The next year we bought some engraved ornaments for everyone and hung them on the mantle. And in 1979 we found some small wicker baskets in a variety of shapes and put some candy in them for everyone. Then she got married and moved to Michigan and I took over playing Santa. Since Jane and her husband would not be home for Christmas, I decided I would make an ornament for everyone in the immediate family (parents, siblings, their spouses and children) as well as our aunt that lived with our parents and an aunt and uncle that spent the holiday at our home.
That is how it became an ornament tradition. I would find some pattern or kit and work on them throughout the year - making about 20- 24 over the years.
In 1988, I got married in November and did not have a lot of time to work on them so made some little cardstock boxes from a kit and filled them with candy. In 1989, I had a baby in December. Jane and I both worked on some cross stitched ornaments. In 1990, I was pregnant with my second child and I decided I did not have the time for making the ornaments - plus the family had grown to over 35 by then. When I announced at our Christmas gathering that this was the last year, my sisters had another idea. The three of us would work on them together - and we did for the next 26 years!
Quite a few of those years we got together for a Sisters' Weekend retreat and either planned the year's ornaments or actually worked on them. Some years we planned our ornaments on Christmas Day - looking ahead to the next year. Some years it took us a couple months of tossing ideas back and forth to decide. A couple years other family members pitched in and made the ornaments. But every year we had ornaments for everyone. It became a much anticipated part of our Christmas gathering.
This year I found an idea and Jane was going to play around with it to come up with a prototype. However, that never happened. Jane died in May after battling breast cancer for the last 10 years. That left just 2 sisters to make 50 ornaments! And we had to come up with an idea in June. I'm not sure how it started but I got the idea of some sort of beehive ornaments since Jane collected bee/beehive items and her trademark on her handmade cards was a bumblebee. Some searching on Pinterest, a trip to Joann's to check out their novelty buttons and a search for Sizzix die cuts and the plan came together. A stuffed felt beehive ornament with a couple bee buttons attached.
And each one is a little different. The position of the bees or the paths for their flight are unique for each one.
This is our tree before the family party on 12/30. The day before we took all the ornaments off and packed them away. Then once we distributed the beehive ornaments, the tree was all ready to have the lights taken off and packed away before New Year's Day.
So thankful for this tradition and we will be continuing it. We already have next year's planned and supplies purchased. And I suspect when we sisters aren't able to do it any more, a few of the nieces may step up to carry on the tradition. (Or at least I hope so)