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Tis the Season…

December 24th, 2013 by Lila Steinhoff

Memories and Tradition

The Steinhoff’s Christmas is a trip down a very long memory lane. Some of our traditions are relatively new, like using a non-traditional tree. Some of the memories are tied to ornaments that are more than 40 years old, some of which were made over the years by family members. Some decorations were gifts from friends and relatives and mean a great deal to us.

Today is Christmas Eve… a good time for sharing one family’s memories.

Norfolk Pine

Our Christmas tree lives on our pool deck all year, except for two weeks at the end of December. Its two weeks indoors began four days ago.  We have used this potted Norfolk pine for our tree since 2008.

Norfolk pine and fountainNorfolk Pine on Pool Deck

Since we have a live tree, I don’t like for it to be inside for very long, especially in a room with little light and air conditioning drying it out 24-7. It is brought inside late in the month, and it is back outside before the new year begins.

Time to Decorate

Grandson Malcolm has helped decorate this tree several times, and he was back to help again this year.

Malcolm decorating treeMalcolm Decorating Tree

Most of  ornaments going on this tree have been used for many, many years. The glass ornaments were purchased for our first Christmas in 1969. Eleven of the twelve have survived 44 years.

1969 glass ornamentGlass Ornament from 1969

One of our most unique ornaments didn’t start out as an ornament. It was given to Ken by an old guy in Ohio who carved chains from single pieces of wood. We didn’t know how to display the chains, so this small one became a Christmas ornament.

chain from single piece of woodHand-carved Wood Chain

In 1976, my mother-in-law, Mary Lee,  painted a bunch wooden ornaments for our oldest son who was 15 months old at the time. They go on the tree every year.

1976 painted wooden ornamentHand-painted Wood Ornament

Over the years, she has made many other ornaments using everything from fabric and fiberfill to plastic grids and yarn.

birdhouseHand-sewn Bird House Ornament

While my sons were young, I made various ornaments, as well. Metal molds with plastic crystals to melt in the oven were very popular for awhile.

gumball ornamentMetal and Plastic Ornament

One year, I decorated different kinds of seashells. They are some of my very favorite ornaments.

seashell ornamentSeashell Ornament

I tried my hand at painting wooden ornaments, and most recently, a friend and I made clothespin reindeer. When ornaments are made, they are labeled with the initials of the person making them and the year they were created. It makes remembering the story of each much easier years down the road.

IMG_0501-cDated Clothespin Reindeer

Joy from Others

Years ago, I taught my niece, Laurie, (of Annie Laurie’s Antiques) how to do counted cross stitch. She made ladybugs which I put into a frame and hang on the tree each Christmas.

Laurie's cross stitchLaurie’s Cross Stitch Ornament

We have a friend, Joe Snell, whom we have known since high school. Each year, he has included a crocheted ornament in his Christmas card. They are like snowflakes. Each one is different.

Joe's crocheted ornamentJoe’s Crocheted Ornament

There are Santas and angels of all sorts that I have received from friends and relatives. I unpack them every December and remember the giver. My sister, Martygave me a Santa and Reindeer that reside on my mantel.

Santa and ReindeerSanta and Reindeer

I have another set that takes up residence on my desk. I love the tall, thin design and Santa with an apple rather than a bag of toys.

IMG_0534-cSanta and Reindeer

The reindeer necklace finds a new place each year. This year it is on the piano.

reindeer on pianoReindeer Necklace on the Piano

The tree does not have a pointed top, so there is no place to put the angel that was given to me by a very special student of mine, Brent, and his family. The angel and the Christmas starfish are set at the bottom of the tree instead.

Angel and Christmas starAngel and Christmas Star

Memories from a Cardboard Box

Christmas treeNorfolk Pine Christmas Tree

There are so many memories packed in boxes that come out of the attic once a year. I will share some of them below. These are Steinhoff family treasures. I’m guessing that seeing them will spark some recollections of your own.

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  • […] the way, Wife Lila did a really nice job of documenting the ornaments we’ve collected since our first Christmas in 1969. I wish I had thought of […]

  • Great memories there and in one tree. I have moved so many times over the years and set up house so many times. I don’t have the 40 years of memories you have there. At Christmas you should reflect and these things for our past help you and all of us to do just that. Thanks for sharing your memories and Merry Christmas to you and all your crew.