Sunday, December 26, 2010

Grandma’s Dolls

I don’t know about you, but we’re still doin’ Christmas around here. We put up the decorations about mid-December and will leave them up through Epiphany.

Of our old holiday decorations that had been Grandma’s, last year I told you about the Knecht Ruprecht, the Weihnachtspyramide, and the preponderance of fruit and fruit baskets on her “Christmas tree.”

This year I’d like to feature Grandma’s dolls. As long as I can remember, they’ve been associated with the tree (the “tree” is actually a Weihnachtspyramide, a “Christmas pyramid,” but we call it a “tree” for convenience). When I was little, Grandma always hooked the dolls to the front corners of the tree. And she continued to display them this way to the end of her years.

Here’s a picture of Grandma and the Weihnachtspyramide taken around 1969. You can see the dolls at the two sides at the base.

Since we’ve become caretakers of the tree, we’ve moved the dolls to a different position of honor: They stand together under a glass dome on the small table that was used as an altar when this building was a church. (Did I tell you our house used to be a church? . . . But that’s another story.)

Positioned where they are now, the dolls are the first thing you see as you come up the steps to the second floor. As Grandma did, we put them out every Christmas. They are very fragile. I try to handle them as little as possible. I honestly don’t know what’s holding them together!

. . . Love, I guess.

One of the reasons we still have the dolls is that when Grandma was little, she wasn’t allowed to play with them. They were too “nice.” She had another doll to play with. In this picture, taken about 1910, when my grandma was about five, she’s holding the doll she was allowed to play with, and you can see one of the two dolls I’m telling you about attached (as I’ve mentioned) to a front corner of the Weihnachtspyramide.

By the way, my dad says we still have the doll she played with, too. He and mom have it at their house.

Here’s a detail of a picture taken around 1915, where the two dolls were standing on a platform beneath the table holding the Weihnachtspyramide. At the right is the dolly she played with. Grandma would have been about ten when this picture was taken.

We have other old pictures of the Weihnachtspyramide, and in some of them the dolls don’t appear. Each year, the tree is different. Maybe when her boys were young, Grandma kept the dolls safe in a box. Boys can be kind of rowdy, of course.

Well, there’s not much more to say, except that I know very little about dolls. I wasn’t interested in them when I was little, and I don’t know much about the collecting scene, except that it exists, and that there are about a million dolls for collectors to collect. If you’re reading this and know something about these types of dolls, I’d love you to contact me. Are they German antique dolls? I’d like to learn more about them. Yes, I imagine these fragile dolls are probably “worth” a zillion dollars to collectors, but of course we’re not interested in selling them. They belong to the family.

They go with the tree.


Osage Bluff Quilter said...

You need a trip to Antiques road show! For both the dolls and the tree, especially with all the history and pictures you have.

Julianna Schroeder said...

It's funny that I don't want to know the "value" of these--I guess because if I knew the "value," I wouldn't feel free to touch them or see them anymore--I'd just keep them safe in a box! But this is definitely a "What Would Grandma Do?" moment: She would want them on display!

Christy Hollingsworth said...

The dolls are wonderful and what a tribute to your Grandma to keep the tradition going! And I absolutely adore the old photos. It would be fun to find out the value, but like you, I'd never part with them if they were part of my family tradition. Merry Christmas!

Julianna Schroeder said...

Hi, Christy, noooo I'd never sell them. All this stuff--the tree, the dolls, the ornaments, and more--I don't feel even belongs to me. It belongs to my family. I'm just the caretaker of it at this point. When I'm not able to take care of it anymore, then it'll be up to the next generation to keep it up. That's one reason I'm always encouraging my brother and cousins to bring their families: I want their kids to form a relationship with this tree, develop fond memories, learn how to care for it. I'd hate for it to end up in a museum someplace, sterile and under glass.