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A Christmas Memory - Some Simple Metal Stars

November 25, 2010
No Diet 4 Me
My wife, my sister, and I are helping my 93-year-old mother move from her house into a retirement community. Okay, they're doing most of the work, and I do the "strong back weak mind" thing.

Anyway, a lot of memories are being uncovered, and the other day, my sister brought me a couple of simple metal stars. That's it. They are five-pointed stars, about three inches wide, cut out of some sort of cheap metal, and at least one has been painted.

I don't know what these particular stars were made for, but my sister and I immediately recognized our father's handiwork.

These didn't have the holes in them, and they weren't painted in a heavy (probably lead-based) white paint, but they were similar to other stars he had made for a specific purpose.

Every year when we were kids, out came the Christmas ornaments. Of course, there were the strings of lights. The big lights. The ones that when a bulb burned out you had to change one at a time to find the one that had blown out.

Don't believe me, watch Darren McGavin in "A Christmas Story".

There too were the store-bought ornaments, and, over the years, handmade ones bought at Christmas bazaars, school projects brought home, and some that just somehow showed up...like the set of colorful, shiny, tiny muscial instruments. However, for me, for some reason, maybe because I'm a Charlie Brown at heart, I always looked for the metal stars.

They were simple and clunky. They also had sharp points, so you had to be a little careful handling them. You hung them on the tree with the equally basic pieces of hard copper wire which served as hangers.

You see, during World War II, getting good ornaments could be a little hard, and expensive. It was easier, and cheaper, for a young father just starting his family, and career, to cut some simple stars out of some scrap metal, paint them white, punch a hole in them, run a piece of bent copper wire through the hole, and "voila" Christmas tree ornaments.

In the midst of all the hoopla about Christmas every year, I tend to remember times and things like that.

In fact, before I had a chance to finish this article, I took my mother to Thanksgiving dinner at my daughter's house. She was telling us about a Christmas in her childhood when all she got was a piece of cloth to make a dress with. She talked about how sometimes her family "dined" on what my grandmother raised in her garden and what my grandfather could kill.

I look at the mass hysteria which seems to take hold of us at this time of year, and sometimes wonder "Why?"

Oh, I'm not talking about the religious links which some attach to it. I'm simply talking about the belief that huge efforts and large sums of money should be spent, sometimes on people we don't really care about and for things they don't really need.

I see some of the massive expenditures of money for gifts and decorating, and think of my father's boot socks on a nail over the fireplace; socks stuffed with an apple, an orange, some nuts, and maybe a candy cane. AS my brittle little mind wanders around I wonder if we couldn't maybe spend a little less money and effort on proving how much we love people who should know it already (because we showed them all year) and maybe a little more on improving the state of the world and maybe making the world a little better for those having difficulty doing it for themselves.

Somehow, I get a lot of "Christmas spirit" out of a few simple metal stars, painted white, with copper wire hangers which would be completely meaningless to others.

Of course, the glass of wine helps.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Donovan Baldwin is a 67-year-old accountant, amateur bodybuilder, freelance writer, certified optician, and Internet marketer currently living in the Atlanta, Gerogia area. A University Of West Florida alumnus (1973) with a BA in accounting, he has been a member of Mensa and has been a Program Accountant for the Florida State Department of Education, the Business Manager of a community mental health center, and a multi-county Fiscal Consultant for an educational field office. He has also been a trainer for a major international corporation, and has managed various small businesses, including his own. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, with 21 years of service, he became interested in Internet marketing and developed various online businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes original articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters. He has a website on Christmas decoration at http://xtramoney4me.net/articles/christmas_decoration/index.html  .
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Donovan Baldwin is a freelance writer currently living in the Dallas - Fort Worth area. He is a University Of West Florida alumnus (1973) with a BA in accounting. He is a past member of Mensa and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and has held several managerial positions while in the military and in civilian life. After retiring from the U. S. Army in 1995, he became interested in Internet marketing and developed various online businesses. He has been writing poetry, articles, and essays for over 40 years, and now frequently publishes articles on his own websites and for use by other webmasters. He has a website on health, fitness, diet, and weight loss at http://www.nodiet4me.com/ .

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