This photo is of Christmas ornaments circa 1900. They belonged to Arthur Spear Jr.’s grandmother and have been on the family Christmas tree ever since.
From Arthur Spear Jr., 74, of Henderson
My husband hated Christmas. Perhaps not the day itself, but the modern, commercialized feeding frenzy disgusted him. However, he knew when he married me that I loved Christmas, not just the day, but all the trimmings. So when I mentioned needing a new topper for the Christmas tree, he not only obliged, but insisted on making it himself.
He fashioned it out of wood, a simple design. For the wing span and feet, he traced a dinner plate; for the head and halo, a shot glass. He painted it white and initialed and dated the back. He carved no face, simply left it to the imagination of the beholder.
A simple, elegant angel. I was thrilled; it was a perfect first gift for the first Christmas of our married life together.
This is the 15th year the angel will grace the top of the tree. She is now dinged in several places and her paint is somewhat faded. But she is still and forever a symbol of the Christmas spirit and of a husband’s love.
From Margaret Douglass, 37, of Henderson
My mother received this ornament for her first Christmas in 1917 from an uncle who was serving in France during World War I. It has been on the family Christmas tree every year since. It is always the first ornament on the tree and the last one removed. When Mother stopped having Christmas trees, I inherited the “bunny,” and although she passed away two years ago, it still hangs on my tree every year. After 91 years, the bunny is rather worse for the wear, but it will always be my favorite.
From Sue Hart, 66, of Las Vegas
In 2006, at 22 years old, I moved away from home in Chicago to Las Vegas. Lonely that first Christmas, I asked that my parents ship me "My Ballerina."
That year she was the lone ornament hanging on a small, bubble-gum-pink, plastic Christmas tree I had found at a local thrift store, but she was all I needed to bring me holiday joy.
Shortly after that I was blessed to meet the man of my dreams, and "My Ballerina" with her brown hair like mine, tinsel streamers, and "Katie" inked across her tutu, is now an integral part of our combined Christmas decorations.
For as long as I live and no matter how many memorable ornaments I collect, she will always be the first one I hang on the tree.
From Kate J. Gietl, 24, of Las Vegas
This Christmas ornament is at least 46 years old (my age).
It’s the only material link to the many Christmas seasons spent with my late parents (Gus and Lorrie Rauf) and my two brothers (who still live in the Detroit area).
Over the years, this ornament has become a time machine of sorts for me.
When I look at it now, I can see our house back in Roseville, Mich. I can remember sitting in front of the tree, gazing at the 3-D scene in the bulb as the real tree's lights sparkled in the shiny red glass. "Rudolph" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" play on the TV as my mom makes sure everyone is happy. My dad smiling at his three sons as they tear into the gifts under the tree. Dressed in their Sunday best, our grandparents watch us play.
I feel blessed to have this tiny piece of glass and metal. It's a tangible link to a more innocent time.
From Kurt Rauf, 46, of Las Vegas
Mother's white dove adorns my tree every Christmas. “The dove of peace,” she would say as she placed it on our tree when I was a child. Mother preceded my father in death. Yet his death on Christmas morning is etched on my heart each year as I decorate my tree. His Christmas tree was hastily dismantled with no concern for care. Later I rescued a few aged ornaments and this dove, placing all on my tree every Christmas since. My dove of peace radiates a warm reassuring glow of peace.
This year as I placed the dove high on a branch, my mind reflected on this troubled time and how peace is forever promised. Simply looking up at my dove reminds me that our lives encounter difficulties, pain and problems yet peace comes within each of us to look up, to hope, and to keep reaching for peace.
From Joyce H. Patrick, 78, of Henderson
I have a collection of 1,000 Christmas ornaments. I belong to ornament clubs and attend ornament conventions. I have spent upward of $100 on a single ornament. Most of those ornaments can be replaced on the secondary market or eBay or craigslist. My favorite ornament, however, is the one that cannot be replaced. The ornament that melts my heart and puts a smile on my face. The faded, green, plastic bell filled with angel's hair that pesky Kevin O'Leary stole off his mother's Christmas tree and gave to me in 1968. I was 7 years old.
I chatted with my mom just last night about this ornament. We laughed at the idea of a little boy stealing to impress a little girl. At 7 years old I was not impressed. My mom stored it with all the other Christmas ornaments, and every year it was placed on the tree. It moved from Minnesota to Nevada in 1970 when my dad was transferred for his job. When I married and moved out, my favorite ornament went with me. My favorite ornament has been in closets, storage units, under the bed and in an attic. My favorite ornament has been wrapped in tissue paper, Kleenex and paper towels, and stored in plastic containers and cardboard boxes. Makes you wonder how a little piece of plastic can be so magical. Kevin O'Leary — how I wonder where you are tonight — I am now impressed every time I look at my favorite ornament!
From Jody Hogan, 47, of Henderson
Although her fingers were crippled with arthritis, my artist mother selected eggs and began the delicate process of creating ornaments to please the neighborhood children. When finished, young hands were allowed to hold the gift and then it was whisked away by parents to be placed near the top of the tree.
This is the one she made for me.
It gladdens me every Christmas to unwrap carefully the caroling angel, remembering my mother's painstaking and painful work and the delight it brought to her and to others.
From Joann Sonenstein, 75, of Las Vegas
My father, born in 1900 and descended from German immigrants, was most enthusiastic about decorating for Christmas.
When my dear mother passed away in 1972 after 50 years of marriage, my father resumed his hobby of making one of a kind Christmas ornaments using fabric remnants, sequins, braid and beads from cast-off jewelry.
In his words from the accompanying note, he both designed and crafted this ornament for me in appreciation for “what you did for Mother the last days.” The pearls were from a strand of hers. Each sequin has a glitter bead with a gold pin. The pin on the top was mother’s hat-pin, from an era when hat-pins were the height of fashion. It represents hours of work and was a labor of love.
This ornament stirs many recollections of my father: his steady hand (even at the age of 72), his precise attention to detail, his ingenuity and artistry, his devotion to his family and his love for me. As a treasured keepsake, this Christmas ornament has held a place of honor in my heart and in my home for over 35 years.
From Judith Holtz, 58, of Las Vegas
Here is an "ornament" that I made some 41 years ago, when I was in third grade. It's not much to look at, really, but it still evokes a LOT of memories when I pull it out each year.
The ornament is actually just a spelling test our teacher, Mrs. Enrico of Sacandaga Elementary School, in the village of Scotia, N.Y., gave us just before our Christmas recess. Imagine my surprise when I received 100 percent on it, and as part of her present to us (to show to our parents), we all immortalized our success by making these paper "ornaments" by sandwiching our tests inside rounds of poster paper and, then flocking the outside cover sheet.
I have tried to clear up the image to show the "test," but as it was done in pencil, it has faded over the years.
I have other old, family ornaments, but this one is special to me since "I" made it, and IT has survived all these years — it's in better shape than I am.
From Jeff Prescott, 49, of Las Vegas
These ornaments will be 50 years old on Dec. 21, the day my husband and I celebrate our fifty-first wedding anniversary. For our honeymoon, we traveled from Peoria, Ill., to Chicago on the Rock Island Rocket, returning on the 24th to celebrate the holidays with our parents, thus no tree that year.
On our first anniversary we went for dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant, Cafe Sorrento. As we left after dinner and walked down the street, it started to snow. We ducked into a Walgreens on the corner, and that's when we saw the ornaments. There were originally six, now down to four, but they have graced our tree every year since. The hotel where we stayed in Chicago (the Edgewater Beach) is long gone, as are the restaurant and the Walgreens, but the ornaments remain.
From Mary Vovsi, 73, of Las Vegas
Christmas as a child was a magical time of year. Mom managed to make Christmas special. She would transform our home into a place of wonder. Hanging red and green twisted crepe paper on the ceiling, Mom would painstakingly drape silver icicles on it. In the middle of this “X” hung a red elf. For years that elf brought memories of Christmases filled with sugarplums dancing in my head, the stocking with my name on it and sitting on my daddy’s lap.
This year while decorating, Mom reached into a box and out came the little elf. As I looked at that inanimate object, a flood of memories warmed my heart. Mom told me his story. In 1949, she saw some elves in a catalog. Being a young bride without Christmas decorations, she really wanted them. She pleaded with Dad to let her order them. Money was tight and they were expecting a baby so decorations were not important. Dad’s paycheck every week was $38, $10 went toward the hospital bill. Dad finally relented and let Mom order ONE elf. Mom ordered him and started a family tradition — that little red elf hung in the center of the living room. He is hanging there right now.
From Dawn Bornheimer, 48, of North Las VegasMy ornament,
Stormtrooper Santa, features a “Star Wars” Stormtrooper action figure wearing a Santa hat and holding a sack full of guns. I made the Santa hat and sack myself. The guns and the action figure are from my “Star Wars” toy collection.
From Darlyne Hayes, 38, of North Las Vegas
When my wife and I, both from Philadelphia, were married in 1971, I was in the Air Force stationed in California. Our first Christmas, we were 3,000 miles from home, scared kids on our own for the first time, and a little depressed with no family nearby. We went from helping family get ready for the holidays to being across the country, trying to get our own holiday together.
My wife met Glenda, who turned out to live right down the street from us, earlier that year at the base hospital. They were both at the OB/Gyn clinic with due dates within a month of each other. That year, Glenda gave us our first present. It is a small balsa wood airplane, painted blue and green. It might have cost a quarter, but to us, it was worth the world, because it came from the heart. Glenda took the time to make a gift for us, and it was a connection between us and some new friends.
After leaving the service, we lost touch with Tom and Glenda, but every year, that airplane is the first ornament to go on our tree. It goes right in front, at eye level, in a place of honor for everyone to see. Over the years, we thought we had lost it a couple of times, but it has always turned up, reminding us of that first Christmas.
From Connie and Lou Young, 55 and 57 respectively, of North Las Vegas
I purchased this track star Christmas ornament for my husband, John Poston, in 1994. He had attended Florida State University back in 1951-52 using his G.I. Bill to complete his last two years of college. He had broken several records in those two years and later many people suggested that he would, one day, be in the FSU Hall of Fame, but since we had not heard from them in years ... I thought he would get a kick out of the little track-man ornament that I bought as a surprise. I put his initials on the front of the shirt and FSU on the back of the shirt.
So for years the track man has been hanging on our Christmas Tree. Then out of the clear blue sky, Florida State calls and tells him he has been inducted into the Track and Field Hall of Fame at Florida State. We had no idea they would wait until he was (80) years old.
From Carole Poston, 74, of Las Vegas
Christmas 1970, newly married and on a tight budget, I bought my angel at the store where both my husband and I worked and met. It was in the markdown rack, slightly bent and not particularly colorful, but it fit the bill for topping our very first tree. I took it home and placed my angel on the top of the tree.
Christmas decorating for 1970 was complete. Every year since then, with the exception of the year my husband was overseas, the angel has come out of the box. As the years have passed it has needed sprucing up and glue. I have added ribbons to it, I have had the angel hold a light and I have it primly holding berries now. Some years I have topped the tree with ornaments or ribbons and placed the angel on the table, but the angel has always been part of the Christmas decorations. I could have replaced my angel long ago with a bigger and more elegant angel, but this one is the one that was with us from the very first, it is the one my children grew up with and we are growing old with. The angel is a part of us, a keepsake of the beginning of our marriage, a testament to the frugality I have never let go of, and a symbol of continuity.
Liliam Shell, 57, of Las Vegas
This very special Christmas ornament is from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Fifteen years ago, my husband, who is now retired, was a colonel in the U.S. Army and we were assigned to the American Embassy in Abu Dhabi. He was the military chief of mission at the embassy.
This ornament depicts a scene typical of the holiday as we, in the United States, are familiar with, but has managed to involve the taste of the Middle East with a lush palm tree hovering over a mosque. The three wise men are traveling by camel with the familiar shining star above. The ball is frosted. White glitter sets the form of the palm tree, top of mosque and clothing of the wise men. Each figure is outlined in gold glitter, which prominently portrays each form.
From Merriam Olds, 70, of Las Vegas
The days of big holiday celebrations with lots of family are all over at our house. Christmas Day seems almost like any other. After 41 years of marriage and with the five children grown and gone, I ask myself each year why I even bother to put up the Christmas tree. I rationalize that the tree will be just a small one this year, something that doesn’t take up much room. But as I take each ornament from the box, memories of 41 previous Christmases flood over me like warm eggnog. One by one I place the ornaments on the tree; this one from our Ireland trip, the next from Washington, D.C., then Niagara Falls, Park City, Toronto, San Francisco. At last I come to the red wooden VW bus loaded with Santa and eight tiny reindeer that we got in Honolulu in 1972. Our own VW bus was actually green, but this one brings back all the family sounds that filled a bus with happy singing as we traveled to our favorite camping spot or to Grandma Georgia’s house. When I look at the reindeer faces of Dasher, Dancer, Comet, Vixen and Blitzen peering out of the bus windows on the ornament, they transform before my eyes into the excited faces of Kristin, Karlee, Kraig, Kelly and Kasey, all happily traveling together toward the Christmas holiday.
From Karen Egger, 59, of Henderson
There are two special ornaments. One is a red and gold glitter candy cane that my Nana made for me when I was a little girl. The other is a little girl dressed in a nightgown and nightcap. As a military child you don’t get to hang onto much from base to base, but the ornaments were always on the tree and they meant home to me. When I left home to start my life, the ornaments went with my father. I’ve never forgotten about them so a few years ago my father gave them back to me at Christmas (he was dying and trying to get family possessions and heirlooms to us kids). He’s now gone, so when I hang the ornaments I not only think of my childhood, but now I think of my dad.
From Beth Triplett, 48, of Las Vegas
This Christmas picture was made by me in 1965 or 1966 while at home with our four children while my husband, Ed, was working graveyard. Most of the glittery jewelry belonged to my mother-in-law, Betty Shuman, and her daughters, Dianne and Delores. However, while on a family vacation to Indiana, I collected some of the items. One unique item is a dice holder that was my Uncle Carl Higgins’. A double-heart emblem with Candy on it, who is our oldest daughter. An Indian tom-tom, the first gift my husband bought me at the Seminole Indian Village, Highway 441 north of Miami in 1949. A choir pin from a young friend, Susie. Several crosses from deceased family members. It is taken out every Christmas and hung along with an angel tree with our deceased angels on it.
From Patricia Shuman, 74, of Boulder City