For years we gathered on the second Sunday in December. There were 12 of us. All crafty and all friends. We only had a few rules. MAKE 12 ornaments and bring snacks. No kids. If someone moved away or left the group, someone else was invited in. We kept the number at 12. That was a nice size group, not too big and not too small. We would meet in the middle of the afternoon.
We would bring our lovingly, handcrafted ornaments in cute baskets or containers. The baskets were placed in a central location: hutch, sideboard, dining room table, or wherever we could find a spot. The hostess home was different each year.
One year was particularly memorable. Darla had her Nikon camera and was taking lots of photos. I could tell that she was on a mission. I had a little point and shoot and took a few photos. (The group photo above was taken with that dinky little camera). I was not on a mission. She would get really close and focus in on the various ornaments. I was just too curious. So, I asked why she was taking so many photos. Darla answered, “It’s for my blog”. I had never even heard of such a thing. She told me a little bit about her blogspot blog.
That was all the inspiration that I needed to start MY FIRST BLOG! But that is not what this post is about.
Back to the ornament exchange group. Everyone in our group loved Jesus and loved each other. A lot of our ornaments reflected our love for Jesus, too. We knew that whatever we talked about and shared in that few hours was safe. For some of us it was the only time we were with each other.
Bring 12 Handmade Ornaments – All Alike
They had to be handmade, hand painted, stitched, personalized or something glued on to something else. The glue and paint concept led us to a new rule. Some of us (I won’t mention any names) waited until the last minute to complete our projects. So, the new rule was the glue or paint still had to be wet. Of course, I am kidding!!!
Let your personality shine through your creations.
For example, in our group, some were intricately hand painted, taking hours. A few of mine were rolled and fired ceramic clay or watercolor. Donna would start in January with delicate and personal cross stitching, getting ready for the next ornament exchange gathering. Dee would craft hers with stitching or wood. Pearlene’s were almost always a wood cut out with a twisted wire hanger. You get the idea.
Bring a Snack
We would eat, of course. Some snacks were requested over and over, like MELISSA’S SHOEPEG CORN DIP and Joni’s Snickerdoodle cookies.
Melissa’s ornaments almost always had a button or was made from something vintage. This basket of ornaments consisted of cookie cutter with a button and it was attached to a card with that yummy recipe on it.
Back in those days we didn’t talk about being “present” but we wanted to know what was happening. Where are you working? New boyfriend? What new Bible study are you starting in the New Year? How’s your health?
It was our time to reconnect. The ornaments were just an excuse, like we needed one!
Share the Inspiration for Your Ornament
This was before way before Pinterest , which launched in 2010. I think that our first gathering was in 1995 . The internet had been a thing for a few years but I’m not sure where we found all those ideas.
After we had met for 12 years, we decided that 144 wonderful handmade ornaments might be enough.
Sign and Date Your Ornament
This glass ornament was such a wonderful idea. Joni signed and dated it 2009. It had little strips of paper the names of each lady in our ornament exchange group that year.
We signed and dated everything. Memory is a very delicate and tricky thing.
Pearlene came up with a great way to display some of her collection. Last year I did the same thing. It wasn’t about the ornaments but about the friendships, relationships, and memories. It is so fun each year to dig through the boxes of ornaments.
These are just a few.
My house is a bit different than most during the holidays. Thanksgiving is our big family event. I used to have a tree in every room but about 10 years ago I quit putting up a tree. The kids were gone and Kitty No was here. The exterior lights became a fight with the hubby. We didn’t know he was in the early stages of dementia. It was just easier not to go through the struggle of which way to hang the lights.
So just to be clear, in case you needed to know, I absolutely adore Jesus and the Christmas story. But Christmas is hard. I don’t put up a tree but I have a Christmas chair and the gifts go on and around the chair. I cook when the kids and grandkids come and we celebrate and enjoy each other.
As I am writing this, I think about the greatest exchange. Jesus left heaven in exchange to come to earth. He took a beating in exchange of our healing. Our sins were exchanged as He gave us His righteousness.
It’s not just about the ornaments but it is about building relationships and memories. It’s about remembering all that Jesus has done for us, is doing for us, and what He is doing in the days ahead!
’til next time,