Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Monday, December 20, 2010


Do you notice how, when talking about the holidays, people toss around the words vintage and retro like they're things to be revered? While I know those German blown glass birds, circa 1910, may be fine things, they just don't have that much company.

Does anybody remember those Christmas corsages that women used to wear pinned to their coat lapels? I don't know when they died out but they were alive and well when I was a very young child in the early sixties. Understand these were not fresh flowers from the florist. Oh, no. They came from the dime store and were made up of beads, bells, ornaments, glitter, and little springs of fake greenery. Tacky though they sound, I know they could not have been considered so at the time because my grandmother, mother, and sister wore them and they didn't do tacky stuff.

In this golden age of glitter, we did not stop at decorating our persons with corsages. Oh, no. There was the glitter in the hair. Not that I personally had any, though I begged and begged. I'm not talking spray-in diamond dust. Hairdressers would spray lacquer onto freshly teased bouffant hairdos, sprinkle on honest to god glitter, and lacquer the whole thing again. One has to wonder why the hair didn't break like shattered glass. Maybe it did but, if so, it looked mighty festive as it met its end.

Maybe back then people felt compelled to decorate their persons because they didn't have so many house decorations. When I was a child, our inside decorations consisted of a tree, a centerpiece on the dining room table, and Christmas cards taped around the door. Outside, the front door had a cover that looked like a wrapped present and big colored lights around the windows. The lights had to be perfectly straight and they could not blink. (My mother said she would not have her house looking like honky-tonk.)

And that was all the decorating we did. It was all anybody did. Ours fit in two cardboard boxes that lived on the shelf of the living room closet.

In the early days, our tree was spruce pine, purchased at Namie's Market and put up one week before Christmas. Then came the dark, dark day when my mother decided she wanted an aluminum tree with a revolving color wheel, which she decorated exclusively with perfectly matched red glass balls. How I hated that thing. We didn't use it many years. I think I finally wore them down with my whining.

It's a wonder I survived childhood Christmases unscathed, what with being denied glitter in my hair and having to look at an aluminum tree. Of course, there was the corsage for consolation.

Do you have any holiday memories that make you cringe--even if you are smiling a little too?


  1. I too remember the aluminum tree with the color wheel. But my mother had green and red balls on it (I still have the green ones and they are currently on my tree with my other ornaments- an homage to my childhood I guess). I hated the tree but I was fascinated with the color wheel, watching it endlessly going around and around. I also remember the corsages and the bright Christmas pins (which now are worth a bloody fortune as vintage). The one thing you didn't mention were those three foot lighted candles everyone placed by their front doors. My mother still has those and lights them proudly. I hated them too. Also the bottle-brush wreaths that would stick you if you touched them (I have seen those this year - must be making a come-back), All in all, I guess there were things back then that were all the rage and our mothers were not to be left behind and be out of style.

  2. Oh, yes, Cheryl. The pins! I have one. And the tall candles. We didn't have those but we did have those plastic candelabra with screw in bulbs for the windows.

  3. I grew up in the sticks of S. GA and our Christmas decorations were limited. Every year we would trek through the woods and cut down a tree to decorate for the inside. My Mother also taped the Christmas cards to the inside of our front door. We also had a large cedar tree in our front yard and my Dad would put lights on it until it got too tall to decorate. That was pretty much the extent of our decorating. Our neighbors across the way had an aluminum tree with the color wheel and the tall candles. I thought it was beautiful!

    I don't think anyone in my family ever glittered their hair though. My Granny would have said we were trying to be highfalutin.

  4. Also Jean, I hope your cold is better!!

  5. Sherry, Nobody in my family ever did it either but I lay witness to it one afternoon shortly before Christmas when I went to the beauty parlor (no one could have called a salon) with my mother. People were getting glittered right and left--silver, gold, multicolored. I about had a fit as only a preschool magpie can. I remember my mother taking me by the arm and leading me into some back room, where she hissed at me, "You are NOT getting glitter in your hair and if you want Santa Claus to come, I will not hear another word about it." I believed in Santa but not as much as I believed in my mother's power to rule him and the rest of the universe.

    Dare I say it even today? I want glitter in my hair.

    And thanks. My cold is better.

  6. As one magpie to another, I have glitter in my hair (well, not today, but on special occasions). I'm old, I'm entitled to glitter.

    We had the aluminum tree with the color wheel, but I wasn't judgmental about it because it was as gaudy as any eight-year-old magpie could want. Loved the color wheel. The decorations were multi-colored, too. We had snowflakes sprayed on the picture window, pine boughs on the mantel, and tinsel everywhere.

  7. Maven Linda--I, too, have embraced the glitter. Sparkle when you can, I say.

    I might not have been so hard set about that aluminum tree if our decorations had been multi-colored. I guess she had a theme going it was red.

  8. What is it about us ladies? The older I get the more sparklies I want. I love the glitter and yes, I have been guilty of putting a little on for special occasions.

  9. Hmmmm... I don't remember this aluminum tree pictured here. We stored light since we had to move every 2-3 years. All we had was a green fake tree, and cherished ornaments. Mom had a cherub candle merry-go-round she put on the coffee table. We'd light it at Christmas Eve and then got to open one present of our choice.

    The glittered hair story reminds me of the kinds of things ladies did during the Georgian period. I wonder if this was part of the 'what's old is new again' phenomenon.

    I've never seen the corsages either. Have I been deprived?

  10. Cheryl, Don't feel bad. I've been known to sparkle up for my own amusement when home alone.

    Kathy, No corsage!?! Well! You can't get them anymore but I've got a hot glue gun and last least as many skills as the original creators. Yeah. I got you, baby.

  11. I knew I could depend upon you, Jean, to ensure my Christmas is complete. ;)

  12. Sorry to be late. I am off work and apparently forgot that yesterday was Monday. :-(

    My family put up a live tree for years after most people had gone to plastic ones. We didn't put it up until the week of Christmas because my mother wanted it to stay up until New Year's Day. Several times I can remember getting to go out in the woods with Daddy to cut it on my birthday! Great memories.

    Hey, I had forgotten about spray snow. I wonder if they still make it?