Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

The Grandmother Tree


See anything weird about my tree? (Besides the fact that there are no ornaments on the top where I can’t reach.)

No, it’s not a squirrel. Look again.

You can tell now. Right?

Now you can’t mistake what’s weird. Those are gloves, and I hang them on my tree every year.

All right, maybe it’s not weird weird, but it’s kind of different. Here’s why I do it. My family of five used to live in Grandmother’s house, with all of Grandmother’s stuff and most of our stuff. It was just a little(!) crowded, but we were looking for a house of our own. We didn’t expect to stay long.

While we lived there, I found a box full of Grandmother’s gloves from the ’50s and ’60s, which she’d saved, along with just about everything else she ever owned. (If you look up the definition of my maiden name, I think you’ll find it means never-throws-anything-away.)

When we moved to our own house, I took Grandmother’s gloves with me along with her old ornaments. (Yeah, I got the keep-it gene, too.) A year or two later, G-Man and I spent the weekend in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and we found an antique store that had a lot of old ornaments. We bought them, then had to buy a new tree to put them on. (I didn’t want to mix them with my other ornaments.)

I have a tall ceiling in my living room, so we bought a big, fat tree. When I put on the old ornaments, it was a little sparse. I didn’t want to add new ornaments, didn’t want to add bows, so I decided to add the gloves. (I tacked them together at the wrist so I could hang them from branches.)

I also put hankies on the tree, but they don’t drape as well.

   This is one of Grandmother’s old ornaments. I’m not sure what year she bought them, but they’re plastic so they can’t be too old.

So’s this one–

Looks like Sputnik, doesn’t it? 😉

This isn’t one of Grandmother’s. I bought Merry Christmas because Mom had one like it when I was small. It was my favorite and I always wanted to be the one to put it on the tree.

Now I get to be the one to do it every year. *sniff*

Until Grandmother passed away, she had a huge family party on Christmas Eve for all her kids, grand- and great-grandkids (and anyone else we dragged along.) 

We’d all dress up in our crisp new Christmas clothes and go to their house (next door to my parents) to spend non-working time together and gain weight (she and her offsprings and their wives were all great bakers and candy makers.)

Each family took the Grandmother and Grandad a gift, and for years, Grandmother bought and wrapped a gift for each person in her big family. Later, she gave the adults and any kids she knew wouldn’t keep what she picked for them anyway money, and asked the other kids’ parents to help her shop for their own children.

At the party, she stayed busy the whole night in the kitchen while Grandad swore to any kid who’d listen that he had Santa tied up in the powerhouse. We had so much fun!

Those were beautiful, easy days with very few worries. Thinking about them never fails to bring a tear to my eye.

I have a lot of great Christmas memories, so I can’t say this is my absolute  favorite, but putting up my Grandmother Tree each year helps me keep it fresh.

How about you? Do you like shiny and new and latest or do you keep it and use it forever? In other words, patina or shine?

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

6 thoughts on “The Grandmother Tree

  1. Susan,
    I am envious that you have some of Grandmother’s stuff. I remember the ornaments well. The pics are so important, and I now have a visual image of the tree.
    But it was when you described Christmas Eve at Grandmother’s that did me in. I had forgotten how Granddad would tell us he had Santa tied up!!!

  2. I honestly think we were the luckiest kids in the world to have our family. Not only immediate family but extended family, too, were and are the best.
    And I’m very, very lucky to have you in my life.

  3. I wondered what happened to all the ornaments, since I now live in grandmothers house. I looked for them when I first moved in, but to no avail, I had an idea you might have them. take good care of them, they are special. It was soooo sweet to see the pictures of her ornaments. How I miss those days, and those ladies. and Grandad’s teasing!

    • Nice to see you here, Deb!
      Good guessing about where the ornaments were. LOL. But I left the hats for you. And I love what you’ve done with them. (I’ll have to come over and take pictures for my blog one of these days.)
      I take very, very good care of the ornamants. I wrap them each year before I put them away, even though they’re made of plastic. (Hey, you never know when a plastic loving bug will find its way to my attic and the tissue paper could be the only thing that’ll stop it.)
      I miss those day and ladies and Grandad’s teasing, too. And I miss Mom’s biscuits and gravy on a cold morning and riding to breakfast on Dad’s shoulders and the way we sang in the car on trips anywhere and having a house full of sisters giggling and whispering and that one little brother who didn’t need a sister (assistance) he had too many already.
      Did you read the blog about Jeff and you? It’s mostly about him. There’s one coming that’s mostly about you, though.

  4. I heard from Lesta that she had this same ornament back in 1956. And she still has it on her tree. Of course, that made Terminally Curious’s ears perk up. I’m wondering if she remembers where she (or her mom) bought it. And what her brother’s ornaments look like.

  5. Pingback: Memories Tree | Small Town World . . .

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