Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Decorating my home with holiday memories December 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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VISIT MY HOME DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON, and you won’t find Martha Stewart perfect holiday decorations. Rather, you will discover an eclectic mix of Nativity scenes, Santas, angels and more. There’s no color scheme, no continuity, except in the memories.

This was crafted by my Grandpa Bode decades ago.

My Grandpa Bode crafted this Nativity set decades ago. He made them for family and also sold them.

Memories thread through each item I display. My maternal grandfather crafted the Nativity scene positioned atop the living room entertainment center. He built and painted the stable and then molded Baby Jesus and the rest of the Bethlehem crew from Plaster of Paris. Mary’s right hand is broken. The camel is missing. But I don’t care. This is my most treasured of scenes depicting Christ’s birth.

A beautiful cross-stitch of Baby Jesus.

A beautiful cross-stitch of Baby Jesus.

Last year my mom, who collected Nativities, gave nearly all of them to her children and grandchildren after moving into an assisted living apartment. I chose a grouping of six Nativity cards cross-stitched by my cousin Traci and mailed each Christmas. My mom was also an avid cross-stitcher, thus these hold double significance.

This angel candle is more than 50 years old.

This dusty angel candle is more than 50 years old.

I also cherish three angel candles, which belonged to Mom. Fire has never, nor will it ever, touch the wicks. The angels are dusty and not all that beautiful. But I remember Mom setting them out every Christmas.

The largest of the candles in my vintage holiday collection.

The largest of the candles in my vintage holiday collection, Santa stands about five inches tall.

Likewise, I set out Santa and snowman candles acquired in the early 1970s at a family holiday party. They are from my Aunt Ardyce. Like the candle angels, these will never see a flame.

Homemade cards, especially from my kids, are cherished.

Homemade cards, especially from my kids (now grown), are cherished.

And then there’s the Christmas card crafted by my kids. I expect Miranda magic markered the scene signed by all three. It’s a treasure from their childhoods. Such sweetness.

Charlie Brown would be proud of my Christmas tree choice.

Charlie Brown would be proud of my Christmas tree choice. The tree is not yet fully decorated in this image.

Finally, the Christmas tree in our house is chosen not for its perfect shape, but rather for its resemblance to the tree of my childhood Christmases. (The husband, kindly and wisely, agrees with my choice.) Ours is a “Charlie Brown” tree. Uneven and with bare spaces, the short-needled tree plays on my nostalgic memories of the tiny tree that sat on the end of our Formica kitchen table. The tree seemed plenty big back when I was a kid living in a farmhouse much too small for a family of seven. Yet, the tinseled tree seemed magically perfect. Just like my $15 tree, hauled from Duluth and purchased in a Faribault tree lot.

Tell me about your holiday décor. How do you decorate for the Christmas season? Do you display any items that hold special significance?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling