Appalachia Through My Eyes – The Spark Plug Christmas Ornament

Most of my Christmas ornaments are handmade-most made by Granny. The girls elementary school was big on ornament making so I have more than a few that were made by them in school. I also have store bought ornaments that have special meaning, like the silver balls with the girls names and birth date engraved on them.

Needless to say it would be hard for me to pick a favorite ornament. I love the crocheted white stars made by Granny and the chubby cherubic faces of the girls on some of their school ornaments. But near the top of my favorites list would be the spark plug ornament in the photo above.

One of the first Christmases we lived in this house The Deer Hunter sneakily made the ornament and hung it on the tree thinking I wouldn’t notice the addition. Of course I did. Once I told him I liked the spark plug ornament and I planned to keep it and use it every Christmas the surprise was on him.

For whatever reason, The Deer Hunter making the spark plug ornament is one of my favorite Christmas memories. And all these years later I’m still putting it on the Christmas tree.

Got a favorite ornament on your tree?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Trent Wren
    December 31, 2019 at 8:47 am

    This year I sneaked the Thanksgiving wishbone onto the tree. It sits around drying for a month until both kids are home to break it. I had to point it out on Christmas Eve or it would have gone completely unnoticed. In previous years I’ve put shotgun hulls and fishing bobbers on the tree. Highlighters may go on it next year.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    My favorite is an odd shaped mercury glass one that was once on our Grandmother’s trees. I don’t even pack it away each year for fear it will get broke. Instead I put it in an antique teacup display that never gets touched except to dust it.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    December 19, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Love it! I have ornaments the kids made in school plus many I made. So many favorites — one that comes to mind is a really tacky looking pink and blue glass ball that was part of a set my boyfriend (now my husband) sold to my parents — fund raising for his high school club back in 1959.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    I have a Super Sugar Crisp cereal ornament. It is Sugar Bear dressed as Sants. He is cloth, and when you press his tummy, he plays 3 or 4 short versions of Christmas songs. I really couldn’t afford the box of cereal at the time, but had to have this ornament. My son was 2 at the time. He loved listening to ole Sugar Bear sing. Believe it or not, he still sings, once when he goes on the tree, and once when he goes back in the ornament box, he is about 26 years old now.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 19, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Make that R43TS

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 19, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Is that an AC 43TS out of a GMC truck with a 350 engine? Looks like it don’t use much oil but burns a lot of gas!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    No wonder the spark plug is your favorite, it tells a lot about the Deer Hunter! There’s a sense of humor, imagination and ingenuity behind that ornament!
    I have ornaments I made back in grade school, and the ones my children made. I treasure them all, but my favorite is a very timeworn angel. My parents bought a dozen of them to celebrate my birth one week before Christmas Eve, 1963. They were made of cardboard and the lone survivor is a bit worse for wear, with a straight pin holding her head on. I know just how she feels after the busy week I spent baking all the family goodies! I hope to hang her front and center of my tree for many years to come.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    December 19, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    What a neat idea – recycling also!
    I have many handmade ornaments from my husband’s mother, a few that I attempted to make, and unusual ones I have found at various stores. Great story!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    December 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    The spark plug ornament is a new one on me, but it certainly is creative. I remember the fun of stringing popcorn and fresh cranberries for decoration. The cranberries went further than the popcorn, because we loved to eat popcorn. Cranberries without something to sweeten them were not at all tasty!

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    December 19, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I like B. Ruth’s post. Even if the Deer Hunter didn’t originally intend that thought, it is a good one, and not likely to be forgotten. Hmm gives me an idea…

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Awww…That’s such a sweet story!!! One of my favorite ornaments of ours is a little glass holly sprig, but there are so many that I love it’s hard to chose.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I think its nice to see how you all decorate your Christmas Tree
    with meaningful things. Since my
    girls now have their own family,
    I don’t put up a tree anymore.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I love it and I love B Ruth’s comment about keeping the spark alive.
    I notice even the hanger is red for the season. The deer Hunter has such a beautiful and sweet since if humor.

  • Reply
    Laura Cunningham
    December 19, 2011 at 11:02 am

    My most favorite ornaments are the old glass ornaments that belonged to my grandmother and the old wooden ornaments that were mine when I was little. My favorite ornament story is about something my in-laws hang on their tree every year. When my husband and I first met he had longer than shoulder length blonde hair, which his father truly hated. He wanted to meet my very conservative grandparents before he proposed. A haircut was in order. He took his 7 inch cut off pony tail and mailed it to his father at his office. His dad was so proud he kept it and later hung it on the Christmas tree. We have been married 12 years and they still hang his hair on the tree every year. My kids think it’s hilarious to see daddy’s old hair on Grammy and Pop’s tree.

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    December 19, 2011 at 10:52 am

    When my second son was born my eldest son stayed with his grandmother while I was in the hospital. After the birth, grandma and eldest son went and got a flower bouquet to bring to
    the hospital with them to visit. In that bouquet was a little chenille bee.That first Christmas my oldest son (3) decided that the little bee needed to be on the Christmas Tree to represent the new baby. That little bee has been on the tree for 34 Christmas Celebrations.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    December 19, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Somewhere along the way, we began putting a tiny bird nest somewhere within our Christmas tree. It may represent birth to us but it can mean many other things. Sometimes we leave the nest empty; sometimes we have a little imitation egg or two. The nest comes from one of our trees, or from a house finch.
    It’s not easy to throw away any ornament, is it. Each one seems to have its own sentiment. Of course, Christmas decorations take up most of our attic the rest of the year.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I have several ornaments that I particularly like. Each year since my husband and I met, we buy an ornament with both of our names on it and the year. Some years, they are nicely engraved silver ornaments. Other years they are items like decorated sand dollars, but they have our names and the year on it. I love looking at all of them each year before I put them on the tree.
    My other treasured ornaments are white doves. I have one from the floral arrangements from my mom, dad, grandpa, grandma’s funerals. That way, I always feel like they are sharing my Christmas tree.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth K
    December 19, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I love the spark plug ornament!!! The best ornaments always have a little story behind them.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I love it!! I would put it on my tree every year, too.
    I have a few friends in mind that I would love to make this for. Now I need to go find some old spark plugs!!

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    December 19, 2011 at 9:44 am

    How sweet! I have lots of favorite ornaments. I’ve kept all the ornaments the kids made in school, I’ve got vintage ornaments that I just love and lots and lots of handmade ornaments. I made ornaments one year out of old wooden spools that my mom brought out for the kids to play with when they were little. (She was a seamstress in a laundry and had quite a collection of them) I have the kids place their baby ornaments on each year that Charley’s sister got for them when they were born. It is so hard to pick just one favorite.

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    December 19, 2011 at 9:33 am

    My favorite ornament is a very worn out little Santa in a balloon thing. I have had it since 1st grade. We were very poor then and lived in my granddaddys house, for we had no home. On the last day of school before Christmas vacation, the teacher said, “who does not have a Christmas tree at their house? ” I was the only one that held up their hand. The teacher brought the classroom tree to my house that day after school. It had little hand made ornaments and a few store bought. The Santa in the balloon was store bought. And that is my story of that Christmas from over 50 years ago.. and the little worn and torn ornament that remains my favorite to this day. Merry Christmas and God bless to my teacher, Miss Kirton, who made one child very happy one Christmas long ago.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 19, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I have the ones my children made too, love to hang them and remember the times they made them.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    December 19, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Jeff Foxworthy’s next line:
    You might be a redneck if you make your Christmas tree decorations from used car parts.
    I love it, by the way;-)

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    December 19, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Tipper I think that ornament will hang on your trees for years to come. My favorite ornament is one my sister had given to me after I shot my very first deer. It is a stainless deer jumping through a wreath with the engraving of the type deer, date and weapon. I habg it every year.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 9:01 am

    how much fun — that’s the kind of thing that crusty old guy would do.

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    December 19, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Oh my, It would be hard to pick a favorite. THere are the beaded ornaments my mom made, the tree top angel my son made, one that I have was my grandmothers. I’m amazed that it hasn’t broken yet. I guess I would have to say it is my favorite of all. I will have to get a picture of it put on my blog. That sparkplug is funny!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 8:30 am

    a great story and a wonderful memory. it looks cute to me. in 1983 I was working midnight shift in the ER of the county hospital. someone brought in a 1 foot Christmas tree and sat it on the counter, it sat there all week with nor ornaments. during a break in the steady stream of ER patients in the middle of the night i had an IDEA.. i started gathering things from the nurses and doctors stations. i hung empty syringes and bandages and band aids and wrapped tubing around for garland. it was the most popular tree in the hospital, with nothing but ER things on it.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Tipper, The most favorite ornaments on my Christmas tree is the few ornaments that was my grandmothers, some of them are just plain balls, but there is a light green plastic bell that is probably my favorite. Also the kids have their own ornament each year and most all of them are handmade because they mean the most. All of them are priceless though.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    December 19, 2011 at 8:13 am

    and Deer Hunter…How very sweet keeping the ‘spark’ alive even during the busy Christmas season…Ain’t Love Wonderful! and Love is what it is all about! Thanks Tipper for a sweet, loving post…

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