There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

collecting ornaments

WITH COLLECTING (anything really), one can be as broadly thematic or as singularly eclectic as your personal taste. Starting a collection of ornaments for your tree might be as simple as inheriting your grandmother’s ornaments from her attic. Constantly be on the lookout and buy only the things you like and you’ll soon see a theme emerge. Don't go for most of the commercial themes you see out there. Collecting is just that—finding disparate things over time and connecting and assembling them together into a unified whole. But you constantly have to be on the lookout.

I FOUND THESE incredibly gorgeous wooden finial ornaments in the bottom of a locked display case at Antiques and Beyond in Atlanta, Georgia just this past weekend. When I asked the salesperson to open the case so I could examine them, I was surprised that all four were priced at a mere $20! Of course I said "I'll take them." What a steal! I think I remember the salesperson saying they were from Sweden, which made sense at the time (I should have asked more questions).

AFTER I EXCITEDLY bought them, I remembered having a very vivid dream years ago in which the manufacturing process of such wooden finial ornaments was happening (in my dream they were multi-colored). It was as if I was watching my own line of ornaments take shape (which I do daydream about). A new picture formed in my mind's eye of a tree utilizing these finials along with other natural-colored ornaments of all shapes and sizes. I always "see" a very vivid image when I start thinking of what my next creation will be.

I THINK THESE particular ornaments might be handmade. I bought an incredible handmade wooden finial ornament once when visiting an antique shop to commemorate the day my nephew (sadly, now deceased) married his first wife in Rome, Georgia. The wedding was held at an historic wooden chapel on the campus of Berry College. Now, I want to marry that stored-away finial with these four finials!

IT SEEMS LIKE an incredibly weird amount of inspiration is coming to me from the important people in my life that are now deceased (more on that later). I've found through the years that buying ornaments while on vacation (not tacky-touristy stuff) or at the time of important life events brings a storied resonance to your collection. I, at least for one, remember where and when I purchased them (or got them as gifts) this way, no matter what type of ornament. It doesn't have to be something that directly amplifies a memory (like those ugly brass laser cut ornaments that are made for landmarks in a city and sold at tourist shops). Go out of your way to find a local dealer and buy something unusual or nicer. You will have an heirloom that attaches itself to a particular place or memory—I am still amazed at how a single ornament can serve as an index to help you file away a memory of an event or place in your life even if it changes drastically over time. Rest my nephew Alan's soul—he was only 33 when he died. That marriage created my grand nephew Sam who I haven't seen since Alan's funeral three years ago. I should do something about that, shouldn't I?

FOUR FOR A SONG | Wooden finial ornaments found from beyond (top and above)

collecting, photography and 
styling by Darryl Moland


  1. This is an incredibly deep and insightful post, Darryl. Way more than I expected at first glance. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and ideas on this great blog. Wow!

  2. Keep reading! I'm very excited about it so far. I think I've posted since you read the finial post. Now I think you get what I've been talking about all these years! It's about time it starts flowing out on a page somewhere!