“Dressed For The Occasion”


I have been setting out our Christmas decorations and came across this trio of little figurines, each about two inches high. (It is hard to get a sense of the size in this photo.) I inherited them from my grandmother and they represent three phases of my beloved grandfather’s life. On the left is his uniform from World War I. He never went overseas, but he did serve in the Army. In the middle is his academic outfit. He graduated from Harvard with a PhD.  and was a college professor throughout his life. On the right Grandpa is dressed in his liturgical robe. He never could decide between the church and academe, so he did both. He attended Harvard Divinity School and was an ordained Episcopal priest all his life.

I enjoy the smiles on each figurine. Grandpa was, as my favorite aunt used to say, “a hoot.” He loved limericks, jokes in bad taste(not terribly bad taste, just enough to annoy my proper grandmother,) “hillbilly” music and an afternoon nap. He was deaf in one ear from a mastoid infection in his childhood before antibiotics were available. The left side of his face was covered with a port wine birthmark. Neither issue ever mattered “a hill of beans” to him and so it didn’t bother us either.

When we were able to visit him at his summer place in Western New York he was always up for an adventure. He was the one who took me outside to marvel at Sputnik going by overhead. And he piled us all into the car when the town fire siren blared so we could “see what’s burning.”

I would love to hear from any readers about Christmas decorations which bring similar memories.

27 thoughts on ““Dressed For The Occasion”

  1. I no longer have any Christmas decorations from my past. My maternal grandfather was a stern man. Just too young for WW1, slightly too old for WW2. He was in a ‘reserved occupation’ anyway, as a flour grader and miller, on London’s docks.
    After 1939, when he was 39 years old, he worked as a volunteer searchlight operator, for the anti-aircraft crews fighting The Blitz on London. He used to be on a searchlight less than 500 yards from his house during the night, then work all day after that.
    He died in 1965, aged 65. I was 13 years old, and his body in a coffin was the first dead person I had ever seen. As I have grown older, I look exactly like him. I could be him!
    Best wishes, Pete.


  2. Wow, your grandfather has quite a grand story! How wonderful that you have those figurines to show each stage of his life. I have old newspaper clippings of mine corresponding with his time as captain of a shrimp boat on Hood Canal.😊


  3. What a lovely tribute to your grandpa Elizabeth. It is always nice remembering those early days, isn’t it? I was lucky and blessed too having my grandparents while we were all growing up.


  4. As always, is it the ornaments made by our children over the years that make me smile. However, this year, it is a bauble featuring a photo of my Mum and her husband who passed in July that has hit home. The two of them are huddled together, grinning ear to ear like big kids. At one stage, the bauble played a recording of them yelling “Merry Christmas” (they spent most of their married life living overseas in England and more recently in Australia). Mum is joining us this year (Monday but who’s counting?!) and, as we haven’t seen her since he passed, this Christmas will be bitter sweet. Hopefully, the decoration doesn’t make her sad but instead evokes memories of happy times. That is my wish for her.


  5. Lovely memories Elizabeth! I have a golden heart decoration that I bought the first Christmas after my late husband died. It always brings a smile to my face when I see it for he did indeed have a beautiful golden heart.
    Just letting you know I’m including your site in my gift post tomorrow 😀
    Merry Christmas,


  6. These figurines are absolutely amazing, Elizabeth. I have a Christmas chaos tree every year. The children decorate it themselves. I have decorations from everywhere we have visited on holiday and also loads of homemade decorations made by my boys. I also have some special decorations that I bought for each of my boys and each of my nieces.


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