So. Today I did something that may mark me as completely mad: I actually went to Springfield on the Saturday before Christmas and went shopping. And I did it without a list. How brave and foolhardy of me.
It wasn’t as much fun as it would have been if I had had a companion, but I had a good time anyway. I went through one of the better flea markets down town very thoroughly. Of course, it was very much dominated by the Christmas theme. The vendors and the proprietors had collaborated to provide a most tempting array of cookies for our shopping pleasure, all home made.
Of course, most of the vendors were featuring their best Christmas decor. I was looking for a bright red car ornament (among other things), preferably a sports car. I could not believe it. There was not a single ornament of that type, although there was probably every other kind of ornament you could imagine, and some you likely could not — like the one featuring Hank Williams Jr. dressed as Santa Claus. (He really looked a lot like Jerry Garcia, I wouldn’t have known it was Hank if it hadn’t had a label on the bottom.)
Mostly I was able to avoid the temptation to put things in my basket that I did not really need. It wasn’t that long ago that I mentioned the danger of accumulating things. I seem to be quite good at it. Maybe too good.
Anyway, I found myself musing deep philosophical thoughts as I looked through displays of vintage ornaments. There were some booths that had gallon zip lock bags of various ornaments; you could have the whole bag for a paltry $2.00. I almost bought one of those bags, it had some very neat things in it, and then I decided that I didn’t really need to add some anonymous person’s old-timey ornaments to my collection. I prefer ornaments that have the associations that my collection has attached to it.
Like this piece of stained glass, for example. It was fabricated for me by my friend and client Phyllis Cook. She fashioned it in the image of my tortoise shell cat Bonnie, and it even seems to have her supercilious expression (Bonnie’s! Phyllis is about as far from supercilious as you can get, being beautiful inside and out.).
I miss Phyllis. She moved out of state. I miss Bonnie too. She died years ago. I think of both of them when I trim my tree.
I think of Jim and how much he loves me and how he knows that I love things that catch the light when I look at this long glass tear drop. He gave it to me over ten years ago.
A while ago when I was putting away ornaments I didn’t put it in the box, but hung it in my kitchen window, where it beguiled me all year.
Back in 1995 we made a road trip out to California for Christmas. That was when we went to Santa Fe to retrieve the Citrine Dragon, and while we were there we indulged in one of our favorite pastimes, gallery hopping. We hopped into one gallery that had all sorts of amazing Southwest flavored ornaments, and we succumbed to several. This one was among them:
We were enchanted by the fact that the artist had actually painted a mosquito in Southwestern Indian style on it. But the mosquito needs to be very careful because on the other side of the ornament some sort of lizard is hunting it.
Anyway, my rather large collection of ornaments all have stories like this. Someone made it for me, or I made it, or it memorializes a trip or an occasion, or someone found the perfect ornament and presented it to me. There isn’t an ornament in the group that doesn’t have meaning to me, and I couldn’t help but think that the ornaments in the zip lock bags had meaning for someone else, sometime. How did they wind up in a second hand store, grouped in plastic bags, for sale at a ridiculously cheap price?
Fifty years from now, will my ornaments be treasured heirlooms? Or will they be stuffed willy nilly into bags or boxes and sold at bargain prices somewhere?
I won’t know. I’ll probably be dead. But I certainly hope that the ones that cost me a small fortune at the glassmaker’s shop don’t go for fifty cents at a garage sale.
And with that pleasant seasonal thought, I shall leave you.