Advent, My Way #9

Vintage Polish ornaments.

Toy trains.


This is the stuff of which Christmas collections are made.

It seems that Christmas decorating lends itself to themes, to the collection of lots of a particular kind of decoration.

So many different kinds of decorations are available, maybe it’s inevitable that we must make choices and collect one kind of ornament, whether for the tree or for the mantle or the sideboard.

Maybe it grows out of a childhood fascination, as with toy trains. Maybe it’s an extension of another passion or hobby. I knew a woman who collected pigs, in all forms, throughout the year, and her Christmas tree was a spectacular piggy fest.

It’s no different at our house. Our Christmas décor, while eclectic, still features certain collections.

For atheists, we have a peculiar number of nativity crèches.

We have an inordinate number of tree decorations that have an Adirondack, outdoorsy look to them.

But the favorite collection, the one that comes out every year, even when we are pretending Christmas is just another day, is the collection of Santas.


They line the mantle. They gaze out at us with their impassive, nonjudgmental eyes.

I like them because they are folky-looking—not too shiny bright. I like them because they represent things we care about—they are diverse and represent many lands. We have Santas that represent Haiti, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Australia, Ireland, many places.

The dark faces fit among the white ones.


Others are tied to our region and to our college alma mater.

I like them because they bring their pets, to visit ours. Of course Santa would care as much for animals as for people.

I like them for many reasons.

I love them because of what Santa represents—a kindly soul who, somehow, knows what each of us desires most, in our heart of hearts, and brings it to us and leaves it without expecting or wanting anything in return . . .

Our Santas have not taken their place yet this year.* That should happen this weekend. When each one comes out of his box, we’ll greet him like the old friend he is and place him carefully among his fellows.

They will remind us that we already have our hearts’ desire, everything that’s really important, and we need nothing more from them, none of their presents.

Just their presence.

I imagine some of you will be spending the weekend in similar ways—unwrapping ornaments that delight you, finding some you had forgotten about and will fall in love with anew.

Of all your decorative Christmas items, is there a collection, or even just one special ornament, without which Christmas would not be complete?


* The photos come from a previous post. I like the Santas so much, I just keep writing about them! It wouldn’t be advent with them.

45 thoughts on “Advent, My Way #9

  1. love them! I collect shell ornaments for the tree, but can’t even fit them all on the tree anymore, so I should stop collecting, I guess. 🙂

    You do a lot of special decorating for just another day! *wink*

    • I talk a lot about decorating but, really, it’s mostly just the Santas! This blog series is making me do more than I normally would–what was I thinking? 😉 I have some sand dollar shells that go on the tree, when we have one–love that star in the center of them!

  2. Love your Santas of many colors and shapes. 🙂 Tough question because there isn’t just one so bear with me. I have ornaments that are from my grandparents, mother, and aunt. Regardless of size of tree or how much decorating is to be done, I ‘need’ at least one from each of these groups. Then there are things that were gifts from special people, ornaments from trips abroad, a ceramic Santa with ducks I made, and other things that I love and want to have out. I pared down tremendously this year, so what I have out ‘really’ makes me smile.

  3. Our only must-have decoration, in my opinion, is the Christmas stockings. Three are out. I have plans to make a fourth. We’ll take them with us, so they aren’t hung on the mantle. Son has no mantle, but we’ll find a way. (I suggested screwing cup hooks on the underside of his kitchen counter. Once filled, the stockings will be too heavy for that. But it might be fun AND temporary!)

  4. Love them, and all they represent. Our ‘must have’ ornament is a hessian angel bought very many years ago, in the late ’50s probably, and made in Taiwan. She is therefore known as the ‘commie angel’ and it’s impossible to imagine the top of the tree without her (him?).

  5. I LOVE your Santas! Our must have at home was the star my mom made from cardboard, covered with tin foil. Years later she bought a fancy one, and we still dug out the tin foil star for the tree top! Now it is probably our favorite tree ornaments, and the stockings I stitched for the girls.

      • It is plaster and was made/painted at one of those shops (so popular years ago) where you could select an unpainted item and do the finishing there. Mom really enjoyed doing that type of painting, along with Tole painting on various items.

  6. Okay, this question is a little off subject, well a lot off subject, but are those just glass doors on your fireplace or is that some sort of fireplace insert? It sure looks nice and warm!

    I love your Santas. You would probably feel guilty not putting them up…like they were all waiting in the dark in their boxes waiting to be placed in positions of honor and admired…and wondering “Where is Kerry?”

  7. Santas and snowmen! Love them! Snowmen are in the diningroom, which is red and white this year. Santas are everywhere else. I particularly like Santas riding on things – pigs, airplanes, polar bears, tractors….

  8. I love all your Santa’s on your mantle. That is the one thing I miss most about this home. No fireplace and no mantle. I have a large collection of things I treasure but no good place to display them here. I’m working on it though. A great deal will have to be sold soon. I have a good sized village collection that no longer has a place for display. I will re-home them soon. My fat friars and snow babies are waiting to be put out. First I must finish the quilt for my son.

  9. Your Santa look so sweet and forestry on your cozy fireplace!!! My dearest ornament is a glass bear like creature. I got it when I was a little girl and my sisters and I all had our own ornaments and of course a big part of the holidays was spent on moving the ornaments in such a way that our own hung most prominent ;o) It hangs since a few years in my own tree and its a tiny miracle it survived many moves, attacks from pets and curious little children hands! Xo Johanna

    • It’s odd–I don’t have any ornaments from when I was a child. I have no idea what became of them. The idea that your little creature, made of delicate glass, has survived is a Christmas miracle!

    • Ha! That’s a classic and Rudolph is so cute! I always thought it would be fun to have one of those lamps in the shape of a leg, like Ralphie’s father wins in The Christmas Story!

  10. I like my ornaments, some from my grandparents, and many others gifts, some I bought myself. But they don’t all come out every year and there isn’t one that has to be out for it to be Christmas. Part of what I like every year is a bit of a change, even if it’s with something that’s been around a while! I do like your Santas. you have the perfect space for them.

  11. Interesting collection of Santas, I have a mr and mrs Santa given to me long time ago from a friend,but that’s it… now snowmen ,you will find their cheery faces all though the house.

  12. Question? Which came first; the Santa collection or the mantel? Whatever, they were meant for each other. What a wonderful collection. A nativity set made by my daughter when she was about 11 is my ‘must-have’ for Christmas. And the mantel cloth is perfect, too.

    • My mantel cloth? Or do you have one? My mantel cloth is actually a length of yard goods, meant to be cut up and hemmed as towels. It’s gorgeous quality and I’ve never had the heart to cut it up. I made Nativity sets when I was little–I wish one of them had survived!

  13. I love your Santas! I have many favourite decorations from different stages in my life; except from when I was young. My mother still has those but she doesn’t put them out any more. I have a number of decorations (mainly for the tree) that have bells on and I think that these make Christmas for me. I once heard Father Christmas’s sleigh-bells when I was a little girl. I woke and heard them and knew he was real and was delivering our presents! In actual fact I now realise it was probably my tired parents accidentally knocking the bell on their Christmas tree as they filled our pillow-cases! I am often tempted these days not to put everything out when decorating but my daughters ask where those things are and so out they come again! It appeases my conscience for another year but my daughters don’t take any part in the tedious putting away and packing that is done by me alone on 12th Night!

  14. OF COURSE you have wonderful Christmas collections. I’d expect nothing less. 🙂 I’ve got more decorations than you could shake a stick at, too (despite my lack of religion and the fact that Steve always decides his Jewish half wins whenever some Christmas-decoration-related task is mentioned). Honestly, I ought to open an online store, as I don’t even put up a tree anymore. This is such a fun series, which I’ve been catching up on backwards. Hope you have a lovely holiday.

    • Since I have an online store for vintage stuff, I actually went through some decorations this year and put them aside to sell. How many nativity scenes does an atheist need??

  15. My husband and I have a tradition called the travel tree. We put it up every year and decorate it with ornaments from our travels. As we place each one on the tree, we talk about the time we spent together there. and each year we add an ornament or two from a new adventure. I love this tradition.

  16. I have one Christmas tree candle left that my Aunt and uncle, who passed away many years ago, made themselves. They had a small candle-making business. It is all I have left of them. It never gets lit, but stays in a small wreath that fits around it.

    • You put a lot of energy into reading all my posts and commenting, Lavinia–I really appreciate that! I won’t respond to every comment but this one really moves me–I love that idea of a physical reminder of people no longer with us.

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