament-gifts were, but they included, over the years, Crocheted wreathes, crocheted snowmen, little Christmas boxes with a Hershey's Kiss inside, felt mice with candy-cane tails, red and white woven heart baskets, woven 3-D ribbon stars, gathered lace snowflakes, braided raffia wreathes with tiny bows and bells, and stuffed felt Teddy bears with Santa caps. I saved one of each to hang on our own Christmas tree.

I made the Teddy bears as a special tribute to a regional library manager in Hawaii. Edna's daughter made the bear pins as a Girl Scout project, and Edna distributed them to her staff. I was impressed by the amount of time they gave in showing their appreciation for us, and it became the inspiration for my own gifting. My original Teddy, shown in the photo, is now about 25 years old, and I still wear it every year. However, he's showing signs of wear, and I wanted to create a successor. What better way than to pass along the goodwill that Edna spread so long ago?

I didn't make gifts the last two years, due to travel and lack of time off, but I hope to pick it up again this year. Maybe it's time to reprise the mice or something small and easy to crochet. Happy Christmas, everyone! I appreciate the work you do, and the many ways you make my work easier.

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