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My View: Ornaments provide a snapshot of my life

By Gloria Duran

I have never been able to understand the “theme” Christmas tree. Occasionally a friend will announce that she is decorating her tree with gold ornaments, or blue and silver bows. For me, the Christmas ornaments I touch speak to me of people and events that have enriched my life. This year, as I once again enjoyed trimming my tree, I tried to put the ornaments into categories that have impacted my life.

I fondly remember trips to Branson, Charleston, Savannah, Gettysburg and Yorktown. The ornaments from England, Italy and Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home are among my favorites. However, as a woman, I prize my bulb from the Susan B. Anthony house in neighboring Rochester in a special way.

I rewind beloved movies in my mind. I sing “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” while placing Dorothy, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man in a prominent spot. I relive a favorite scene in “Gone with the Wind” when looking at an ornament of Scarlett O’Hara in her Barbecue at Twelve Oaks outfit.

I am daffy for Disney. I have a multitude of Mickey and Minnie Mouse ornaments. Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs are positioned with care near the top of the tree, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell smile out from the crow’s nest while Alice peers through the looking glass as the Cheshire Cat grins at her. Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Donald and Daisy Duck, Pluto, Pinocchio and Dumbo are also nestled among the greenery while Cinderella races down the steps at midnight.

Being a retired teacher, I have received many ornaments from students and fellow teachers. Some students are now adults. I like to think about the children’s personalities, strengths and weaknesses, as I say a prayer for them. I think about teachers and fun times we had together.

Other ornaments are from dear friends and family. I cherish the counted cross-stitch ornament from my dearest friend in Syracuse. We raised our children together. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus ornaments remind me of a Christmas visit by my brother-in-law and his wife in 1978.

Our children were so excited to see their cousins. I think of ornaments that my husband’s sisters made with love for our first Christmas tree in 1973.

My husband’s interests are well represented. The Buffalo Bills and Sabres as well as Pittsburgh’s Pirates and Steelers each have their “tree place.” Muhammad Ali takes a jab, Barry Bonds gets ready to hit a home run and Arnold Palmer prepares for another putt. Press a button and an Abbot and Costello ornament plays “Who’s on First?” These are interspersed with an ample supply of Star Trek ornaments.

Ah, family ornaments are the best! My daughter smiles at me in the center of a glitter frame she made in sixth grade. My youngest son made his Popsicle stick frame with love in fourth grade. This group also includes three felt cats that were once on my oldest son’s mobile when he ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­spent the first 10 months of life in Children’s Hospital. My son is now a grown man with two daughters of his own. Picture ornaments of my four granddaughters fill me with pride.

When I hold a porcelain toy soldier that was given to me by my mother, I feel her presence in a special way. She said, “Take good care of him,” when presenting the red-jacketed doll to me. The last ornament I place each Christmas is a paper angel with my mother’s name on it. It was given to me by the bereavement committee of the church I taught at the Christmas after my mother died. Those kind ladies made me so happy by remembering my mother’s life.

Gloria Duran, of East Amherst, is a newly retired kindergarten teacher who loves her family, travel, history, movies, Disney and her Christmas tree.
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