My Most Valuable Christmas Ornament

Snoopy Ornament

While decorating our Christmas tree earlier this month, I came across a box ornaments from when I was a child. This box had been at my parents’ house for decades, but Dad dug it out and gave it to us last year. I wasn’t quite sure which of my childhood ornaments were in that box (we had a lot).  But I was hoping one special ornament was still there. And it was…my most valuable Christmas ornament.

Maria Nieto
My great grandmother.

This cheap little plastic Snoopy ornament was given to me by my great grandmother Maria “Nana” Nieto (1887-1974) when I was a toddler. I can remember this ornament as far back as I can remember Christmas. Every year, it was the first ornament I hung on our family tree. Nana died when I was only 4 years old, so I don’t have many memories of her, but I always remember this ornament.

Nana raised my father. She immigrated from a small mining town in San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1915, with her husband and two small children, fleeing the persecution of the Mexican Revolution and hoping for a new life and freedom in the United States. She had 6 more children born here, was widowed when the youngest was only about 7 years old, and then raised 4 grandchildren.

Nana never had material riches to share with her children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren. There was no money for fancy Christmas gifts (Dad talks about using an Oatmeal box as a football, because they had no money for toys). But she had an unlimited amount of love, which she showered on all of us. She taught the importance of family, of doing right, and of tradition. Every time I talk about Nana with my Dad, his cousins, and Nana’s one living child and his wife, their faces light up from love and joyful memories.

I asked my mom more about this ornament just before Christmas. She said it came in one of those red plastic net Christmas stockings that the Knights of Columbus handed out to families. Nana had found the ornament inside the stocking and wanted her toddler great granddaughter to have it. So, although this is just a cheap plastic ornament that is losing most of its black accent paint, Snoopy is my most valuable Christmas ornament. It is one of those treasures I grab if the house ever catches on fire.

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