1 Nephi 1: 1, 3
...therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.

^^That pretty much explains this blog.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Times and Things I Treasure

Michael McLean wrote a song in "The Forgotten Carols" called "I Cry the Day I Take the Tree Down."  I get so sad when I pack up all the ornaments and decorations. I love Christmas.

At the conclusion of 2016, I decided I would take pictures of my Christmas Tree, ornaments, and my Nativities. And maybe even revisit Christmases past . . .

I wish you could see the sparkle lights. They're just like lightening bugs.
This is my tree this year. Since I got Tobey, I used a table tree, but decided to trust him and put up my Alpine tree again this year. I have new copper bows on it, replacing the mauve/pink-colored bows I had on my trees since forever--1990s, I think.

My tree in 2011. First Christmas in my new house. Pink bows.
Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, 2013 and 2014. New puppy. And in 2014, I traveled to Florida and didn't want to put up a tree that year, so this worked perfectly. I keep it at work now and put it up in my cubicle. I wonder where those pinecone ornaments are. I guess I gave them all away.
Table Tree, 2015
Timmy has this now.


Ornaments that I put on the tree are special to me. Some are very old. Some are symbolic or significant.

I made dough art ornaments, probably in the late 1970s. I worked craft shows in the area on weekends and sold my wares. I tried to keep the best ones for my collection, though. I guess you could say these are "vintage."

Heart in Hand--Pennsylvania Dutch Saying

Snowman . . .missing a button, I see.
I probably still have the tools I used to make all these things.
The "straw" of the broom was made by putting dough through a garlic press.

I love this Santa's face.
Yep, the beard went through the garlic press.
I love these colorful dough ornaments. These are just a few. I keep them in a box in my closet so the weather won't get to them. I have more than these, stowed away. My tree isn't big enough--or strong enough, to hold them all.

I made two of these happy little star-faced guys. It was Christmas of 1982. I was pregnant with my first child and I learned to make these, out of pantyhose and fiberfil, at a Homemaking meeting. We were still in the little, old, white church building. Julie Carlini was teaching us. She was nine months pregnant, and actually started labor while she taught us. Her mother whisked her away to the hospital.

My mother gave me the Hallmark ball on the right with 1983 dated on it. She also painted the smaller one and dated it 1983 as well. I wonder what significance 1983 is . . . Something to do with a little angel, I guess . . .

My mom also gave me this one, above, with Florida sand and sea shells in it. The card that accompanies it, in the green, reads: When you see this ornament upon your tree, may you remember the Man Who walked the shores of Galilee.

At Christmastime in 1990, Carol Clemmer, the Martha Stewart of Crafts for the Doylestown ward, showed the Young Women how to make these muslin angels. I begged her to allow me to join in. I wanted to make them so bad. She did let me. I made twelve of them--all hand sewn. I always tried to make twelve of everything when I made ornaments for the tree. Twelve Days of Christmas, I guess. I used raffia for the wings and halo. I can't remember what Carol used. Probably wooden limbs from trees. 
I was pregnant with my fourth and last child while sewing these. I also remember watching the Persian Gulf War on television while I made them. I was afraid because I thought it was WWIII. I kept thinking about the Bible verse that says something like Woe to those who are with child at the Second Coming. Can't remember exactly. I just remember being so afraid it was Armageddon. But I love these muslin angels. It just wouldn't be my tree without them. They are twenty-six years old.

I found a prototype of a lace fan at the annual craft show at a beautiful Victorian house in Telford--I think it was called the Victorian Boutique, but I forget. So I decided I would copy it and I made my own version. I believe I made these at the same time I made the muslin angels. It seems like yesterday. Most of the dried flowers have fallen off or disintegrated. But . . . memories.

I was shopping at Clemens one day (now Giant), and saw these gold birds in a section at the end of an aisle. Clemens used to have such nice gifts. I bought a few one year, and added on in ensuing years. I have twelve of these too.

I forget what year I made these crocheted reindeers. I made one for each of the managers and supervisors I worked with at Selecthealth at the time (about 15). It might have been 2011 because I couldn't do much after I broke my ankle and was recuperating from surgery. 

The next year, I made doves out of the same type of yarn. 

For two years in a row, while in Florida, I painted little ornament cards to give to my co-workers.
This is the wreath I painted in 2014. I also painted pinecones in 2013. They are next to my Charlie Brown Christmas tree, in a photo above.

My Mom got this ornament for me. This is the year my Grandfather, Henry Tobelmann Sr., was born. 1896. She knew I would appreciate it. December 16, 2016 is his 120th birthday. I loved that man.

Bonnie Meyerson spent Christmas back east a few years ago and brought this back for me. We always gave each other Jim Shore ornaments and such for Christmas. Behind this, you can partially see a Jim Shore tall Santa she gave me one year.

Every year since I moved to Utah, I said I was going to throw away the mauve-colored paper bows that usually adorned my tree and make new ones. I must have made them in the 1990s. For years, I kept watching at Michaels for when ribbon went on sale, but I never saw any I liked. This year, I found this pretty copper-colored wired ribbon and bought three spools (I only needed two). 
Lo, and behold, I must have thrown away the mauve ribbons last year because they were nowhere to be found. I guess I figured if I threw them away, I'd have to make new ones. It must have been somewhere in my psyche because I bought ribbon at the beginning of this season and didn't wait until the end. Serendipity.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, I had an extensive Nativity collection. I think I counted over one dozen at one point. I had everything from a tiny Nativity in a walnut shell to my large Willow Tree Nativity. I had Jim Shore Heartwood Creek, Willie Ray, which Zannah now has, and my beloved Willow Tree. I also had my parents' "vintage" Nativity which I grew up with. My mother got the pieces at Newberry's five and dime store, or maybe it was Woolworth's, in Coatesville and added to it every year. I think there is still a sticker on the bottom of one of the pieces that says 29c. Still they added to it every year. Couldn't afford to buy it all at once. The pieces are Italian. I think they're made of plaster.

The stable, above, has a spot for a little light, but I never plugged it in. It made the star shine at the top. Around the time Zannah was born, I got a zig-zag sewing machine and made the velvet and satin wall hanging above the Nativity. I always loved seeing this set. I haven't used it since I moved to Utah. I don't have as much room for display as I had in Perkasie. But perhaps next year I'll display this one instead of one of the others. I gave it to Jewely, but she didn't take it with her to Maine. I'm happy to keep it and Jewely can have it one day in the future.

I enjoy decorating my mantel at Christmas every year. It's the perfect spot for my Willow Tree Nativity. I have the whole collection, including the doves and trees (which are discontinued). I'm not sure if there is another new piece this year. I bought the stockings at Michaels, and the lighted wreath at The Quilted Bear, when I bought my house in 2011.

Closeup of the Nativity Holy Family
I think I wanted to paint the wall blue just to be the perfect backdrop for this Nativity.

Sherryl Smith gave me the wooden letters. So appropriate. She also gave me the star backdrop behind the Holy Family, above. Bonnie has given all of her children a Willow Tree Nativity set, and adds to it every year. I love displaying my Willow Tree angels.

Above, and below, is my Jim Shore Nativity. I lost the shepherd and animals--probably stayed in Pennsylvania and is long gone by now--but I looked on eBay and found a perfect set, so I treated myself and purchased it. They don't make these anymore, so I was lucky to find one. I love all the colors and the quilt theme--after my own heart.

The Baby Jesus looks so comfortable and warm under this beautiful quilt. 
I'm sure the manger wasn't this comfy in real life, but . . . art makes it beautiful.

These "knock off" Carolers were purchased at Sine's Five and Dime in Quakertown. I would occasionally walk across the street from Miss Cindy's while Zannah and Jewely took their dance lessons. I think the Byer's Choice Carolers (made in Chalfont, Pa.) are kind of ugly, but I like the faces on these figures. They decorate my piano every year--an appropriate place for them, I believe, while I play Christmas Carols.

The carolers still stand on my piano here in Utah. On the other side is my wooden Nativity and the three wooden trees I made at a Christmas in July. The wooden plaque on the left, and below, was also made at a Christmas in July. Or was it Christmas in October? Either one. We looked forward to it each year.

Since I got this new chest, which holds my art supplies, I decided to try the wooden Nativity on it this year. I always used to pair it with my birdhouses. The one sort of looks like a stable. This Nativity was the first Decorative Painting venture for me, in probably 1995. My friend, Cherie Webster, taught me how to cut them out with her scroll saw, then how to paint them. That led to a slightly lucrative venture when my friend, Kathy Davis, asked me to paint some birdhouses for her then-boutique in Montgomery Mall. I love the quilted birdhouse on the left. And the one on the right didn't sell, so I kept it. My signature was adding buttons. I have scads of antique buttons and was able to use them. Good times. Fun times.

Perkasie mantel of long ago, about 2002

Perkasie mantel of 2008

Family room Christmas tree of long ago, filled with ornaments the children made through the years.

Donna Ramsden gave me this NOEL Santa. I loved the look on his face. Alas, I can't find it. It may have stayed in Pennsylvania. This photo makes me miss it. It was definitely one of my favorite things of Christmas.

At least I have these noel blocks. On the back of the blocks is the word Welcome. I turned them over and stenciled noel on some of them. Then I stenciled the word "Joy" on the back of ABC blocks that I got at the Victorian house one year. The two dogbone ornaments with Rusty and Toby on them were made by our former neighbor, Sue Wilkinson.

Family dog of long ago. RIP, Rusty, 1996-2009

I used to love to decorate for Christmas. The living room was the "holy" room with all my Nativities. The family room was snowmen and more secular decorations. And the stair railing was different every year. One time, when I was babysitting after school kids, one of the kids commented that my house looked like a country store. That made me feel good. It was the 1990s. I was totally into country decorating.

This is the best Christmas Card picture of all time.
O, Holy Knights

The story behind this . . . It was the perfect year for this picture. Two-year-old Jewely was being a spitfire that day. It was September 1991, and we used the playhouse fort, about six feet up, for the backdrop. We put straw on the floor, and I stood on the sliding board to take the picture. Jewely was not cooperating. She fidgeted and didn't want to pose. Patient Zannah, wearing a hooded bath towel, and her father's white shirt turned backwards, was the perfect Mary. Alex (Sandy back then), in his father's robe and a baby blanket on his head, waited. Even three-month-old baby Timmy was good. He was hungry. He's gnawing on his hands--but not crying.

This was in the days of film in cameras. I had no idea how they were turning out. I was almost through a roll of film. Finally, I offered Jewely a granola bar to be good. She had to have it first. She ate it. Then she posed. This was photo number 17 . . . the last one I took. It's a little over-exposed, but I'll take it.

Christmas is my favorite time of year. Any fond memory of family growing up centers around Christmas. I have tried to make Christmas a day of worship for our family, celebrating the reason for the season--and I don't mean giving or receiving of gifts. I mean worship of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope my own children will keep up the tradition when they have children. I also hope they invite people who would not otherwise have anywhere to go for the day. It's a happy day for me.

I wish you a Merry Christmas ♫♪  I wish you a Merry Christmas ♫♪ I wish you a Merry Christmas ♫♪ and a Happy New Year.

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