From the AT Staff: Have a kitschy Christmas

I have nothing but fond memories of my childhood Christmases. And some very distinct recollections of our holiday decor, which can pretty much be summed up in one word: Kitsch.

When I recall our decorations, it was like a big elf regurgitated “retro” all over the place. And I mean no offense. In fact, if they hadn’t been so unique, I probably wouldn’t remember them as clearly as I do. Back then, I didn’t know any better. I just thought yuletide kitsch was cool. These days, I know some of it was a bit tacky – but I still think it was pretty far out.

I mean, who doesn’t love a plastic tree with a three-bulbed “disco lamp” underneath that lights up red, then blue, then green, then all three colors? I loved that. I bet my parents still have it, unless the cheap plastic cone was cracked or crunched in the Christmas box at some point over the years (highly likely).

Speaking of lights, we certainly had enough of those electric plastic candles with the “dripping wax” and screw-in bulb on top. The orange bulb flame looked so authentic, didn’t it?

Remember the days before white mini-lights? Those colorful screw-in light strings were pretty but quite the fire hazard. Those bulbs would get so hot, I’m surprised our trees stayed intact – especially towards New Year’s when they weren’t getting much water.

I still see ornaments in stores that look like the “satin” ones with tons of thread wrapped around a Styrofoam ball, but nothing like the glamorous ones with ribbons and sequins held in place with pearl-topped straight pins. How beautiful, right?

As a little girl, I enjoyed playing with our little stuffed Rudolphs. These were pre-Beanie Baby days, mind you, and these velvet (that’s debatable) deer were actually stuffed with sawdust. Don’t let the “Made in Japan” sticker convince you these were not quality, though. These were built to last – and did last after years of not-so-gentle handling by us kids.

My favorite item was not even a decoration. It was our ceramic Santa mugs. There were eight different mugs with eight different expressions. (Have I mentioned there were eight kids in our family?) Those mugs were only used for two special occasions: our Christmas dinner milk and our Christmas Eve cup of eggnog. It’s no wonder I love eggnog to this day. It was a special experience to have it each Christmas! And yes, my mother still has those mugs in her cupboard. Those we actually handled with care!

If you are a Santa fan, take a look at the collecting feature on page 6 of this issue of Antique Trader, too. Do you save Santas or collect Christmas? Do you place your gifts under an aluminum tree or one that looks like a gigantic bottle brush? Do you still hang your honeycomb paper bells? Antique Trader would love to know if you are trimming your tree with antique, vintage or retro decorations. Drop us a line at robyn.austin@fwmedia.com, post a reply on the AT blog, or visit the Antique Trader Message Boards and post a reply to the Christmas Collectibles thread. And send pictures! Some of this stuff is hard to believe without seeing!

OK. I gotta go. I heard a fast-food joint nearby has eggnog shakes!

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My favorite Christmas item.

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