Story and photos by Brian N. Willhite
Handcrafting your own ornaments is one way to commemorate this holiday season, and share some quality time with loved ones in the process.
Viola Buday, who teaches ornament crafting at Beverly's Fabrics & Crafts, said making your own ornaments is inexpensive and easy to do. And the possibilities in what to use and how to craft them are endless.
One of her favorite ideas is to use clear glass ornament balls to design herself.
* Take an empty glass ball and water down some glue, and pour it around inside the ball until it is completely coated.
* Add glitter and shake it up until the inner surface is coated. Dump out the excess glitter, and let it dry.
* You can then decorate the exterior, too.
Buday said making ornaments with children can be a great family event. Clay is a good material for children to work with because it's easily malleable and good for painting.
"Kids can have a ball making ornaments with clay," Buday said. "Anything from a handprint to star cutouts to whatever they want."
The secret to a great ornament, she said, is the gratuitous use of glitter.
"You can take just about anything and make an ornament out of it," she said. "Just use a lot of glitter."
We wanted to know what ornaments held special significance for some of our readers. Here's what they shared:
Phyllis Hansen's favorite ornament is a testament to her love of God and country. Her homemade glass ball ornament pays tribute to those who gave their lives on 9/11.
She crafted her ornament with some friends at church who wanted to commemorate the occasion. Inside each ball is a plastic slip that has an American flag on it with an inscription that reads, "One Nation" and "God Bless America."
A while back, Hansen had an opportunity to visit the memorial site at ground zero, and while there, she also visited the nearby fire station that had a wall with photos of the people who lost their lives in the event. A firefighter came to greet her and comfort her as she looked at the wall.
"I stood there and started crying, and he said, 'Honey, it's OK, we're doing fine," said Hansen.
"You know," she said to the fireman, "People in Bakersfield, we sat there, just sat there, because there was nothing we could do but pray."
Hansen said the fireman looked at her and told her, "That's all we needed."
For Judy Owensby, her favorite ornaments are a set of three small Christmas-themed ceramic mice, and particularly one with a red hair bow and pink pajamas. It reminds her of her daughter as a little girl, she said, and the memories of their Christmases together.
Owensby's boss made the ceramic ornaments and when she saw them, she knew she had to have them.
"This always made me think of her because it had the little pink footy pajamas and she had a pair just like those," she said.
Every year she would have a moment each Christmas where she and her little girl would sit and reminisce about those footy pajamas, no matter how old she was. Now, 30 years later, she still looks forward to hanging them on the tree and reliving all those memories.
"I always look for them as one of the first ones to put up because it's just good memories of her being a little girl and growing up."
Ariel Morrow's favorite Christmas ornament is gold star tree topper, one that takes her back to the first Christmas she and her husband shared together as a family with their daughter.
It was about six years ago, and the young trio had just moved into their first place, and couldn't really afford much. But her mother-in-law gave them a small Christmas tree about 18 inches tall, so they could have a tree that year. They had no ornaments, so they decided to see what they could find.
"We had seen this star we liked, and it was almost as big as the tree, but it was that one particular thing that stood out, so we bought it," Morrow said.
The large metal star weighed heavy on the tree but it didn't matter to them. Their Christmas tree was complete, and since then, the star has been a fixture for their tree each year.
"It reminds me of where we started off and it meant so much to us, too," she said. "It was also something that our daughter thought was very special, so we'll keep it with us to remind us of that first year we had Christmas together as a family."
For 88-year-old Odessa Powers, her favorite ornament reminds her of the bond she shared with a wonderful friend who passed away.
Nearly 30 years ago, her friend handcrafted two angels from old magazine pages. She has admired them ever since and uses them to decorate her fireplace mantel every Christmas.
"I thought it was so unusual that you could make that pretty of an ornament out of some Reader's Digest books," she said.
Powers said through the years, the angels have been a great conversation piece because people want to know about their origins. As she discusses how they were crafted, it also brings back fond memories of her dear friend, which always brings a smile to her face.
"They mean a lot to me because she thought a lot of me to make something like that and give it to me," Powers said. "And I've just treasured them all these years."