The reason I have a seven-foot Christmas tree is because of my many ornaments. I really look forward to getting them out and remembering what they represent and hanging them on the tree. It takes me a day to decorate the tree and days to redecorate it, as I move them around until I think it looks “just right.” Today, I’m going to share some of their stories.
I taught second grade for five years and first grade for 17 years all at the same school––Blossom Hill in Los Gatos, California.
––Lisa made this ornament at the age of seven in my second year of teaching. She was one of those ideal students who was good at everything. It was 1964, and it still looks brand new.
––Many students gave me “favorite teacher” ornaments over the years. I loved them all.
––Noel gave me two adorable handmade Raggedy Ann and Andy ornaments when he was in first grade. In his case, I suspected his mom made them.
––Steven, another first-grader, knew I loved chocolate and gave me a Hershey’s Baker ornament, not knowing that I already had two and that they were among my favorites. And all three are different.
––One mom gave me a gift from her to me that she had made—a llama. Every year, it goes near the top of the tree.
As Trip Souvenirs
––In 1986, I had been living in Florence for a year, but connected with a teacher friend for a trip to England, France, and Switzerland. This clock ornament is from Switzerland.
––From 2002 to 2013, I often stopped in Gridley, California, to see friends when heading to Bakersfield to see family, which I did three times a year. I usually stopped in the fall and ended up with a shopping bag of pomegranates and another of kiwi. And a large 50-pound bag of uncracked walnuts. My friends had 15 walnut trees and were surrounded by neighbors with pomegranates and kiwi. I found the walnut and pomegranate ornaments in a Christmas shop in where else? Gridley! I couldn’t resist.
––On a trip to England in 2006 with two friends, we primarily stayed in Cornwall, but we spent a few days in London before heading home. That’s where I found these two British guards.
––In 2011, I visited friends in Gilbert, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. We visited the Heard Museum and I found this colorful chicken in their gift shop. The museum highlights the cultures of the local Indian tribes.
––In 2017, my sister and I went to Oceanside for a few days and visited Mission San Diego where I found painted tin ornaments. I bought several.
––In 2018, my sister and I rented a car and explored the coast of Maine. I found this elegantly decked out elephant in a middle-eastern shop in Portland. It had nothing to do with Maine; I just loved it. When I see it, I think of the coast of Maine.
––In 2019, my sister and I spent 16 days in Washington DC, which included a cruise on the Potomac to Mt. Vernon where I found Benjamin Franklin. When I saw the kite, I couldn’t resist.
As part of my job as an editor and staff writer at Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines, I did a fair amount of traveling. It was a favorite part of the job during my 21 years working there.
––In 1996, I spent almost a week on a cruise of Puget Sound. One of our many stops was Port Townsend, Washington, and that’s where I got this ferry ornament. On a later trip, when I was driving, I got to ride the ferry.
––A few years later, I attended a multi-day birding festival headquartered in Leavenworth, Washington, and visited the Nutcracker Museum there. That’s where I got this nutcracker ornament. When I pull the string, his arms and legs move––great fun!
––In 2002, the staff of the magazines was on a familiarization trip (fam trip) to the South Coast. We split up to take part in a variety of activities. Theresa Baer and I went fishing on the Rogue River. Before heading out, the guide set a crab pot. Within 15 minutes of being on the river, Theresa caught a silver salmon and it was good size. And the crab pot yielded a few crab. So, we did all right! The next day back home, Theresa and I had a fabulous crab feast. On my next trip through Gridley, I found two blue crab ornaments. I kept one and gave one to her to remember our fishing trip.
––During one of my last years at the magazines, I spent a few days in Lincoln City preparing for a profile piece. One of the places I visited was the Christmas shop, which is where I got this octopus.
––Ever since the blue crab, Theresa has given me ornaments as a Christmas present. Everything from the whimsical to the elegant. The whimsical is of a girl, that reminded me of Pippi Longstocking, holding a gray cat. That cat represented Jetson, a cat that was part of my life for 19 years. And the elegant was of Blue Boy and Pinkie, famous paintings at the Huntington Museum in Southern California, where Theresa and I visited just a few years ago.
––Back in 2005, I visited Theresa in Southern California and we went to LA’s Chinatown where I got these beautiful Chinese Lantern ornaments. I just love them.
––In the winter of 2014–15, I underwent chemotherapy to fight late-stage lymphoma. The treatment was successful, and before the second go-around, I lost my hair. It was winter and my head was cold without something to cover it. I had a wig for going out in public, but what was absolutely perfect were the stocking caps that my neighbor, Hope, knitted for me as well as a neck scarf and pair of socks. She also took me to about half of the doctor’s appointments and treatments. The next year at Christmas, she gave me a ball of yarn with knitting needles as a tree ornament. Absolutely perfect.
––And my newest ornament is from Carolyn Nordahl. I had such a hard time choosing from her fabulously elegant Christmas tree balls, that I got two. She uses seed beads and crystals to make a skirt to put over a clear, glass ball. I sent one to my sister, who also has a great collection of ornaments. It must run in the family!
I’m spending today, New Year’s Day, taking down my Christmas tree and putting away all my wonderful ornaments until next year. I wish everyone a very Happy New Year. It’s just gotta be better than 2020!!!