Wednesday, December 5, 2007


This is being written Tuesday afternoon, while the snow comes down so hard outside it’s like a fog. Perfect time to be indoors with a mug of cocoa and a warm computer.

Funny the things we miss once they are gone, sometimes even more than we thought we would. Every year I’d get out my Christmas tree ornaments and, as I put them on the tree, would get all nostalgic. I’m in my sixties now, and I’ve been gathering ornaments since I was in my twenties. Of course some have broken or been worn out or been lost along the way, but I still had a few from way back when. Note the word “had.” Some weeks before we moved, I took out more than half my ornaments and distributed them among my nieces and nephews, because from now on we’re having a little tree, not the big one our much bigger house allowed. But I saved my very favorites, many of which were like a toddler’s “bankie:” more precious than beautiful. But others were both precious and beautiful. We moved the last week in June, and only now did I go digging in our storage room for the box of ornaments. And found them gone. I looked in every box – twice. But no ornaments. I was deeply disheartened. How could that have happened? It was, of course, far too late to go have a word with our movers.

After a few days of mourning, I decided I must either cancel the tree or buy new ornaments. No tree? Unthinkable! But on my first trip down the Christmas aisles at Super Target my eye was repeatedly caught by ornaments almost, but not quite, like my old ones. In a few minutes I was near tears and had to go away.

Then I considered: What would I have rather lost than the ornaments? My favorite books? My good dishes? My computer? My boxes of photographs? Or, worst of all, my 200-piece Fontanini collection? (Go to e-Bay and type in Fontanini and you’ll see what I mean.) I have about 200 pieces if you count every sheep – and I have six or seven shepherds, so I need a LOT of sheep to make them not look ridiculous.

So I went back to Super Target, and then to the Mall of America and even Walgreen’s. This time I smiled as I found some really beautiful ornaments. And a friend from my water aerobics class brought me two hand-made wooden ornaments. Already I’m building happy new memories.

This past Saturday I had a special early book signing for Knitting Bones out in Excelsior, which is the little town this series is set in. Usually we get a good turnout, but this Saturday we also had our first serious snowstorm and only four people braved the slippery streets and icy wind. -- and one of them had no idea who I was or what I was doing there. Wednesday evening we will have the official “pub party” at Once Upon A Crime mystery bookstore in Minneapolis. The owners are paying for a half-sheet cake and I will make marzipan decorations shaped like knitting for the top of it. I’ve been practicing with Sculpy, my efforts at least suggest a knitted scarf and ball of yarn, perhaps mostly because there isn’t much else they could be. It’s snowing very hard right now, but it’s supposed to stop by nine this evening. This is Minnesota and very likely the streets will be clear by tomorrow evening.
Time to go play with the marzipan. Life is good.


sheila328 said...

My sister and I share the "family" ornaments, some of which date to the 1950s. There are stories for each and every one, including the endearingly tacky ones we made during some lean years when our parents were splitting up. Now there are more than we can ever hope to put on a tree (so why is it we keep buying new ones?), and each year we have to pick and choose what goes up. Sadly we each have only one child to pass these along to. We can only hope that we instill in them the very personal history of the family collection. Monica, maybe you're lucky that the fates chose to clear out your collection--you have the opportunity to create a whole new one, with its own traditions.

Monica Ferris said...

Yes, but when I think of the tiny red silk horse bought at a Chinese restaurant in Milwaukee some time in the early 1970s (well, he had faded to a kind of pink) . . . Well, it's sad.

Deb Baker said...

I still have many of the ornaments my kids made for me in school. We laugh together about them every year.

I'm now beginning to collect ornaments from places I've visited and things I've done that I really enjoyed.

Losing photographs would have been much worse. Or recipes.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


In my book One Minute Journaling, I suggest people make an album or at least an album page for their ornaments. Each has a story, a history and carries a memory.

Camille Minichino said...

I'm still in Boston and just bought a Boston ornament, so how nice to read the blog and comments.

But Monica, 200 piece Fontanini! Please take a photo and post sometime!

For the last few years I've been putting up ornaments without a tree, since they are what I really like.
Will post some of my favorite displays.

Now back to unfamiliar icy gutters!

Camille Minichino said...

One more item ... I went to the enormous Barnes and Noble in the heart of Boston, Copley Sq. and found both Deb's and Kathryn's books face out!
Very exciting ..
I'm off to check the others!

Linda O. Johnston said...

You've taken a difficult situation and used it as an opportunity, Monica. Not perfect, perhaps, but you've handled it admirably!

Anonymous said...

SO SO sorry for your loss, Monica. I totally understand! A few Christmases ago, after reading Joanna's book, I did as she suggested and I am SO glad I did. You could still capture the stories, Monica, and perhaps sketch or find photos on the internet, so the memories would remain alive for future generations.
-- Regards,