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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

From Happy Holidays to War and Back Again

We needed a little more Christmas at Dog Ears Books, where I have been quite frustrated over cheap strings of tree lights that last only one year. They don't cost much, it's true, but they are turning into mountains of electronic waste, and I can't justify contributing any more to the heap, although there are only a few bulbs that remain lighted near the top of my tree. But here, you see? Marjorie Farrell brought in two small artificial table trees, and we spent a pleasant part of the early morning decorating them with her handmade ornaments.

The little stockings and hearts and such are bits Marjorie rescued from an old holiday sweater found in a thrift store. She felted them and turned them into beautiful decorations.

She used to make these paper stars from marbled paper but to avoid the harmful chemicals used in marbling she switched to plain paper. Another friend stopped in and, admiring the stars, asked if Marjorie would be giving a star-making demonstration. She hadn't planned to. The plan was and still is that she will demonstrate furoshiki wrapping this coming Saturday, but now there's a possibility she can show how to do the stars, too. Time will tell if she can get together everything she needs this far from her craftmaking studio in Woodstock, New York. The ornaments on these trees are available for purchase, however, leaving you more time for baking cookies and writing cards.

If you're wondering how war comes into the picture, it comes obliquely. You see, while this blog feeds regularly on Sarah’s cuteness and on the many books that enrich my life (and, I hope, the lives of my customers), it also feeds at times on other blogs. Occasionally, also, I contribute to another blog, the Bookshop Blog, which you can find in the list in the right-hand column, and today I was rewarded with a surprise there. An author whose book I had mentioned left a comment on the post. You can read the post and the author’s comment here. The book is Truce, by Jim Murphy, about the Christmas Eve truce that took place during World War I.

But now, it's been a long day and I'm tired, so let's close with the ornamented trees. There, that looks like Christmas!


Anonymous said...

The handmade ornaments are gorgeous. It seems lately that there are fewer handmade items on trees and people are ditching the ornaments made by their kids in years past for more color-coordinated sets. I still have the handmade treasures on my tree however, many of them made of paper.

What a great idea to make ornaments from an old sweater. Very creative.

Karen Casebeer said...

Good morning, Pamela...I too have been disgusted at the lack of longevity of Christmas lights. One of my favorite decorations has been lighted garland that I string along the fence in the back yard. I typically have had to replace them every other year, which was pretty bad. This year I replaced three strands and they burned out less than two weeks after purchase. One strand burned out almost immediately. I returned them all for a refund, but was missing the beauty of the lights in the evening. That led me to an internet search. I've found some commercial grade pre-lit garland at a site in Georgia named They followed through on immediate shipping and my new garlands should arrive today. While they were definitely more expensive than the other variety, I'm hoping these commercial grade garlands will be worth the price by lasting a few years.

Susan said...

Lovely tidings of comfort and joy, needed even more in these times. Thank you for all you do for this community, and for so many of us individually.

Gerry said...

Hm. Here's a challenge for a classroom full of students learning about recycling and waste: Come up with a way to repurpose all those dead strings of Christmas lights.

Deer fencing?

Those are pretty stars.

P. J. Grath said...

Something tells me the dead light strings are full of toxic materials. The stars now—those will last a lifetime!

P. J. Grath said...

Amy-Lynn, Karen, Susan--sorry! I thought I'd already published your comments, but I was having trouble getting to places on the Internet today.

Amy, I love these ornaments of Marjorie's! I love that they are handmade, by someone I know, of natural materials, unbreakable, lovely, old-fashioned in appearance. Pretty colors, too.

Karen, I'm ready to boycott Christmas lights until someone offers me a 10-year warranty. I'd pay pretty well for something that would last as long as the light strings of my childhood.

Susan, thank you for your words of appreciation, and I hope your holiday travels will be safe and your time with family filled with warmth and cheer.