As noted, I’ve always had a thing about Christmas ornaments. I’d had a good example from my parents, and then I got married (the first time) over Thanksgiving weekend, on the twenty-sixth of November. Christmas was a month away, and one of the sweetest gifts we received was a dozen ornaments with hand-crocheted covers. (This started me on many happy years of creating my own; I still have the craft box that evolved from those projects, and still occasionally make a new ornament.)
I still have the crocheted ornaments, too, though I no longer have that husband. 🙂
A couple years later, my grandmother—my father’s mother, my last surviving grandparent—died, and when my father and I went through her things, I saw that she also had her first Christmas ornaments. Which is to say … from the 1920s. I hand-carried them home, those fragile glass antiques. They are beautiful. (No photographs, dear reader, simply because they are packed, and this is a busy time of year.)
Since that time, I have followed my interests and tastes, and have ended up with a lot of ornaments. And every year I’d load the tree up with everything, or mostly everything. I had a lot of round glass balls, because I love color, but I also had a lot of “things.”
About five years ago, I decided it would be more fun to appreciate them as themed collections, so I bought new storage boxes, and after Christmas I separated them into categories that made themselves evident:
- nuts and acorns
- suns and moons
- natural items like sand dollars
I called these the natural world ornaments. I had a zillion elephant ornaments because, well, I’d been collecting elephant figurines since middle school. They can fill a tree by themselves.
I also had a collection of the “unnatural” world (I know, it doesn’t really makes sense, but work with me here), which included:
- shoes, clothing, and hats
- fairies and brownies
- other inanimate objects
Two other collections were large enough to warrant their own boxes:
- hearts, and
- “place” ornaments, which represented my travels to other locales
And then I met Gerry, who is Irish. As time went on, I started filtering out the place ornaments that had to do with Ireland—and buying more of them (in Ireland, whose retailers are perfectly happy to indulge Americans’ love of the Christmas ornament). I occasionally buy things in March, during the St. Patrick’s Day retail extravaganza, and make them into ornaments. I added all the green glass balls and green hearts too. And plaid ornaments found their way here.
Ireland has become an ornament classification all its own at my house. 🙂
This year is Gerry’s first Christmas in Tennessee, and we have put up “the Ireland tree.”
This embroidered fabric harp—Ireland’s national symbol—is one of several harps in the box, including one carved from bog oak.
I purchased the glass ornament on the right during my first trip to Ireland in 2003. It is hand painted.
This is a representation of the Carndonagh Cross. We saw it first in 2003 on the Inishowen Peninsula, and again just this year.
On the left, one of Belleek’s “Doors of Dublin” series of ornaments.
A teapot, also by Belleek.
There are quite a few shamrocks, both fabric and glass.
Below, a claddagh. Above, an embroidered fabric ornament copied from an image from the Book of Kells, representing St. Luke.
A glass Celtic cross.
There are many more than this, of course. Santa dressed in green, with mugs of beer, for example. Tacky, I know. 🙂 The Irish tricolor. A glass St. Patrick. I could go on, but you get the picture. Is your tree up?