For more than sixty Christmases I have carried on a tradition dating back to 1909 and my Grandmother’s first Christmas as a young married woman. That year she hung a gold ball on the tree shared with my Grandfather and for every year after that only my Grandmother could hang The Ornament upon the tree until. . .
“Here it is, now you hang it right where we can see it.” So were the words of my Grandmother as she carefully unwrapped the gold ball. As I hung the ornament on the tree she continued to relate the story of this simple piece. “That’s the only ornament I have from the first Christmas your Grandpa and I spent together after we were married in 1909. This other one, the little bell was from your Aunt Vivian’s first Christmas in 1910. Hang it right near the gold one.” Every year I went through the same routine with Grandma and I never tired of her telling me the stories. I felt duty-bound to follow set traditions, and putting up my grandparents’ Christmas tree was the most sacred duty I had as a young boy.
For my family, as I grew up in the 1950s, the holiday season did not—could not—begin before the Friday after Thanksgiving. On that day we children rushed to the nearby Sears in Chicago and anxiously waited for Toyland to open. Usually during that weekend my father, mother, grandparents and I would climb into the Chevy and go out to Amling’s Flowerland to see the displays. On the way home we stopped to buy our trees, a process that often tested my father’s patience to the extreme. You see Grandma was a choosy shopper, and the tree had to exactly right. Once the purchase was made the trees were tied to the top of the car and we headed home. Dad later cut a bit off the bottom of the trees and placed each one in a bucket of water. The next weekend we decorated for the holidays.
I found the traditions my parents established to be like beacons in my life as they guided me toward the right understanding of family and the over-arching meaning of the December madness that prevailed. Our tree stood proudly in the front room bay window. As my father grew older and I taller, the task of hanging the lights was turned over to me. Holiday music played from the stereo and the multicolored lights cast a warm glow in the room as we hung ornaments. Every so often Mom would relate a bit about some of the older ornaments as we hung them on the tree. I still have a few from their first Christmas in 1935.
Finished with our tree on Friday, I usually went upstairs to Grandma’s on Saturday. You see, I had the wonderful luxury of having my grandparents live in the flat above—an intention of my parents when they bought their only house in 1955. Up at Grandma’s I was in charge, and it felt great. Grandma unwrapped all the ornaments and I hung them wherever I pleased—all but the two originals that Grandma made sure hung in a prominent spot. Little did I realize how much more was going on as we decorated the tree. The small bits of conversation, the reassuring “Oh, that looks nice there!” and the twinkling glances from Grandma, all were a part of my sense of belonging.
I am anxious about the coming holiday season. The news is filled with snippets about supply chain problems, and this has led to inflation unlike any in the past three decades. Also, this will be our first Christmas without our “big” tree. Yes, our house sold and we’re temporarily in an apartment. Before I get too far into December I will dig around in the Christmas boxes until I find the Ornament and hang it on whatever we use for our tree. Damn the supply chains, and damn the inflation because they do not control our holiday joy!
The season must not be about buying and spending and camping out for great deals; rather, it must always be about the personal relationships we have with each other. My grandmother’s ornament will remind me of the joy I had just being in her presence. Disappointment will be real, but it will not last. What will last are the loving memories we create with or without the presents. This season, as you hang ornaments with children or grandchildren, tell them stories of holidays past and pass on to others the warmth and love you’ve known.
New Dog Has Appetite for Doggie Door Flap
DEAR PAWS CORNER: Help! Our recently adopted dog “Mollie,” a medium-sized mixed breed, thinks the doggie door flap leading outside to the backyard is delicious. Rather than using it to go in and out, she grabs the edge, chews and tugs on it. She growls when she does this. And she insists that we open the back door for her to go out. How do we fix this? — Mary T., San Antonio
DEAR MARY: You’ll need to address this in two steps. First, you need to figure out if Mollie is chewing due to boredom or attention-seeking, or if she has separation anxiety due to trauma in her past. If she’s only chewing on the door flap and nothing else in the house, maybe there’s an old memory surfacing.
Second, you’ll need to repair or replace the damaged flap and train Mollie to go in and out of it confidently.
Here are a few methods:
1. Divert and distract: As soon as Mollie starts trying to chew the door, call her name to stop her and then distract her away from the door with something else that interests her, like a favorite toy or a treat.
2. Behavior training at the same time each day: Note when Mollie is most likely to start chewing on the door. Then, conduct 10 minutes of behavior training in basic commands.
3. Train Mollie to use the flap correctly: Once she’s responding well to basic commands, add “going thru the flap” to her training. The AKC has a great tutorial here: www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/dog-not-using-dog-door/ and this trainer’s video shows the clicker-treat method: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-R_k4_UHDeA
If these methods don’t work, consider a professional trainer to help identify and work through Mollie’s fears or bad habits.
Send your tips, questions,
or comments to
© 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.
Suffolk Pig Bottle
Photo Credit: Kovels
There have been copies of the antique Suffolk pig bottles
in other colors of glass. The original bottle is 10 inches long
and has a smooth base.
Figural bottles were often used to package medicines as well as alcoholic beverages in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A cabin-shaped bottle with the embossed name “E.G. Booz Whiskey” led customers to use the word booze for drink, a term still in use. But how did a pig-shaped bottle become one of the most popular bottles to encourage buyers of medicine?
There are early 1800s pig-shaped bottles made of both glass and ceramics. The tail is the spout, and the bottle was displayed on its four short legs. Suffolk Bitters, a medicine with a high percentage of alcohol, used the bottle about 1870. If you drank a lot, it made you happier and pain-free like any alcoholic beverage. Bitters were considered a medicinal drink, not alcohol.
The original amber Suffolk pig bottle had its name in raised letters on one side with “Philbrook & Tucker, Boston” on the other. There have been reproductions made in other colors and similar pigs with other names. At a Glass Works Auction online there were 14 bids before the new owner paid $1,170.
But why pigs for a product that doesn’t contain any parts of a pig? It is probably to encourage sales because there was a belief in the 1870-1890s that pigs bring prosperity and the drink in a pig bottle would bring wealth.
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My mother says her bracelet is made of bake-a-lite. What is that?
Bakelite is a plastic developed in the early 1900s. It was used for jewelry by the 1930s by major designers. The art deco jewelry became very popular. Bakelite was needed for the war in the 1940s, so the jewelry wasn’t made for about five years. About 1997, the deco jewelry was rediscovered by collectors, and books were published with information and color pictures that made prices skyrocket. Bracelets with inset dots were selling for $300 to $1,000. Small pins were $75 to $300, and carved bracelets were about $500.
There is a good supply of plastic jewelry now that those who bought in the 1990s are older and “decluttering.” A recent Morphy’s auction sold about 600 pieces for a total of $43,000 (yes, I counted the pieces), with an average price of $70.
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Movie, poster, Papillon, Steve McQueen & Dustin Hoffman portraits, The Greatest Adventure of Escape is Back, dated 1976, 41 x 27 inches, $85.
Cut glass, vase, Propeller pattern, Marshall Field, oval, step cut neck with horizontal ribs, double notched angular handles, 9 3/4 x 7 inches, $460.
Purse, handbag, Alma, Louis Vuitton, monogrammed coated canvas, tan Vachetta leather handles & base, gold tone hardware, 14 inches wide, $675.
Beatles, bicycle seat, Yellow Submarine, steel frame, vinyl covering with groovy submarine & waves image, Huffy, 1968, 9 x 9 inches, $1,500.
• • •
TIP: The best way to dust books is with a vacuum cleaner brush attachment, while running the vacuum.
Kovels’ Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide —the new 2022 edition — is now available in bookstores and online.
© 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.
Cremer’s E–Z Whole Beef Tenderloin
• 4-4-1/2 lb whole beef tenderloin
• Cremer’s Rub-Me-Tender Seasoning
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Season tenderloin with Cremer’s Rub-Me-Tender seasoning.
Place tenderloin in roasting pan or on cookie sheet.
Roast tenderloin for 30 minutes or until 130 degrees internal temperature for medium rare (10 minutes additional for medium well).
Remove tenderloin from oven, cover with foil tent, and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
Internal temperature may increase 5–10 degrees while resting—due to residual heat.
Slice tenderloin into 1/4” to 1/2” slices. End piece will be more done and center of roast more rare.
As Christmas fast approaches it represents the busiest time of the year for many of us. For most of us there are holiday gatherings that continue through the month and spill over into the New Year.
The hands down most popular item we carry for the upcoming season is Whole Beef Tenderloin. Its versatility becomes as favorable as its delicate beef flavor. Whether sliced thin for finger sandwiches at a cocktail party or the main course for Christmas dinner. Roasting these at a high heat for a relatively short amount of time is sure to ease the challenges of entertaining and delight your guest.
For other Holiday entertaining or gift giving ideas give us a call.