Living

Your favourite ornaments

Rekindle your holiday spirit with treasured memories from Chatelaine readers

Take a break from the holiday bustle, pour yourself a mug of hot apple cider and enjoy these tales of treasured holiday mementoes from Chatelaine readers. They’re bound to banish your inner Scrooge and help you recall what the festive season is all about. Happy holidays!

Our (almost) headless angel

When my daughter was seven years old, she dragged home a “treetop angel” that she’d made in school and proudly handed it me, beaming from ear to ear. For the past 13 years, the angel has made its way to the place of honour: the top of the Christmas tree. It’s something that we laugh at every year; a cardboard cone with a Styrofoam head, paper wings and fuzzy hair (not to mention, every year we have to re-glue her head back on!). Last year I hinted delicately that perhaps this was the year we could purchase a new treetop decoration. The look on my now 19-year-old daughter’s face told me all I needed to know; this angel, bedraggled as she may be, will always remain on top. Sue Winfield, Frankford, Ont.

A token of udder love

It’s no secret: I love cows! A few years ago, Hallmark came out with its annual Christmas ornaments and I saw a cow that I adored. Unfortunately, when my husband, Ray, went to buy it for me, they were sold out – none to be found in the city. That didn’t stop Ray. Using modeling clay and the picture from Hallmark’s catalogue, he recreated that cow for me. It was the best gift ever! Mooey the Cow hangs on a tree in my living room year-round, and whenever I see it, I’m reminded of how much my dear husband loves me. Pam Jessen, Calgary

>Picture perfect Each year at our family Christmas dinner, I would set out table favours as place cards and mementoes of the year’s celebration. Once, many years ago, I found tiny Christmas picture-frame ornaments and inserted photos of each guest. Our four daughters were delighted to see the pictures of themselves and their grandparents, too. Since then, my parents have passed away. Among their things, I found those picture-frame ornaments with the photos of how I like to remember them. So, each year the ornaments are hung on my tree. I know in my heart that I am still sharing Christmas with my mother and father. Doreen White, Nanaimo, B.C.

Chains of love My favourite holiday ornaments were the handmade paper chains my son brought home from school. Then my basement flooded. I kept saying that the stuff in the basement didn’t matter – it was replaceable – but when I saw all the Christmas stuff soaked, I realized that I couldn’t get back the paper chains and other ornaments that my now 18-year-old son made as a child. I had a good cry, as I am sure many other parents with flooded basements have done. Terri Rodgers, Peterborough, Ont.

Naked sheep! Years ago, when I was teenager, my family got a dog. Tina was a terrier-chihuahua mix and was undoubtedly the meanest, toughest little dog around. Even Canada Post refused to deliver our mail when eight-pound Tina was outside (true story). One Christmas, after coming home from visiting family, we found that Tina had spent the past few hours terrorizing our holiday tree decorations. She even chewed all the fur off the plastic sheep used in our nativity scene under the tree. Now, 25 years later, when I visit my mom and see the naked sheep under the tree, we still talk about that night. We fondly remember our terrible Tina and how that incident has assured her longevity in our family holiday traditions. Nathalie C. Houle, Perth, Ont.

A ringing reminder My prized ornament is a silver bell that holds a special place on my family’s Christmas tree every year. Christmas Eve, 1962, was a wonderful time – we took Barry, our almost one-year-old, first-born son to deliver presents to his nana and pop. While we were there, Barry spotted a shiny silver bell on their tree. Pop took the bell off the tree and gave it to him to take home. This little bell became his very own ornament to hang on our family tree each year. Sadly, in 1980 we lost our beautiful son in a tragic accident. That silver bell has survived many moves. We hang it each year on our tree and as we do, it brings back memories of our son and reminds us that he will always be a special part of every Christmas we celebrate. Corinne Beauvais, Manotick, Ont.

The enormous marshmallow ball My favourite ornament is one my son made when he was five or six. It was a Styrofoam ball with mini marshmallows stuck all over it with straight pins. It was huge – bigger than a baseball. He gave it to a family friend and for years he would look for it when we visited them at Christmas. My friend prided herself on how sophisticated and colour co-ordinated her tree was, but the ornament was always there. My son was so proud! He’s 15 now and every year when we decorate our tree he brings it up. I don’t know if my friend still has it, but the moments of laughter we shared over it are priceless. Cindy Lawrence, Oshawa, Ont.

A guide and comfort The gift tag read, “To my Sister I love!” I opened the little box and inside, wrapped in green tissue, was a little angel made from rigatoni. The skirt and wings were cut from a paper doily and the pasta had been painted white. A gold ribbon was glued to the back to hang on the Christmas tree. So delicate, yet inspirational! Two years later, my sister, who was 11, disappeared. Our whole community helped search for her. I hung my angel in the kitchen window to guide her home and for positive inspiration. Her body was recovered a month later and although it has been a long and painful journey, I just have to look at the angel for comfort. To know it was made with love and her little fingers with thoughtfulness allows me to dream of her making rigatoni angels in heaven. Christa Mary Cadeau, Stayner, Ont.

Homemade memories My favourite holiday ornament that brings back wonderful, warm memories would have to be the eggshell Santas that I made with my mother more than 30 years ago. We would crack the eggs carefully to preserve most of the eggshell for each Santa’s face. The brown eggshells were adorned with little red-felt hats and trimmed with cotton batten. Ever so carefully, we drew faces on the eggshells, made rosy red cheeks and trimmed the mouths with cotton mustaches and beards. We attached a cord to the Santa hats to hang them on the tree. Over the years, I have carefully stored my eggshell Santas and proudly hang them on my tree every year. Heather Hill De Cal, St. Catharines, Ont.

A simple thing There is always a place of honour on my Christmas tree as I hang the final ornament. This painted plastic bell is conspicuously out of place, but only in the eyes of curious onlookers. I rescued it when my mother was sorting out the old and tired ornaments many years ago. When I was a girl, the red metallic bell hung from my Christmas tree, by a piece of now faded red butcher’s string. It was one of a set of ornaments purchased for 99 cents from the corner store, when my parents had their first Christmas tree and times were hard. As life got a little easier, shiny glass ornaments replaced the plastic ones. Every year I hang the bell on my tree as a happy reminder of Christmas when I was young. But most importantly, it is a symbol that Christmas is not about the frivolous and fabulous. The simple things bring the most pleasure and the happiest memories. Debbie Colquhoun, Chatham, Ont.