Something Old and Something New

After twenty-five years of Hawaiian life, my parents recently relocated from the North Shore of Oahu to the Middle of Nowhere Utah.
Sea Shell Wreath
As I prepared to vacate Brooklyn I packed my warmest clothes and made sure that I hadn’t forgotten leggings and scarves. I laughed/cried when I got to unpacking at my parent’s place and realized I’d absent mindedly packed not one, but two bathing suits. Old habits die hard.

I quickly busied myself poking around the joint, making sure that things were put “just so”. After all, just because it’s a new location doesn’t mean that things should change. (This is where I start singing Fiddler on the Roof’s ‘Tradition! TRADITION!’)

New: This “woodland upstairs tree”. My mom was set on two trees this year! Witness our first major ‘Hawaiian Christmas’ violation. I can safely bet you that no one in Hawaii decked the halls with two trees this year….

New: ALL of these Ornaments! What? New Ornaments? This is not adhering to protocol. Ornaments can be given as gifts or purchased to commemorate important life milestones. They can be bought on vacations and picked up in small doses at after Christmas sales. They are NOT supposed to be bought in bulk to fit a theme!

But… this tree is pretty cute. I kind of do adore those funky little owls. You know I’m prone to loving you know who?
Up Stairs TreeOld: The teddy bear snow on the windows saved my mom from my skepticism. I was totally afraid she’d shirk this very important tradition. Growing up in a snowless existence makes fake snow on the windows vital to creating the perfect holiday vibe. I was worried that with all the powder on the ground outside this vital bit of decor would go the way of the Dodo. How could I have ever questioned her? Oh. Wait. I know How:

New: This Downstairs Blue Spruce Christmas tree.
Ahwuah? A blue Christmas tree? It is pokey and sharp and unlike the Douglass Furs and Palm Tree Christmases that I was raised on. I paced around it, suspicious like a cat.
Downstairs TreeI poked around and slowly located all the important things that make for a perfect Christmastime.

Several Ice Cream Angels polka-dot this suspicious spruce. This may come as a heart-attack inducing shock, but I wasn’t always wicked cool. As a seventh grader I became obsessed with making these ice cream spoon angels. Their little wooden bodies are crocheted into proper holiday get-ups. I turned a pretty fair little business selling them at the Blaisdell Craft Fair. Mom saved just the right amount of them to bedeck the tree forevermore. Their little mouth-less faces have been a Christmas constant ever since.
Ice Cream Spoon AngelThis Maneki Neko is a good luck cat. It’s important that he’s prowling in the branches. He brings a great New Year.
Cat LuckThis Santa Icicle is one of my very favorite pieces to put on the tree. I like his crystal blue eyes and his snowy beard. There is part of me that secretly loves and the way he can stab people into being nice with his pointed stare and facial hair shiv. Hmm… right about now I’m loving the way this blue tree showcases the ornaments….
Santa IcicleThis chubby little mermaid speaks directly to my well documented obsession. It reminds me of perfect Christmas days by land and by sea.
MermaidThis rainbow block was my first ornament way back in 1982. How could my parents know this Mary Blair-esque decoration would so perfectly speak to my design aesthetic decades later? It’s one of my top five favorites on our overflowing tree.
Baby BlockI think I was eight when this ornament was wrapped in the brightest candy cane red wrapping paper and labeled with my name. It might have melted my brain. I’d never seen anything so perfectly beautiful.
Ever since it’s been my “magic glass flying pony.”
Never mind that it is not glass, it’s some form of iridescent plastic. Forget that it’s a Pegasus and not a pony, its title has stuck. I remember thinking it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

Its presence on the new/odd/strangely alluring tree reminds me that The Christmas Spirit can transform things. So I might be in a snowy Utah Valley instead of frolicking on the beach of my youth, but my family is here and the ground is white and we’re warm and lucky to have each other. I hope your holiday was family and fun and fabulous, on that note, Mele Kalikimaka and a Hauli Makahiki Hou!

Categories: Christmas, Holiday, Shutterbug

3 replies »

  1. aww, meleikinahewfgubh to you too!

    i love the magic glass flying pony. It reminds me of the small ceramic pegasus figurine i bought for my mother for christmas. She kindly put it in the “special things” showcase cupboard in the corner of the living room. What a prized possession.

  2. WOW.
    I am with you about the acceptable origins of ornaments. But I suppose that a new set of rules is an order when suddenly moving to THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE UTAH – I have to tell you I had a complete cartoon reaction when reading this. Silly “boing” noises and eyes bugging out and hovering mid-air and everything. Seriously.
    Thanks for sharing the ornaments of your childhood – THIS is what makes Christmas, magic glass flying ponies and ice-cream spoon angels and everything.
    And I think from now on you will always have to pack 2 swimsuits when visiting Utah in the frozen dead of winter – seems like some kind of tradition to me…

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About last night. 🦌💛 Crawling home on all fours after celebrating at the epic Puppy Par-tay my brother and sister-in-law put on for my dog nephew, Milo tonight. It was everything and more, complete with a bone-shaped swimming pool. #dreamtheimpawssibledream 🤘#livewithnoregrets We otter go exploring more rivers. 😍
#lifeachievementunlocked A Mama said there’d be days like this😍
Totally alone in the Natural History Museum’s Hall of Mammals for hours! Hashtag Blessed. It’s 1 AM. Do you know where your mini gummi bears are? 
#fairgame #latenightinthestudio #goodbyeoctober We’re celebrating today. I opened my eyes to Matt  crowing, “Amber! Wake up. They made it!” We have been following the inspiring pilgrimage of my mom @incredimombo & sister @prilliegirl_shakazoozoo via text & @instagram for weeks. They set out to trek across Spain a month and a half ago. This morning they walked their 500th mile and crossed into Santiago. Having read a lot about their journey before they set out to do it, I felt concerned at their determination. The Camino is not easy. It requires walking 10-20 miles a day 7 days a week. You have to carry everything you need on your back. The toll is physical, mental & spiritual. Many prepared and experienced hikers do not make it to the end of the journey the first or second time they attempt it. ☀️ So we’re dreaming impossible dreams and celebrating too. It would seem today is a good day to set out to do the impossible. When we moved to Utah I was sure I’d been too spoiled by my childhood on the ocean and my twenties in Brooklyn, to ever find anything to love in the desert. I fully planned on dying of boredom. I don’t know what I’ll do when we outgrow this little Wasatch apartment of ours! Watching the Sun kiss the mountains goodnight from our tiny balcony is beyond description. This picture doesn’t begin to do it justice. Home again.
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