Learn Something New Every Day!

Christmas was always a time to celebrate with Mom and Dad.  I would travel with Dad as a kid, scouting various lots to find the best tree.  Then I would watch him meticulously place the lights, just so, on the branches.  He used a combination of the older larger lights and bubble lights as well as some of the smaller sparkly ones.  Oh, I loved the bubble lights!  There was a set of angel ornaments, five of different shapes and colors—one for each of us girls.  Those were always placed near the top of the tree.  Eventually, a white angel graced the very tip-top.

Decorating the tree was fun. Over the years I provided more and more ornaments for their collection—as did my sisters.  They had lots of ornaments that featured birds and animals, angels and cameras.  It became a challenge to find a space to place one more ornament.  But we always managed!  I was not upset when we stopped draping tinsel—piece by piece—over the branches.  That was a tedious task I did not enjoy.

Our 1965 Tree with Tinsel

One of the first Christmas gifts I bought for Mom and Dad once I was working was a Sleeping Santa.  Dad always duplicated that picture, whenever he sat down, it seemed.  Of course, he said it was the chair!

The village scene was always fun to unwrap and arrange too.  It kept growing every year as new buildings and figurines were added. Some years, strange creatures would invade the village! As an adult, one of my traditions was to secretly place some new figure or building into the village scene—and then wait for Mom and Dad to notice.  One year, I eventually added a church into the village—and an outdoor nativity scene as well.  One of the last items I added was a woman on a bench, feeding birds.

The Village Scene below is a set of plates by Norman Rockwell.  Mom and Dad had it for years, but they had nowhere to display it.  Now, it comes out at my house every year.  It’s my version of their bigger/better Christmas Village.  The little music box was in Mom and Dad’s room at the Center, also as a reminder for their original Christmas Village.  It plays several Christmas tunes!

Mom and Dad had several Christmas albums that we’d listen too, while we worked.  Two of my favorites were Andy Williams Christmas and Ed Ames Christmas.  As I got older, we started attending the late-night Christmas Eve Church Service, the one with candle lighting and lots of hymns.  Oh, Mom loved the Christmas carols—and so do I.

Even once I was an adult and lived in another state, I nearly always made it home to celebrate with them—and to play Santa for them.  When I moved back to California and lived a short drive away, so an afternoon visit was a possibility, I would still spend the holiday with them. Oh, I had my own decorations at home, but it was tradition to help them make the house look like Christmas.  It was fun to help with decorating and mailing cards and wrapping gifts and preparing meals.  Then, we’d go to the late-night church service.  And later, once we were home, I would play Santa, leaving them a note to not peek until I was up too. Just like they used to do.

No surprise.  My tree looked a lot like theirs!  Well, I had more elephant ornaments than they did.  I stopped putting up my own big tree a couple years after the Northridge Earthquake (1994)—that year my tree fell over during the quake.  The tree itself broke as did lots of my ornaments. (Yes, it was mid-January when the quake hit and my tree was still up. So? Finding time to put things away has always been a challenge! Don’t get me started.)

In 2011, after Mom and Dad have moved into a retirement center, I helped them host a Family Christmas Open House.  At the Open House, we all unpacked the boxes together, taking home the bits and pieces that especially touched our memories.   Mom and Dad kept some of their decorations to be used in their room at the Center.   One of my nephews has their old nativity set, and one of my nieces has most of their old village scene.  I treasure their Santa-feeding-the-animals figurine set and a few other knick-knacks and ornaments.

These Days, There Are A Few More Animals

This noisy, fairly tacky Christmas star ornament is really fun–and it measures about four inches in diameter.  It rested in their tree and sang a LOUD song, whenever it was jostled in any way.  Dad loved this thing–and set it off regularly.  Now, I make sure it plays its song a couple times each holiday.

Two of My “Little” Trees, Resting on Mom and Dad’s Coffee Table in Front of Their Couch

Most of my Christmas stuff is still packed away at this point, but between some of my stuff and some of Mom and Dad’s stuff, I have enough decorations to make it feel like Christmas.  I have several small table-top Christmas trees that hold some of my ornaments.  Other ornaments as well as various knick-knacks fit into many of the nooks and crannies about the apartment.

This Christmas Elephant Is Next to An Old Rocking Horse

I Received These Little Bears Every Year Until They Stopped Being Made. Talk about Feeling Old?!

In This Santa’s Workshop, There Is My Purdue Train and Mom’s Felt Drum and Little Doll House

I truly treasure this sweet little angel–a gift from Mom and Dad.

This time of year can be bittersweet, missing loved ones.  But the decorations and memories represent so much love, so many good times that they make it feel like Mom and Dad are still helping me get the decorations set, just right.  It’s a great time of year! And, of course, traditions continue and new memories are always being made.  A few years ago, I was gifted this lovely Nativity with Candles. This wooden one was made in Germany and replaces the metal one from the past that had become tarnished and broken–it also does not make the tinny noise of the old one!

I no longer put up lights, but I still enjoy a bubble light night here and there.

Just the other day my sister shared some readings from one of Mom’s old Christmas Ideals—she made me cry!  And this is my new Christmas elephant, sitting with “my” angel from the set of five that were always on Mom and Dad’s tree.

And look at this great new Star Trek Ornament: Captain Kirk and Christmas Tribbles!

I love Christmas!

These Carpool Karaoke Christmas Songs are also new—and fun.  Enjoy!




  1. What beautiful memories, Patti! I can only imagine how bittersweet it must be to unpack these treasures and remember the stories that accompany them all … but hopefully they brought a smile as big to you as they did to me. Especially Godzilla — and the tribbles! But those family photos are priceless too. Merry Christmas, and a very happy, very healthy New Year too. xx

  2. I loved this post, Patti, and reading about your family’s decorating traditions, and seeing all of the ornaments. Everyone in my family (all 22 of us) have a special collection that my mom started for us. Mine collection is Santas.

    • Thanks. Ornament collections just seem so right to me. I gave lots of ornaments to my nieces and nephews over the years–plus added to my own. I would not have guessed how easy it is to find elephant Christmas ornaments. It must be great when you all get together! Happy New Year!

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