Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Ornamental Challenge

A few whiles ago, my friend Jen posted a few pictures and the stories behind her favorite ornaments. I opted to do a bit of the same.

Yes, it is Burt from Sesame Street! Back in the days, when I was young, and my parents were married to each other (eek!), I recall putting this set of ornaments on our Christmas tree. I think there may have been more characters, but there are 4 left: Burt as you see, Big Bird wearing a Christmas wreath (who's hanger has been reduced to old sewing thread), Oscar in a stocking, and Cookie Monster eating, you guessed it, Christmas cookies. This must be from the late 70s or early 80s not sure.

This one is from 1977, it's the earliest one I could find of Eric's. I'm not sure how we got a hold of it, but it just cracks me up, especially since it has a dog on it. He would've just turned 3, and this would've been about the only kind of dog he could have since he was found to be allergic to dogs at age 2.

This was a gift from my Mom the year we got married, 1998. Wedding Bells. It is a Lennox ornament, which was who made our China too.

In school, Eric played saxophone. Eric loves blue. (as evident by the blue ball ornaments around this ornament) When I was working for the corn mill, I went to Las Vegas (on business...for real) and visited M&M world. I found this ornament for Eric, but we were months away from Christmas, so I put it in a safe place. I put it in such a safe place that I forgot about it and I didn't find it again until 2 years later!

Eric and I went to Maui the summer of 2004, with his parents, his brother, and the entire Ben Davis marching band. We tacked a few days on either side of when the fam and band were there, and we had a lovely romantic anniversary. This ornament is a hibiscus, which grow all over the place. Ahhhh. Maui. Mele Kalekemaka!

In the background, there's also a White House collection ornament, Chris hung all of them this year, so they are all low and quite close together. We don't have very many of these, but all vintage scenes are from different presidencies of the White House.

Sure, you'd think that a Ronald McDonald ornament would be super sweet and cheesy and have nothing but warm fuzzy memories. Not for me. This one was a gift we received while staying at The Ronald McDonald House at Riley when Chris was born. Christmas Eve, my blood pressure went up to 150 (I was induced for pre-eclampsia, and though I was passing protein, before the birth my BP never got THAT high) and my ankles disappeared, and they made me promise to go lay down, and basically not come back until I had anklebones, which was about 2 p.m. Christmas Day because Eric didn't like the looks of them in the morning. Chris's first Christmas was spent in the NICU at Riley, and as we slept away from him, Santa came and brought us presents. It was so sweet of them, they really are miracle workers over there, bringing Joy in such terrible circumstances. Santa brought us clothes, toys, toothbrushes, and even Christmas ornaments. But it still reminds me that I wasn't home with my baby on his first Christmas. And there's a certain level of twitching fear that possesses me when I see this ornament, or see Riley decorated for Christmas or think too much about the Ronald McDonald House.

When Chris was sent to Riley, Daddy went with him. I was stuck recovering from my c-section at Hendricks...alone, for 36 hours. Except that I wasn't really alone, my Sister-in-law, ever a voice of reason, came, and my friend Caryn, and my Mom, all spent most of the day with me. Amy was the last to leave, and as she was putting on her jacket at 8 p.m., my father showed up. Uninvited. With 5 of my extended family members. Can you imagine that? He told me, well, if I'd called you'd have said No. Hell yeah, I would've. I didn't want to behave for company, I wanted to sit in my hospital gown, whip my boobs out to pump as necessary and just try to get through the day and night until I could get the flip out of there. This was not your typical Joyful recovery from having a baby. My baby was not there, I had an empty bassinet in my room. My baby had a major birth defect, (for those who don't know, his anus didn't go all the way through and he couldn't poop, among other things) and was looking at major surgery the next day. 3 Great grandmothers were all asking me questions about Christopher, all at the same time, not listening to each other and barely listening to me(ok of the 3, my step-grandmother [stepmom's mom, and most sane] at least would wait for the other two to breathe before asking a question) and surrounding me. Amy stayed, and fended off a grandmother or two for me.
My Step-grandmother (Dad's Stepmom) had brought a present for me, for the baby, well for us. It was the Baby's first Christmas ornament. Well, I burst into tears. It had been an emotionally trying day, as you can imagine, we'd sent Chris to Riley at 2 a.m. a mere 13 hours after birth, and the day had just been tense, and sleep eluded me...well, it's totally understandable why I burst into tears. But what Meb didn't know was that because I'd been put unexpectedly on bedrest before completing my Christmas shopping, and because Christopher had been induced 3 weeks early, we hadn't expected that 2005 would be his First Christmas. He wasn't due until January. I had NO "Baby's First Christmas" stuff. My friend Caryn had kindly enough stopped off and actually shopped the day she came to visit me, and had brought Chris 3 My first Christmas outfits,(3!), which he got to wear, (the NICU nurses actually put one of those outfits on him on Christmas day) during the month of January as we had belated Christmases, and those were the days when his ostomy bag would never hold and he'd blow through 6 outfits a day. We got wear out of those Christmas outfits!
But I hadn't thought of a Baby's First Christmas Ornament. We hadn't gotten the tree up. We had a Christmas Chair, where all our presents were leaning on the living room chair. Ornaments had escaped my mind. I have no idea how old it is, it's not from 2005, she likes antiques, so this may very well be the oldest thing on our tree. And here was my step-grandmother, driving me crazy, but appearing with something, that I don't even think she had a clue (probably still doesn't) how much I needed that ornament. It was a like a sparkle of hope, to hold that ornament, and know that someday it would hang on our tree, and we would all look back on the memories of those days. Not laugh, but just remember, and that remembering gave me a bit more hope and strength to just get through it.

There's this little town in Michigan, called Frankenmuth. It's heavily german, and boasts the "World's Largest Christmas Store" which is open 363 days a year. When my sis and I were younger we'd do Christmas (or other vacations) with my Aunt and Uncle who didn't live too far from there, and we'd often make a trip to the town and visit the shop (and eat Well in that town for the eating there is Very Good). One year, we picked up these giant ornament balls for the three of us with our names on them; not only do they have almost every name imagineable, but if they don't have it, they'll make it. When Eric and I got married, when we were in Michigan, (I don't think it was our first year, it may have been a year or two) we stopped at Frankenmuth once and picked Eric up the same kind of ornament (different color from mine of course). Then when Chris came along, and we were in Michigan for my aunt's funeral when he was 9 months old, we took a day and went to Frankenmuth, and got Chris his own ornament. We'll have to make sure to get up there again this summer or fall once QT arrives and we settle the great debate and get him his own too.

This was a treat we picked up while we were in the Badlands of South Dakota last summer (2007) on our big Cross Country trip. It really was a once in a lifetime trip. I look back now and think, dude, we traveled about 6 hours a day when he was 18 months old, and now we can barely even make it 1 1/2 hours away without severe meltdowns in the car from the boy.

This is a Sterling Silver Snowflake, from Towle. They produce a series that matches the silver we registered for when we got married, Old Master (though we only got 2 sets of that), but my Mom gets us the snowflake in the series every year. This is 2008! My parents (back in the days when they were together-ah!) used to have Sterling Silver Snowflakes on their tree. Someday I dream of decorating a tree entirely in blue lights and sterling silver snowflakes. At this point, it would be a tiny tree.


Anonymous said...

What, no clay chicken with missing toothpick legs? :)

Cathy said...

It's at MOM'S! I think. I never had it here, otherwise yeah, you bet I'd have it on here.

Carrie said...

I have a "Carrie" ornament from Bronners in Frankenmuth! How funny is that!

Jenibug7 said...

i love it!!