NTXIF 2024

Making memories

by | Dec 9, 2022 | Opinion

My mother must’ve kept everything my sister and I ever made for Christmas. Some things were put together in school, but most were done in Sunday School.

Same is true for anything we ever made, regardless of the time of year.

Decades later at a Christmas gathering, if something someone says reminds my mom of a drawing I did in Vacation Bible School in 1967, she leaves the room and moments later returns with a drawing for all to see.

I never understood this until I had children.

The thought that I had a hand in creating another human being was overwhelming enough. But to watch one of my kids create something and then give it to me was just about the best thing ever. It still is.

When kids can’t build or make something they want to give their mom or dad, they save their pennies to buy it for them. In my writing studio, I still proudly display a model ship in a glass case that my youngest son saved to get me when he was about seven. If there’s ever a fire, it’ll be one of the things I grab on my way out the door.

Growing up in Ashdown, Arkansas, my sister and I made many of the decorations for the Christmas tree. Looking back, I suspect our crafts were to make us feel like we were in charge of decorating as much as they were to fill space that otherwise would have had to be filled with ornaments that cost money.

I don’t see kids making Christmas ornaments much these days. That’s a shame. We looked forward to getting a package of construction paper of all different colors, a bottle of Elmer’s Glue, and a small pair of safety scissors to make decorations.

We’d spend hours trying to perfectly cut paper strips that we’d make into interlocking loops that circled the tree my dad had harvested from the woods.

Our Sunday School teachers would provide coloring pages or books of the Nativity Scene and other Biblical images that we would color and then cut out, finally putting a hole in the top and a silver hook to hang them on the tree.

We weren’t the best about coloring inside the lines, but that just seemed to make our mom and grandmother like them even more.

Anytime we came home with something new we’d made for Christmas decorating, we were told it was the prettiest thing they’d ever seen. Even though the last thing we brought them was also the prettiest thing they’d ever seen.

Ironically, it was a Christmas decoration I made for my mom when I was in my 20s that she seems to treasure most. That year, I made Christmas soldiers out of small terra cotta pots.

I was young and still trying to build a career and a life, so money was tight. Someone showed me the idea, which was two different types of soldiers that are reminiscent of The Nutcracker. The design was simple, yet effective.

To make the two soldiers, I bought 10 small pots; some small jars of black, red, and yellow model car paint; black and red spray paint; and one small, white wooden ball.

Picture the men being formed from five pots. Each pot is turned over to sit on the next. The top pot is the hat, the next is the face, then the chest, then the waist, then the feet. After you paint each pot to make a hat, face, etc., you spray all of the pots with lacquer to protect the paint. The white ball goes in the hole in the top hat. 

I’ve posted a link to a picture of the soldiers on my website at JohnMoore.net/Blog.

A wooden dowel can be used to hold all of the pots securely in line. However, you don’t need a dowel if you place the pots in a high enough place that the kids can’t get to them. My mom displays hers on the fireplace mantle on either side of the clock.

The thing that still gets me when I visit my mom at Christmas is how she still brags to everyone that I made those for her.

Sure, she’s proud of the drawings I did and the colored looped construction paper rings that decorated Christmas trees of yore, but she’s especially proud of these soldiers.

All of the other things I’ve bought for her over the years, such as toasters, lawn lights, and other items are likely no longer used or not working. But the simple, terra cotta pot soldiers are always waiting in her Christmas boxes to emerge and take their place for holiday duty.

The soldiers were something I made in an afternoon when I was young and money was tight. Proof that for a mom, a gift doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. It just needs to be from the heart of her child. 

By John Moore

Subscribe RH Love

0 Comments

Order photos

Related News

Pet ownership: A lifetime commitment

Pet ownership: A lifetime commitment

He was crossing the road. Over and over. I was surprised someone hadn’t hit him with their car. I was also surprised the coyotes hadn’t gotten him. It was 9 o’clock at night and according to the residents of the small strip of country road, he’d been out there for a...

read more
Pitch made for new power plants

Pitch made for new power plants

Lt. Gov Dan Patrick joined with the world’s largest investment firm to pitch investors on building natural gas power plants in Texas at a summit held last week in Houston. Patrick and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink shared the stage as they attempted to persuade investors to...

read more
Dewey or don’t we?

Dewey or don’t we?

On Christmas Eve 2008, there were just three of us working in the office. Well, technically, there was one of us working, the other two were there. A couple of the young ladies on staff either didn’t have enough vacation time built up or they were saving it for...

read more
A range of options

A range of options

My great grandparents lived on a homestead. They cooked on a wood stove. Most of us today have no idea how good we’ve got it. For my great grandparents’ generation, remodeling the kitchen meant picking a different place to stack the wood. When I was growing up in...

read more
A word from our sponsors

A word from our sponsors

Commercials used to be great. They used to be an art form. They used to be fun. Today’s advertising is boring in comparison. Television commercials were something to which I looked forward when I was a kid. Some were better developed and more interesting than the...

read more
Quakes prompt officials to limit disposal wells

Quakes prompt officials to limit disposal wells

The Texas Railroad Commission has suspended nearly two dozen permits that allow oil and gas companies to inject saltwater into the ground, which regulators say has contributed to increased earthquakes of greater magnitude in West Texas. The Austin American Statesman...

read more
The Walking Dad

The Walking Dad

It’s obvious that I have to wait to die until after everyone else in my home goes. Otherwise, every light in the house will be left on for all of eternity. My dad used to say that I could leave on all of the lights whenever I started paying the bills. That time has...

read more
Small town living: some leave, some come back

Small town living: some leave, some come back

Small town Ashdown, Arkansas. John Moore You learn things when you grow up in a small town. Things you don’t learn if you grow up anywhere else. Things that are special. I was born in a small town. But I didn’t stay. I left for the same reasons other folks leave their...

read more
There’s ‘snow’ ice cream quite like it!

There’s ‘snow’ ice cream quite like it!

It didn’t snow much in Ashdown, Arkansas in the 1960s. It doesn’t snow there much now. But when it did, and when it does, kids there know exactly what to do. Beg their moms to make snow ice cream. It was my mother who showed my sister and me that you could make ice...

read more
Order photos