A Christmas Legacy

Dec 11, 2010 | 2 comments

The Christmas Bell

       Each Christmas season, the big red paper bell is hung in a place of honor above the Morris chair.  My mother remembered it from her childhood and when she re-discovered it in one of the attic boxes, she was delighted.  It is remarkably intact for such an old and fragile item – no doubt a testimony to the fact that, by the time my folks had retired and moved into the family house  here in Oysterville in 1972,  it had not seen the light of day for more than fifty years.
     It may be significant that the bell hangs from the beam which separates the “new” part of the house from the original part.  It marks the division between the library (which, when the house was built in 1869, was the kitchen) and the living room (which, originally, was a woodshed or laundry room.)  It is also the dividing point between my mother’s earliest memories and the stories of ‘before her time.’  
     In 1914, when my mother was three, there was a chimney fire in the (then) kitchen.  My grandmother took the opportunity to have the space totally remodeled into a library for her beloved books.  The “out buildings” to the west of the library were converted into living space which was sorely needed for a family of eight – a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen.  The out buildings, which in deference to our weather, have always been an integral part of the house structure and not “out” at all, began to march north.
     And so, there is an eleven foot ceiling to the east of the bell and an eight foot ceiling to the west.  I often think as I hang that bell each year that its placement is symbolic.  It speaks to those days before electricity and modern fire-fighting equipment when disaster was often just sparks away, and it speaks to the ingenuity and determination of my grandmother who saw promise in the aftermath of that disaster.
     Mostly, the bell reminds me of my mom and of her delight in the excitement and color of the holidays.   I’m so glad that, along with the bell, it’s a legacy she left me!


  1. Cheryl Kocher

    Ahh. . . the big, red Christmas bell! It must be getting close to Christmas! That bell really does speak to past Christmases. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Stephanie Frieze

    There are so many lovely memories attached to my Christmas decorations! Thank you for sharing your red bell and the history of your lovely home.


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