Nothing says Holiday Cheer like an indoor fir tree filled with armaments of war. Or commanded by war leaders. Or bedecked in battle flags. Nothing, I tell you. And it can all be yours with some carefree shopping on your part, or the part of a loved one, from amazon.co,. etsy, or your favorite local historic site.
Oh where to begin? How about amazon.com? First, if you don’t have amazon Prime, you won’t be able to use most of these beauties until next year, but it will so be worth the wait! Old World Christmas offers the finest in Reconciliation ornaments, with a blown glass bauble in the Dresden tradition. Union and Confederate soldiers shake hands on one side, whole the back features crossed flags and holiday evergreen. Ah! If only! And this can deck your tree for under $20.00. What a deal. Seriously. I ordered one. http://www.amazon.com/Old-World-Christmas-Commemorative-Ornament/dp/B00DDU2Y9O
In the same German blown glass tradition, Tannenbaum Treasures (amazon as well) has a great pairing for only $60.00 including shipping. “One wore blue, and one wore gray,” but both are 5 inches tall and very military in their uniforms and kepis. Hand blown and hand painted in Poland, don’t you know? http://www.amazon.com/Union-Confederate-Soldier-Assort-Ornament
The Bradford Exchange has a nice trio of pieces, albeit a bit Confederate in nature. Inspired by the “dramatic imagery of acclaimed historical artist John Paul Strain,” your tree branches can hold up images of Lee, Stuart and “Stonewall” in all their holiday glory for about $30.00. That works out to ten bucks per general, and they come with “red hanging ribbons included.” What a deal! http://www.amazon.com/Holidays-Civil-Ornament-Bradford-Exchange/dp/B005J7C71E
To keep things even here, there is also an offering from Strickland Enterprises, Inc. that would make all Yankee hearts burst with pride–the Chamberlain’s Charge ornament! Why? Because no Christmas is complete without some Joshua Chamberlain in it somewhere. This one is a round ball collaged with images from Dan Nance’s painting, “Bayonets,” featuring Chamberlain’s defense of Little Round Top. The shipping is more than the ornament, but all totaled it comes to about $13.00. I plan to gaze upon this while drinking hot cocoa out of my special Joshua Chamberlain mug, with marshmallows sculpted in his image. Ah! Amazon Prime puts the joy back into holiday shopping. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GWTGYT4
Heading on over to the website etsy is always fun https://www.etsy.com. This site is unique in that it features hundreds (thousands?) of small internet shops that make cool stuff to sell to you, the discerning customer. I will discuss two in particular: SarahWoodJewelry https://www.etsy.com/listing/155858183/civil-war-ornament-ulysses-s-grant-tree? and Creative Cockades https://www.etsy.com/listing/159769438/set-of-4-civil-war-ornaments? For $20 you can add the serious visage of Union General Ulysses S. Grant to your tree. Yes, Santa, there really is a Sarah Wood, and she makes all sorts of nice things such as this tin ornament of Grant. If you start early enough in 2015, I suspect you can amass an entire staff, Union or Confederate. If you have not dealt with etsy before, check them out. I have never had a bad experience there, and everything I have ever ordered has exceeded expectations. Even nicer, almost everything comes beautifully packaged and ready to give as a gift. Mostly the gifts are for me, but in a state (California) where you are encouraged to bring your own bags everywhere, it is very nice to get something so lovely.
Creative Cockades is one of two historical reproduction shops I personally patronize. Heather has done outstanding work for me in the past, and you will be hearing more about her in 2015. For now, let’s just say she does a nice take on an old tradition. Her cockade ornaments feature Lee & Grant, Lincoln and Davis. The set is $50.00, and when you see her work, you will know you have something special. Her site is a tiny glimpse into another world, no matter what the time of year. Etsy abounds in Civil War/historical wonderfulness–as in “full of wonder.”‘
I tried to save the best for last. Almost every historical site has a gift shop of some variety, and everything sold there usually goes to maintain the site itself. Something bought at a National Park gift store goes to help the park, so buying in these places is sort of like spending your money twice. In 2011, I went to Alexandria, Virginia to do some researching on Colonel Elmer Ellsworth. He was killed in that city, in the Marshall House Hotel. Of course, I bought everything Ellsworthian I could find, and one of my saddest but most dearly loved purchases was a flat gold ornament of the Marshall House, where it all happened. If nothing else, I appreciated the irony of such a sad event being memorialized on a Christmas ornament. They are still available for about $20.00 including shipping, and I know you want one! Don’t you? Even if you lean a little gray, this ornament works. In fact it isn’t nearly so sad in that case. https://shop.alexandriava.gov/SelectSku.aspx?skuid=1000285.
No matter how you celebrate the holidays at your house, now you can bring the Civil War right into your living room or parlor! Oh, the joys!
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I lied about the Joshua Chamberlain marshmallows . . . and only 4 Minié balls, because maybe you hate these ideas!