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Paul Sassone: Who needs expensive Christmas ornaments?

<p>Paul Sassone</p>

Paul Sassone

$60? Yikes!

For one Christmas tree ornament. And that’s not the highest price I’ve seen on the internet. It is common for ornaments to cost $20, $40, $50 and beyond.

That’s a lot of money, even if your idea of what things should cost is frozen in 1968, as is my idea of what things should cost.

And it’s difficult these days to tell what exactly constitutes a Christmas ornament. Everything, from frogs to pickles, is an ornament today, a costly ornament.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-ornament. The reason I know what ornaments cost and what’s available is that the Sassone household has a lot of them — including a pickle.

What I really like about ornaments is that they can be saved and used again and again and then passed on.

An old ornament is a magnet to which warm Christmas memories adhere.

Thus, my favorite ornaments are old ones from Christmas trees past. My very best ornament is a small dried-out, leather-looking boot. On it is written in my Aunt Mary’s hand, “Baby Paul’s first Christmas.’’ (No, it doesn’t also say, “Buy Bonds and Help Beat the Kaiser.’’)

My next favorite ornament is a blue plastic bell. This ornament is crusted with a whitish-brown substance. The bell and its crust are what is left from one of my mother’s great experiments.

When I was a kid, flocked Christmas trees were all the rage. They were very expensive. A flocked tree let people know you had made it. (Draping plastic covers on your furniture was another status symbol of this Time of Bad Taste.)

We couldn’t afford a flocked tree. Not that anyone in the family wanted such a tree — except my mother. She was a fashion-conscious person. So, she bought a spray can of Flock-O, or whatever it was called, and flocked her own tree. A lot of Flock-O oozed onto the ornaments. And apparently the ingredients of Flock-O have a half-life comparable to plutonium. Hence, the blue plastic bell with its flocking still intact these many years later.

My collection also includes a small wreath made of a pipe cleaner-like substance also showing signs of having been flocked.

These are the ornaments that go on the Christmas tree first.

My wife understands and humors me. Plus, she has a few nifty olden ornaments of her own.

None of them flocked, though.

So, bring on your frogs and your pickles. Bring on your new ornaments and your old. There’s room for all on a Christmas tree.

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