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To Mama, gold paint meant Christmas

POSTED: December 18, 2011 12:30 a.m.

We bought a can of gold spray paint this week. My mama would have been proud.

I don't know if it is a Southern thing, but gold spray paint was as much a part of Christmas at our house as Santa and the reindeer.

Mama thought certain homemade Christmas decorations looked better with a coating of gold. Most notably among them, pine cones. Mama painted many a pine cone and added a touch of silver glitter to a few.

I had to accompany my mama to seminars where a lady would teach all sorts of Christmas decorating ideas.

Most of these were held at the old Walton EMC auditorium in downtown Monroe. It has been gone for many years, but if you looked around, there are probably some telltale traces of gold spray paint and that fake spray snow.

I recall little Christmas trees, or so they pretended, made from glued together copies of Readers Digest magazine. This was in an era when it was a much fatter magazine. The pages were cut at an angle and the glued-together assemblage looked something like a Christmas tree.

We might not have had recycling bins in those days, but these decorator types always had a good use for old Christmas cards. You could cut off the picture on the front, punch holes down the sides and somehow seam them together to make a little basket that was perfect for holding more Christmas cards.

I remember one year, they took a cone shaped piece of Styrofoam and attached Coca-Cola bottle caps all over it. To finish it off, they sprayed it gold and it, too, became a Christmas tree.

One year, a different woman took the original green Coca-Cola bottles and covered them in some kind of fabric to make a nativity set. For years, I thought that a wise man looked like one of the men in our church wearing a colorful bathrobe and a cutout crown that looked like the kind they give you at Burger King. They certainly didn't look like a fabric covered Coke bottle.

I don't know if folks still crochet little gift items, but it was the rage when I was a kid. We had a crocheted snowman that looked somewhat like a snowman on his head and midsection. The bottom, however, was crocheted to cover a roll of toilet paper to sit on top of the water closet. I never saw a snowman look like that.

I think that holly leaves were very Christmas-like until my mama coated them with gold spray paint and topped that with fake snow.

Mama also had a thing about bird nests in the Christmas tree. She gave them a nice coat of gold, as well. We still have one and I put it on the backside of the tree to remember Mama. It has a companion bird that goes with it. It's made out of the same shiny stuff as Christmas ornament balls and has a spring-loaded clip for feet.

It has been 15 years this week since Mama died. I still laugh at some of her Christmas décor, but I never saw a prettier pine cone.

I miss her a lot.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.



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