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The Things We Made

While I was in North Carolina my sisters and I pulled out my mom's Christmas ornaments and carefully divided them up. We are a good team, my sisters and I, so sorting through and dividing my mother's cherished decorations, although sad, went very smoothly and gave us a chance to sit and share memories. One set of decorations in particular brought us all back to our childhood - Lisa, the oldest, was probably no more than 10. There was and still is something magical about these charming woodland scenes and the day we made them. We made many Christmas decorations over the years, but these are the clear favorite of us all. Luckily enough have survived that we are each able to have a nice little group.

Although I was very young, I still have vivid memories of that day.

The Things We Made 1
We started by going out into the fields around our home and gathering the dried milkweed pods that were abundant in our neighborhood.

The Things We Made 3
Then my mother lightly coated each one with gold spray paint, both inside and out.

The Things We Made 2
Next, armed with supplies of Spanish moss, miniature critters, dried flowers and glue, we set about creating sweet little scenes in each pod. It was a simple enough project that even at the age of 5 or 6 I was able to participate.

The final step was to add a string to each so that they could be hung on the tree. These had sewing thread that was frayed and knotted from years of use.  I'll be threading new ribbons or string through the tiny holes that my Mutti put in the tops of each all those years ago.

If you have a ready supply of milkweed pods I highly recommend giving this project a try. And if you do, may yours provoke wonderful memories in another 40 something years.


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What a lovely story - and great memories of your mother. How your mother must have treasured these ornaments for them to be in such good shape after all those years.

Oh yes, my favorite decorations are the ones we all made together... we decorated wooden clothespins with paint and felt to make ballerinas and firemen. Such fun, and filled with such good memories.

Reading about the loss of your Mutti brought back a wave of memories about my Mom--my sisters and I affectionately referred to her as Muzzie. We grew up in Milwaukee, so we, at that time, didn't do nature walks, but Christmas was always special. We did egg ornaments one year. My sister has several of these precious beauties on her tree this year. They were made in the 1960's, so they are so fragile.
When my Muzzie passed away, my sisters and I divided up her old ornaments, crazy quilts, photos, charm bracelets, etc. It, like you, was sad but had to be done.
I now live in Maine and nature walk every day. About a mile down the mountain road where I live is a large field with a small stand of milkweed the owner leaves growing for migratory Monarch butterflies. I don't think he'd mind a few less pods. I am sending her this blog post and saving some pods; maybe the 3 of us can recreate a little of your childhood magic!!!
My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

Wow - we made bird ornaments out of those pods - also spray-painted gold. (Large one for the body - two smaller ones slid into slits on the side and glued in place for the wings.)

Thank you for sharing this memory!

It's always about the story. . . .

Thank you for sharing. They are whimsical and fairy-like. I love them!

Those are so sweet!

Those are charming and full of lovely memories!

Love those pods. Each year I enjoy getting out our Christmas decorations because they are full of things that mum and I made together and bring back so many memories.

I love the ornaments, and the story behind them.

I am glad you have these beautiful memories to carry you through the holiday season. She sounds like a wonderful Mom!

We used egg shells, same idea. They're wicked fragile, though.

How sweet they are, and that they survived all those years. I loved that picture of your Mutti shoveling with a beer in one hand - she looked like a wonderful person, and I know how you will miss her.

They are so beautiful!

I remember making similar ornaments when I was a kid! I wonder if my parents still have them ...

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