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Special Memories Are Hanging On Locals’ Christmas Trees

From attics and basements, closets and under beds, here they come. Treasured Christmas ornaments are being placed lovingly on trees everywhere.

More than ever this holiday season, area residents are making a special effort to create lasting holiday memories despite the COVID-19 pandemic. And what better way to do that than by bringing out and displaying Christmas ornaments that hold treasured memories.

Many of my readers have shared photos and comments regarding their ornaments. Here are some of their thoughts on making Christmas 2020 memorable in a good way.

Jerry and Barbara Kulpa said they have many favorite ornaments. “Each year my husband and I get together with our kids and grandkids. We take their individual pictures in front of the tree and then they decorate their ornament and add their picture. Each year is a different style. I enjoy looking at the tree and seeing how they have grown.The kids and grandkids love to find their ornaments.”

Many families have ornaments of loved ones who had passed away, and keep their memories alive by including them on their Christmas trees.

The Young family of Wheeling has a photo of their matriarch Rosalie Young that daughters Janet and Jennifer hang on their trees. Jennifer recalled, ” My poor grandson Gideon was hanging our mom’s ornament at the top of the tree and it fell and hit the floor really hard, Gideon immediately started crying because he thought it broke and then you hear Charlotte, my granddaughter scream ‘It is a Christmas miracle! GiGi didn’t break.’ They were all so excited.”

Sarah Miller said her family remembers her sister Heather Miller with a special photo ornament on their tree. Sarah also treasures a Crayola Crayons ornament with a swinging teddy bear given to her by her late grandmother.

Kathleen Stefanow holds dear an ornament hand-painted by her daughter Laura in 2006 when she was in middle school. “It was then that I realized what a true artistic talent she has.”

Marilyn Roberts recalls a very special Christmas ornament she received in 1978 when she was in McGhee’s Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh with premature labor pains. She received an ornament and card given to her unborn child — by her roommate Judi Jones — as his very first Christmas ornament.

Our son, and firstborn, Mark, was delivered healthy and happy January 23, 1979 at Wheeling Hospital. This ornament and card mean the world to me, a gift from a kind and thoughtful person. Merry Christmas!”

Martha Jane White said she bought a wooden train ornament in a little shop in Texas the year she and her husband Chip had their first Christmas tree in 1976. “Our first daughter was 2 1/2 and delighted with the bright colors and sounds of that shop. I’ve put in our tree every year; it reminds me of where we began.’

Julie Joseph said she has so many favorites but there is one photo ornament she cherishes. “One of my very favorites is of two sweeties that have my heart, one here on earth and one in doggie heaven.”

Theresa Ritz said she has fond memories of one ornament from Wheeling. “I no longer own it but it was one commemorating St. Alphonsus when I attended there and Father Pat was pastor.”

Martha Polinsky said she enjoys ornaments from another generation. “I just love the old glass ones my grandma put on her tree.’

Barbara Cochran McFarland said she has kept a Santa ornament from her grandmother’s home. ” I also have all my kids’ first Christmas ornaments.”

Gabe Wells shares his love of a fun tree topper from his late mother. “The Tree Monkey! Mom wanted something fun to top the Christmas tree years ago, and the tree monkey continues to be a Wells holiday tradition.”

Leslie Beiswenger said she shares memories of her great-grandmother’s ornaments with her children. “I have several hand-beaded ornaments my great-grandmother made and I always tell the kids about her when we put them on the tree.”

Joelle Moray said, “My husband and I both have our ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ ornaments from when we were babies. I also have one from my grandparents that was their favorite ornament.”

CeCe Kiedaisch said her favorite ornament is “Of our son, Chris at 5 months.”

Karen Rose said she bought a little Polish boy ornament for my Babci (Grandmother in Polish) many many years ago. She hung it on her tree every year until she passed away. Now I hang it on my tree and remember all of our Christmas traditions. We celebrate Wigilia every Christmas Eve just the way she taught us.”

Mary Ann Lloyd said her grandma ornament is her favorite ” for two reasons: Being a grandma is so ‘special’ to me and it was my Mom’s.”

Sara Blizzard Robinson bought an ornament in London that holds great memories.

“Our Scottish Santa was purchased at Harrod’s department store in London when our youngest was there studying. Her two sisters joined me to cross the ocean and spend her fall break with her, the best girls’ trip ever. A few years later, I toured Applecross, Scotland in the Highlands, and he became even more special.”

Kathy Dixon said her favorite ornament is regularly kidnapped. “I have a Woody Woodpecker ornament. He cackles just like the character. He has been kidnapped from the tree numerous times. Pictures of where he is are sent to me with a ‘ransom.’ You never know who takes him. It is fun.”

Patty Pogue said her children’s creations are the best. “My favorite tree ornaments are the ones my kids made when they were children. They were made with love. They are adults now and it may embarrass them a little when I put them on the tree but to me, they are treasures.”

Mary Ruth and Bob Cilles said a favorite ornament meant well but .. ” One of our favorite ornaments is one that a dear friend cross stitched for us, about 3-inch in diameter, with the greeting, ‘Christmas 87,’ but she misspelled Christmas. It said: ‘Chistmas 87.’

Janet Boyle said one ornament holds double the memories. I think everybody’s favorite ornament is handmade with love. Mine is one our son Kevin made at Mount de Chantal in pre-school. It’s a wonderful reminder of his happy childhood at the Mount.”

Former news editor for the Intelligencer Joe Hauger relates a not-so-happy ending story about a favorite holiday ornament.

“We no longer have it, nor do I have a readily available photo. My family had an angel tree-topper that was around forever. It was from the 1920s and had an embossed image of the angel surrounded by actual feathers for the wings. It was the one consistent memory of Christmas decorations from my earliest days.

“About five years ago, we stored the decorations in one of our sheds to make room in the house. Even snapped shut in a plastic storage bin, the mice got her during the first summer. There was no way to repair the damage, and I still feel a little crushed about it.”

For more ornament photos and memories, visit my Facebook page. — Heather

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