My late mother loved Christmas and all of the festivities surrounding the winter holiday. She meticulously decorated her home with poinsettias, holly and red table runners. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve were a whirlwind of baking, shopping and present wrapping.
Each year, Mom and Dad planned out little gifts for their friends in the bridge club or business associates. Dad was very handy with a lathe and woodworking tools so he would often turn out handmade candy dishes, candlesticks, a cheese plate, cutting boards and other polished items in walnut, cherry and oak. They'd add in a plate of homemade cookies or some Wisconsin cheeses to complete the gift. Then on a cold December night, we'd pile into the station wagon and deliver all the gifts, which were adorned with bows or a fabric poinsettia. Sometimes, they would have me run to the door with the goodies and they would wave from the car as the recipient greeted opened the door.
Another of my mom's favorite Christmas indulgences were elves and pixies. She'd took great joy in finding and purchasing pixies in all shapes and sizes. Most of them had flexible felt bodies with plastic heads covered with little caps. She always told us that it was good luck to have a pixie in the house.
So, after several years of accumulating the little figures, Mom decided to start making her own from pipe cleaners, foam rubber, some burlap scraps, a little tinsel and some craft store doll heads. She would lovingly mold the pipe cleaners into just the right shape to form the structure of the pixie. Then she would wrap it in foam to give the figure a little bulk. She would attach a plastic head and glue on a felt cap, often with a tiny jingle bell attached. The body would then be covered in red, green or gold burlap, and would be adorned with little embellishments like sprigs of holly or a tuft of fur on the collar. Each of these new creations would have something to hold. Some had a tiny Christmas songbook; others had miniature candlesticks. She enlisted Dad's help to make the mini wooden candlesticks and he also created wooden stands so that some of the little fellows would stand upright
I have to say, the first few years that she made these little creatures, everyone got one for Christmas - friends and family alike. Every year, the grandchildren would spend part of their visit just counting how many pixies she had displayed. They were everywhere - climbing up the chain of a hanging lamp, sitting on the back of the stove, peeking out from behind the Christmas tree and even sitting on the cabinet in the bathroom (that was a little disturbing).
I hate to admit it, but the pixies kind of became a bit of a joke among those of us in the younger generation. I now regret that we teased her about them.
Well, this week, a boxful of pixies arrived from a relative in my hometown. She had found four or five of the little creatures tucked away in some Christmas decorations and thought my dad and I would like to have them. When I opened the box, I was immediately transported back to my old house and had a vision of my mom choosing just the right spot to display the little fellows. I remembered how we laughed really hard one year when we realized that one bespectacled little doll heads looked just like an elderly man in our church. I also remembered how much joy she found in building these playful little decorations.
This weekend, I'm going to tell Daniel all about Grandma Polly and the pixies, and we're going to find just the right spot for those little figures in our house. After all, it's very good luck to have a pixie in the house.