Tintinnabulation of Bells

December 13, 2010

Silver bells on vintage canning jars

Strings of jingle bells, Swanson's Nursery

The Bells
by Edgar Allan Poe

Hear the sledges with the bells-
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Silver bells, Swanson's Nursery

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
     — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Watercolor paintings of bells

Watercolor sketch of a row of bells

Another watercolor sketch of jingle bells

Packages of tinsel icicles

I can’t see silver icicle tinsel without thinking of my mother and the Christmas trees of my childhood.  All nine of us kids would help decorate the tree, fighting over who got to place favorite ornaments, and sharing the job of laying icicle tinsel, strand by single strand, over the needled branches.  I soon grew weary of the tedious task of decking our tree with tinsel.  It was so tempting to apply it in clumps because strand-by-strand was soooo slow!

My mother was so frugal that she saved tinsel from year to year.  That meant that once the holidays were over, we’d have to carefully remove the tinsel, and drape it over our hands so that the strands wouldn’t get tangled. . . another laborious job.

I don’t know why my mother bothered.  Surely a package of icicle tinsel cost less than 50 cents back in those days.  But it is definitely an indication of how I was brought up to “waste not, want not.”  My mother saved bread bags to re-use in lieu of disposable sandwich bags and for freezing butchered chickens.  She saved rubber bands and twisty tabs.  We had a stash of used boxes under the basement stairs.  A roll of paper towels lasted for more than a year.  Heck, we kids even took baths in turn, youngest to oldest, re-using the bath water.  (I used to have fun playing with the scum that floated on the top of the water by the time it was my turn in the tub!!)

I’m a rather frugal person myself.  I guess I am like my mother in this respect.  But I doubt that, if I used icicle tinsel, I would take the time to save it for next year!  I concede that my mother was the Queen of Frugal.