Some holiday obsessions are hereditary

My family had an elf on the shelf long before the Elf on the Shelf book was first published.

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Since the elves came before the book, it means the story about them has to be true, right? Christmas magic is real.

Also real? Christmas obsessions.

My brother and I both veer perilously close to the “obsessive” side of Christmas, but our sister isn’t quite as extreme as either of us. (That said,  you know it’s the holiday season when Lisa starts “glinging” Christmas tunes. Glinging is ideal if you can’t remember the lyrics – just sing “gling.” Repeatedly.) But it’s really not our fault. It’s hereditary. And according to family stories from Grandma Bussey, we can trace it back to our grandfather.

Grandpa Bussey died way before any of us were born, but left a wonderful legacy. I have tons of Grandma and Grandpa’s old ornaments on my tree, even if you can’t see them all here:

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Grandma loved bells, and pretty much every bell on my tree used to be on hers.

In the basement I have a heavy, old, battered tree stand. It only holds about a cup of water (that’s before the tree is added), so it’s not exactly practical. Grandma said she hit the roof the year Grandpa bought that stand – which at the time had poinsettia lights on its decorative base. It was expensive even by today’s standards. One day I’d love to see it restored, but poinsettia bulbs aren’t easy to find.

Grandpa Bussey didn’t just buy things, he made things too. I’m told he made this wooden Santa that’s so cool I leave him standing in the stairwell year round. It makes me smile to see Santa waving at me when I go up or down the steps.

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He’s a little hard to see by the tree, so here he is in broad daylight….

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And check out the log fence Grandpa made for beneath the tree (hey – one of Grandma’s bells got in the shot):

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Grandma said Grandpa collected all of those branches on their property (which she referred to as a “farmette”), cut them to size and assembled the fence. It even folds up for easy storage. The fence is made of ten 12″ sections that are hinged and can be positioned however you like. It still has faint remnants of “snow” on the top of each rail, too.

I never got to meet my Grandpa, but his love of Christmas lives on through us – and the cool things he made.

What are some of your family’s special holiday keepsakes or traditions?

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About Paula Hendrickson

I'm a full-time freelance writer with an addiction to yarn, cooking and all kinds of crafty things. I come from a long line of creative and entrepreneurial types on both sides of the family, making creativity almost like competitive pursuit.

Posted on December 13, 2012, in Christmas, Creativity, Family, heirlooms, Holidays, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. We had that SAME elf! Oh my word! Funny how the smallest things leave the largest impact. 🙂

    • Paula Hendrickson

      I have two more riding in a wicker sleigh elsewhere in the house. I guess we were such a handful there was one elf per kid needed to report back to Santa about how naughty or nice we were being!

  2. One of our enduring traditions is we open presents on Christmas Eve. In theory, the tradition allows us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas on Christmas Day. Heck, we had no problem opening presents a day early.

    When we were kids, we could choose only 1 present to open. The rest were saved for Christmas Day to be enjoyed with the presents from Santa. I think the family just wanted to get equal billing with Santa, 🙂

    • Paula Hendrickson

      We did Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve was at Grandma’s. Soup, sandwiches and Swedish foods like korv (disgusting boiled sausage), bond ost (cheese, preferably the one without caraway seeds), limpa bread (without the fruit), lingonberries and polkagrisar (airy peppermint candies). We always assumed the soup was homemade, then one year Grandma asked if Dad could pick up a couple quarts of soup she’d ordered from her favorite restaurant. Sure, she doctored it up, but Grandma had all of us fooled for a long time.

      Christmas Day, after the Santa gifts and stockings, we’d have the extended family over, including a couple of Mom and Dad’s friends who didn’t have other family in town. Always a house full!

  3. Love your beautiful heirloom tree and the stories behind some of the ornaments.

    • Paula Hendrickson

      Thanks, Charlyne. One thing is clear from Grandma’s old ornaments: someone really liked magenta. There are at least 8 ornaments that either magenta or have magenta in them. Luckily, I like magenta!

  4. Paula – thanks for the sweet story! Your tree is beautiful.

    • Thanks, Bonnie. It’s fake, but pretty!

      Here’s a question for a hot-weather dweller like you: are “snow flocked” trees big sellers in Arizona?

      • I have never seen a flocked tree in anyone’s house here. There is one usually on each Chistmas tree lot. We do tend to like to decorate our cacti — saguaro’s with santa hats and lights and wrapping the ocotillo’s with net lights — quite pretty actually! Hey – you do with what you’ve got, right?

      • Paula Hendrickson

        Santa cacti! That’s so cool!

  5. My uncle e-mailed me a note after seeing this post:

    “I remember the log fence well. It was originally displayed under the tree on a corner triangular platform about 6 or 7 inches off the floor with large heavy duty poster board murals on each side. The good old days – there are home movies over 70 years old that, as I recall, show the zig/zag fence.”

    • Here is a quick screen capture of one of those old home movies!
      Christmas Tree, circa 1940

      • Paula Hendrickson

        Thanks, Tadson. That is so cool! Aren’t you glad Grandpa Bussey took so many old movies? Especially since we never got to meet him.

        After your dad said he didn’t recognize Santa, Brice said it was because our dad made it. All this years I was crediting the wrong family member!

  6. Beautiful tree and ornaments, Paula! It seems Making if From Scratch is hereditary in your family!!! Lovely to have so many artistic people in the family! As for the elves, it was the first time for me to hear about them in the house! But your story of one elf for each kid to report on how they behaved during the year makes a lot of sense! Happy Holidays!

    • Paula Hendrickson

      We do have a lot of creative, crafty people on both sides of our family tree!

      What are some Christmas traditions you grew up with in Brazil? Have you been able to continue any of those since moving to Japan?

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