Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Christmas Crystals ///

For the past couple of years now, my mother and I have had this collection going.  I'm trying to remember when and how it first started...  I think it actually began with my own personal mini Christmas tree.  Let me explain:
Refracted, twisted light...
Ever since I was a child I've been mesmerized, stupefied and hypnotized by Christmas trees.  I just love everything about them.  The symbolism, the beauty.  I love how every tree is personalized every year by all walks of life: little handmade trinkets from the children, sentimental bobbles from friends and family.  The color, the lights.  I love how everything twinkles when you walk by as thousands of bits of metal, glitter, tinsel, glass and crystal throw points of light in the periphery of your vision.  Simply magical.  In fact, I think the tree nicely encapsulates the best of Christmas.  The magical parts.  The small parts that, I think, sometimes get lost in the shuffle of Holiday shopping, deadlines, in-laws, and five-course dinners.
My mother shares my sparkle obsession.

Our newest additions
 So it was no surprise when, on a day much like this last year, I spotted from across a cluttered antique shop floor some old chandelier crystals.  Not the cheap cut glass kind, the kind that actually throw rainbows.  Even without the benefit of sunlight it was clear how brilliantly they shined.  They glittered between my fingers like diamonds.  I felt like a bandit!  I quickly scooped up every last cluster of jewel-like crystals into the make-shift pocket I had made with my shirt and scampered away to show my mother.  I found her quickly in an adjoining room and showed her my treasures.  Her glee exceeded even mine.  We both knew instinctively what these crystals were destined for.  The down side was that Christmas was at least 4 months away.  The up side was that each cluster was only $3.  Pricey if one had thousands to choose from, but in an antique store, where you're lucky to find more than 2 of any one item, $3 was a steal.  We left positively laden with riches.

Sunset rainbows.
Ever since then, we've been keeping our eyes peeled for antique chandelier crystals.  We've gotten pretty good at spotting them and telling the difference between glass and 'gold'.  Every antique store we visit, every tag sale -- we're looking.  Of course, we look for all sorts of one-of-a-kind finds good and glorious (pottery, vintage clothes, costume jewelry), but our favorites (the crystals for example) are always in the back of our minds.

 On our last outing to Brimfield, Massachusetts (every year there are 3 GIANT antique fairs in Brimfield Mass.  One in May, one in July, and one in September.  The whole show is so huge it takes up fields and fields of real-estate!) we hit the mother-load!  One seller sold nothing but antique chandeliers and loose crystals.  Oh my goodness, did we have fun!
We'll take our treasures and rewire them with floral wire and add them to the others for our tree this year.  They'll nestle nicely between our old Christmas ornaments, both handmade, store bought and gifted.
Over the years our tree has become quite full, but it's the hunting and creating with loved ones that's the fun part.  Then, my mother, father and I pour a glass of wine and enjoy reminiscing as we arrange them all over the tree every year.  It's a lovely tradition that I want to live on.  I'll do it with my children (when I have them) some day.  And every time I walk by my Christmas tree I'll smile, no matter the year.

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