Wednesday, December 20, 2017


I posted this several years ago, but it bears repeating in this hustle-and-bustle, disposable-goods world we've grown accustomed to. Let me share it with you again...

Several years ago, I had just sold my first short story to Adams Media's Rocking Chair Reader series. I was on Cloud 9! This story, SILVER MAGIC, was the 2nd story I sold to them and would appear in their first Christmas collection, Classic Christmas: True Stories of Holiday Cheer and Goodwill. I want to share it with you here. This story is true, and is one of the most poignant tales I could ever tell about my grandfather--he died when I was eleven. I never saw this side of him, and I don't think very many people did--that's what makes this Christmas story so special. I look forward to your comments!

SILVER MAGIC by Cheryl Pierson

Did you know that there is a proper way to hang tinsel on the Christmas tree?

Growing up in the small town of Seminole, Oklahoma, I was made aware of this from my earliest memories of Christmas. Being the youngest in our family, there was never a shortage of people always wanting to show me the right way to do—well, practically everything! When it came to hanging the metallic strands on the Christmas tree, my mother made it a holiday art form.

“The cardboard holder should be barely bent,” she said, “forming a kind of hook for the tinsel.” No more than three strands of the silver magic should be pulled from this hook at one time. And, we were cautioned, the strands should be draped over the boughs of the tree gently, so as to avoid damage to the fragile greenery.

Once the icicles had been carefully added to the already-lit-and-decorated tree, we would complete our “pine princess” with a can of spray snow. Never would we have considered hanging the icicles in blobs, as my mother called them, or tossing them haphazardly to land where they would on the upper, unreachable branches. Hanging them on the higher branches was my father’s job, since he was the tallest person I knew—as tall as Superman, for sure. He, too, could do anything—even put the serenely blinking golden star with the blonde angel on the very highest limb—without a ladder!

Once Christmas was over, I learned that there was also a right way to save the icicles before setting the tree out to the roadside for the garbage man. The cardboard holders were never thrown out. We kept them each year, tucked away with the rest of the re-useable Christmas decorations. Their shiny treasure lay untangled and protected within the corrugated Bekins Moving and Storage boxes that my mother had renamed “CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS” in bold letters with a black magic marker.
At the end of the Christmas season, I would help my sisters undress the tree and get it ready for its lonely curbside vigil. We would remove the glass balls, the plastic bells, and the homemade keepsake decorations we’d made in school. These were all gently placed in small boxes. The icicles came next, a chore we all detested.

We removed the silver tinsel and meticulously hung it back around the little cardboard hook. Those icicles were much heavier then, being made of real metal and not synthetic plastic. They were easier to handle and, if you were careful, didn’t snarl or tangle. It was a long, slow process—one that my young, impatient hands and mind dreaded.

For many years, I couldn’t understand why everyone—even my friends’ parents’—insisted on saving the tinsel from year to year. Then one night, in late December, while Mom and I gazed at the Christmas tree, I learned why.

As she began to tell the story of her first Christmas tree, her eyes looked back through time. She was a child in southeastern Oklahoma, during the dustbowl days of the Depression. She and her siblings had gotten the idea that they needed a Christmas tree. The trekked into the nearby woods, cut down an evergreen, and dragged it home. While my grandfather made a wooden stand for it, the rest of the family popped and strung corn for garland. The smaller children made decorations from paper and glue.

“What about a star?” one of the younger boys had asked.

My grandfather thought for a moment, then said, “I’ve got an old battery out there in the shed. I’ll cut one from that.”

The kids were tickled just to have the tree, but a star, too! It was almost too good to be true.

Grandfather went outside. He disappeared around the side of the old tool shed and didn’t return for a long time. Grandma glanced out the window a few times, wondering what was taking so long, but the children were occupied with stringing the popcorn and making paper chains. They were so excited that they hardly noticed when he came back inside.

Grandmother turned to him as he shut the door against the wintry blast of air. “What took you so long?” she asked. “I was beginning to get worried.”

Grandfather smiled apologetically, and held up the star he’d fashioned. “It took me awhile. I wanted it to be just right.” He slowly held up his other hand, and Grandmother clapped her hands over her mouth in wonder. Thin strands of silver magic cascaded in a shimmering waterfall from his loosely clenched fist. “It’s a kind of a gift, you know. For the kids.”

“I found some foil in the battery,” he explained. “It just didn’t seem right, not to have icicles.”

In our modern world of disposable commodities, can any of us imagine being so poor that we would recycle an old battery for the metal and foil, in order to hand-cut a shiny star and tinsel for our children’s Christmas tree?

A metal star and cut-foil tinsel—bits of Christmas joy, silver magic wrapped in a father’s love for his family.

This is a fantastic little anthology you might enjoy any time of year. If you'd like to read the wonderful stories in this collection, here's the link at Amazon. This is a true "bargain", but is only available from 3rd party sellers at this time as it is out of print.


Have a wonderful Christmas and here's hoping 2018 will be a fantastic year for each and every one of us!


  1. That's a lovely story, Cheryl. The true meaning of Christmas. :-)

    1. Thanks, Kristy. I didn't know my granddad very well--he died when I was a kid, but I remember always being a little afraid of him. He'd had a couple of strokes and of course, that changed his personality--but I remembered him as being unapproachable. I know early on in his life he had a kind heart--he was called "Doc" by everyone until the day he died because of his penchant for caring for animals that needed him. Thanks for stopping by! Y'all have a wonderful Christmas, Kristy!

  2. I remember, when I was a kid, my brother and I hanging icicles on our tree. We'd stand back and fling strands of tinsel at the branches despite mom's protest for us to hang them in an orderly fashion. Great memories.
    Good post Cheryl. I really enjoyed it.

    1. Jerry, I guess kids everywhere have that same tendency, right? It's just so FUN to throw it and see where it sticks--so much better than hanging it carefully. LOL I can imagine how much more boys would feel that way, too. Thanks for stopping by, and hope you and Ginny have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  3. Replies
    1. Deborah, thanks for stopping by today. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2018!

  4. Thanks for sharing your sweet story and your family's precious Christmas memories. Your mom was into recycling before it was cool! Merry Christmas, my friend.

    1. Vonn, I don't think my parents ever threw away anything that they might re-purpose. It was ingrained in them from those lean growing-up years when everything was "make-do" or do without. LOL I'm so glad you came by and read and commented. This story means a lot to me because it showed me another side of my granddad I never knew. He died when I was very young, and had had a couple of strokes before that, so he was a totally different person when I knew him than what he was in his earlier years. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  5. What a touching story and one that makes you stop and realize just how wonderful people and special times are. Your grandfather was truly a very creative and thoughtful person. Loved this story. What a tedious process to reuse that tinsel. My mother in law did the same thing. I hate to say it, but I use it today, I take it off the tree and throw in garbage so I do NOT take it off the tree so I can reuse it. I'm an avid recycler too so this story is dear to my heart. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Holiday season.

    1. LOL Bev I just had an image of you in my mind wadding up that tinsel and trashing it (like I do every year!) But it's made from some plastic-y stuff now--not like back "in the day" when it was real aluminum, and heavier, and hung so nice. It snarls up now if you aren't careful. I didn't put up my big tree this year but maybe next year- When I do there'll be tinsel on it. It just wouldn't be the same without it.

      Thanks so much for stopping by today! Hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas!