Monday, December 24, 2007

24 December 2007 Oh Christmas Tree

This is our Christmas tree. Since this blog is here to show my world, there is no better window to my world than through this tree. My mom and dad taught me that a Christmas tree is a collection of the memories of your life. If you read on, I’ll share some of my world with you.

My dad was a journeyman. He left high school early and later joined the Navy to fight in World War II. From the moment I first remember, he was always working. He worked as a tool and die maker by day and part time in a local hobby shop after hours. Come Christmas time, he would work six days a week at the hobby shop while still holding a full-time job. It was years before I realized our toys came from his sacrifice of working all those hours and my mom’s sacrifice of raising us while he was away. He would work at the hobby shop until the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Knowing now how hard he worked, I have no idea how he did it for so many years.

Our Christmas trees in those days were filled with old glass ornaments from my grandparent’s tree and a lot of craft ornaments. The craft ornaments were Styrofoam balls with colored string wrapped around them and piping and sequins for decoration. My mom and sisters made the ornaments. My sisters and I would make a rope from rings of construction paper and wind that around the decorated tree. The last lights at the top of the tree would be a couple sets of bubble lights from my grandparent’s tree. These were the old bubble lights in many colors. When one would go out the whole string would die.

I was lucky to grab the bubble lights from my parent’s home before they were lost. I was also lucky that each year near the end my mom would pack up a box of those old glass ornaments. She would box the ones I loved best and give them to me to take home. Each year I would take them back to grace their tree until the time came when their tree would not be decorated. The Silent Night ornament was always my favorite.

Our tree is also graced by a box of pink ornaments from my sister’s first Christmas tree. It was one of those grand sixties, silver-foil artificial trees that was lit through a rotating four-color wheel. My sister’s tree used to be in a room above our home. She was also the first person in our family to buy a color tv so every year at Christmas time she would let me go to her room and watch Rudolph and Charlie Brown in color while that silver tree with the host of pink glass bulbs flickered through its four-colors. The box of ornaments came from Halle’s, a long gone Cleveland department store landmark that was a wonderland for a young kid to visit.

Another sister used to make handmade ornaments. She has amazing talents. One year she was making leather crafts. This hand-made leather Christmas tree has graced our tree since she gave it to us.

My mom and dad were always really active in our church. That included the annual Santa’s Gift Shop each year. For months my mom and our church women would get together to make Christmas items for the year’s craft sale. The bakery was something to wait eagerly await. Throughout the evening they would raffle wonderful cakes and pies and sell cookies along with their craft wares. It was an annual event for me and my siblings to stop and visit. Later as my brother and sisters had children, they would also show up to join the festivities. My Dad always worked Saturday evening, but come Sunday morning, he would take his turn as Santa before returning to the sales job at the hobby store. The events were little family re-unions.

As a youth one of my favorite places to spend free time was Marblehead and East Harbor State Park. I would drive to Marblehead with friends and fish for white bass on the shore. We would walk out in the water and fish about 20 feet off shore. When we tired of fishing, we would drive over to East Harbor and spend the rest of our day hanging out at the beach. The ornament came from one of the small stores in Marblehead.

The ceramic penguin was a gift from a co-worker at Sohio my first year there. Sohio was large, and I had never met this person. Yet one afternoon near Christmas he walked though the area with a box full of home made ceramic ornaments. He offered me an ornament. The little penguin has been on the tree every year since.

The first year Ali and I were married, we were still working for the same company. We were in Buffalo on business and stopped at the Walden Galleria to kill some time. We ended up buying a bunch of ornaments at one of the shops. The one below was one of those ornaments.

Ali and I used to take my parents to the Apple Butter Festival each fall in Burton, Ohio. My parents loved walking around Century Village and checking out the artists and crafts people at the festival. One year, I noticed this ceramic artist that made glazed decorations. I commented on the quality of the work. Later on my mom or dad snuck back and bought me one for a birthday gift. Today, it is a memory of an afternoon together.

Every year Ali and I make certain we set aside time to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art during the holidays. It always seems as though our other attempts to find time to visit this wonderful place seem to get postponed by everyday distractions, but we always manage to grab some time for a visit to this special place. Each year we also find at least one ornament to take home with us to add to the collection of memories on our tree. This orange is from one of those holiday visits.

Over the years we’ve purchased a lot of ornaments for our tree from arts festivals and crafts festivals we’ve attended. Each one holds a memory for me. The gold leaf is from Wild Wind Festival in Warren County Pennsylvania. The leaded glass tree is from Cain Park Arts Festival.

The tree is also accumulating memories from our geocaching adventures. A Three Beans Christmas pin, acorns from Jeeps the Squirrel, and bells from a FunkyMonkey Christmas party all have a place. We keep one of each of our yearly ornaments too. We just received an e-mail from a cacher this morning that had found one of this year’s ornaments in a cache.

Thanks for spending a quiet moment. Please remember this a season for being with those you love. Remember to tell them how much you care and remember the good times with those who are no longer with us. Thanks for visiting my web page. I hope you all have a special day and a Merry Christmas.

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