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A Pack Rat's Christmas

Here are some holiday decorating ideas from Kathleen Eagle, collector of STUFF.

First, THE BEAR TREE.  Some version of it has been a holiday mainstay in The Eagle's Nest for at least 20 years.  My son's drawing of the tree appeared in the mid-80's SILHOUETTE CHRISTMAS STORIES with my first novella THE TWELFTH MOON.  The collection on display now includes the many bear ornaments I've received over the years as gifts from readers.  Like our big tree, this one tells a story.  We used to spray paint a bare branch and "pot" it in rocks, but we got lazy and went to one of the new pre-lit twig trees, shown here.


Are you old enough to remember these candles?  When I saw them in Martha Stewart's Living, they brought back some of those sketchy memories we have from early childhood--a vivid detail here, a name or a face there.  I've since collected quite a few santas, angels, choir children and the like.  But how to display them?  This tiered display makes use of those vases you get when someone sends cut flowers.  The pack rat hates to throw them away.  I used glitter and glitter glue to give the vases a bit of sparkle, added Styrofoam circles that were easy to trim--use common pins instead of glue, which doesn't work well with foam.  Secure the vases into the foam using a utility knife.  I used glitter to decorate the surfaces for my snowmen, trees, deer, and prize igloo.

These post-World War II "oil" candles were made by companies like Tavern, Gurney, Socony and others, sometimes offered as premiums with the purchase of another product.  They were very popular with baby boomers' young moms.  Remember Daddy struggling to get the bubble lights to work while you carefully hung the silver tinsel piece by piece?  Remember barely brushing against the tree and sending those fragile glass balls crashing to the floor?  Those were the days.     


What's inside that big present?  It could be a lighted curio cabinet wrapped in fabric.  In our case, it's the cabinet my husband has been intending to finish for over a year.  The lights work, and the frame is there, but no glass shelves.  (This is supposed to be for the stuff that needs a home, but I think he's afraid that if he builds the shelves, more stuff will come.)  Anyway, it's an eyesore in need of decoration, so I suspended snowflake ornaments on invisible thread, hung them inside the box, varying the lengths of thread, and wrapped the whole thing like a gift.  If you don't have an "eyesore," I think a lighted curio would work nicely.   More old stuff in this view:  antique snowshoes leaning against the "present; old rocking horse on a new wooden stand (platform and dowel, just to get it off the floor) and sporting a pair of stirrups from an old McClellan saddle.  One's collectibles come in very handy for holiday decorating.  This is why one must not discard anything.  Ever. 

And then there are the refrigerator photos dress up in homemade felt frames.  I used the magnet tape available in craft stores and ran off Christmas pix from previous years.