Saturday Six #6: Gifts of Christmases Past

Whether you’re giving or receiving, gifts can be one of the sweetest parts of life. Today I’m sharing six gifts that hold happy memories (complete with a few vintage photos!).

Snowbabies ornaments. When I was in 8th grade, we took a school field trip to Frankenmuth, MI. I can’t even remember why we went or the relevance to our curriculum, but it was a fun day. Included on the trip was a stop at Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas store. I decided that day, in 1995, to purchase a Snowbabies ornament for my mom. No clue why. But I’ve bought her one every year since, and now she’s practically got enough to decorate a whole tree with them!

The first Snowbabies ornament

Hope chest. Sometime in high school, my parents bought me a cedar hope chest because that’s the kind of hopeless (no pun intended) romantic I’ve always been. For awhile, I kept things in there like embroidered pillowcases, kitchen utensils, heirlooms, and baby clothes. Now….well, now it’s a toy chest.

Colonial Heritage dishes. These were a super find at a thrift store, and I was pretty surprised when they ended up wrapped beneath my Christmas tree, probably around 2009, a gift from my fiancé (who became my husband). I love these blue and white dishes that feature scenes like Mount Vernon, Monticello, Old North Church, Independence Hall, and Paul Revere’s House. It was the perfect functional gift for a colonial history nerd like me.

The Duck Slippers. My grandma had this great idea one year to do a white elephant gift exchange at our annual Christmas Day gathering. Except instead of having everyone bring their own item to the exchange, she selected and wrapped the entire pile. Even though it was hilarious to watch my uncle open up pink satin panties, the envy of the game was a pair of giant plush mallard duck slippers. Those things were traded back and forth a bunch of times, but ultimately, they ended up in my brother’s possession and stuck around for YEARS. Sadly, I could not find a photo!

Quilt. My aunt and her mom made this quilt for me during my junior year of high school, and I love it. I took it with me when I was a Congressional page in Washington, DC, and when I moved back home after that semester, I used the yellow sun in the middle to inspire the new wall color in my bedroom. Yellow remained my favorite color for more than a decade after that. I dreamed of putting the quilt on my daughter’s bed one day, and now it is.

Hand-painted ornaments. For years, I would go to the craft store and purchase a couple dozen white ceramic ornaments and paint them for lots of friends and family members. I would spread out over the whole dining room table and use both acrylic and “puff” paints that my mom had left over from making t-shirts in the early 90s. I spent so much time on these and loved handing them out at Christmas. I’m thinking I might try to revive this tradition soon with my own kids.

An assortment of the ornaments I’ve painted

If you are celebrating the holidays, or even if you’re not, I hope this is a season of remembering the gifts that have brought your heart the greatest joy.

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