Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trim a Tree

John Hart, Assistant Curator of Collections

My family has many traditions, many of which I follow even though I live so far away from home. One of my favorite traditions from childhood was putting up the Christmas tree and hanging the ornaments, especially my grandmother’s that had been passed down to my mom. Grandma Bain died long before I was born so I never got to meet her, but my mom always made sure we remembered her when we put her ornaments on the tree or set up her crèche with many of the figures having come from Italy, where my great grandparents emigrated from in the early 20th century.

I still put up a tree in my apartment every year, but my grandma’s ornaments stay safely at my mom’s to go on her tree. I often see similar ornaments in other places, mostly antique shops, but the feeling I get when I look at them just isn’t the same. Oddly enough though, someone must have had the same type of feeling towards those old ornaments as me, because in the collection we have several dozen, many of which are nearly identical to my grandma’s.

Christmas Ornaments
Painted glass and metal
Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, N.Y., N0049.1978 and N0060.1978

From pinecones to bells, grandma had a pretty wide assortment and the two ornaments above, from our collection, are pretty similar, but painted a different color. I think ours are pink. In any event, they always find their way onto the tree…even if that means multiple ornaments on one branch.

Just like the a lot of things from our parents or grandparents, ornaments mean something different to everyone, but at least with ornaments, putting them on the tree is one way to remember loved ones that may no longer be with us.

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