I grew up in a family that loved the holidays, none moreso than Christmas. Even my dad loved to shop. We would always hop in Dad’s super-sized 70’s Lincoln Town Car & head for St. Louis or Memphis to squeeze in one last shopping excursion before we opened presents. I got the entire backseat to myself and we usually spent lots of time looking at lights & decorations. I still love to see towns that go all out on their holiday decor. Drape a banner between light poles at your town’s entrance & you have me for life. Cute decorations on your telephone poles as I drive through your town?? Be still my heart! Unfortunately, my children don’t seem to get the same awe-inspiring feeling when we drive them around to see lights.
Growing up with the name “Noelle”, I experienced soooo much frustration at never being able to find anything personalized. Those kids that had pencils with their names on them? Not me. Stickers that said, “Property of Noelle”? You have to be kidding. Those were reserved for the Tracys, Stacys and Maries of the world. Even if you saw my name on Christmas decor, it was always “Noel”.
My grandma, Dorothy & I spent most every Saturday in Poplar Buff, MO shopping, taking baton lessons (yes, me) & visiting her sister, Phyllis & her crew. My favorite destination was Newberry’s Department Store. Not only did they have toys, but a REAL, honest-to-goodness lunch counter where you could take a break, hop up on a stool and enjoy a hot grilled cheese and cold, thick milkshake. It was a small slice of heaven to me. In fact, if I make it to heaven and it’s a Newberry’s store, I will be ecstatic. One of my favorite things to buy was Christmas decorations. Lights, ornaments, you name it. Christmas was a big deal in our house. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled up on a display of ornaments that were made by a company called NOELLE. Not Noel. NOELLE!!! I was even more surprised to learn that they were manufactured at a facility in Poplar Bluff, MO, the very soil on which I stood. I remember being so excited about this discovery that one time my dad drove me out to the plant just to show me that it did indeed exist. The ornaments were not fancy. They were pretty much just glass balls in various colors, but to me they were nothing short of gorgeous. I have no clue the total number of boxes of these ornaments we must have purchased when I was small. I wish I could say that I have a huge collection of them; that my grandma passed them all to me when she died. The truth is they were lost. My grandma swears our decorations were stolen from the outside storage shed she kept them in. Possibly true. But my grandma had so many unconfirmed crime stories that happened on our property, she should have been a novelist. I don’t know where those ornaments are but I hope they’re enjoying a good home.
Well, imagine my surprise AGAIN, a few weeks ago, while enjoying a spur-of-the-moment trek through the Midtowne Antique Mall. The box of NOELLE ornaments you see above? $2.25! Two dollars and twenty-five cents for a slice of my childhood that I never expected to encounter again. I love them! I will save that box forever. The company went out of business after not too many years, if I remember correctly. It’s a shame because when I walk through the stores today and see plastic ornaments and LED lights, I remember what it was like to have Christmas back when things were “real”. And then my kids call me old for reminiscing, roll their eyes at me, and we move on.