The leftover supplies in our little temporary rental are somewhat limited. The scissors a little large, the construction paper a little faded, string and wire in the needed quantity and the needles a wonderful English set, decades old, and only 30 cents! The tree is probably as old as the sewing needles and the few ornaments I found, even older. I really enjoy using these needles–respected for so many years with all still in tact. I wonder how many people today value things this much.
Emilie, our home’s one and only owner was a kind woman who raised six children in this little post war house. She came from meager beginnings and was frugal in purchases but preserved and saved everything she had. In the end, she left a fair inheritance to each of her children and gave generously in senior-to-child tutoring and hospital volunteering. We reap the reward of her frugality and the friendship/”landlordship”of her youngest son.
As I unpacked her few ornaments (she probably didn’t see them as few, but yours truly is coming from a 9’5″ tree), I found one that I had made for her many years ago–and long forgotten. It gave me pause. In life, we sometimes, think we don’t make a difference. In the last 20 years I’ve painted thousands of things for customers and friends. Seeing my ornament in her things made me realize that there are so many people that have an Ann Fink original–something they might pull out of a box and put up with other cherished things. In this little way, I have made a difference.
My second job out of College was working for a Christmas Company in the Chicago Merchandise Mart. There I learned how to professionally shape, light and decorate a tree. Oh what fun those years were. So, inheriting Emilie’s frumpy and smushed vintage tree was right up my alley. Note: The trick to shaping a tree is straightening out each little branch and twisting the ends upward–just a little. It means touching every piece of the tree.
Once shaped, the tree needs lighting. Well, the professionally lit tree requires a lot of lights and more lights didn’t fit into my budget. So, I tucked them in where they sat and just sprayed a little white spray snow on them and the tree tips to disguise the wires.
At this point, I started folding construction paper into equal thirds and tracing on the campers–cutting them out in the folded multiples of three. Then, it was just a matter of sewing the little paper campers together with about three finger widths of string linking them.
So this is the tree on my First Day of Christmas Campers:
Tomorrow’s ornament(s) have already been made since I have a big day of historic Christmas home tours and a Christmas concert to attend. See you tomorrow!
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