Friday, December 11, 2015

Magic Atop the Christmas Mantel

Growing up there were a few decorations I'd anticipate their return for yet another Christmas season. I loved the angel chimes. Once white candles were lit underneath little brass angels, the angels would move around and around and as they moved they'd strike little brass bells. The little bells would then respond with a most beautiful sound. The angel chimes always sat in the middle of the dining room table.

In the home where I grew up before moving to the country, we had a cardboard fireplace. My brother and I would eagerly await our father carrying the fireplace down the back stairs in sections from the attic. We'd watch as he'd put it back together and place it in the second room of the double living room where it sat every year. The pretend yule logs would 'burn' whenever they were plugged in. Santa always knew where to find our stockings on Christmas Eve. Once we moved to the country, that cardboard fireplace disappeared. Our new home had a fireplace complete with a pine mantel. Our stockings were never too heavy for that mantel. It was so much stronger than the cardboard. And you didn't have to plug it in.

Of all the traditional decorations my mother put out every year, it was a plastic Santa and a plastic Snowman that resonated in me the fact that  Santa was really coming! They weren't anything fancy. They were probably Made In China. My mother probably bought them at Woolworths or Newberry's. They might have been the 'must have decorations' back then as my grandmother had the exact same plastic Santa and plastic Snowman. She'd put them on a windowsill in the front parlor of the farmhouse next to a piano. It was a perfect setting. White, billowing curtains pulled back with white matching ties looked like snowdrifts to me. At night when they were plugged in, the Santa and the Snowman added holiday shades to those pure white snowdrifts.

My mother kept our plastic Santa and plastic Snowman on the mantel of the cardboard fireplace. When we moved to the country, those two decorations were the focus on top the pine mantel. She'd add boughs from the Christmas tree once the tree was brought inside, trimmed, and put in place.  She'd add tinsel and small, round gold balls wrapped around picks-the sort of decorations you'd find in a fancy centerpiece. The mantel always looked the same. Magnificent. Once the stockings were hung, it looked even more magnificent. And when the plastic Santa and plastic Snowman were plugged in-the Magic of Christmas was everywhere!

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