Saturday, December 17, 2011

Decking the Halls

Though the halls are not being decked as elaborately as they were in the past - during our time in Mexico City our Ambassador's wife remarked that our apartment looked like Eaton's windows at Christmas - there are still a good number of decorations that are being used to give our current residence a feel of Christmas.  Many of them have been around for years and have a significance not just to the season but to celebrations and events of the past.

I bought these two little carollers at the Bay on Rideau Street here in Ottawa
back in the early 80s - I don't recall seeing anything like them since. 
They may have found a place on one of our earlier trees but for the longest time
they have sung their carols perched on this evergreen bough.

More years ago than I care to think I bought two little papier-mâché and felt carollers and made a decoration for the crown of the eight foot high armoire that graced our various living rooms - and is now found a home with my brother-in-law and his wife - for many years.  It was a large piece of furniture with stunning feathered mahogany veneer and dated from the early 1800s.  Laurent's mother had save it when someone had thrown it out to be hauled away as garbage.  It dominated any room it was in but strangely the one place that it fit in perfectly was the small living room of our first house.  A house which figured mightily in my go-for-broke if not quite baroque Christmas decorating phase.  Sans armoire in our homes abroad the two little carollers became decorations for the front door and are serving that purpose once again this year. And they are also serving as the link to the postings to my favourite Christmas carols on the sidebar at the right.

The new tree with my silver balls in place.
A time honoured tradition continues.
Several people have asked - well okay no one really ask but its a good way of making a transition - about our tradition of Silver Christmas balls.  Well there had been some discussion about whither they would be put on the tree this year.  In other years we had a nine foot tree that fit with room to spare in the houses or apartments we lived in - unfortunately the our current apartment is a bit more restrictive.  So the good people at St Vincent gratefully took the old very large tree and the good people at Canadian Tire gratefully took our money for a new much smaller tree.  However we no longer have room for all the ornaments that have been collected over the past 40 or so years.  Some hard choices had to be made - the silver flowers of Christmas didn't go up but the Wedgewood ornaments did; the blown glass apples and oranges from Poland didn't go up but the Russian enamel did.  There was some talk about the trouble involved in getting my silver balls all bright and sparkling for the tree and the amount of time it would take but that argument gave way to a wave of nostalgia -  did we honestly want to break a 34 year old tradition?

Even in Mexico I don't recall the tarnish being so bad - they were almost black.
Ah well that's why silver polish and elbow grease were made I suppose?

So last Saturday silver polish in rubber gloved hand and an old frayed flannel nightshirt torn into usable strips I set to work polishing my balls.  Oh for god's sake Cecilia stop it - I can bloody well hear you chortling from here!  I don't think I've ever seen them so tarnished even in the soup-like pollution that was Mexico City.  The sea air in the shipment?  Adjustment to the relatively unpolluted but humid air of Ottawa?  Who knows but tarnished they were and it took almost 4 hours to clean all 30 of them.  But polished and gleaming they were put on the tree in an unbroken tradition that reaches back to 1979.  Somethings you just don't toy with - I guess  my silver balls are one them.

17 dicembre/December - San Giovanni di Matha


Debra She Who Seeks said...

The good people at Canadian Tire always gratefully take my money too. They're friggin' Saints.

Minnie said...

Lovely write-up of your traditional balls, Willy! Love it. And, yup, confess to chortling happily (or should that be 'merrily'?).
Merry Christmas to you, Himself and the 4-legged friends xx.

lynette said...

Ha! Of course you polished your balls, darlin. This is charming. I have missed your voice. I was going to do a tree this year and lost heart. Perhaps next year. Bloom where we're planted. I think that's the key to happiness or something closely akin to it.