Every Christmas, as a little girl, I used to receive sterling collectible snowflakes from Reed and Barton as gifts from an aunt on my dad's side. With Lawrence Welk on television in the background, the family would be gathered around my grandparents' living room before Christmas Eve dinner, and we would exchange gifts. As the only child on this entire side of the family, everyone watched me with delight as I opened my presents.
After a few years, I learned to recognize the small decorated package, and groaned with expectant boredom at what the predictable frosty configuration might look like this year. Then, I would quickly offer thanks, put it aside, and go back to tearing colorful wrapping paper hoping that something pink and Barbie-related would appear.
Year after year, the silver designs were hung on hooks on the underside of a shelf in my bedroom. Over time, they have developed a nice patina rather than the shiny, polished look of the perfect mirror-like silver. They now resemble the colorful oil bursts found on asphalt after a rainstorm.
By the 1980s, my protests must have been heard, because there was never another small box among the gifts. Since then, I have become intrigued by their varied beautiful designs. As I look at them now with wistful nostalgia, they remind me of past holiday seasons, and an era that occurred seemingly a lifetime ago in the front room of a rowhouse in Philadelphia.