The Visitor asked readers to share the stories behind their most cherished or most meaningful ornaments or Christmas decorations. Below is a sampling of the responses we received.
Our mother Trix Kleinschmidt is an avid Santa collector. Her most priceless Santa was given to her by her son Ronnie, who was called to heaven in 1977 when he was 21 years old. He was four years old at the time and happened to sneak away to the corner drugstore which had this precious Santa that he wanted for his mom.
He was so excited when he dumped out his money on the counter, but he came up a little short. When Don Hanson, the owner of the drugstore, saw how devastated he was, he told him it was OK. (Don told our mom what had happened later.) Don wrapped this precious gift for the little boy with thick glasses gleaming from ear to ear, anxiously waiting for him to get the Santa wrapped. He ran home and was so excited that he made Mom open it immediately. To this day, it is her most cherished/priceless Santa.
Our Lady of Angels, Sauk Centre
This is a photo of one of my favorite Christmas ornaments. It was given to me by my godfather and uncle, Joe Schleper in 1991, after the Twins won the World Series. Uncle Joe and I exchanged gifts every Christmas and this gift is especially dear to me because it was made by him and painted by his youngest daughter. We shared a great love for baseball and, in 1972, when I spent my first summer away from home (in the Twin Cities), he took me to several Twins games at Metropolitan Stadium, knowing that I was a bit homesick. He suffered a heart attack and died in 1998 at age 70. I think of him often, especially when I hang this special ornament on my tree every Christmas!
St. James, Jacob’s Prairie
This ornament, a picture of our three children, has been on our tree since it was taken in 1982. Christmas is about families, and now we have three in-laws and eight grandchildren added to our family. Merry Christmas!
Sacred Heart, Staples
This tree top ornament is from Christmas 1955. That was the first Christmas we were married and it’s been on our Christmas tree ever since. The children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren look forward to seeing it every Christmas.
St. Stanislaus Parish, Sobieski
December 1970 is when this Nativity set was purchased. I was married in October of that year, so this was the first and most treasured decoration in my new home. Every year it has been set out to be recognized as a very important part of the blessed Christmas season.
The building is quite worn. The figurines are worn also because over the years many of my children and grandchildren have looked at and handled the Holy Family, the kings, the animals and the shepherd boy. One of the kings is no longer usable so it’s not with the set, but the remaining figurines and building are precious to me and my family as they represent the humble place of Jesus’ birth 2018 years ago.
St. Lawrence, Duelm
We found a small apartment and even though there were many things we needed, I insisted we have a tree for our first Christmas together. A couple of days before Christmas we bought one of the last trees the Boy Scouts had for a free will offering. I had six bucks in my pocket. We placed it in a donated tree stand and, from another box of donations, found a Christmas print kitchen apron for a skirt and one strand of 35 white lights. I stuck 12 red poinsettia picks from Grandma in the branches.
A friend from work had given me this angel. It sat next to the tree on a donated end table. We celebrated Christmas that year feeling so thankful for all the support and that we had not been hurt in the fire. The angel sits on my dresser year round, a reminder to always help others in need.
Sacred Heart Parish, Dent
Every year since then, we have purchased the special ornament and we hang them all over our Christmas tree. Each one is unique. They are different in shape, color and design. Many of our friends and family members know that we buy an angel every year in remembrance of Jordan. So if they happen to be at our house around Christmas, they like to see the new angel.
A friend of mine also started buying the angels in remembrance of her two grandchildren that have passed away.
Jordan has been gone for 21 years and we will continue to buy the angels as long as we can.
Jim and Julie Wensmann
St. Edward, Elmdale
It was a Christmas card ornament her family received from a relative in the late 1920s. It is signed as follows:
Give this to the children to hang on the Christmas tree in school.
Every year when I hang this on our tree — usually front and center — I think of my mom, Veronica. She was the most selfless, kind person I ever knew. She truly was an angel, and I miss her.
Merry Christmas, Mom.
St. Paul, St. Cloud
This ornament is from 1946. My parents, Celestine and Marie (Schmitz) Pierskalla, were married on June 4, 1946. As a newly married couple they bought Christmas ornaments for their first Christmas together. This is one of those ornaments. This is the only ornament that survived for 72 years. It always had a special place on my parents’ Christmas tree. Now that my parents have passed away it has a special spot on my Christmas tree and has a lot of sentiment. I’m hoping to pass it on from generation to generation.
St. Boniface, Cold Spring
A mid-1930s Christmas crib is part of the Christmas decorations in the home of Gene and Cathy Reichensperger. The crib originally belonged to Gene’s parents and was given to Gene and Cathy in later years. The crib contains 30 pieces — including about 12 lambs — some with original lamb’s wool. The crib also contains the three camels. A new infant figurine replaced the original wax baby Jesus, a gift from an aunt who was a Benedictine sister. Some of the figurines are stamped “Germany” on the bottom.
Gene and Cathy Reichensperger
St. Paul, St. Cloud
In the late 1700’s, “lichterbogen,” or lighted arches, marked the homes of the miners in the Ore Mountains of Germany. Miners created lichterbogen to chase away the darkness. After working in the darkness of the mines all day — having left home before sunrise and returning after sunset — the warm glow of the lichterbogen welcomed them home each day. The arches were changed for the holiday season, becoming the modern day works of art welcoming people during the holiday season.
Patterns for today’s beautiful lighted arches are primarily the work of Volker Arnold in Dresden, Germany. Lee Schommer used Volker’s patterns to create the lighted arches with his scroll saw. Each lighted arch is carefully handcrafted and assembled according to Volker’s intricate patterns. Every arch depicts a different Christmas vignette — some religious and others secular scenes. Candles have been replaced with an electric light string. These lighted arches are a Schommer family tradition. They illuminate the darkness of the winter night with the warmth and light welcoming family and friends during the Advent and Christmas seasons.
Lee and Mary Schommer
Sts. Peter and Paul, Richmond
Our friend Bob died in 1997 from injuries suffered in a car accident years earlier. He loved crackers, thus this varnished cracker for remembrance. But time has changed its meaning. As we recall our memories of Bob, they often reveal how he was a loving, caring and gentle man who would do anything for a friend or stranger, especially little children. How can this little, fragile piece of wheat represent Christmas for our family? In a small way, Bob has revealed Jesus Christ to us, by his love, sacrifice, even in his death.
In his short life, a little over 30 years, Bob taught us and is still teaching us today to see good in others. Jesus came into this world to bring peace, joy and love. To be present to us by his Word, his life, and in the Eucharist, a small piece of wheat in memory of him.
Rest in peace, my friend.
Deacon Mark and Joan Stenger
Sacred Heart, Dent and St. Lawrence, Rush Lake
When my father was a little boy, his mother purchased this fire-proof, “Made in the USA,” National Spun Glass tree top angel for their Christmas tree. Every year they had a fresh evergreen tree and this angel would always be at the top of it. When all the children left the house, she kept the angel. When my father had a family of his own, she asked if one of his children would help her put up a Christmas tree. I was the lucky one who got to help my grandmother put her tree up every year. The only difference was it became an artificial tree. Real or not, the tree looked beautiful with the angel tree topper on it.
My grandmother always told me that when she passed, it would go to me. I was touched and so thrilled. So now I have the angel tree topper on my tree every year. I think of my grandmother every time I put it on the top. It’s the last thing that goes up. My father still enjoys it at my house. My children will get the angel tree topper when I decide to part with it.
The angel tree topper is 78 years old and it is going to be a fourth-generation angel.
God bless it!
St. Augustine, St. Cloud