Resident Shares Family Holiday Ornaments with Judson Manor Family

Judson Manor resident Karen Holtkamp’s family ornaments, some over 100 years old, adorn the Manor’s magnificent lobby tree. Here she recounts how this tradition came about.

A tall evergreen tree at Christmas is a thing of beauty which needs no decoration, yet at some point people began to decorate their trees.

My family had a grand time following this tradition for decades. Now we have twice as many ornaments as we can use on the small tree in our Judson Manor apartment.

Our first Christmas here, the tree in the Manor’s lobby was a “decorator” tree, but a year later most of the ornaments had been lost. As the Beaumont girls arrived to decorate the tree, I retrieved a large box of our extra personal ornaments. Within 30 minutes, the Manor’s tree was magically transformed into an old-fashioned Christmas tree!

During the past eight years the collection of Judson Manor ornaments has grown, with residents donating their own treasures to posterity, giving all of us great pleasure.

My family ornaments were annual gifts between family members, with some of the oldest given to us by my mother, who ran estate sales in St. Louis for many years. An old clown and a Santa head are between 75-80 years old. There is also a brass hunting horn, various critters including a bulldog, a whimsical red cat, birds, and nostalgic vacation ornaments. One handmade felt ornament with a bell was made for me by a 5th grade student 50 years ago.

We have kept many ornaments for use in our apartment, such as the handmade European “icing” ornaments made 40 years ago in St. Louis. Our oldest ornament is a 150-year-old tin rooster, which came from my mother’s grandparents. Each of our ornaments has a special history, whether from the giver or the place, and each is entered in our ornament record book so we can keep track of what has been given away or has been accidentally broken!

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