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A Family Heirloom

I know from emails and Facebook status updates that lots of people purchased, set up and decorated their Christmas trees this past weekend. We bought ours last week, in fact, but we won’t be putting it up until the end of this week for a couple of reasons. One is our wood stove, which dries out a tree faster than you can say Merry Christmas. The other is that Hannah begged us to wait for her to get home.

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I don’t mind waiting, though, because we have this beautiful jeweled Christmas tree to enjoy in the meantime.

My mom started this tree when I was around 10, I think. She scoured flea markets and yard sales and thrift shops for months, purchasing only very special earrings and pins to use as the decorations. After she amassed her collection she cut off the backs of the pieces and filed them smooth. In the meantime my dad cut out the background plywood and shape of the tree and my mom glued white and green velvet on those pieces respectively.

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And then the fun began. She set up the velvet covered tree on the dining room table and laid out all that jewelry beside it. My brothers, my mom and dad, even my grandparents, all took part adding and subtracting and rearranging that jewelry until we got it just right. It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle and everyone in the family seemed to have an opinion on the placement of the pieces. I can still remember the debate over whether to put those green pieces on the trunk of the tree. And I remember when my mom went to her own jewelery box and got that big round pin that it’s in the center of the tree and decided to sacrifice it for the project.

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When I was a kid those intertwined pinkish hearts were my favorite. These days, though, I keep looking at it and seeing new favorites and thinking about what a fun and satisfying project this was.  My mom was so proud of it and it always hung over the piano in our living room – which was especially nice for me since I was the only one who played the piano and I loved looking at it while I practiced.

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It’s hanging in my dining room this holiday season and it’s the first year I’ve ever hung it in my own home. It has brought back such great memories of my family and especially my mom.

Oh Christmas Tree, indeed.

This Post Has 65 Comments

  1. What a great story and what a beautiful tree.
    My girlfriend’s dear departed father was very crafty. He and his wife were always making Christmas ornaments. One year he gifted his daughter with a jewelry tree similar to yours.

  2. What a beautiful tree! And I love the story. It makes it so nice that you actually remember picking and placing all the jewelry. Enjoy it this season!!

  3. What an amazing project! I am so glad you put it on display this year, and it is a nice way to have your mama right there with you through the holidays.

  4. I really love your Christmas tree — I think I’d want to keep it up all year long….it’s so pretty, and has SO many great memories. (I’m pretty sentimental, so maybe I get carried away, a little. 🙂 I’d really like to make one now—love all the different shapes, colors, sizes. It’s really beautiful and what a treasure! What special memories of your Mom, and all your family.

  5. Beautiful!!! I have a treasure trove of old costume jewelry given to me by one of my grandmothers…I think I might embark on a similar project.

  6. wow- this is amazing! i’d love to make something similar. thanks so much for the inspiration! have a great holiday.

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