Air Travel . . . These Days: When Plans Unravel
Sometimes Mondays

Museum of Me: The Holiday Exhibit

Welcome to the latest exhibit in my . . . 

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Today, I'm pleased to bring out a very special artifact for you -- one that only makes an appearance once each year during my museum's Holiday Show.

C'mon.
Take a look!

==

When I was a little girl, I always looked forward to Friday nights. My dad was a model railroader, and on Friday nights, he and his fellow "train buddies" would get together to "play trains." It was a weekly thing. And you know what that meant? It was Just Us Girls (my mom, my sister, and I) every Friday night at home! It felt sort of . . . Girls Clubby, y'know? My sister and I loved the Friday night TV lineup . . . Brady Bunch, Here Come the Brides (Bobby Sherman. . . swoon), Love American Style. And my mom usually had some sort of treat for us -- maybe something she'd baked, or maybe popcorn or an ice cream pop. Something tasty for sure, but most importantly . . . something that was not part of our typical evenings at home. And often, my mom would engage us in some sort of craft or activity -- things that could be easily done while watching TV, often on TV trays set up in our living room.

During the run-up to Christmas, my mom used to get us busy making ornaments for the tree on Friday nights. Often she found kits of some sort for us to work on. Over the years, I remember doing paint-by-number on wooden cutouts, painting ceramic figures, and creating beaded monstrosities that looked like mini satellites.

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(I found this page from a  1960s-era Lee Wards craft catalog on Pinterest and took a screen shot. We made several of those very ornament kits there in that bottom row. The red one on the right? That was a favorite -- we also made the green, gold, and blue versions. We loved those . . . )

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. In the years before we got hold of those beaded kits, my mom gathered styrofoam balls, rickrack, sequins, and beads . . . and we used our imaginations to create our own ornaments. There were no patterns or instructions to follow, and the resulting ornaments were not so "fancy" and ended up looking much more "homespun" than those beaded kits in the catalog. But my mom had a good eye, and she put together many charming little styrofoam ball ornaments. One of my all-time favorites was this one . . . 

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My mom divided the ball into quarters with rickrack, and then placed the first initial of each member of our family in a quarter. I loved it! It made me feel like a Christmas "squad" with all of us represented that way! (It didn't take much to impress a 1960s kid.) I always tried to make sure it was placed on the tree so the "K" was facing out into the room, for all to see. But my sister? Well, of course she liked to turn it so the "D" was facing out into the room.  We moved that ornament a lot. (We drove my mom nuts.)

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I loved playing with the beads and the sequins and coming up with designs for my own ornaments. As an 8-year-old, I had the manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination to make a fairly good stab at things (whereas my sister, at 5, lost interest rather more quickly), but my attempts were pretty random. Here's one . . . 

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Toward the end of one of our beading sessions, I got an idea -- a kind of elaborate and glorious idea! Inspired, I planned to create an ornament featuring my sister's and my Christmas stockings -- in beads! -- one on the front, one on the back. It took a long time for me to create a stocking in beads. I was painstakingly careful about matching and lining everything up, eventually getting that first stocking ("mine," of course) . . . just right.

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As I remember it, my mom was ready to put things away for the night, but I was still busy working on my stocking ornament. I'm not sure if we had run out of rickrack, or if my mom had already put it away, but I needed to improvise a hanger with pipe cleaners. I thought the first stocking was Fabulous -- far exceeding my expectations. But I was tired. And it was time for treats. I ran out of steam when it came for that second stocking ("my sister's," after all). 

So I regrouped and did this on the back instead . . . 

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A sad and quick little MC.
You know.
For Merry Christmas!

(Don't worry if you didn't get what MC meant. No one has. Ever.)

My mom didn't blink an eye when I hung my funny little MC ornament right at the front of the tree that year (stocking side out, you can be sure). In fact, you can see it straight up from my sister's head in this picture from that very Christmas in 1967. (If you look closely, you can identify it by the wonky pipe cleaner hanger.) I really did think it was a masterpiece.

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But as my sister and I grew older, we laughed a lot about MC. I wanted to throw it away - or at least relegate it to the bottom of the ornament box, but my mom insisted we hang it. As a teenager, I always hung it toward the back of the tree so no one could see it. And then when I wasn't looking, my sister would move it right up front so she could continue to mock me. (While she was also busy flipping the "K" to the back and the "D" to the front.) Those elaborate beaded ornaments from the kits (the Lee Wards concoctions) were "retired" over the years -- but MC was a stalwart, and managed to hold its place on my mom's tree for the rest of her Christmases.

And now I have it.

MC.

I haven't put up a tree in my house for years now (since my mom died, actually), but I do get a few of my favorite ornaments out each year . . . just to look at them and let the nostalgia wash over me. I unwrap MC - and that ornament with our initials that my mom made - each year.

MC . . . will always remind me of crafting with my mom and my sister, the excitement of those special Friday nights, and the magic of Christmas.

==

Thanks for visiting The Museum of Me. Watch for new exhibits . . . on the 2nd Friday of each.

And if you're a blogger and you'd like to create a Museum of Me along with me on your own blog, let me know. I'll send you my "exhibit schedule" (a list of my prompts) and we can talk about ourselves together. 

 

 

 

Comments

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kat

This story made me a bit teary eyed, Kym! Those ornaments are amazing! (Especially MC... which made "you can't touch this" instantly shout out in my head!)

(and I think it would be very fun to join in your Museum of Me Friday's!)

Vera

What fun memories Kym!! Fletch and I actually used styrofoam balls and glitter, etc. the first year we were married...we didn't have much money to spend on pretty or fancy ornaments. Now those early ones are some of my favorites.

Bonny

You were a budding maker even at a young age and I love these ornaments! The family initial ornament is clever, and the stockings and MC are inspired. I am glad that you didn't throw away MC and I understand why your mother insisted on hanging it. Thank you for sharing your special ornaments and even more special memories in The Museum of Me.

Shirley

That’s a wonderful memory! I think Christmas trees should be filled with ornaments that tell stories.

Carole

Yeah, I didn't get the MC reference . . . but this is such a wonderful story. I remember making ornaments with styrofoam balls and I definitely remember my mom making them with pins and sequins! I used to love nights when my dad had a meeting at church and my mom and I would sit in the den together and read. It was so special, -no annoying brothers, no noisy tv, just my mom and I and the sound of pages turning.

Carolyn

What a treasure you're creating for yourself with The Museum of Me... Sweet, sweet story. And pictures! And yay that you still have the ornaments! Funny--I thought MC was obvious! No? Huh. Guess the 10-yr-old in me is still very much alive :) I love the tradition you had on those Friday nights. They're the coziest of memories, if you ask me.

Karen

Oh this post made me tear up. My sister and I made very similar ornaments with our grandmother and great-grandmother. And we each made glittery, rick rack ones that included our school pictures. I have inherited them. And I hang them on my tree each year and get a bit teary-eyed as my sister is no longer with us. But, oh the memories!

kim in oregon

Great memory! At my house, we sprayed styrofoam everything with gold paint (we actually did the spraying at the church's advent craft workshop). You brought back that memory, so thanks!

Sarah

What a memory! Sounds like those Friday nights were very special, and it must be so nice to still have the ornaments to display to bring back the thoughts of those times. MC, Kym!

Debbie

What great memories! I remember one of my girlfriends making those ornaments with her mom.
My mother had no patience for any kind of crafting, but appreciated anything made by someone else. I used to make ornaments out of fancy papers with lots of glitter, paint, and tinsel...none of them have survived. When I was a little older, my grandmother and I made various knitted, crocheted, and quilted ornaments and I think of her when I hang them on my tree.

Chloe

What fun memories!

Honore Francois

Hi Kym. Thanks for sharing this delightful story - brings back a memory of mine that involves my mother and ornaments, that sadly, also bring a bit of sadness. I will capture and share that story, too. And I totally salute to the idea of a monthly “museum of me” ! Thanks for the invitation.

Here’s to a great month of December and trips down memory lane.

Cheers~~

Margene

Your ornaments are classic! So many memories come at me when I see handmade ornaments. We no longer have the box of ornaments we grew up with. There were many my mother made (our names in glitter on red glass bulb), Styrofoam balls like yours, and ornaments we made at school (to name just a few). The tree was packed with so many beauties (there were 5-6 of us after all) and so many precious memories.

Vicki

Aw, that's so sweet! What a wonderful exhibit. I'm so glad that you didn't toss out your MC ornament. It's the ones with stories and memories that are the best!!

Jane

What a sweet story about making ornaments with your sister and Mom. I'm glad you still have the ornaments. They tell quite a story.

Patty

This is the best. I especially love the ornament war part with your sister! ;-) we didn’t really make ornaments that I can recall but we did make Christmas trees by folding all pages in a Readers Digest and then spray painting them. Fun times!

Dee

That is EXACTLY how sisters are. LOL

Looks like Santa was very good to your girls that year. I see lots of games and dollies.

Mary

I've had such a nice time wandering through these exhibits ... y'all have shared some lovely, fun memories and photos - thank you! Sara noticed a few ornaments on our tree that she made ... and I promised her she could have them all next year (save the one from kindergarten that requires a very sturdy bottom branch to hang ... I'm not ever giving that one up)!

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