Appalachia Christmas

My Favorite Christmas Ornaments


Most of my Christmas ornaments are handmade by Granny. The girls’ elementary school was big on ornament making so I have more than a few that were made by them at school. Every year when I hang the girls’ ornaments on the tree I wonder if the teachers who helped them knew that we’d still be loving them all these years later.

I also have store bought ornaments that have special meaning, like the silver balls with the girls names and birth date engraved on them that Miss Cindy gifted me with for their first Christmas.

I love the crocheted white stars Granny made as well as the crocheted bells of various Christmas hues she made. I also love the chubby cherubic faces of the girls on some of their school ornaments and the wobbly snowmen and reindeer they made with their little hands. Near the top of my favorite ornaments list is 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. But I did.

Once I told him I loved the spark plug ornament and planned to use it on every Christmas tree we ever had the surprise was on him.

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 tree.

Got a favorite ornament on your tree?


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  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 7:03 am

    The. Sparkplug is awesome.

  • Reply
    Brenda Schlosser
    December 17, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    My favorite handmade ornament was made by my son when he was very young. It’s a pappardelle (butterfly shaped) pasta angel made with a little wooden ball for face. Sweetest ornament ever. When he was a toddler, we were shopping in a gift shop that had a large Christmas tree displayed with lots of ornaments. My son accidently knocked an expensive ornament off and I was asked to pay for it. I paid for it and asked her to bag it. I took it home, glued about a thousand tiny pieces together and it went on the tree every year. lol Good conversation piece.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Thank you for posting a link to the radio show, Tipper – I’m listening to you RIGHT NOW! 🙂

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    December 17, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    That plug is a keeper for sure. My mama was real creative and most of the tree has her different ornaments made over the years. They are so precious to me.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    December 17, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    I think my favorites were the small mercury glass type ornaments that our maternal Grandmother had on her tiny tree. I’ve picked up a few of them at garage sales and thrift stores through the years as I ran across them cheaply because they reminded me of her.
    When I first started reading this though, I remember one CHRISTmas, sticking a small spindly pine limb into a pot of Playdoh, covering the pot with regular old tin foil and tying a single red rifle cartridge from on of the limb’s offshoots with a hank of red yarn. I handed it to Dad CHRISTmas morning, crowing about how I’d made it myself and wasn’t it wonderful. He looked at it with his mouth hanging open, was quiet for a bit and you know when your kid makes you something, you REALLY want to like it, but then he carefully said, “What is it?”
    I sang, “It’s a cartridge in a bare tree” (to the tune of Partridge in a Pear Tree, of course) and then we laughed and laughed. I got him good that year, and amazingly he kept it on the windowsill in his area of the house for quite a while before it disappeared, so I think he really got a kick out of it.
    God bless.
    <>< P.S. - I was far from a child when I did this, but we got a kick out of it anyway.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 17, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    I like the spark plug ornament. A hubcap (not a wheel cover they are too big) might make a good ornament for the top of the tree. Chrome lug nuts would accentuate the shine of the hubcap. How bout shotgun shells too. They come in various colors.
    Brass rifle shells would look like gold on the tree if polished up. They could be drilled and strung up too. Make sure there is no powder or primer in them before you start drill.
    Black walnut shells could be cut so as to expose their smiley faces. or, drilled and a polished brass bolt run through them. Black walnuts are really dark brown and brass goes well with that color in my eyes.
    Found copper wire, stripped and cleaned, can be made into ornaments. Wound around a pencil then stretched out it would make a twirling ornament. It could be bent into about any shape i.e. snowflakes, little Christmas trees, flowers.
    My mind is running like crazy now so I got to try to catch up with it!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    December 17, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    I love the “sparkplug” icicle! The red electric wire hanger just makes it special! I can imagine it is always a conversation starter when someone sees it on your tree. Wonderful memories!
    I guess there isn’t even one home crafted Christmas ornament, table scape or decoration that I don’t love.
    The loving, caring heart of the maker is always right there in front of ones eyes, to express the true meaning of Christmas.
    I wish Ron would send you a picture of his wooden stars. I have lots of trees of all sizes, shapes and species. In other words, I want to make a wooden branch star.
    Jim, I remember those gumdrops attached to the thorns. I like the licorice and cherry flavors best! Oh wait a minute, we were talking about the thorn tree, not the candy us kids used to sneak off the branches. HA
    Thanks Tipper
    Enjoyed your post today. One more thang, if all the favorite flavored gumdrops were gone, I would settle for the green minty one…..Only desperation, made me eat a lemon drop!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    December 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    By the way, when we strip and take down the Christmas tree after Twelfthnight, we take the nest out of the tree and put it in one of the privets up behind the house and the birds use it for building in the Spring. We find another one when it’s tree decorating time again.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    December 17, 2016 at 11:41 am

    We always find a small bird’s nest from somewhere out in the country and we hide it somewhere in the branches of the Christmas tree. It is a symbol of the miracle of birth, Jesus’ birth, the continuity of life, and many other metaphors. We sometimes hide very small gifts in the nest, like a ring or a gold chain or whatever tiny surprise we want there, if any.
    It’s the only thing we replace each year. Like everybody, our ornaments and decorations each have a memory for us and only when they break do they go away. Needless to say, our Christmas falderal, packed up and stored away after Twelfthnight, is the biggest part of our attic treasury.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    December 17, 2016 at 11:28 am

    I loved the bubble lights. When the liquid in the lights heated up it would bubble. I guess it was the forerunner of lava lamps. This was around 1960.

  • Reply
    December 17, 2016 at 11:00 am

    My mother crafted a lot of nature-based ornaments, and hand crafted wound-wool Christmas balls, clothespin angels, and clothespin soldiers. They remind me of her love for me, and her imagination and skill. I still have a construction paper angel I made in first grade, and tiny stockings with pennies in them that I got about the same time. My tree is filled with memories and love!

  • Reply
    December 17, 2016 at 10:50 am

    We still have lights and ornaments from our first Christmas together. (52 tears ago) We won’t have a tree this year due to my recent injuries and because the tree and decorations are in the garage attic. We also have some made by our daughter. She’s near 40 years of age.

  • Reply
    Carolyn Hunt
    December 17, 2016 at 9:13 am

    I hang ornaments my children & grandchildren made & gave me.
    My children asked me why was I hanging those old things on the tree. I tell then because their beautiful. You made them for me & you made them with love.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    December 17, 2016 at 8:54 am

    My Aunt has always been big on pop culture Hallmark ornaments. So, our tree has Indiana Jones (for me), Harry Potter (for Kim), horses (for James), and Star Wars (for Alex). I’m partial to a Johnny Cash ornament I got last year. But, the best ornaments are the ones the kids have made over the years. To me, those are the ones that make the tree special.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 17, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Tipper–My favorite ornaments aren’t on the tree but stored away in memory. They include:
    *Garlands made by running thread through popcorn using a sewing needle.
    *Garlands made by painstakingly looping and gluing strips carefully cut red and green construction paper (I think that was what it was called) together.
    *A type of electric lights shaped sort of like miniature candles that had liquid inside them that bubbled continuously. A year or two ago I wrote about my fond memories of those lights and a reader in a rural section of Swain County gave me a wonderful surprise in the form of one of those bubble lights outfitted so it could be plugged into an electrical outlet like a night light.
    *Mom’s varied and ingeniously crafted ornaments made from products from nature. This extended beyond ornaments to all sorts of decorations–wreathes, table centerpieces, mantle decorations, and my favorite, miniature Christmas trees made of honey locust limbs with each torn covered at its tip by a sugar-coated candy gum ball.
    My, have you opened up a sackful of delightful memories this morning.
    Jim Casada
    P. S. Who says grizzled old mountain men can’t be sentimental at Christmas time? Matt’s spark plug ornament is a stroke of practical genius, and obviously it gave you great delight.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 17, 2016 at 8:16 am

    I made our grandson a Christmas ornament out of a branch whorl of a white pine. It takes some looking to find one with the branches spaced just right and in the same plane. But very nice 5-point, and occassionally 6-point, stars can be found. Half the fun is the looking and the finding before the work starts. The center trunk can be kept on each side to make them a 3-dimensional 7 or 8 point star as well. I sanded his down, painted it white and sprinkled with glitter then drilled a tiny hole in one of the ‘rays’ to attach a brass fishing swivel.
    I would love to find an old rotten white pine log with the branch whorl just right to cut through it to get a thin wooden disk with a 5-point star in which the rays are the red heartwood of each of the branches. If thin enough and backlit, I think the heartwood would glow red.
    Your story of the ornaments means that your tree is a ‘memory tree’. Part of the fun of Christmas is the ‘remember when’ stories are triggered by a card, an ornament, a bow or just whatever. The memories of Christmas past are a fertile ground for our children and grandchildren to sink roots into to have some of that part of Christmas that is priceless.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    December 17, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Love the spark plug!!
    My favorite other than the kids homemade ones is my fly fishing one.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 17, 2016 at 7:40 am

    I love the ornaments with history, like the spark plug. In keeping with the Christmas season I can’t help but notice the red wire hanger on the spark plug!

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