Every Christmas tree is special.
And each one deserves to be loved for its uniqueness.
No one believes that more than Alecia Ford, who’s spent years giving a home to ceramic Christmas trees.
She appreciates their vintage beauty, but it’s also about the love that went into creating them.
Her passion is also rooted in nostalgia.
“There was a time from what I have heard, and especially here in this valley, that it was very popular for people to go to ceramic studios,” said Ford, who lives in the Northern Panhandle.
And that’s where they made them, especially based on so many people telling me about their grandmother, mother or aunt doing just that.”
Ironically, these unique works of art are popular once again.
But that hasn’t always been the case.
Changing times and tastes weren’t kind to many of these family heirlooms.
More recently it was common to see them in yard, estate and junk sales for just a few dollars.
Ford, however, never met one she didn’t love.
At least not recently.
“I can remember back when I was in highschool and I thought the one my mom had was so ugly,” she said.
Everything old is new again now.
She’s collected 56 so far, and is happy to “give a good home” to others.
Today her home is filled with the familiar holiday glow, and it wouldn’t be the holidays without them.
Deciding how to display them each year is a labor of love.
This year’s is a multi-level grouping, and has a special glow.
Even her husband has caught the ceramic tree bug, and that’s a true gift.
He called her after spying an extra large one, more than three feet tall, in a shop window.
But a few hours had passed, and it was already gone.
“Oh yeah, somebody bought it right away. But then he took me back to that store and we just started buying them. Plus people started giving them to me,” she said.
One gifted tree was pearl white with blue ornaments.
“The lady who owned it said her kids didn’t want it, so I definitely did. Now I just buy these up, but the absolute best are the ones from a family and they want me to have it.
If you know me, I’m not a super family person. I don’t have to have someone over for every holiday.
But the idea of someone making something with their own hands that was meant to last, and then it not being wanted is just very sad.
I want it to have a home,” she said.
Her entire basement is devoted to these lucky trees.
“It’s like the island of misfit toys, since no one seems to want them.
I have this idea that at Christmas time trees want to be kind of live in a way, and they want to serve their purpose in life too.”
These reminders of the past have struck a special chord in her.
And it’s still growing.
“I am not sappy about anything other than these kind of Christmas trees,because I love them. And once you get them, these feelings get stronger,” she said.
It’s more the merrier, and it shows each year.
“Once you get them all together and light them up, it looks so much nicer. And they make me so happy, even though some of them on their own are so weird or unusual.”
Some of the more unusual include skinny ones made to sit on window sills.
Color is in the eye of the beholder, and that’s not always good.
“I bought one the other day that someone had painted to match a specific room, and it is a very 70s shade.
It is the ugliest shade of pink you have ever seen in your life. It’s like someone took a light mauve and added a little gray. Then they put clear bows where the ornaments go. Not good, but I totally had to give it a home.”
Now there’s a new color challenge.
And she’s hot on the trail.
“Turns out the Holy Grail is a hot pink tree. And someone up here has seen somewhere a hot pink ceramic tree that some made.
I keep hearing about it, so I’m hunting it down. I’m definitely keeping my eye out for that one.”