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Previous in This Series

The Day Before the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 1)
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 2)

What a difference a day makes! Like I wrote in my last entry, I briefly attended the second day of the festival due in large part to the rain. The third day of the festival was different. It was sunny outside, the temperature reached into the low 70’s, and the humidity was low as well. It was the perfect outdoor weather for the festival!

When I arrived at the festival I saw that the STEM center Makerspace 125 had created a small miniature golf course consisting of handmade decorations that were miniature replicas of various Greenbelt landmarks and the local wildlife.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

This mini golf course was especially a big hit with the kids.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Even though the third day fell on a Sunday, I blew off church that morning because I wanted to make sure that I would arrive at the Greenbelt Museum on time for another event I wanted to take part in. This year the Greenbelt Museum was the site for the Retro Town Fair, which was the first time I participated in it since 2014.

I submitted two hand-knitted clothes for dolls. One was the funky “fur” coat for 1/6 dolls, which I had my Blythe doll model mainly because she was the one doll I had who looked best wearing it. The other was the Alice’s Tea Party knitted dress for 18-inch dolls. I had my Addy Walker doll model it because she looked like those African American church ladies I frequently see in my area on Sundays walking in public all dressed up in their finest dresses and hats (or a hair accessory).

Basically I had to submit my entries between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. then wait until between 2-4 p.m. before I can see the entire Retro Town Fair. So I submitted my entries then walked back to the main part of the Labor Day Festival where I hung around for a bit while I ordered a giant crab pretzel for lunch from one of the food booths. After lunch I walked back to the Greenbelt Museum while I took these pictures.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

I came upon my dolls and I found that I won two white 3rd place ribbons. I was pretty happy with that award even though the organizers had them laying down the entire time. (I guess it was probably easier to display them that way without worrying about them falling down.)

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

The festival area was full of people once again since Tropical Storm Harvey went away. Here are some pictures I took.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

The bingo tables were reopened as well with people eagerly playing bingo.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

There was this very long line at the ice cream stand.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

There were a couple of pint-sized Stormtroopers from Star Wars.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

That day was also the first day of the Craft Fair, where the vendors were blessed with ideal weather for selling their handcrafted wares.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

What was really wild is that I got lucky when I met a prominent person whom I’ve seen on TV a few times (back in the days when I still had cable television). The former head of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, is running for Maryland governor in next year’s mid-term elections and he was at the festival talking to the people and asking them for their opinions. Here are a couple of pictures I took of him.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

If he gets elected next year, I’ll definitely have these photos to show people while telling them “I met Governor Jealous when I was at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival back in 2017.” (LOL!)

Makerspace 125 had a busy day. Not only were the volunteers there running the miniature golf course but they were also putting the final finishing touches on their parade float for the next day. When I was there, they were making giant LEGO blocks.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

I even went to the Greenbelt Theater, which was running classic cartoons (Superman, Betty Boop, Popeye, and various Looney Tunes shorts) for free on the big screen.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

I walked back to the Greenbelt Museum where I picked up my dolls and my award ribbons then I headed back home feeling exhausted yet happy at all the good things I experienced that day.

Next in This Series

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 4)

I attended this year’s Greenbelt Green Man Festival. On the first day (May 13) I arrived shortly before the festival closed down for the day mainly because I had spent the bulk of the day walking the Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour. I still managed to take a few photos.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

The following day was more sunny and it was a warm pleasant day. Plus it was Mother’s Day on top of it. I spent the bulk of my day at the festival where I took these photos.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

Makerspace 125 had its giant box full of Legos for any child to play with.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

While the outdoor festival was winding down, the festival moved indoors to the New Deal Cafe. The band Kiva closed the 2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival with their show.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

I only purchased one thing for myself that weekend: a bar of honey rose-scented goat milk soap that was made by Natural Image Botanicals.

2017 Greenbelt Green Man Festival

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I attended a reception for a new art exhibit that’s currently being held at ReCreative Spaces in Mount Rainier, Maryland. It’s called Resist and it features art that was inspired by the new Trump Administration. The parking lot in the back of ReCreative Spaces features this really impressive mural that says “Deport Trump.”

Resist Art Reception

I returned to that mural a couple of days later to photograph it in daylight.

Deport Trump Mural

Here are some more art pieces from that same show that are currently being displayed indoors.

Resist Art Reception

Resist Art Reception

Resist Art Reception

Resist Art Reception

Resist Art Reception

Resist Art Reception

Resist Art Reception

The opening festivities included a coloring event where we could color this page with three raised fists.

Resist Art Reception

Resist Art Reception

The person who ran that activity had posted examples of how we could color our pages by drawing patterns that looked like what I’ve seen in Zentangle. So I decided to follow suit by drawing patterns in my coloring page. I used TanglePatterns.net for pattern ideas. Here is my colored page.

Resist Art Reception

Santa Claus

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11

Here is the 12th and final part of my series on how I celebrated a Tabletop Christmas this holiday season. I timed it so it would run concurrent with the traditional 12 days of Christmas, which begins on December 25. As I kept on writing new posts each day, I noticed that the 12th day falls on January 5 despite the fact that the traditional end of Christmas falls on January 6. In the past I would hear January 6 being referred to as “Twelfth Night.” I did some research and, thanks to this webpage, I now know that I didn’t make any mistakes when I began these posts on December 25 and reached the 12th post on January 5. That’s because January 5 have long been observed as the Twelfth Night, not January 6. The Twelfth Night is traditionally observed as “Epiphany Eve,” and it used to be a grand occasion for feasting since it was the final night of Christmas before the Feast of the Epiphany on the following day and it marks the official end of Christmas.

Besides, January 6 is also the anniversary of the day I wrote my first post in this blog so I’m not too upset or worried about ending this series on January 5.

This final post in this series focuses on other Christmas decorations besides tree ornaments.

These two cute decorations were originally Avon cologne bottles. I used to frequently get Avon products for birthday and Christmas presents because my mother had a co-worker at her job who sold Avon products on the side and this co-worker made plenty of extra money whenever she brought those Avon catalogues to her day job. Avon used to sell their colognes in various containers shaped like animals and people. I tried looking online to see if Avon still sells their colognes in special containers only to find that nowadays Avon uses the typical cologne bottles that other cologne and perfume manufacturers use. The newer bottles may be pretty but they lack the distinction and novelty of the older Avon cologne bottles.

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Both containers once held Sweet Honesty cologne. This brought back memories of when I used to frequently dab Sweet Honesty on myself. I found that Avon still sells Sweet Honesty cologne even if it no longer sells them in the novelty containers.

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This next item is a vintage angel doll that I’ve owned since I was a child. I used to call her “Bernie Angel” because she reminded me of my cousin Bernie. This angel has long black hair, just like my cousin used to wear her hair. (These days she wears her hair very short.) Bernie Angel has survived all kinds of things over the years, especially the time when my parents’ dog, Napoleon, swiped her and attempted to use her as a chew toy but we managed to get her away from the dog before he did any major damage. I brought her with me to college when I attended the University of Maryland as my one token Christmas decoration. Naturally she came with me when I got married and she’s still with me.

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Bernie Angel is a doll with no joints and she’s in a permanent kneeling position with her hands folded together in prayer.

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I pulled back her hair to show her sweet face. Her eyes are permanently closed. She has rouge on her cheeks, blue eye shadow, and pink lips.

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Here’s another side of Bernie Angel.

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Here’s the back.

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She has a tag attached but it’s stuck together in a permanent folded position and I have a hard time trying to separate the sides, which is why I have two photographs of this tag. The tag actually reads: “© 1996 KAMAR ® MADE IN JAPAN.” I tried doing a Google search only to turn up nothing. I have a feeling that Kamar went out of business a long time ago. This doll was made at a time when “Made in Japan” meant cheap imported goods that tended to fall apart. The fact that this cheaply made doll has survived all those years is pretty miraculous.

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The next photo shows three Ginger Cottages that I currently own. I first got into them when I purchased the incense burner that’s shown on the far right of the next photograph a few years ago. I’ve since added the other two buildings. I generally prefer Ginger Cottages over the more popular Department 56 villages because they are about half the size of the Department 56 and they fit both my small home and my budget much better. On top of it, Ginger Cottages are made in the U.S. (in fact they are made in central Virginia), which is a definite plus in my book since most consumer items seem to be made overseas in China and other Third World countries.

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The one thing I love most about Ginger Cottages is that if you shine a light through a hole in the bottom of each cottage, it’ll reveal a surprise, such as the giant nutcracker peering out the second story window.

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Yesterday I wrote about how my support group for people who are separated or divorce throws a post-Christmas party each year where people bring a wrapped present for the White Elephant Gift Exchange. In previous years I received two items that I now keep among my Christmas ornaments. The next photo shows a small candy jar that’s decorated with peppermint treats.

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Here’s another White Elephant gift I received. This one is a set of snowmen salt and pepper shakers, which I’ve only used as decorations. (I’ve never actually filled them with salt and pepper.)

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The next few photographs show various noise-producing Christmas decorations, all of which were given to me as presents. The first picture shows a jack in a box Santa Claus that my parents gave me when I was around seven years old. This toy was made in Japan and I still have him after all these years. It’s among the few toys I have from my childhood and he’s still in pretty good condition. The white paint is slightly faded in spots but that’s noticeable only if you take a very close look at his face. There is silver duct tape holding the box top to the rest of the box because the red cloth-like tape that held the two together had frayed with age. Otherwise, he still works just as well as he did the day I got him. Basically Santa squeaks when he pops out of the box.

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The next photograph features a small plastic Santa Claus puppet that I also have from my childhood. Whenever you press a button at the bottom of his yellow base, Santa moves around and his little bell makes a ringing sound. This puppet is still in very good condition and it still works after all these years.

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The next photographs show a ceramic music box featuring a pair of doves wearing Santa hats. When the music box is wound up it rotates as it plays “Deck the Halls.” This music box was among the last Christmas presents I ever received from my Aunt Linda before she died of breast cancer when she was only 48 years old.

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The next few photos feature a Hallmark music box ornament that my late mother-in-law gave to me as a birthday present. (My birthday and Christmas are only 10 days apart.) While there is a loop at the top to hang it from a tree, I have always chosen to put it flat on the table instead. When this ornament winds up, Mickey rocks right and left as the music box plays “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

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I made a short video demonstrating the four noise making decorations that you can see and hear for yourself.

I’m going to end this series with a decoration that is actually the first Christmas decoration I put up each year. It’s an Advent calendar and I usually put it up soon after Thanksgiving so I can be ready to start the countdown to Christmas on December 1. I originally purchased this calendar many years ago at the now-defunct Frank’s Nursery and Crafts.

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The entire calendar is mostly made from felt. The ornaments for this calendar are kept in this attached plaid bag marked “SMALL ACCESSORIES” when the calendar is in storage the rest of the year.

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When it’s time to take out the calendar, I remove the ornaments from the SMALL ACCESSORIES bag and place them in numbered slots.

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Starting on December 1 I remove one ornament from a numbered slot and place it on the tree. (The ornament attaches to the tree with velcro.) I keep it up until December 24 when the entire tree is filled and the numbered slots are empty. I leave this Advent tree up until January 6 when I take it down and put it in storage with the rest of the Christmas decorations.

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So that’s it for my 12-part Tabletop Christmas series. I’ll leave everything up through tomorrow (January 6) then I’ll start dismantling everything on January 7 until everything is packed away in boxes and stored in the attic.

Santa Claus

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

This latest installment in my 12-part Tabletop Christmas series focuses on other tree ornaments that I haven’t featured in this series so far.

The ornament in the next photo was one that was released in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World in 1992. That commemoration was controversial mainly because Christopher Columbus’ role in history has become extremely controversial in recent years. I remember when replicas of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria docked at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, which drew some protests. I saw those ships myself and I was disappointed to learn that only the top deck was opened to the general public while the rest of the decks were roped off. I purchased the ornament because I thought it was very cute, which was the same reason why it survived my purge of excessive ornaments.

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This next photo shows a very stylized reindeer that I purchased from the Christmas shop at Valley View Farms years before I started this blog. I’ve always loved the design of this reindeer, which was why that one also survived my ornaments purge.

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Here’s a cute Hallmark ornament in the form of a bull-shaped piñata that has “Feliz Navidad” written on the sides.

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Here’s a glittery gold snowflake ornament that was given to me by one of my relatives years ago. I especially love the way it reflects when the lights are on.

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Here’s a gold heart that I purchased years ago because my then-husband said that he loves hearts. I kept it after he left and I made my ornaments purge because it looks lovely in the Christmas tree, especially when viewed from afar.

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The two ornaments in the next photo feature a gold leaf and a dolphin. I know the gold leaf was given to me and my then-husband by a family member but I don’t remember if it came from my parents, my mother-in-law, or my sister-in-law. The dolphin ornament was a Hallmark ornament that I purchased for my then-husband not long after we were married because my husband really loved dolphins. Naturally he left that one behind when he left me but I kept it because the dolphin looks really cute in the tree, especially with it looking like it’s in the middle of a mid-air jump through a Christmas wreath.

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This stylized wood star came from a relative from my then-husband’s side of the family but I don’t remember if his mother, sister, or his late Aunt Sue gave it to us. I usually hang this one towards the bottom of the tree.

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The next photo features two small ornaments. The pink elephant is made from glass and I purchased it from the Christmas shop at Behnke’s Nurseries years ago because it reminded me of the famous “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence from the Disney movie Dumbo. This ornament even came with a tiny plastic champaign glass but, unfortunately, the champaign glass snapped off a long time ago and I couldn’t find it. The pink elephant still looks nice without the champaign glass so I kept it. The cat is a Hallmark ornament that was given to me by my parents when I was a teenager.

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The next photograph shows a Hallmark Mistletoe Fairy that I purchased mainly because when I was married my husband and I had a tradition where we hung mistletoe above the kitchen door and we used to time our meetings at the kitchen door so we would kiss. (LOL!) We didn’t get mistletoe in 2011 mainly because I was recovering from hip surgery and my husband was sick with bronchitis at the same time. I also didn’t know that he was planning to leave me three days after Christmas (and three months after my hip surgery) for a seriously mentally ill friend of ours. I thought about getting rid of that ornament when I was doing my ornaments purge but I ended up keeping it because this fairy looks really nice in the tree. I no longer keep mistletoe in my home so this ornament is about as close to having mistletoe as I get these days. (LOL!)

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This next ornament is a ceramic peppermint unicorn ornament that I purchased from a Hallmark store at a clearance price during a post-Christmas sale one year. That’s another ornament that I’ve always loved to hang in my tree.

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Remember the Beanie Babies craze of the 1990’s? At one point Ty came out with a line of Christmas ornaments that were smaller versions of the Beanie Babies. I selected Peace the Tye-Dyed Bear because I thought he was cute and I also remember the traditional “Peace on Earth” greeting at Christmas.

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The next few photos are small greeting cards that double as Christmas ornaments, which were given to me by my parents. Each of these greeting card ornaments have the same Victorian Era illustrations on both sides along with a tiny string to hang them on. Here is one of these card ornaments that I still have.

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The inside of this card says “A special gift from you to me to hang upon your Christmas tree. From: Mom & Dad To: Kim”.

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Here’s the other greeting card ornament that I still have. This one also has the same Victorian Era illustration on both sides.

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The inside of this card says “A special gift from you to me to hang upon your Christmas tree. From: Mom & Dad To: Kim.”

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Last, but not least, is this red bell that’s currently hanging on my tree as a Christmas ornament. Here’s some background. I’m currently involved in starting a new local chapter of the National Grange in my hometown and I’m serving as the Vice President mainly because this new chapter desperately needed officers and I stepped up to the plate. We decided to walk around town singing Christmas carols one evening before Christmas as a way of both publicizing the new group and spreading Christmas cheer in general. One person brought a bunch of bells that we could ring so that was how I ended up with this red bell. The high point came when we walked around the hallways of this apartment complex that’s designed for senior citizens and disabled adults singing Christmas carols and the residents there really loved it and they all smiled. At the end of the evening I attempted to give my bell back to the person who brought it but she told me that I could keep it. So I hung it on the Christmas tree.

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I especially like the snowflake cutout at the bottom.

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Part 12

Santa Claus

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

This entry is dedicated to the patriotic ornaments that I currently own. These ornaments are among the evidence that proves that I’m not some anti-American pinko liberal fascist communist socialist fool just because I hold political views that may be different from yours.

First is this Hallmark ornament commemorating the bicentennial of the inauguration of the first President of the United States, George Washington (the inauguration happened in 1789 which means that the bicentennial happened in 1989).

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I purchased the ornament in the next photo from Behnke’s Nurseries when it was having its post-Christmas sale a couple of years ago. It’s a small flag-waving wooden nutcracker ornament dressed like Uncle Sam whose jaw actually moves when you move the lever in the back up and down.

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The ornament in the last few photos is also a flag-waving nutcracker ornament that’s dressed as Uncle Sam. Except this one is from Hallmark and it’s made from plastic. This nutcracker wears a gold button that says “88” (for the year 1988, which was an election year and it was the year that George H.W. Bush was elected President of the United States). This ornament was also released on the heels of the notorious Iran-Contra scandal so there are some pretty subtle bits of political humor that one wouldn’t normally expect from a Hallmark ornament.

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Like the other patriotic nutcracker ornament, this one also moves his mouth when you move his ponytail up and down.

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Here’s the back. Notice the crossed fingers. (LOL!)

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Part 11
Part 12

Santa Claus

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

For the latest installment on my series about celebrating Christmas on a tabletop, I’m going to devote this entry to the Christmas tree ornaments that I’ve had since I was a child. All of them were given to me by my parents for either my birthday or Christmas. (Both days are only 10 days apart.)

Here’s a brass bell-shaped ornament engraved with my first name.

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Here’s a bird’s nest that includes two birds—one red and one blue—whose beaks are opened as if they are about to burst into song. I still have the remnants of the original blue bow towards the top of the strings but that bow has mostly fallen apart.

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Here’s a Hallmark ornament that my parents gave me. It’s marked “Christmas, 1980” and it has these words:

A Daughter is the sweetest gift a lifetime can provide.

The ball’s image has a couple of white cats (which is pretty ironic because I’m allergic to cats) and a bunch of plants including poinsettias, a spider plant, a Norfolk pine tree, and a coleus.

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Here’s a brass ornament that’s shaped like a guitar. I took guitar lessons throughout my teen years and I still play it occasionally.

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This next photo shows a Santa Claus whose arms and legs are jointed so one can put him in a few poses (mainly looking like he’s running while swinging his arms).

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I have a wooden block ornament that has the same picture of Santa Claus on all four sides. The top of the block is mainly red with the letter “A” and the bottom is mainly red with the letter “B.”

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Last but not least is this white harp-playing cherub angel. I think it might have graced a wrapped package as a decoration (I don’t remember off-hand) and I decided to use it as an ornament since it had string attached to it. All I know is that I’ve had that one since my childhood.

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Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

Santa Claus Baby New Year

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Among my Christmas decorations are a few imported ones that I purchased at a couple of places.

My sister-in-law lives in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. Each year the town of Bethlehem has a multi-week arts and crafts festival known as Christkindlmarkt, which features handcrafted items from both local artisans and imported handmade items. I remember she took my then-husband and I to Christkindlmarkt a few times and I really enjoyed it very much. (The only reason why I haven’t come back is because of finances.) Among the items I purchased was this German-made nutcracker that’s shaped like a park ranger or a naturalist.

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There’s a pretty funny story behind this one. Throughout my now-kaput marriage, my husband insisted on controlling all of the finances including the checkbook for the main checking account. He didn’t always take his checkbook with him because he didn’t always want to stuff his pockets with the checkbook and he wouldn’t carry a bag or purse or anything like that. That weekend he took the main checkbook with him. When we were going over to the Christkindlmarkt he asked me to hold the checkbook in my purse. When I started perusing some of the vendors, I saw a man who sold German-made nutcrackers and this fellow caught my eye. It turned out that he cost only $50, which is cheap compared to similar nutcrackers I’ve seen on sale in my area. (I’ve seen German nutcrackers the same size start at $125.) I didn’t have enough cash in my wallet and he didn’t take a credit card so I pulled out the main checkbook and wrote a check. At that moment I was writing a check, my husband showed up and caught me in the act. While he was okay with using it to buy the nutcracker, he insisted on taking the checkbook and keeping it with him. Strangely (LOL!) he never asked me to hold the main checkbook again after that incident. (LOL!)

I also purchased this wooden German-imported ornament at Christkindlmarkt. This one is shaped like a cuckoo clock.

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Another place where I purchased imported ornaments was from SERRV, which has a store in New Windsor, Maryland but it also sells its items online. SERRV is run by the Church of the Brethren and it hires artisans from Third World countries to make items for its catalogue. SERRV makes an effort to pay these artisans a living wage and it also makes inspections of the places where these artisans work in order to ensure that they aren’t sweatshops. SERRV sells a variety of lovely products from all over the world. The next picture shows a wooden nativity ornament that was made in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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The next couple of ornaments were made in El Salvador. These artisans work in wood and they paint in bright primary colors. There is such a cheerfulness to their work, such as these ornaments shaped like a llama and Santa Claus.

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Most of the El Salvadoran ornaments are two-sided but are painted the same on both sides. The tree ornament in the next two photos was also made in El Salvador but the design is different on both sides.

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I also bought this pair of clay doves, which were made in Guatemala.

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The doves come packaged with this short paper explaining about the origins of these doves.

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A disastrous earthquake in 1976 forced many Guatemalans to be uprooted. The Chanautla area was severely damaged at this time causing a number of residents to move to the northern edge of Guatemala City, a location now known as Nueva Chanautla. When ceramics are handcrafted by these artisans the “white clay” must be brought from the original Chanautla area.

Each fragile dove begins as a lump of clay dug up in Chanautla, a region of Guatemala. Because of each artisan’s individual fantasy, head and wing positions differ. Primitive firing is accomplished by covering the delicately formed bird with grass and igniting it. This method causes colors that vary from burnt black to orange to grey and white. Doves are packaged in an attractive basket for a safe flight. Due to the use of unrefined clay, small blemishes and chips sometimes occurs in the firing process.

These doves come in a nice woven basket that I also have on display under the Christmas tree because it is so lovely looking.

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