At this time of year, I always look back with fondness at the many ways my late mother-in-law made Christmas special.
We won’t dwell on the delicious food - antipasto benedetto, salad, manicotti, italian bread, turkey and all the “Americano” trimmings – or the amazing desserts, like the special cookie called cartellate di natale alla baresi. There were other things she did for the holidays that were just as memorable, and that still say “Christmas” to me.
Nana had a wonderful lighted ceramic Christmas tree collection. Some of the trees were made by her friends at the senior citizens’ club, some were purchased – but when they appeared on the top of the old console television set, I knew Christmas was just around the corner.
Even more special than the ceramic trees, was her collection of crystal figurines.
They were displayed on top of the television during the year, but in December, their spot was taken by the ceramic Christmas trees. The rest of the room was rearranged to make room for the elaborate ceramic town that spread out from under the Christmas tree and covered the living room floor. So the crystal figurines were moved to a place of honor in the sun parlor, where they sparkled and threw amazing rainbow colors all over the room when the winter sun hit them between four and five o’clock in the afternoon.
When my daughter was about 5 years old, she was just tall enough for her eyes to peer over the top of the television set during the year when the crystal figurine collection was stationed there. But in December, when they were displayed on special beveled mirrors in the parlor, they were on a low table that she could reach. I can still see her standing still with her little hands clasped so she wouldn’t touch anything, watching the rainbows and sparkling lights with an expression of wonderment.
After my mother-in-law passed away, we inherited the Christmas town, and my sister-in-law got the crystal figurines, Lladros and Snowbabies. The crystal figurines are now housed in a display case in her china cabinet, but right about now, at Christmas time, in my mind’s eye they are still on that low table in my mother-in-law’s parlor, rainbows dancing, and tiny sparkling lights.