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December 14, 2012

First Presbyterian women save sentimental Christmas treasures

DUNCAN — Over the years, items  begin to lose their luster while some almost disintegrate and the women of First Presbyterian Church have made an effort to reverse the aging effects on their special Chrismon tree ornaments as well as make new ones.

Forty years ago in 1972, the Duncan church decorated their first Chrismon tree when John Davidson, a member of the church, cut out 112 styrofoam Chrismon forms by using a Marvel Maker thermal cutting tool and cardboard patterns. The Women of the Church then adorned them with beads and ribbons.

Chrismon is a word derived from Christ and monogram, translated to be a monogram of Christ. The Chrismon Tree was a notion that began in 1957 at the Lutheran Church of the Ascension in Danville, Va. They copyrighted the idea so that the symbol ornaments never be used for profit but allowed for churches to get permission to put up a Chrismon Tree, which Duncan FPC did in 1972.

“They can only be gold and white,” said Sally Barthell, one of this year’s committee members who refurbished the old ornaments.

The Lutheran Church in Virginia chose these two hues for specific reasons. White, the liturgical color for Christmas, refers to the Lord’s purity and perfection, while gold refers to His majesty and glory. White light is used on the tree to point to Christ as the light of the world.

“The original styrofoam (Chrismons) were just falling apart and we’d find beads from them everywhere,” said Nancy Grantham, a committee member. “So, we refurbished the ones we could and made some new ones.”

For about three weeks, working on and off individually, as well as one Saturday and one Sunday with several of the church women, they created 26 new Chrismons and saved nearly all the 40-year-old ornaments.

“It was fun and we enjoyed the experience,” said Grantham.

“We got in there and laughed and even learned some new crafting tricks.”

With the new ones, the women used a stiff felt fabric instead of styrofoam and put decorative beads on with Modge Podge and glue. Each symbol varies from all the others and some include doves, fish, chalices, lambs and crowns. All have their own meanings.

Also on display at the church is a table that holds the Marvel Maker thermal cutting tool used by John Davidson and a couple of the original Chrismons and the cardboard patterns used to cut them out, which was arranged by FPC member Jim Barthell. Examples of the supplies used by the church women to make the ornaments are also on the table.

“We didn’t know (the tree and ornaments) would turn out so nice but it’s beautiful,” said LaJuan Fleming, committee member.

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