Christmas tradition continues during the pandemic

By Page H. Gifford

Most will agree that Christmas 2020 will be like no other we have ever known. Without loved ones physically present at this special time of year, some are opting for a Zoom Christmas. But perhaps what keeps us engaged in the spirit of the holiday season is the long-held traditions that have grounded us in the past. Lynn Owen not only continues a Christmas tradition she started with her mother but one that helped her to cope with isolation during the pandemic.

Some people bake but Owen makes Christmas ornaments. During her self-initiated solitary confinement during the pandemic, she sat at her dining room table surrounded by boxes of ornaments, ribbons, beads, and sequins, everything that glitters and everything that makes Christmas magical.

“It was my mother who started it. One year she started making ornaments for our Christmas tree but ended up giving half of them away to friends who thought they were unique, thereby starting a tradition. She would make some every year for our tree and to give away,” said Owen. “After she passed away, I kept all of the satin balls, laces, ribbons, beads, and put them away, never thinking I would ever try decorating them myself.”

She said after moving to Charlottesville, she found that she had a “lovely craft room with all sorts of neat shelves and niches,” and decided it was time to try her hand at decorating some ornaments again. She’d forgotten how much she had enjoyed making these one-of-a-kind personalized ornaments while bringing back memories. But when she and her family moved from Charlottesville to Lake Monticello, she put them away again and didn’t start again until this past April.

“It gave me something constructive to do, and certainly helped pass the time during our quarantine.”

Everything Owen creates is by chance and imagination

“I look at some ribbon or lace and think that might go with this, and eventually come up with an idea. It usually takes me an hour or more per ornament, depending on how elaborate it turns out to be,” she said. “They’re unique; it’s challenging, and it’s fun seeing how many different designs I can come up with.”

She doesn’t share in the making of the ornaments with other family members as she did with her mother. Traditions are modified over time so she shares her love by giving them as gifts to her daughter and grandsons and puts them on her own tree. Their memories tied to her unique ornaments will be different but still special.

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