City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More
Editor Jo Hammon's remembered pet Christmas keepsakes

Featured Article

Baubles In the Bubble, Not Just A Pretty Tree

Family, Memories, Celebration and a Little Bit More

At Christmastime, the trees we trim in our homes are the center of our festivities, we gather around them to celebrate the season, open gifts, reminisce, and spend special time with friends and family.  

I find that holiday decorating can be a time of reflection, a childhood memory of my gran magically sprinkling glitter over her miniature tree, the shiny tinsel, and fiber optic trees of my youth, and those which I decorated with my own children, lifting them up high to reach the top branches, and let's not forget the pets that slept below them, climbed them, or knocked them over when no-one was home! 

My ornaments are stored in boxes, they are in the attic for 11 months of the year and are annually rediscovered on the 12th month. The memories within these boxes are precious, they’re the warm fuzzy ones you can feel with your heart. They’re made from tatty paper lace, long faded crayons on construction paper, and festive motifs roughly cut from felt. They’re from far-off places, times and people remembered, they’re a treasure trove to hold dear and cherish for the short duration of the holiday season.

I have many favorite baubles, so I spoke to 4 art loving residents of The Woodlands, to ask about theirs!

The first ornament to garnish Susan Vreeland-Wendt’s tree this year is one which is very dear to her. A silver and blue glass bauble painted in the Ukrainian Petrykivka folk style, with the word “myr” painted on one side. This was a gift from her husband’s children during the height of the conflict in Ukraine, Susan was haunted by the images and reports continually broadcast across the media. “Myr” is the Ukranian word for peace and proceeds from the sales of the ornament go towards rebuilding Ukraine. Susan, who is an advisory board member for The Woodlands Arts Council told me, “This is the most thoughtful gift ever, for me, the bauble is a symbol of peace”.

As well as founding The Woodlands Art Gallery and Studios, gallerist Emily Startz has a passion for cats, “they put a smile on my face” she tells me, “At one point I owned six!” She enjoys painting and has recently illustrated a small cat portrait, namely “Starlight. It’s mounted in a sweet little antique frame which Emily found in a box of her mother’s effects after she passed away, “she loved garage sales and this was probably one of her many finds”, says Emily, the piece evokes memories of her mother as well as her past cats. Original art, handmade gifts and stocking stuffers are available in the “unique boutique”, display in her gallery on 208 Nursery Road, 77380. The Woodlands Gallery and Studios celebrates its second anniversary on December 2nd.

Jenny Carattini-Wright has an ornament so special that it’s on display in her home year-round.  Jenny is the Executive Director of The Woodlands Arts Council and fell in love with the clay ornament whilst visiting Puerto Rico a few years ago.  It’s a one-of-a-kind sculptural piece depicting the three kings, made by artist Aurea Marcano. The lustrous teal reflective glaze of the figures in relief is striking against the matte, terracotta of the background.  It’s a fragile piece but stands alone on a small easel.  The Christmas tree is not taken down until after the holy epiphany, also known as “Three Kings Day” on January 6th. The ornament makes Jenny appreciate special times with her family as well as being a “reminder of faith”.

Our Editor of The Woodlands City Lifestyle Magazine, Jo Hammon, has a Christmas tree filled with cherished treasures, included are these ceramic memories, honoring her pets lost and remembered over the years -

“I had the ceramic scalloped circles created years ago when I first met my husband. The animals were not memories yet and the ornaments were treasured keepsakes hanging each year on our tree. When our beloved pets passed on, the decorations became even more meaningful to us. When we had children, we were able to tell the stories of Lacy, the cat, Hershey, his dog, Annie, our bunny and Luke the golden retriever who loved the snow. It was a way for us to share part of our hearts with our children who never got to meet these lovely 4-legged angels. They hang on our tree to this day!”

These nostalgic trees are our personal stories so far, they are truly extraordinary and significant, and each year we lovingly add to them, a little bit more! 

  • Susan Vreeland-Wendt with her Ukrainian bauble.
  • "Myr", "The Three Kings" and "Starlight ' the cat, all handmade and cherished
  • Emily Startz with her hand painted cat ornament
  • Jenny Carratini-Wright with her special "Three Kings" ornament
  • Three Woodlands art-lovers, with three handmade Christmas ornaments
  • Editor Jo Hammon's remembered pet Christmas keepsakes
  • Jenny Carratini-Wright and Emily Startz with their favorite Christmas ornaments
  • Santas Robin, keeping watch!

One of my personal favorite tree ornaments is a little bird. It’s originally from my parent's Christmas tree and now lives on in mine. This little British robin has always been known in this house as “Santa's Robin", since long before the elf on the shelf, it was Santa’s messenger, and would watch and report all good, and not so good deeds, back to Santa himself!  This lovely little bird now sits quietly on a branch of the tree, no longer a tattle tale as the children are grown, but simply representing the festive season and all that it means.

They’re from far off places, times and people remembered, they’re a treasure trove to hold dear and cherish.