Friday, December 12, 2008


At Christmas time, people bring out their collections: Department 56 Christmas villages complete with electric trains, Santas, SnoBabies, Willow Tree figurines, Christmas dishes. And I have to admit, cheap as I am, I have a collection, too.

It costs a ton and a half of money to travel. Yes, I know I can backpack, sleep on the floor in hostels, and hitchhike on the back of mule carts across the Gobi Desert. But I’m old, and I need a bed and running water. So when we travel, I don’t budget a lot of money for shopping and souvenirs. My family back home knows how frugal I am; there are no t-shirts that say “My Mom Went to Estonia and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt” in my children’s closets.

But everywhere I go, I try to find an ornament that I can bring home to take out at Christmas time and hang on my Christmas tree. It doesn’t have to be a real tree ornament. With a hot glue gun and a 69-cent pack of wire ornament hangers, I can make just about anything into an ornament. Refrigerator magnets, tiny souvenir plates, carved wooden trinkets—nothing is safe from being noosed and hung from a branch on my holiday tree.

Last Friday night, Tom and I set up our six-foot artificial flocked tree (complete with fake pinecones) that we got at Menard’s. It looks kind of cute after the sun goes down and it’s all lit up with twinkly lights—if we squint a bit and drink a little wine. Add a pine-scented candle somewhere in the room, and you almost feel like you’re stopping in the woods on a snowy evening with Robert Frost—well, with a little imagination.

So while other travelers are buying gifts for family and friends, I am scrounging around in foreign bargain bins or haggling with street vendors, looking for little doo-dads. Then in December, I can carefully hang them all on my almost-life-like fake Christmas tree (complete with fake pinecones) from Menards. That’s when it really seems like Christmas.

Camel from Tunisia
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain
Moose from Homer, Alaska
St. Petersburg, Russia


bd said...

Cool ornaments..collection of memories! That frugal trait I feel is a family gene. Spend time chatting with Maury's Kathy-I tell her often, he can't help it-it's in his genes. Uncle Elmer F would be proud!

Anonymous said...

I like the new camel, Mom. Keep your tree up so I can see it after we get back fom Phoenix!

Madelaine said...

Love the ideas, especially the magnets.
I really love these kind of things!
I was just at this site where they had all these motivational and inspirational refrigerator magnets and I got a bunch of them. They were really cool with funny original sayings like "obsession is not a hobby" (i got THAT one for sure hahaha) :)
...and stuff about love and friendship too.
Anyway, thanks for sharing the pics, I loved them!