Noel Tree - my favorite Christmas ornament.
"I believe the right question to ask, respecting all ornament, is simply this; was it done with enjoyment, was the carver happy while he was about it?" - John Ruskin
For several years, I did not observe or celebrate Christmas (backstory here). When I did begin to celebrate it again (2001), I did so deliberately, joyfully, and from scratch. I literally owned none of the the myriad of the traditional Christmas items. So I found myself in the exciting, limitedless potential, position of creating my very own Christmas tradition....
I got the simplest things out of the way first: only a live tree would do, and on it as many strands of white lights my tree could hold; always topped with the shining star my beloved sister bought the year she passed away (1994). Then I got down to the good stuff - ornaments. I scoured local antique, vintage and resale shops for unusual, beautiful, unique, and quirky ornaments. Of course while my most treasured ornaments are the ones made by my children, I have several favorite finds as well.
One of my favorites is this 'Noel Tree' I found at a tiny 'shabby chic' vintage shop in Bartlett, IL, in 2006. Noel is just a bit over 6" tall x 4" wide. She's encrusted with silver glitter, crystals and beads; rests on a white velvet skirt; sits atop a silver filagreed hand painted base; finished with a tiny Victorian inspired Noel sign. This treasure reminds me of one of my favorite films Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). Specifically the scene where Esther (Judy Garland) sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" to her little sister Tootie (Margaret O'Brien) - remember?
This piece is obviously lovingly handmade "...with enjoyment." Unfortunately, there is no artist's mark (sigh). But I've always wondered about the man or woman who created this exquisite piece. The attention to minute detail, the delicacy, the simplicity - what inspired her/him to create this piece? I think that 'Noel' is the perfect inspiration for the beginning of the winter holiday season. Though she sits in Sanctuary year-round, my family's winter holiday season offically begins when I move her to the little table beside our Christmas tree.
For me, this little freestanding ornament perfectly encapsulates all of the visual splendor and familial meaning of the season. A most fitting offering for Show & Tell Friday ;-)
Vivre! Rire! Aimer!