For Judy Davis, each Christmas offers a special opportunity close to her heart: hearing her mother’s voice again.
Davis’ mother, Marguerite Patrick, died of pneumonia in 2004, but sometime before that she gave each of her four children a chipmunk ornament with a recording on it.
“Merry Christmas, Judy, Dave and family. I love you very much and hope we have many more Christmases together. Love, Mom,” Patrick’s voice says.
For Davis, that makes the ornament a highlight of the holiday season.
“Oh, it’s just wonderful,” she said. “It’s the first one I want to hang up and the last one I take off.”
The Byron native and her husband, Dave, joked that they spend $20 on batteries each year keeping the little chipmunk in working order.
“But it’s worth every bit,” she said.
Davis couldn’t remember the exact year her mother gave out the ornaments, but the Hallmark product has a 1993 copyright year on the bottom. She has since searched for a similar keepsake to give to her own children but has been unable to find one.
Earlier this month, we asked Telegraph readers to tell us about their favorite Christmas ornament or keepsake. Here’s what readers shared with us:
“One of my fondest childhood Christmas memories is when we would go visit my grandparents’ house on Pierce Avenue, where my grandmother proudly displayed her silver Christmas tree in the front window. I would lie on the living room floor for what seemed like hours watching the color wheel magically turn the tree yellow, red, blue and green. When we were cleaning out her house in 2000, we came across that tree. My grandmother was meticulous in her storage habits. The box was wrapped in a 1971 newspaper. The box and its paper sleeves that contained the branches were still intact and when assembled, the tree looks as if it’s not over 50 years old at all. In fact, many times I have had to convince people it is an original by showing an old photo taken with my brothers and grandparents in 1966 when I was 4 years old. We started using it in our store, Lowe Lighting Center, in 2009 when we were creating a ‘retro’ style lighting display. We moved it to our front corner window the next year and have placed it there every year since. It is a great conversation piece and brings back a lot of good memories for our staff and customers who fondly remember their grandparents’ silver ‘Charlie Brown’ tree. We encourage people to ride by, slow down and enjoy a little nostalgia.”
-- Donny Guy
“On Dec. 5, 1964, our first child, Cindy Rowland Perkins, was born at the Medical Center. My mother, Thyra Pierce, sent an arrangement to the hospital with a little angel tucked in among the flowers, and from that Christmas until the present one this little angel has been a part of our Christmas tree ornaments. Cindy celebrated her 50th birthday this year.”
-- Dot Rowland
“I received this (angel) ornament from my first-grade teacher, Ethel Jackson, in 1960. She taught at Joseph N. Neel Elementary School. It’s very precious to me and is always the first ornament I hang on my tree each year.”
-- Pat Cheek
“My special Christmas ornaments are two Christmas mice. They were among the first Christmas decorations my husband and I bought some-40 plus years ago when our first son was a toddler. Of anything on the tree, they were our son’s favorite. Wherever I had them on the tree, he would move them and hang them on the bottom branch where he could enjoy them at his eye level. Every year since, for over four decades, they have had a place of honor on the bottom branch!”
-- Terry Smith
“Pictured is a Norwegian, crocheted Christmas card basket. It was made by my grandmother sometime before 1910. She came over as a young bride from Norway around that time, and this basket has been used to hold Christmas cards from family and friends every year since. It is a one-of-a-kind basket that is very treasured, as it exhibits the beauty of the season along with my Norwegian heritage.”
-- Betty Smith
“This is a candles holder that was used to hold real candles on a live Christmas tree. I was born 1941 in Germany, and we used those holders as long as I can remember. Merry Christmas to everybody.”
-- Don and Gudrun Pelletier
“We have over 300 Christmas tree ornaments, and most come from travels we have taken over a 38-year time span.”
-- Don Jenrette
“My special Christmas keepsake is a six-pointed star made from Styrofoam covered with aluminum foil. In 1971 we were living on Plattsburg AFB (New York). After buying a Christmas tree and a few ornaments we had forgotten to buy a star. As a newlywed we didn’t have enough money for any more decorations. My mother-in-law had sent us a fruitcake, so I used the Styrofoam from the packing box to cut out the star and wrapped it in tin foil. Over the years the star has received several new layers of tin foil but gets hung on the tree every year. Someone once asked me why I had a star of David on our tree. It was the only way I knew to draw a star.”
-- Pam Berry
“Every year, we put up a beautiful Christmas tree in our office. The tree is full of many heart ornaments because we are the office of Dr. Stephen Noller, a cardiologist. One of our favorite ornaments, however, is not a heart but a small beaded star. This beautiful green star was made many years ago by a patient. This lady and her two friends (all patients) would travel approximately 60 miles (one way) to see, as they called us, ‘their favorite heart doctor and his staff.’’’
-- Sarah Buttersworth
“(This is a) small Christmas tree which belonged to my late grandmother, Sadie Wright Lamb of Macon. My grandmother always placed this little ceramic tree on a table in her living room where all of the family could enjoy. I acquired it after my mother, Mary Lamb Floyd, passed away. Our family has very fond memories of this small tree, as it has been passed down in the family for many years. My family and grandchildren now enjoy it every Christmas.”
-- Vivian Etheridge
“(A Nativity scene) was given to me by my mother over 25 years ago. I believe she gave one Nativity scene like this to each of her six children. I know she acquired it from Lee Ward Mills in Elgin, Illinois. If I recall correctly, it cost at least $90. I know this because I looked at the catalog.”
-- Alan Thiese
“This ornament was given to my brother Dutch Jacaway several years ago from our mother. We all received one -- me being the oldest child (and her favorite), Dutch being the middle child (only boy and her favorite) and my sister Patty (the baby and youngest child, and her favorite). We all are her favorite, but we always claimed the No. 1 spot! Dutch left this world to go to his place in heaven in 2008, but this ornament stays on my tree in memory (that he) is and will always be with us in spirit and love.”
-- Joy Riley
“My Christmas treasure, hanging on the tree, is a construction paper Christmas stocking made by my grandson when he was 4 years old. Next January he will be 34. His name on it still sparkles.”
-- Jocelyn Caraway