Before the Tree comes Down

The tree looks cheerful and full even without lights!

Before the tree comes down on January 6, I enjoy spending time looking at the ornaments and remembering their significance. Some people have a color-coordinated tree, or use new ornaments each year, but our tree ornaments each have a special place in our hearts and find a place on our tree year after year after year without fail. Some of them are probably old enough to be classified as antiques! I’m sharing a few of my very favorites!

This ornament hung on my Grandma Miller’s tree.

I once had several ornaments that belonged to my paternal grandmother, but one year our beagle pulled the tree over while we were at work. We came home to dozens of broken ornaments, many that were chewed, and several that were missing, which required a quick trip to the vet for a stomach pumping. Fortunately he survived to ordeal, even though many ornaments did not. He never bothered the tree again, but I lost several precious-to-me treasures.

One of many hand crocheted snowflake ornaments

My mother-in-law was a very talented lady who loved to crochet. The first Christmas I was married (1965) she made a dozen snowflakes, each one different, for our tree. In later years, she hand crocheted bells, angels and more snowflakes. Just like real snowflakes, each one is unique. She didn’t need a pattern; she could just design as she stitched!

Hand crocheted Santa

These cheery crocheted Santas are some of my favorite items on the tree, also made by my mother-in-law. I wish I had a dozen more.

A hand-made pink elephant! His head is the size of a baseball, so he makes an impact on the tree!

My first daughter Andrea’s very first Christmas ornament came from her Aunt Zettie. It looks in very good shape for its age. I can’t believe that this elephant and my baby are over 50! Where did the years go?

We always called this one “Raggedy Andrea”…

A few years later, when my second daughter was about 3 years the girls loved the Raggedy Ann books and picked out this ornament for the tree. That year I made them both Raggedy Ann costumes for Halloween. Somewhere I have photos that I should look for this winter. I wonder what happened to those carefully made costumes; I can’t recall…..

Home-made ornaments…lots of those!

When I went back to college, there wasn’t much extra money so we made lots of our ornaments. One year we made dozens of birds and snowflakes out of appetizer picks, toothpicks, cardboard circles, glue and twine. The kids had fun making them with me, and the memories were priceless, as are these ornaments to me.

Hand sewn onto a hinged hairclip to hold it on the branches.

One year me made dozens of these felt candles as gifts for friends and family, and also to sell at craft fairs. I only have one left; maybe it’s time to make some more, if they even manufacture those hinged hair clips anymore!

Pear gourds grown & dried have lots of potential as ornaments!

Another year we made hundreds of little 3″ gourd ornaments like this farmer. Others were Santas or sports fans. We had a 200′ trellis across one field just to grow these little pear-shaped gourds. After they were harvested and cured, we tossed them into a cement mixer with a shovelful of sand and some water and let it run until all the outer skin was smoothly worn off. Dump them out, give them a good rinse, let them dry and they were ready to paint! Over the years, we sold thousands of gourd ornaments.

The first “teacher” ornament I received.

Boy, that was another lifetime ago…way back in the 80’s!

From our first trip to England, 1997!

To give me something happy to look forward to other than turning 50, my sweet David took me on a trip to Europe. First stop England, and I fell in love with that country. Amazing gardens, tea shops in every village, castles, history, wonderful book stores! What’s not to love?

A carved wooden bee skep to commemorate my bee-keeping days

Can’t remember who gave me this adorable bee skep, but it was during my bee-keeping years. That was before I developed an allergy to bee stings and nearly died. Still miss keeping bees; such a fascinating hobby and the honey from the lavender field was delicious!

A miniature landscape painting of the Tuscan countryside

One year we took all our kids and grandkids to vacation at a villa in Arezzo, a small town in Tuscany. The villa was owned by a count and surrounded by a winery. Talk about making memories! It was mid-summer, so not a very good time to shop for Christmas ornaments, but I found these tiny 2″ paintings and they look find on the tree.

A small hand-stitched country church…priceless!

My very best friend for over 40 years made this little ornament for our tree when our children were very young. Beth was an amazing person who blessed many lives before she lost her battle with cancer. I still miss her every single day….

An ornament from the first Chelsea Flower Show I attended.

The Chelsea Flower Show was on my bucket list for years before I was finally able to attend. It was even more special than I’d imagined, and made even more perfect because my two daughters went with me as well. We spent several wonderful, magical days in London and this ornament brings back all those good memories.

A cookie cutter ornament

My daughter Alicia brought back this cookie ornament from one of her many European travels. She picked it because it reminded her of all the times we baked cookies together, so that makes it special to me as well. I need to ask her which country it came from!

My first ride on an American train!

One autumn David and I went on a trip out west to visit friends, family, and the Grand Canyon. We had a great time and rode on the scenic train. At one point we were robbed by “bandits” but fortunately, the sheriff rode up just in the nick of time! Such fun!

A clip-on hedgehog ornament

This little cutie reminds me of my two pet hedgehogs that lived at the herb farm, Marjoram & Mrs. Pennyroyal. Sadly, they are both gone, having lived to ripe old ages. They were very interesting, and the grandkids enjoyed them. No plans to replace them as I gave away the cage, etc.

From our first trip to Ireland!

Thatched cottages were a common sight on our first trip to Ireland, so I picked out this darling little ornament as a remembrance. Good thing, because on our next trip a few years later, the only thatched cottages we saw were in historical parks or museum settings! We were told the insurance had become too costly, and there were so few skilled thatchers that the price to re-roof had skyrocketed. Sad, because they were beautiful.

From our second family vacation in Italy…

We had such a good time with all the family in Italy that a few years later we did it again, this time in “the heel of the boot” in Lecce.

We have a lot of carved wooden ornaments from Germany

Since our daughter and her family have lived in Germany for sixteen years, we have a lot of ornaments from various trips we’ve made to visit them. This is one of my favorites, showing the fairytale castles.

A lacy ornament from England

Before they moved to Germany, Andrea and Paul lived in Norwich, home of the famous cathedral, where this ornament was selected.

Our last big trip before the Covid years!

In 2019, David and I took a trip to Monticatini, Italy. It was one of our best trips ever…just the two of us driving all over the mountains and through the countryside. One of our day trips took us to Collodi, the home of Pinocchio, and since it was just before Christmas there were dozens of booths at the market selling ornaments!

A miniature cow bell

One of the things we enjoyed most, and still talk about although it was over 25 years ago was the sound of the cow bells in the mountains of Switzerland. Different herds had their bells tuned to different chords, so the cowherd could keep track of his herd’s location. It was a lovely sound and an interesting tradition.

Tiny wooden shoes…

Another bucket list item finally checked off was a visit to the vast tulip fields and gardens at Keukenhoff, in the Netherlands. We also attended the once-every-ten-years major gardening event “Floriade” which was held that year in Venlo. Amazing, amazing experience!

A carved wooden angel from northern Italy.

Our third family vacation was in the northern Dolomite mountain part of Italy, very near the border with Austria and France. Everyone enjoyed the lovely garden at this home on the edge of Kaltera and the grandkids loved the pool. Some of the best scenery ever, and some of the best gelatto. And since both German and Italian are commonly spoken there, it was easy translating (as long as we had a grandkid with us!!!Ha!)

A perfect ornament for me!

And lastly, our Arizona kids gifted me this pretty ornament that combines two of my favorite things: tea and black labs! I drink a dozen or more cups of tea a day, and I’ve been blessed with two fabulous black lab best friends over the years. CoriBeth lived with us for over 14 years. My beloved Wicca was with us for 19 years, and passed away on Christmas eve a few years ago. It seems like yesterday….

I hope you’ve enjoyed viewing some of the priceless ornaments that grace our tree. I leave it up as long as I can, and then take my sweet time handling and wrapping each one, savoring the memories that each one generates. Of course, all traces of the holiday decor must disappear before February 1, to prevent bad luck the rest of the year!

Thanks for reading, and Happy, Happy 2023!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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12 Responses to Before the Tree comes Down

  1. bcparkison says:

    Memories ….keep us going.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ornaments do speak of memories and your collection is exquisite!! I too have a collection of what I call travel ornaments and every year talk to the kids “remember this trip? or I got this “when we were in Austria etc. in a little alley” Thank you for sharing your stories. Happy New Year!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • carolee says:

      And I didn’t even mention all the ornaments I still have that the kids made in grade school! Or the ones customers gifted me at the herb farm! Once I did a tree in all the major rooms, but that’s too much effort now. Happy New Year to you as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. BTW I believe I red your story on Clifton Nurseries while I was vacationing in London in 2019 and dragged my family to see it! We had brunch and enjoyed a lovely morning there.


    • carolee says:

      I’ve been to several places that were a mention here, too! Sometimes it’s a real gem, and others I wonder what they saw through their eyes that I just wasn’t seeing! Different strokes for different folks. Glad you enjoyed Clifton. I think is it a treasure in the heart of such a larger metropolitan area! Hope to go back someday.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a delightful collection of memories for your Christmas trees through the years. Thank you for sharing them with me.


  5. Going Batty in Wales says:

    Your tree looks wonderful and I love the stories attached to the decorations. What a great collection of momentoes. I perticularly liked the one about the pear shaped gourds and the cement mixer!


  6. Alicia says:

    What a wonderful post, Mom! I love it!


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