Christmas Heirlooms

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Czech crystal–a possible future heirloom?

During the month of December, the first rule of BCC is: Advent is not Christmas.

So I’ll be going out on thin ice by jumping the gun and writing about Christmas decorations with the third Sunday of Advent still looming. But you see, I have made a remarkable discovery; rather, my sister has, and I would like to share it.

First, some background. I am old enough to remember watching The Empire Strikes Back in a drive-in theater. I can still vividly recall the Christmas when I realized that Mom and Dad were Santa after stumbling across the box to the Millennium Falcon in the utility room. In addition to the aforementioned Millennium Falcon, my brother and I had more Star Wars merchandise than you could shake a stick at: tauntauns, the Hoth ice fort, the spaceship used to carry the carbonized Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt, an Ewok village, etc. We were fully invested.

But as Cinderella wisely observed, you don’t know what you got (til it’s gone), and all of those pretty sweet toys have been scattered to the winds like the outcasts of Elam. Now that I’m old enough for the passage of time to have burnished my youth with a nostalgic patina, I sometimes shed a silent tear at the loss. But for the most part I have become resigned to the fate of these childhood artifacts. Life must go on, after all.

Foil Bell

Childhood handicraft

And then last week my sister emailed me a couple of pictures of a Christmas ornament I had made many years ago with the modest skill of a child’s hand–a foil bell. She had been out to help my father decorate the tree and had come across it in one of several boxes of decorations that haven’t seen much use as the nest has emptied and the Christmas trees have shrunk.

Jawa Bell


That’s pretty cool, I thought, though  not much to look at to be honest. But as I scrolled further I realized the true significance of the foil bell–it was crafted using a Jawa paper cup that must date to the late 1970s or early 1980s! So a trace of my Star Wars-infused youth remains for posterity after all.

What Christmas treasures or traditions do you have that you find worth passing down?


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    Very cool discovery!

    When I was a kid, we decorated the tree with typical glass ball ornaments. But when I got married, my artist wife made ornaments out of all sorts of things. A lump of clay fashioned by my daughter when she was two years old sits on our tree even now. She would turn little Muppets Happy Meal toys into ornaments. Cool looking tags off merchandise. All kinds of stuff from our every day lives. And I find that I have a stronger emotional connection to those ornaments than I ever did to the pretty glass balls.

  2. A terrific find! (And you had Slave I? Jealous!)

  3. Ah, so that’s what it was called. I had poked around on the internet for a while but didn’t turn anything up.

    I find that I have a stronger emotional connection to those ornaments than I ever did to the pretty glass balls.

    Agreed, Kevin.

  4. I don’t have any of the childhood decorations. The main things I remember were the silver tinsel (an operation I desperately wanted to participate in at the time but was never allowed to do) and the lights: they were the large ones, with the occasional “bubble” light—major coolness. None of those things survived the years. The glass balls were casualties of various accidents long before I left home. Great post.

  5. I have a little yellow bird. It used to have a nest, but that long ago broke away. My brothers also had birds and we would compete to who could get ours up in the tree the highest. I do the same thing in my own tree and nest bird in the highest of branches and say “I win!” to my kids who shake their head at their odd mother.

  6. john turner says:

    At our (Presbyterian) church, my mom would complain every year about Christmas hymns intruding into advent. I couldn’t agree more with your opening sentiment. Good to have BCC doing needed liturgical boundary maintenance.

  7. I have three cardboard glitter coated bird ornaments that were on my parents Christmas trees back in the 60s. There used to be four, but I have a red, silver, and blue one that have survived, We keep them higher on our tree so the grandkids don’t over-appreciate them.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, John, we’re all about the Advent around here. Indeed, a year ago I actually gave a talk in my ward’s sacrament service on Advent (the day coincided with First Advent). It was the first many of my ward members had ever heard of such a thing.

  9. We started a family tradition that is now 20 years old and it appears to be moving forward with my kids as they move out. A Bethlehem dinner. Eaten on the floor, while we discuss the events from long ago.

  10. My great grandmother made ornaments every year from plastic canvas and yarn or crocheted for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She worked all year on them. (Luckily for her we’re the only Mormons of the bunch so the families are small.) I love putting them on my tree now for reasons a) sentimental and b) the things are pretty much indestructible. This is important with four little boys.

  11. Since I was a kid my mom started baking a cake on Christmas Eve and we’d sit around the table and talk about Jesus and the ‘gifts’ he’d given us. It was mostly my mom doing all the talking and crying. We put candles in the cake and we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. We all blow out the candles together, Jesus included.

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