The German Pyramid of My Grandmother
The German Pyramid of My Grandmother
My grandmother loved all things related to Christmas and handmade German crafts, particularly German pyramids. Each Christmas season my grandmother would decorate her entire home in such detail, it was a wonder it did not take her all year long to get it just right. In fact, it did take her quite some time to place each and every Christmas ornament and decoration in its particular spot, especially as she got older, but each year was just as spectacular as the last. Everyone in the family would always say, it just was not Christmas until the last ornament was placed and the German pyramids were lit.
When I say my grandmother decorated her entire home, I mean she decorated her entire home, from the family room to the kitchen to the bedrooms and even the bathrooms. In fact, each room had its own particular Christmas holiday theme and you could almost see the stories that were being told come to life as my grandmother decorated every nook and cranny of the home my mother grew up in. Now, you might be wondering how she did this. Well, the secret to her design theme came from the many German pyramids she had been collecting over her lifetime. Each room had its own German pyramid and from this central design piece she would tie together the entire theme of the room based on the particular themes being told by the German pyramid in that particular room.
Each bedroom had its own German pyramid that would be placed on a dresser or table first and all the other decorations for each room would depend upon the theme of the German pyramid. For instance, my mother collected little angel ornaments, so the German pyramid in her room was always a white one with little angels spinning around the top of it with each rotation of the wooden fan. Her room would then be decorated all in white and gold with angel ornaments hanging from the ceiling and gold harps and trumpets lying around the room as accent decorations. My grandmother also enjoyed collecting Amish quilts and on each bed she would place a special one that matched the theme of the German pyramid and the room. The quilt belonging to my Mother was white with little angels stitched into the blocks.
My uncle loved animals, so his German pyramid was decorated with deer and other wildlife scenes. My grandmother would decorate his room with a forest like theme with fresh pine tree branches and different animal ornaments and decorations. My uncle said he always imagined he was living outside in the woods at Christmastime with all of the smells and sights that my grandmother would place in his room as decorations. The colors were always green and brown and tan, not the typical Christmas palette, but my grandmother always said that Christmas was a time where each person could express themselves differently with their favorite decorations and it did not matter to her that his room would smell like a barn.
The family room always got the royal treatment with a Santa Claus and gift giving theme. My grandmother actually had several smaller German pyramids that all focused on Santa and the Christmas tree. Of course, there was always the biggest Christmas tree my grandmother could find placed in front of the window for everyone inside and out to see and enjoy. The tree would be covered from top to bottom with bright lights, lots of tinsel, and decorated with wooden and glass Santa ornaments. The fireplace mantel would always hold several of her German pyramids surrounded by a collection of German nutcrackers dressed up in red and white Santa suits. This was one of my favorite rooms to be in at Christmastime with the fireplace fire crackling, the Christmas lights twinkling, and the candles of the German pyramids flickering. It was almost like being in a Christmas themed amusement park, but without having to wait in all those long lines.
Finally, the dining room was always the central room of the holiday celebrations and my grandmother would pull out all the stops in making this the most spectacularly decorated room in the entire house. The centerpiece on the dining room table was always home to the most beautiful German pyramid you have ever seen. With five spectacular levels that always seemed to mesmerize me every time I looked at it, this Nativity Story German pyramid was always the show stopper and really made the Christmas holiday meals that much more memorable. Each Christmas Eve after dinner, the entire family would gather round the table and my grandfather would tell the story of the Nativity and the birth of Christ. My grandmother would dim the lights and light the candles on the German pyramid as my grandfather would point out different parts of the story being told as he made his way up from the bottom to the top of the German pyramid. He would tell us of how Joseph and Mary made their way to Bethlehem and how they had no place to stay except in the manger of an innkeeper. Then as the baby Jesus was born, he would tell of how the the angels appeared and announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds tending to their flock of sheep. He explained that the Three Wise Men traveled on camels to bring the new born Savior their gifts. A chill always seemed to go down my spine as my grandfather would tell us of how King Herod sent out his Roman soldiers to kill all the male toddlers in his futile quest to kill the baby Jesus. It always made feel better though when he would tell us of the angels playing their trumpets and announcing to the world that the son of God was here. All of these parts of the story were represented in this spectacular German pyramid that would literally transport my imagination as the figurines spun around and made the story my grandfather told come alive.
While my grandmother is no longer with us today, I have the memories of how she decorated her house each Christmas with such care and love and have carried on the tradition in my own home. Upon the death of my grandmother, all of her precious German pyramids and decorations were spread out between my mother, my uncle, and myself. I was fortunate enough to be given the beautiful Nativity Story German pyramid that was always placed on the dining room table of my grandmother, so I could carry on the tradition with my own children. As you can imagine, this is a tradition and an honor that I will continue on in hopes that my children and their children after them will be as fascinated and delighted by the sights, sounds, and stories of Christmas, just as I was.