and Their New Nostalgic Counterparts Brings Comfort and Joy
By: Bob Richter, Vintage Lifestyle Expert
My earliest childhood memories of Christmas involve special ornaments, lights, and decorations, all of which are now vintage. As the author of “A Very Vintage Christmas,” I’m very invested in keeping the magic of these objects alive. They really are conduits for joy. A light up Santa Claus, choir kid candles (the ones that were too cute to burn) and ornaments from each of my grandmothers are among my most treasured holiday decorations.
While the financial value of these objects is small, the emotional value is great. When I decorate with these items, I’m re-living memories of past happy holidays and fondly recalling the people who made these decorations special.
My light-up Santa was under the very first Christmas tree of my own, decorated for me as a surprise by my big brother Johnny. Whenever I see it, I’m able tap into the joy I felt as a child on that special day. The choir kid candles belonged to my Nana, and they were always on her dining room sideboard. When she gave them to me, she told me they were very special to her because she when she bought them our family business was having a lean year. They were the only decorations she purchased that year, and that made them quite special and memorable for her – and now for me. The ornaments from my German grandmother were ones I hung on her tree for her every year – a father Christmas ornament and so many other magical baubles. I’m grateful to have them and I think of those happy, simple days I spent with her while enjoying them today.
My Dad could see I took a great interest in vintage and antique Christmas items, so he started me collecting them when I was just 7 years old. Now my collection of these decorations is in the thousands, and I decorate over 20 trees and have authored three books featuring them. It’s a powerful thing when you recognize a child and encourage their passion!
All this said, you may not have family decorations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tap into your memories with newly made versions that conjure up the same warm, fuzzy feelings. My friends at The Vermont Country Store have re-created my Nana’s candles to perfection. In addition to enjoying my originals, I’ve now gifted many of these (and kept some for myself). They just make people happy, and it makes me happy to share them.
For decorating, as someone who does so much of it around the holidays, I really appreciate new lights made in the vintage-style. It’s nice not to worry about wiring or searching for that one bulb that went out (do you remember that?!). I am loving The Vermont Country Store’s Ice Glo lights and have used them on my mantle and on trees. They perfectly complement my decorations.
Speaking of trees, while I have several live ones, I also use many artificial ones, and love the convenience of them (pre-lit trees mean less work and more time for decorating!). I have happily used several pre-lit trees from VCS this year, including the Silver Tinsel Tree, The Flocked Icelandic Fir, and the Riverton Pine. For all, I’ve used my vintage ornaments and greatly enjoyed how they came together. For the Riverton Pine, I even added garlands of popcorn and cranberry. While not a vintage decoration, it falls under the category of “vintage ways.” My Mom and I would string these when I was a kid and now when I do it, I recall those happy memories and love the way it takes me back to childhood.
Since Christmas is for the child in all of us, I’m grateful mine is happy and decorating trees the vintage way. When I hang my grandmother’s ornaments on one, I am transported back to happy memories which are reinvigorated every December. However you decorate this year, I wish you that childlike joy that makes this the most wonderful time of the year!
Bob Richter is a vintage lifestyle expert, designer and the author of “A Very Vintage Christmas” and “Vintage Living.” He has painstakingly and lovingly decorated his home with 20 Christmas trees this holiday season, including four from The Vermont Country Store. Bob’s forthcoming book, “A Very Vintage Holiday” will showcase the joy to be found in vintage décor for every holiday throughout the year. It is set to be released later in 2023.
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