When I was a little girl, each December several cardboard boxes would be hauled up from the basement. Mostly there were decorations for the tree inside, but there was one thing I was always especially delighted to see. And hear. Pieces of thin brass that were assembled to create what my mom called "Swedish Angels."
Four little candles fit at the base, which was a round tray. From the center rose a slim column, which held two little domed bells. Above that hung three little angels, dangling strikers from their tummies. Over all of this was a fan shaped piece, with a trumpeting angel at the top. The candles would be lit, the heat from their flames would turn the fan, and the angels would begin to spin. As they gained momentum, the strikers that hung from them would chime against the bells. Clear, high, ringing notes would fill the air. Invariably we would dim the room lights, and I would thrill to see the lovely flickering shadows that would appear on the ceiling. This one decoration was, I think, the embodiment of happy Christmas memories to me.
Fast forward to my adult years. Every few years I buy a set. I am always filled with hope as I set it up, then I am consistently bitterly dissapointed. The ones made now are junk. Cheap, pressed metal, angels that don't spin freely or chime sweetly. Last year I went on a campaign to find an old set on line. I was unsuccessful and after Christmas was over I gave up looking.
The other day Evans, my daughters boyfriend, came over for supper. He handed me a small package and said, "You should open this now."
As if I were retrieving it from the musty carton that spent 11 months a year in the basement, the familiar box from my childhood was there in my hands. The words "A Genuine Swedish Product" printed boldly in the upper right hand corner. And inside?
Straight from the 1960's, a treasure. I was swept back in time, to the living room of my childhood. The scent of the tree, the sounds of my siblings and parents voices,the avocado carpet and wallpaper. All topped off with the sweet song of the little Swedish chime. My heart swelled, my eyes filled with tears. This was a gift with a capital "G." A gift that showed deep thought and attention, and brought great joy. And memories.