Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Hometown Shootout - Christmas Decorations


I wasn't sure I'd make this week...but I'm driven.  This shootout has become important to me...seeing everyone else's work (even if I don't get to it until Monday!)...and putting in my two cents.  Anyhow, I didn't have time to go out and shoot lights downtown at night, or the creches at Mepkin Abbey...or the James Island Festival of Lights or...

So yesterday, I figured I'd just focus on the tree in our livingroom.  At first it was blurry but Bagman said, "what the heck!" and opened the shutter and swung the camera like a madman, singing "Deck the halls and I'll call Holly...Fa la la la..."

Then Butler, not even bothering to correct Bagman's lyrics, went and got the tripod. .

Then the three of us got to talking and decided to tell you about some of the ornaments that we always put on it.   Of course, we always have to hang the ones that Brian made when he was a little boy. 

With the help of teachers, of course.

And below is one of the seven or eight hand-crocheted ornaments that Karen's Grandmother made long ago.  Brian's great-grandmother.  Conner's great-great-grandmother.  Boggles the mind to think about it.  Laveda.  She made the best pound cake in the world.  If she knew I'd be coming, she always made two. 

They used to be white.  And we'll hang them until they are just dark brown strings.


The there is this more modern ornament.
Karen and Brian got me this the year I won my black belt in Tae Kwon Do
I tell people that I chop the tree down with my bare hands.
Actually it's an artificial tree.

The ornament above is one of two police officer decorations that were given to me by a wonderful man, the deputy in charge of the Pittsburgh Police Department EAP.  He was a recovering alcoholic motorcycle cop who used to refer cops to the treatment center I ran in Roanoke, VA.  Believe it or not, his name was Jack Daniels and in his wilder drinking days, he drove a police motorcycle, lights flashing and siren wailing off a bridge because he didn't remember that it was not finished.  But he survived.  We became good friends and he helped alot of alcoholic cops get sober.  He passed away several years ago, but I always honor his decorations -- I place one on each side of the tree, facing out, keeping guard.

Then there is the dove.  This was the first ornament Karen and I bought after we were married.  For several years it was actually our "tree topper" because we couldn't afford to buy an illuminated star.  We always put this on the tree together.  It's a nice tradition but a bit of a challenge too trying to attach its tiny wire legs with 16 fingers, four thumbs, and two brains working together.

Some years ago we got a small box of 6 year we hung two of them together on the same hook and we've turned that into an annual tradition as well.

This year, the most meaningful ornament was:

Well...there is no photo above because Brian and Melody took it for their tree and I didn't think to photograph it first.  But several years ago we found a little cocker spaniel figure that had the same color markings as Sally, our cocker who many of you have met in past posts.  Many of you also know that we had to say goodbye to Sally this year, almost 18 years old.  But when we took out the Sally ornament from the box, we were tearfully stunned.  None of us remembered -- but the little ceramic cocker spaniel had angel wings.  Needless to say it also now has some tear stains. 

I'll probably take a picture when we visit Brian and Melody and post it as a late addition to this shoot. 


  1. Beautiful, Mark.
    Personal ornaments like yours really make a tree special! I wish I still had some of the ones my grandmother crochet'd, but there are none left.
    Hey waitaminit, I know how to crochet... I'll be somebody's great great aunt one day...
    Thanks for the idea!

  2. Oh, we buy ornaments on our travels for hubbys family...I like yours and wonder what goes on after you go to sleep at night, does the karate kid take on some other bad arse ornaments...okay my imagination just does that!

  3. What a wonderful post. Ornaments have such special meaning. It's funny how we pack them away and every year when we see them sparks such tremendous emotion. Thanks so much for sharing. You have some wonderful traditions.

  4. Love the photo by the madman singing fa la la la la....

    I appreciate the love of family and the love of the traditions you have created together, found in this post. I'll check back to see the photo of your precious cocker - with wings. Perhaps they have only appeared since Sally's departure.....

  5. We are missing Sally so much! Your post is like ours. We went for the tree decorations. In our case, it's way too cold outside at night. The ornaments Brian made are adorable! Our kids never made any Christmas ornaments due to multiculturalism. You have a true family tree! I wish the kids wouldn't borrow stuff. =D

    Happy Holidays, from Barry and Linda with love.

  6. Yes a true family tree. We have a Charlie Brown tree that I have not decorated yet. But I just don't see buying a new tree this late in life. Beside my little Charlie tree is real.

  7. I am looking forward to seeing the Sally ornament. Just reading about it brought tears to my eyes. I am obviously a dog lover, OK, animal lover in general.

  8. I now have to re-apply what little makeup I actually wear to work.
    I want to make time to read your blog from its inception straight through to now. Hmmmmm. I might just!
    all the best-

  9. this is a sentimental and beautiful post. what I want to know is it Butler / Bagman or Mark who feels these sentimental feelings and expresses them so welll. You policman friend and Sally AND the two hearts hanging together - beautiful.
    Merry Christmas to you and Karen from Camillo and Ginger in Brasil.

  10. Love your memory tree, especially the mention of the "Sally" ornament. I know you must miss her this year. We still miss our dog, especially at Christmas, and she left us 5 years ago.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Oh, I love the first photo. Na, na, na, na....

  11. Of all the posts this one most eloquently expresses the best that the holiday season has to offer. Very special. Your angel dog made me tear up just now, so sweet and poignant.

  12. I love the sentimentality of your post. It's so sad about Sally. Every day when I check in on my dog I'm preparing for it to be the last. But, she has good days and bad and she's a strong doggie.

    Anyhow, I loved all your ornaments and the meaning behind them.

  13. I actually like Bagman's Christmas lights photo. Very creative and energetic, like he is. And I think it's sweet that Sally ornament has angel wings. But what I really want to know is whether your yard is blanketed with snow from that nasty storm.

  14. I like your tree, so full of memories. I like the karate man, may be the year my son Sam gets his black belt, I will find one for him.

    Merry Christmas. I will be away for 5 weeks in Australia, and may not post as often as I have done.

  15. Loved it all from the wild colours in the first to the beautiful hearts at the end. Wonderful post!

  16. Awww Mark that is really was!! Thank you for sharing not only the beautiful pictures, but the wonderful memories as well!! Beautiful Shootout!! Merry Christmas, Sarah

  17. Mark, thanks for the personal glimpse at your Christmas memories and traditions. Have a Merry Christmas and a glorious new year.

  18. I'm so glad you photographed and wrote about your own ornaments - the stories are wonderful. I think spaniels communicate from the beyond. My cousin Deborah's 11 year old King Charles (Cali)died this year and a few days later, while walking a trail with her other dog, Deborah found a tiny, china spaniel figurine. That was a teary moment too.

  19. Nice tree, great stories with the ornnaments, and I think that first shot is kind of cool!

  20. Your Christmas tree is lovely! The decorations are all perfect! I have the same dove! It was a gift from my grandmother for my first Christmas tree in 1977! It still sits at the top, right below the star.
    My best wishes for a Merry Christmas and happiness in Twenty-Ten!