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Readers of The Star show off their favorite ornaments and explain why they love them.
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Jacqueline Vinson, Kansas City “This ornament was given to me when I was 8 by my grandpa, Pa. He told me that this was the last ornament he had. It has to be 70-plus years old and has a cardboard top. I display it year-round because it was a special gift.”
Judi Wollenziehn, Bishop Miege High School This ornament, imprinted with “Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,” was a present from one of Wollenziehn’s teacher assistants in the media center at Bishop Miege High School. “After his mother purchased it for him to give to me, he commented, ‘Nice...but that's an incomplete sentence,’” Wollenziehn says. “I laughed then, and I will chuckle yearly when I unwrap it, cherishing a special Christmas memory.”
Ann Charles, Parsons KS “My mother purchased this angel at the Dime Store 60 years ago. It first claimed smiles from the top of our cedars, brought in from the pasture, and later as it graced my trees. Today my blind Mother exclaimed when I handed it to her for its history.”
Terry Heath, Liberty “I consider this my favorite ornament because it was the first of many. In 1977 my parents got me a Peanuts bulb ornament from Hallmark because I was such a big Snoopy fan. Since then my wife and I have collected over 200 Peanuts ornaments. Hallmark loves us.”
Melanie Savner, Basehor, KS “As a young widow I prayed hard for another good man to share life with. In church I happened to sit by a nice looking, but shy man who eventually asked out. My first Christmas present to him was this ornament – where we met and later married.”
Carol and Charles Ramirez, Independence “When first married, we had neither much money nor ornaments for our tiny Charlie Brown Christmas tree. At a church dinner party we pulled an angel ornament from a grab bag and put it on top of our little tree. Forty-three years later that angel still tops our tree.”
Marcia Norwood, Blue Springs “I made this primitive angel from wood, using power tools that Dad taught me how to use in his workshop when I was a little girl. She reminds me that while we rejoice here on earth at Christmas, our loved ones in Heaven (like Dad) sing with the angels.”
Joyce Isaac-Brown, of Spring Hill “Thirty-four years ago my husband and I purchased this ornament for our first tree. We were saving for our wedding and money was tight. Since then we have purchased an ornament or two a year to add to our collection. For us this ornament represents hope, love and longevity.”
Carole A Kohler, Lee's Summit “Christmas 1945, I was 5 years old. My dad was overseas. Bruno and Alice Ising invited mom, my sister and myself to join their family for Christmas and New Years Eve. This Glass ornament was on their tree, and was given to us then. I inherited it when my mom passed in 2008. To Daddy Boots, Mom B. and family: Thanks for all the good times and wonderful memories.”
Shelba Zimmerman, Shawnee “Each year since my Mother's death on Dec. 27, 2005, I have displayed her 12-inch white yarn Christmas tree. I replaced small, colorful globes with some of her favorite earrings and pins – and stand it on a felt table scarf she made. It is a perfect holiday reminder of my Mother.”
Sandra Lowery, Leavenworth, KS “I especially love the hand prints of my boys that I made years ago. This last hand print will hang on my son's tree this year as he begins life in a new location with his family, but I still have the memories!”
Kelly Mayer, Overland Park “My husband gave me this ornament on our first Christmas together in 1982. It was the first in an annual series, and he has given me the next in the series each of the following Christmas’. They hang in our bay window each holiday season. We take a photo of our family in front of the tree each year, and a copy of it is stored with that year’s ornament. Opening them every year is such a wonderful trip through our lives together.”
Mark Niemann, Leavenworth, KS “When growing up, my parents and grandparents would take me shopping in downtown Leavenworth. In 1979, they bought me this cute little birdhouse when I was seven. later when I got into collecting Hallmark Keepsake ornaments, I discovered that it was one. needless to say, it's my favorite.”
Barbara Smith, Shawnee “This humble creche is very inspiring and nostalgic to me,” Smith says. “My dear mother, in the late ‘40s, watched her nickels to buy it. She would shop downtown at Woolworth's and buy a few pieces at a time. Each cost less than 75 cents.”
Barbara Griffith, Spring Hill “My brother Ron hand made these cast metal carolers and street light and gave them to me in approximately 1988. Ron passed away in September 1998 and these pieces help keep him a part of my Christmas every year.”
Karen Griffin, Blue Springs Karen Griffin’s youngest daughter, Alayna, then 3, came home from preschool 13 years ago wearing a macaroni necklace that she’d made. She took it off, hung it on the Christmas tree and proclaimed it an ornament. Seven months later, she died suddenly while playing at a swimming pool. “She had a heart condition that we didn’t know about,” Griffin says. “She collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. They were not able to revive her.” Each year, as Griffin, her husband, son and another daughter decorate the tree, they take turns hanging Alayna’s ornaments. “But when that one shows up, I like to be the one to hang it,” Griffin says. “I still have that nice memory to attach to it.”
William Harsh, Prairie Village “The ball was given to me in 1948. The giver was Mary McCoy, daughter of Alvin S. McCoy of The Kansas City Star. On a side note, I was the silver buyer at the Hall's plaza store. In 1964 I developed the now famous sterling silver bell. It's a good story. I understand they have sold over 1 million.
Kathy Day Harding, Overland Park “‘Snow boy’ was on my dad's first Christmas tree and now, 100 years later, he is on ours. Hopefully, he will see several more generations!”
Becky Reynolds, Raytown “This is my favorite ornament, my Mom received it at a Christmas party many years ago. I have loved it ever since. She shared it with me a few years ago and now I enjoy having it on our Christmas tree.”
Peggy Grace, Excelsior Springs “Every Christmas my mother gave us an ornament for our tree. The Christmas before she died, she brought no ornament. She took the corsage from her lapel and placed it on the tree branch. Thirty-five years have passed and her corsage is still there — a sweet and beautiful remembrance.”
Sheila Berry, Lenexa “Years ago, on Christmas Eve, as a little girl, I wasn’t sure if I still believed in Santa,” she says. “It was very late and my dad reminded me that Santa would not come until I was asleep. As I closed my eyes, I heard the bells of Santa’s sleigh ever so close and clear! Years later my mother gave me those bells (which now hang on the front door come Christmas), and every time I hear them I am reminded that I still believe! That got me through another couple of years, because I heard him. Good memories.”
Beth Kornegay, Shawnee “It’s not beautiful or valuable in the monetary sense, but it is meaningful to me. This is one of the ornaments that hung on my Grandma Palcher’s Christmas tree each year. When she died more than 20 years ago, her ornaments were the one thing that I asked to receive as a remembrance of her and the holidays that we spent together as a family.”
Kelsey Freeland, Lees Summit "My favorite ornament belongs to my grandmother and is over 70 years old! The ornament still hangs by it's original paper hanger that replaced metal hangers. At the time all the metal was being used for artillery in World War II. This ornament symbolizes apart of our nation's history."
Janice Butler, of Grain Valley “This angel has been at the top of my tree since my husband and I were married 59 years ago. Her face has darkened and her body show signs of aging – reminding me that even though he passed away – the memories and love we shared shines brightly over our family.
Teresa Hogan, of Overland Park “This Snoopy on a rainbow was given to me by my father in the ’70s. The ornament is now strung with wire as the original hook came off. Friends and family have added ornaments, but the majority came from Dad. Dad passed this August, making my collection even more special.”
Linda Johnson, Overland Park “In 1971, I found out I was pregnant and my mother game me these booties to hang on my Christmas tree. They were gently placed on the tree every year for many years. After many years they were passed to the rightful owner, my son, Ron.”
Anna Widebrook, Kansas City “It was 1970, I was recently divorced with two little boys and not much money. My youngest, who was 4, made this at his day care and I helped him wrap it for Mommy for Christmas. I remember the joy it brought me then and the memories as it hangs on my tree every year since!”
Patti Christian, Overland Park “My favorite teacher gave me a felt angel ornament. It’s not really an ornament but a cute gift tag as I figured out when I got older. That was over 40 years ago, and I still hang it on my tree. It reminds me that little things mean a lot!”
Lori Kowalski, Leawood "This was my mother's ornament. It reminds me of her every time I see it on my tree. She is no longer with us.. well she is but lives in an Alzheimers Unit. I miss her and the old time tree she was so fond of decorating for our family"
Pam Willcott, Linwood, KS “My tree is covered with expensive ornaments, but this one is my favorite! My son, who is now 31, made this ornament in preschool. It's made from a toilet paper roll, a peanut baby Jesus, and a cotton ball.”
Lynn Jackson, Kansas City “My favorite “ornament” is a set. My cousin saw a pattern to make ornaments out of old shirts. We used our grandmothers, their 5 sisters and one from our great-grandfather. My ornaments remind me of family and the many memories we share.”
Mary Pat Kinney, Overland Park “My favorite ornament was this plastic star that hung each year on my parent's Christmas tree. It’s from the 1950's. I have fond memories of laying beneath the Christmas tree with my two older brothers, watching the inside piece move in circles, propelled by the heat of the lights. We thought it was magic! (I was able to hold on to 3 of the gems).”
Glynda Wilson, of Kansas City “My husband Jim and I were spending our third Christmas in Kansas City after relocating from Dallas. We hadn’t met many people, but were fortunate to become friends with a couple from Olathe, Kim and Dave. The ornament came in our Christmas card that year and I fell in love with it as soon as I opened the envelope. It was a picture of 5-month-old Jacob, Kim and Dave’s first child, resting his head in his hand. The card expressed, with a basic simplicity, the true meaning of the holiday. With the recycled Christmas card background on the red construction paper (complete with the pinking-shear edge) the ornament touched me with the loving spirit that created it. (It) makes my heart melt every year when I pull it out from among the others and it still reminds me that Christmas is about enduring love and relationships.” (edited for length.)
Ruth Heath, Liberty “I love Christmas, I love foreign languages, I love my husband, we both love Peanuts, and this ornament was the Hallmark Peanuts bulb ornament for 1993, the year we got married. Perfect!”
Pat Johannes, of Manhattan “My husband and I were married in June 1958. We purchased a small tree and decided to make our ornaments out of foil. This ornament holds dear memories and is the lone survivor.”
Mary Don Beachy, Prairie Village “There's no place like home for the holidays and no place for our daughter's preschool angel but atop the family tree for the past thirty-two years. Paper plate simplicity juxtaposed to glitzy ornaments, "she" represents the gift of family gathering. Tree's up now! Jane will soon be home.”
Michele Cole, of Blue Springs “Purchased on a trip to North Carolina in summer of 2008, this ornament reminded me of our beagle, Lucy, whom we had left at home. Unfortunately in September, Lucy died unexpectedly. Tearfully, I placed the ornament on the tree that December knowing that my Lucy was now an angel, too.”
Jeff Lowe, of Kansas City, KS “My favorite ornament now was my favorite as a child. I’m unsure why I loved it so back then, but now it’s because it reminds me of decorating the tree with my mother. After we finished, I’d sit in her lap as we gazed at the beautiful tree.”
Suzanne Conaway, of Kansas City “In December 1954, when I was seven, my left leg locked up. The doctors ordered me to not walk. My mom bought plastic ornaments so I could decorate while sitting. The lower part of the tree was heavily ornamented that year!”
Yvonne McManus, Overland Park McManus’ mother unseamed her wedding gown several years ago, intending to make a christening gown for her children. “Instead it became my flower girl’s dress, a 60th anniversary gift, and most recently Christmas ornaments,” McManus says. This year, it has taken on special significance, as McManus’ mother mom died on Jan. 4.
Rochelle Silvers, Overland Park “My favorite aunt, with whom I shared a birthday, sent these two hollowed egg ornaments to me the first year I was married in 1960. They have had a prominent spot on our tree every year. She passed away 30 years ago, but each year, as I hang these precious ornaments, she becomes alive to me. They are stored in shiny shreds which protect them.”
Jeanne Kessinger, Overland Park “On December 1, 2005, our grandson was born with five unexpected heart anomalies that required open heart surgery a week later. To keep myself calm and occupied during the surgery, I put together this nativity scene jigsaw puzzle. It was framed and became our grandson's Christmas mantlepiece collectible.”
Terry Becker, Kansas City “In August 1981, six silver bells in a bureau drawer brought tears: Mother would never place these bells on the family tree. Instead, three would hang on my tree, and three on my sister’s. Though none of the bells make a sound, they ring with memories of our mother!”
Jean Wu Stribling, of Independence “In 2009, I was a fairly new mommy to a 1- and almost-2 year old (they are 16 months apart). I was ALWAYS washing clothes! I laughed out loud when I opened this Hallmark ornament from my husband. It was so fitting, and still remains my favorite today! Probably because the laundry piles continue to be never-ending!”
Susan Pratt, Paola, KS “I made (this ornament) in Mrs. Butcher's second-grade class at Park Elementary School, Parkersburg, West Virginia in 1964. It hung every year thereafter on our Christmas tree, even after I married and moved to Kansas in 1980. After the birth of my first son (who, coincidentally, was born on Christmas, December 25, 1983), my parents decided it should hang on my Christmas tree.”
Kelly Green, of Leawood “In 1994, I befriended a recently transplanted cute guy while working on a campaign. After we lost, I had a lot of ‘free’ time and, despite a lack of talent, painted him an ornament. Fast forward to 2013 and we have been married 15 years and have two kids. Every year, this is the first ornament on the tree.”
Bette Murrell, Overland Park “When our grandson, David, was 4, we played Wiffle ball in our front yard, and he loved the game. One day, I told David about Kansas City’s famous baseball player, George Brett. From then on, whenever we played ball, David insisted I call him George. That Christmas, I gave him a George Brett ornament and, now at 13, David still treasures his favorite ornament.”
Judy K. Eckhart, Platte City “This mouse is my favorite ornament because it was made by my son in 1980 when he was 7. Each part of the mouse is made by his different fingerprints (the body, head and ears). I look forward every year to placing it in a prominent spot on our Christmas tree.”
Joy Wilkinson Rush, Blue Springs “This little one-inch elf is my favorite ornament. In 1959 I received it from my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. McDonald. When I hang it on the tree each year it brings back wonderful memories of my school days and friends at Bancroft Elementary in Kansas City.”
Dorri Partain, Kansas City “This little bulb is special because it came from a string of lights that belonged to my grandfather. I recall that my younger brother and I were looking at them on his tree because they were shaped like Santa, so Grandpa removed two for us to take home and put on our tree. Grandpa died before the next Christmas, so it was nice to have these on our tree to remember him by. After a year or two, one of the bulbs burned out and was thrown away, but the other continued to light up year after year. It became a moment of truth to see if would light up until finally the inevitable happened and it burned out. I don't remember what year that was or how old I was but I'm pretty sure I was an adult by then.”
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