Seniors and the Holidays webFor a Holiday that started out simply to honor the birth of the Savior, it certainly has evolved as no other in history. Nothing during our calendar year even comes close. And whether you bah-humbug through the entire month, quietly, have 120 Disney characters on your lawn, or fall somewhere in between, it can play on your emotions. Nostalgia plays a powerful tune for me starting mid-November because I collect vintage ornaments and decorate dozens of trees, big and small, each year.

 

One is the traditional fir, holding all the ornaments that have become personally dear to us through the years; boughs groaning with pictures of grandchildren and small tokens from friends and family. Several others hold memories of a different kind. Most of them didn’t belong, at least originally, to us. At first, I just gathered for acquisition. But at some point, the collecting became much more.

I am fascinated by the early ’40s glass renderings. Apparently, once Europe was under siege, the ornament supply from Poland and Germany ceased and President Roosevelt asked glassmakers in the U.S. to take up the slack so children would have a somewhat normal Christmas. Corning Glassware in New York answered the call and I’ve read that during that first year they made over 4 million ornaments. As the war continued, manufacturers were forced to alter their process; first by removing the sweet little pieces of tinsel contained in the clear glass balls, and then having to replace the metal caps with paper, all for the war effort and the conservation of the materials used.

The above lesson was given to show why I am so touched by these glass orbs. Because of that progression, you are able to reasonably tell when an ornament was manufactured. Tinsel inside a clear glass ball denotes the earliest years of the conflict. No tinsel means 1943 and paper caps signify 1943 to end-of-war. That manufacturing knowledge started me thinking as I hung those little pieces of history. Someone else decorated with those same ornaments during a dark period in the world. Who can know what was occurring in the life of that family during a wartime Christmas? Were they joyful because their son was coming home unharmed, or like my grandmother, was the happiness tainted with sadness because her son (my father) was safe in a hospital in Connecticut, minus the precious gift of sight. As I cradle each piece, I mourn and rejoice over situations I couldn’t possibly know and yet somehow feel. I think about sacrifices people have willingly made to keep this country safe and about the ultimate sacrifice the Creator made by willingly sending His son to this earth for us that first Noel. I think about the uncanny ability of the season to evoke such strong emotions in a heart and mind. Love it, tolerate it, or leave it alone, you can’t deny the power of Christmas memories.

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