December 3, 2012

First ornament following our marriage, given to us by my parents

I spent a good portion of my weekend changing my house from fall to winter, reliving happy memories every time I pulled a new decoration out of the box.  As I unwrapped a couple of ornaments my children had made back in elementary school I started thinking about all those great grade school holiday celebrations.  This was, of course, back in the day when an elementary school could stage a full nativity pageant and there were no complaints to the school board.  In music class we always celebrated Christmas by listening to Mrs. Nelson's LP collection of Amahl and the Night Visitors.  I remember others fidgeting through the songs, but oh how I loved when King Kaspar sang This is my Box and how I cried when Amahl generously offers his only belonging, his crutch, to the new baby and is thereby cured of his lameness!  It just wasn't Christmas until I heard his mother tenderly sing "don't forget to wear your hat" as Amahl sets off with the wise men in search of baby Jesus. 
Besides the all-school concert and the classroom parties, I had fun picking out just the right present from the Fuller Brush salesman (I am sooo dating myself now!) for my classroom and orchestra teachers, with my mother's guidance of course.  Such delicious offerings to choose from....would it be a plastic candy cane filled with candy or perhaps a tin of exotic tea?  And then...on the last day of school before winter break, we had an all school assembly to watch Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates (via reel to reel, naturally).   There was something so exhilarating about outdoor skating--fresh air, pink cheeks and really cute winter hats with pom poms.  We had a rink just a few blocks from my house, with a little warming house and a loudspeaker that played the hits of the season (I remember Honey (I Miss You) and Lemon Tree in particular).  One memorable winter my dad even turned our backyard garden into our own personal skating rink--how cool was that?!  So I really cherish the first ornament that my mother gave us after we married...the lovely ice skating couple shown in the picture above brings back so many happy memories.  We started putting our ornaments on our tree last night, and my husband hunted through the collection to put this on one first. 
On our trip to Scotland a few years ago I ran across this delightful painting by Henry Raeburn in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.  Don't you just feel like smiling when you compare the Reverend's rather dour expression to the exuberance he shows as he pushes off on his right leg?  

'The Skating Minister', The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, National Gallery of Scotland
Reverend Dr Robert Walker (1755-1808) Skating on Duddingston Loch by Sir Henry Raeburn.

Here's a fun little poem by e.e. cummings that sums up the fun of ice skating:
Spring is past, and Summer's past,
 Autumn's come, and going;
Weather seems as though at last
 We might get some snowing.
Spring was good, and Summer better,
 But the best of all is waiting,-
Madame Winter-don't forget her.-
Spring we welcomed when we met,
 Summer was a blessing;
Autumn points to school, but yet
 Let's be acquiescing.
Spring had many precious pleasures;
 Winter's on a different rating;
She has greater, richer treasures,-
Gleam of ice, and glint of steel,
 Jolly, snappy weather;
Glide on ice and joy of zeal,
 All, alone, together.
Fickle Spring!  Who can imprint her?-
 Faithless while she's captivating;
Here's to trusty Madame Winter.-

One last thought about ice skating--what's not to love about these oh so cute ornaments below?  I found these lovely little felt ornaments at Alicia Paulson's website/blog:  Posie:  Rosy Little Things.  It's too late for this year, but I already bought the pattern so that hopefully next year I can add a few more ice skates to my tree!

Sorry about the formatting in my post today--I'm having 'technical difficulties' with my computer.  Hopefully by tomorrow the look will be more consistent!  In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you--what are some of your favorite grade school holiday memories? 

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