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Favorite Things: Family Christmas keepsakes gladden so many hearts

Ernest Branch built this display by hand 60 years ago.
Ernest Branch built this display by hand 60 years ago. COURTESY OF KENNETH A. BRANCH

We’ve had a small avalanche of holiday-related favorite things lately, but they won’t keep. So here, on the final Saturday before Christmas, are some that made us smile. Merry Christmas!

Here comes Santa Claus – for 60 years

My father, Ernest Branch, crafted this life-size Santa and his reindeer in 1954 as gift for us, his three kids, who ranged in age from just weeks old to 3 1/2 years. We and our neighbors delighted at the sight of these cheerful characters every year until my father moved into a senior facility in Raleigh last year. I am happy to report that Santa and his frisky helpers now reside at the home of my nephew. Sixty years and counting. Thank you, Daddy.

Kenneth A. Branch


Away in a manger

In 1950 my mother purchased a creche complete with plaster-of-Paris figures from Grants five-and-dime, then located in downtown Raleigh. Each Christmas when the creche came out of the box, my older sister and I would squabble over who would get to arrange the nativity scene. Our mother would solve the altercation by telling the Christmas story as each of us was given our turn to place a figure in the manger. Mother traveled many places in her lifetime and could have replaced our Grants creche with a more elaborate model. But my sister and I are happy she held true to the 1950s edition, which continues to renew the Christmas story and elicit happy memories of years past.

Suzi Adams Bowden


And a partridge ...

My mother placed this partridge centerpiece on our holiday table every December since the ’60s. We inherited it many years ago. Last year, it almost stopped gracing an honored place in our foyer. After all, 50 years accumulates a whole lot of dust. But I hesitated to let it go. Now, thanks to some added embellishments by a very understanding woman at a local crafts store, I hope to pass it to a third generation in our family.

Mary Walden