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Flashback Friday — Ghosts of Christmas Past

Some people go for an artfully decorated Christmas tree, ornaments of a particular palette, bows adjusted just so, for an evergreen that looks straight out of a decorating magazine.

Those trees are lovely, but lack the kind of heart I aim for at this time of year. The ornaments on our tree are a hodgepodge, as much a collection of memories as they are decorations.

Today I’ll share a few of them with you.

Full disclosure: I stole this idea from my friend Mary DeTurris Poust, who has been posting pictures of her ornaments on Facebook. Thanks, Mary!


Sitting on a bottom bough is this fun one, one of Catherine’s creations, completed when she was about 5. The back is thick with masking tape (but no date!) and you can see her affinity for glitter, even then. This is one that Catherine gets to hang — albeit now with many groans about how embarrassing it is that people might see it.


Here is the only ornament we have made by Basil. There is no date on it, but he made it in Sunday school. The pop top that serves as a hanger has held up well all these years. Plus its story is richer because it bears the watermarks from when the tree toppled in 2011. Many of the delicate pieces were crushed, but this one survived.


When I unwrap this next one each year, I always think of Mrs. Lukason, the music teacher who taught Catherine to play the recorder when she was in third grade. The ornament is handmade and one of a pair given out at one of the holiday recitals the Lukasons held in their home. All their students performed — it was a lovely afternoon, and Mrs. Lukason is a lovely lady. I can’t help but smile when I hang these.


Mom and Dad are incredibly talented crafters. This angel is one of many beautiful ornaments they created for Catherine. (So is the candle next to it.)


Ah, the drum-playing pear is a holdover from my childhood, likely purchased at Handelman’s Garden Center, which used to be in North White Plains, NY. We went every year to see their display of holiday scenes. The moving figures always scared the crap out of me.

Somewhere along the line, my sister, Traci, and I decreed that Mr. Pear belonged at the back of the tree. There he remains. It seems somehow wrong to place him elsewhere.


Due to Basil’s long tenure in the USPS, we have a ton of postal themed ornaments. Here is just one of them (wow, stamps were once 25 cents!).


This fragile lady is also a survivor of the Great Tree Toppling, having endured a broken wing. We hang her still, taking a moment each time to conjure the sand and surf of Cape Cod, where we bought her while on vacation one year.

The plastic candies below are likely also a Handelman’s purchase, and one of a pair. They, too, make me smile, although I’m not sure why they tickle me so.


I didn’t realize just how many angels we have until I started taking these photos. The one below always goes near the top. I made her in Sunday school. Judging by my attempt to write my name on the back of her wings, I’m guessing I was 4 or 5 (Mom, if you remember, weigh in!).


The evzone below always makes us laugh. We’ve had this guy as long as I can remember. I do not know why or who gave it to us. It was among the last delicate ones Mom always hung before she got going with the tinsel and garland.


It’s ours now. I make Basil — whose ancestry is Greek — hang it … and always wonder if the Greek soldier was meant as a kind of foreshadowing for me all those years ago!

Last, but certainly not least, is another hand-me-down. She’s not the prettiest angel you every saw, but I can’t imagine my tree without anything else on top. She was Mom and Dad’s — a wedding gift, I think.

There used to be a blue light inside her that got connected to the rest of the lights. Alas, the light wasn’t positioned correctly one year (yes, on my watch). If you look closely, you can see where her gown started to melt. So these days, she remains dark — and yet to me she still lights up the room.


Merry Christmas!

About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.


8 thoughts on “Flashback Friday — Ghosts of Christmas Past

  1. Hello,

    I just wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. I can’t wait to see the answers to the questions I have to ask you. Have a Great Holiday Season.

    Deedra from At My Counter

    Posted by At My Counter | December 21, 2013, 2:05 pm
  2. I have enjoyed these ornament posts (and hope I find time before Christmas to pull mine together!). I think my favorites are the “tree toppling” survivors — they hold multiple memories. I agree an eclectic tree has so much more character than the meticulously decorated and coordinated one. Merry Christmas!

    Posted by Kat at travelgardeneat | December 20, 2013, 6:52 pm
  3. Your tree is like ours. Decorating it is more like leafing through a memory album. We bring ornaments back from travels, exchange them with friends, and some came along with me to our marriage — my dowry. The paper angel that Christmas made when she was 4 is as important to me as the ornaments we bought. That’s a Christmas tree!

    We gave each child an ornament every year. When they established a home, I sent them their ornaments. Now we continue the tradition with the grandkids.

    Posted by Karen Waggoner | December 20, 2013, 1:19 pm
  4. About 4-5 is the best I can remember too! We spent many hours at St. Paul’s creating Christmas ornaments. The Christmas card holder you made out of recycled holiday cards. Sitting on end table with this years cards. The styrofoam angel dressed in felt with ORANGE felt hair. She only has one blue eye now. The macaroni “jewelry ” you and Traci made….you know, the stuff that’s still shedding glitter!!

    Ah yes.The blue angel. Looked better when she was lit. She was 52 yrs old last Oct. Sentamentality aside, maybe you should retire her for a new pretty angel. You could bring her out each year and sit her under the tree. In the back. Waaaayyy in the back! :*)

    Posted by mommy dearest | December 20, 2013, 10:21 am

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