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Putting away Christmas decorations, memories

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Janet inherited the package-garland that she admired in her Grandma Gray’s home, which then went to her mother, and now Janet enjoys it in her own home.
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Janet Sparks counts this music box, which looks as though it is a wrapped gift, among her favorite Christmas decorations.


For The Courier-Times

I enjoy my Christmas decorations after they are positioned in their December homes. Placing them in their temporary locations sometimes is done in a rush because there is so much to do during the holiday season. Taking them down and putting them away can be a slower process and allows time to reminisce. I love my decorations that I consider antiques.

One of my favorites belonged to my small-statured Grandma Gray. She loved Christmas and had decorations throughout her house. She displayed a garland shaped like small packages in silver cardboard material on her large mirror over her dining-room buffet.

When Grandma passed away and her material things were divided, my mother was recipient of the Christmas garland. We had a built-in buffet in our house with a mirror. Mother displayed the garland in the same fashion as Grandma hanging it in a scallop-effect on her mirror. I am now the third generation

to display that special garland on my mirror in our living room. It is missing pieces of silver paper from the cardboard packages, but it sill holds a special place in my heart.

Another favorite decoration is also one looking like a wrapped package. This one I inherited from my mother. She was a piano teacher for many years and received gifts from her students during the Christmas season. This present was a box wrapped like a gift in green-and-red-plaid paper with a green bow. It is actually a music box playing the song, “Silent Night.” I love music and love remembering my mom sitting at the piano for hours at a time, patiently instructing her students.

The music box sits somewhere in our living room every Christmas season and plays its tune when I wind the key. It, too, holds a special memory in my heart of my mom.

Like my mom, I was a teacher; not a piano teacher, but a classroom teacher. Even though we would tell our students it was not necessary to bring a gift for the teacher, many would come to my desk on that last day of school before Christmas break smiling from ear to ear and hand me a gift.

Over my 40 years of teaching, I received many heartfelt things from my students. One such token of appreciation came from one of my third-grade girls. When I unwrapped her gift, I discovered the most beautiful tree topper, an angel wearing a red-velvet Christmas dress with a sweet angelic face. The box said it had psychedelic lights.

I was delighted with the gift and expressed my appreciation to my student. That Christmas I excitedly placed the angel on the top of our tree and watched as it was plugged into the lights on the tree. The angel’s wings did just what the box said and displayed several repeating colors. I am thinking I have had the Christmas angel for about 20 years. One year she did not light, and my heart sank. Hubby took her off the tree and worked with the lights. To my surprise and joy when she was placed on the tree, her wings once again displayed the beautiful colors.

I say a little prayer each Christmas that my angel with all its memories will light. I say a prayer for my student as well, remembering special memories in my classroom.

Another favorite Christmas item I use for a decoration in our living room came from my hubby’s side of the family. It is a small ceramic figurine. Santa in his sleigh is not being pulled by reindeer, but by horses. String has been tied through the horses leading to Santa’s hands in the sleigh. The string has yellowed over the years.

I was told by my mother-in-law– this piece belonged to my father-in-law. He was a young boy of around 10  and went to a yard sale in nearby Wilkinson. He returned home with this treasure after paying 10 cents. I can just see this boy of the 1930s being excited about his purchase. I have been told something is truly an antique when it reaches 100 years old. My father-in-law was born in 1927.

We can’t prove when the ceramic piece was made, but I am convinced it is very close to that magic 100 number. Santa and his horse-drawn sleigh is truly a favorite memory.

Christmas 2018 is over. The decorations have been taken from their December homes and have been packed away for another year. I enjoyed displaying my favorites and sharing them with all who visited our home this Christmas season. I consider this an end-of-the-year Fifth-Sunday blessing.

Janet Sparks of Kennard is a retired elementary school teacher. She writes this column during months that have five Sundays.