There it Lies on the Window Sill

There it lies, on the window sill, proud and beautiful, flashing its colors in the sun, splashes of ancient dark pink, a bright silver, hints of forest green.  It is lying on its side, but it is two balls of glass (?) with a long, tall, narrow silver cone on top, the entire object exactly 12 inches long.

It was the last object my wife took off the Christmas tree, just as it had been the last object to put on.  It is the “Topper,” and as the Topper rules over the tree.  It seems to belong to another era, another dimension of time.  It seems to be made of finely blown glass, fragile and untouchable.  It seems to emanate light. 

It seems, it seems, it seems, all giving it an ambience of mystery, but it celebrates only one mystery and that is the birth of the Christ Child.

The other ornaments that were removed from the tree first were also lovingly cherished by my wife and me, but they were of a different sort, varied and unusual and plain and homemade, and sentimental and silly, old, new, timeless, chosen with care, casually chosen, expensive, cheap, etc.  Each has a story, some happy, some bringing tears, but those decorative bits of this or that are not what I want to write about today.

I am neither a connoisseur of beautiful ornaments nor an evaluator of antiques.  I make no claims of special knowledge or expertise.  My guess is that this object was created in the Victorian era or made later in imitation of that era.  My grandparents had similar ornaments in the 1930’s, some of which probably in the family a generation before that.  So the topper reminds me of my grandparents’ Christmas tree,

But this elegant piece of glass (it’s certainly not celluloid) did not come from my family.  No, when the publishing company in New York that my daughter worked for sold the company they put many of the items stored in prop rooms in their Pennsylvania site up for sale.  My wife and daughter were there for this sale, and Peggy purchased this delightful piece for us.

The Victorians who were very sentimental and poetic seemed to put meaning into all elements of life, giving sentimental and poetic and symbolic meaning to even mundane objects, and certainly to “higher” kinds of things.

I imagine that the creator of our tree topper chose to make two orbs rather than just one.  Why two?  Who knows?  Food for thought.  Perhaps the smaller of the two globes stood for the earth.  It has an indention or hole in it, no doubt an appropriate view of our world.  Is heaven a globe?  Christopher Marlowe said that hell was everywhere God was not.  Where is heaven.  When the Topper is on the tree, the long narrow glass cone points up, and it looks like the steeple of our current church.  I enjoy looking at objects from a Victorian perspective.

My wife just placed the Topper in a box to be stored in our shed until next Christmas.  We will miss it.  And the tree.

Ray Spitzenberger is a retired WCJC teacher, a retired LCMS pastor, and author of three books, It Must Be the Noodles, Open Prairies, and Tanka Schoen.

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