I love Christmas. Always have. I love the magic of it, the magic of belief. And the decorations. The cheerful, colorful, happy, sparkly decorations.
I spent early Christmases in Germany in the early 1960s, and a lot of those traditions rubbed off—St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6) as sort of a teaser for the big event with boots. The old-world decorations—red and white mushrooms, green and red gnomes, magical white stags, and classic sleighs.
My family had gorgeous European glass ornaments—most of which my sister and I weren’t allowed to touch for years. Then, one year, we had a Christmas tragedy—one of the dogs knocked over the tree, and most of the ‘family’ ornaments shattered. In the ’80s, it was nearly impossible to find “old world” ornaments as replacements. Garish was in, along with bizarre colors. I remember searching high and low for ANYTHING appropriate for replacements, and coming up with some sort of beige-ish gold balls that were the epitome of BORING.
My sister and came up with a plan—during the year, we would search high and low at our respective college towns and business travel locations and, by Christmas, come up with an ornament to use as a package decoration for each person. Sure enough, given enough time and craft festivals, we could usually come up with a unique piece per person. Over time, we slowly started building up the family tree.
Then, the chain import stores opened, and getting a set of traditional German clip on mushrooms was suddenly possible. And Christmas stores became trendy, and all at once finding unique wooden or ceramic items wasn’t hard.
The tree wasn’t the same as it had been as a kid, but it was still a unique and classic tree every year.