In the early seventies, just before my son was born, I saw the most beautiful Christmas tree in the window of Bergdorf Goodman, my favorite New York store. It was decorated with silk balls covered in pearls,colored stones, ribbons, silver and gold. I knew it was the look I wanted for my tree then and forever. UNFORTUNATELY, the price of each ornament was so outside my budget as to make it a non starter. No matter, I was going to make them myself. Little did I know that I would spend the next 12 months making ornaments non stop.
I am one of these people that when they focus on something, it becomes an obsession. Every night after dinner, I would go down to the basement where I had converted my husband's tool table into my atelier. I must have stuck thousands of pins into balls and bells in those twelve months! Thank heavens I was pregnant at the time with my son and my ever expanding belly became a nice prop to rest my ornaments as I worked. Mother used to say she wouldn't be surprised if the baby was born with a pin in his mouth! I must have made over a hundred balls, more than 10 bells (they were the hardest) and I don't know how many eggs. In those days, we did not have Michael's or Hobby Craft but there were nice hobby stores where I purchased the essentials. The ribbons were from fabric stores, my mother's sewing closet, hats or wherever I could find them. Everyone was alerted to call if they came across a pretty ribbon.
We had a wonderful store in Connecticut called The Christmas Store (dah..) where I bought beautiful gold chains, angels and butterflies to fill the empty spaces around the tree. Needless to say, it was a long and time consuming process.
The first year I put up the tree, I couldn't decide which ornaments to put up front. Every time I unwrapped a ball it was so beautiful it had to go front and center. After hours of decorating the tree I finally lit it up and went to the kitchen to make dinner. All of a sudden I heard this clunk and a scream from my two year old. The tree was so heavy up front it had fallen on her while she was standing in the den looking at the ornaments. She was so traumatized that for years she wouldn't go near a Christmas tree.
These ornaments have been packed and unpacked in every house we have lived in. Several years ago, I gave them to my daughter who carefully repacks them every year. A lot of the pins and stones have fallen off but since each is packed in its own baggie, we are able to re pin the following year. Even though they are over 30 years old there is very little damage. I think they know how much they are loved!.
This year we purchased a 10 foot tree for our living room, the tallest we've ever had. What a great excuse to go out and buy more stuff. We found beautiful snowflakes and stars at Target for a very reasonable price.
Now that the ornaments are officially my daughter's, I have to contain myself when it comes to the process. For, you see, there is a process. Lights, chains, balls, bells, people, angels, eggs, snowflakes, stars... and butterflies last! I understand that last year my daughter almost killed my son for trying to hang the balls before the chains!
This year it took us two days (and half a bottle of Advil) to decorate the tree. If you want to look at the photos of the family trip to the Christmas tree farm click here.