There are times in one’s life when you touch another person in a truly magical way. For me, that was Nana. Nana personified the spirit of Christmas. Her German Christmas Eve parties were legendary and people lined up to get in. When Prince Charming proposed to me in late November, Nana threw us a surprise engagement party and asked everyone to bring a love-themed ornament. Those ornaments are still one of my most treasured possessions. So when Nana was hospitalized in a nursing home over Christmas, I knew I had to do more than bring her an amaryllis or pointsettia.
In her prime, Nana had been a beautiful woman who dressed to the nines and loved a good party. The nurses who cared for her had no idea who she had been. I had a treasure trove of Nana’s vintage costume jewelery and got a brilliant idea: I would use it to create a unique Christmas tree full of memories of Nana’s glory days.
I chose a frame 24″ x 20″, popped out the cardboard back and cut a piece of dark green velvet 2 inches wider all around. I hot-glued the velvet to the back of the cardboard and started laying out various brooches, earrings, pendants and strings of beads in the shape of a Christmas tree. Using needle nosed pliers, I pried the clips off the earring backs so they laid flat. When I was happy with this makeshift tree, I hot glued each jewel to the velvet and reassembled the frame.
I could hardly contain my excitement as I delivered the bedazzling Christmas tree. Nana loved it but did not at first realize it was made of her old costume jewelery. Like a small child she became full of wonder and enthralled at this creation when I directed her to look more closely. Word got out, and one after the other, the nurses came to behold this glittering tree. Nana got such joy out of reliving the times she had worn each jewel and delighted one and all with stories of her life. Nana was no longer just a patient. She was a vibrant young woman again who relived memories of a life well-lived.
Nana is no longer with us, but each Christmas, I hang her gem-filled tree and relive the magic of that very special Christmas. Her spirit lives on, dazzling us still.