All through my growing-up years, my mom displayed her favorite Christmas ornament during the season. T’was a deep red bell with a fancy tassel. Whenever Mother wound it up, it played “Silent Night.” Sweetly. Her most-loved carol chimed out like a lullaby. When she wound up the bell, we heard the tender knock of Christmas on our wreath-hung door.
Many, many Christmases passed and the time came for Mother to move to Assisted Living. I packed up the bell, along with some decorations she enjoyed and decked out her room for the holiday. I knew leaving the bell on her bookshelf was risky. I’d been advised that things disappeared from the guest’s rooms. Often and without explanation. But since I wanted her to have the bell she loved best at Christmastime, I took the chance. And as I’d been warned…it disappeared into never-to-be-found-land. I was heartbroken at the loss. But Mother, who was quite forgetful by then, didn’t miss it. Instead, I missed it for her.
A couple years ago, my daughter said she wished she had Grandma’s bell and she was sorry it had been lost. Me, too. Of all the decorations from all the Christmas holidays, that bell was the one I wished I’d saved. An idea began to form. Could I replace it? Always ready to tackle a mystery, I researched Mother’s bell. As I did so, I realized what a quality object it was and how many other lesser bells were on the market. I knew Mother’s bell was purchased in the 1950s, made in Germany, and metal – not plastic. Finally, I found a bell on eBay that was very like. Not quite the same red as Mother’s, but a rich red with a wonderful tassel. When wound up, it also played the sweet sounds of “Silent Night.”
Excited, I bid on it, was outbid, increased my offer, and won the bell. I gave it to my daughter as a memory of Mother and of so many family Christmases past. These days, when the new, but vintage bell is wound and “Silent Night” rings out, my daughter is reminded of the gentle Grandma and Mother we both loved so long. And still miss so much.