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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shiny Brite Christmas

Let's journey back thirty years, no fifty years to the era of the Shiny Brite Christmas Ornament. Much like the movie "The Christmas Story" it is steeped in Americana. Betty Crocker was queen and Elvis was King. This was my mom's hay day, a time when she felt young and hopeful. She built family traditions and of these being: You must hang every ornament we own on the tree, and only then will we call it finished.

Every year we went out to the barn (with wheel barrows) to unload the Christmas boxes. Just getting the enormous load to the house took at least an hour. The entry hall looked like a long lost relative was coming to move in with us. Most of these boxes were packed with ornaments and decor, the rest was wrapping paper. While we assembled the tree (this too had to be unpacked) we listened to Christmas albums on the record player. My favorite was Andy Williams. Now, all of this sounds like it would be so much fun, but I grew to hate the process. We would start in the morning and it would be dinner time before we finished. Not only did we put glass ornaments on the tree, we put hand cut glass icicles, hand painted wooden shapes, and tinsel (which took three times as long to take off).

Here I am (in 1987) dressed as the Grinchs' dog for a school play in front of our completed tree. To the right is my half sister, ready to hit the town for New Years Eve 1986. Notice how she dwarfs the 7ft tree. Yikes!
This picture from a vintage cook book best sums up my mom's personality (and her ideal Christmas vision). Idealism, perfection, and an absence of reality. Once upon a time she really was that lady in the apron.


And so, this year I was inspired to make some earrings that hearken back to vintage Christmases past. Even though I didn't love decorating the tree I always looked forward to the Shiny Brites. They were delightful, sparkly, and reminded me of fairy tales with clear night skies. The Martha Stewart tree above is more my idea of a fun vintage tree, but I have yet to try it in real life. 
That is the Shiny Brite Christamas Tale.

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