Long ago and far away, I believed in Santa Claus. My mother, who also made those kicky curtains you can see behind her left shoulder, told me all about him. To be fair, she also told me about Jesus, who slept perpetually in the tiny manger of the creche you see over my right shoulder.
Come to think of it, none of what my mother told me about Christmas turned out to be true. But that's another story.
When my older sister and I were wee ones, my parents longed for an opportunity to sleep in on a Sunday. So my mother would set out craft projects on the coffee table before she went to bed on Saturday, and then we would keep ourselves busy creating until Mom and Dad got up on Sunday.
The project I remember better than any was the clothespin angels. It was so simple: glue together a red triangle for the dress, a pink circle on the front of one point as the face, a half paper doily on the back for wings, and a silver or gold circle behind the pink circle for the halo. I don't remember what we did for hair, but we always had yarn and pipe cleaners around.
The magic of the craft came in the decorating. Glitter. Sequins. Crayons, colored pencils, markers. Our house was craft supply heaven, and our imaginations knew no limits. Mom had assembled one sample. The rest was up to us.
Do angels have buttons? Ours did. Or do they wear stripes or plaid? Maybe one angel's dress had a scalloped hem, accentuated with a piece of rick-rack. Our angels smiled. Or had round, singing mouths. Some sported rouge.
Once the glue dried, each angel was stuck to a clothespin and attached to the tree. As the days of Christmas wore on in the dry heat of the early '60s, the glue would crack and pieces of the angels fell to the floor. Only a few angels endured the season to be packed up with the heartier ornaments and brought out again the next year.
But we remembered how to make them, year after year. Later, in my adult life, I took Polaroid photos of all of my colleagues, cut their heads out and created clothespin angels with their faces. It was a spectacular tree. Even Oskar was on that tree.
But my best clothespin angel memories come from that first year, working quietly next to my sister while Mom and Dad slept in.