We lived in a small college town, and my mom always had the best parties. She had a group of misfit friends: professors at the university, a pastor, lonely neighbors, co-workers, parents from her after school childcare. We didn't have much, but she opened her home to everyone.
My mom would prepare elaborate dinners parties that would last late into the night. My favorite parties were the annual Christmas Eve party she threw. The day before Christmas, trees were discounted to almost nothing. My mom would bring home a tree shortly before the party, and guests would bring an ornament to trim the tree.
One year a few weeks before the party, my mom made dough to make our own ornaments. We rolled out the dough and used cookie cutters to make holiday shapes. One of my favorite ornaments was an angel that my mom made. She had painstakingly rolled out small, oblong beads that she formed from the dough and then pressed each one onto the wings to make individual feathers. It was beautiful.
After that, it was on; we found that making our own ornaments instead of using a cookie cutter was more creative and looked better. I made a Christmas tree that was decorated with the most elaborate miniature ornaments. It’s a wonder they didn't burn off when it was baked in the oven.
I decided to try rolling out letters. I was going to make an ornament that said Merry Xmas - but it really bothered my mom on the principal of defiling the English language. She took exception with businesses that changed letters in words for their own evil purposes, such as Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
So we ended up compromising, and I decided to roll out a phrase instead. I tried to roll out letters to form the phrase, HO HO HO - but it was too long and wouldn't stick together right. So I shortened it to two letters: H, O.
My mom was in fits over it, but never let on what was so humorous about an ornament that spelled ‘Ho’. I felt very clever about the whole thing. I can’t remember if we baked them in the oven first or before when they were still soft – but I painted it orange, just to be contrary. To this day, it’s one of my mom’s most prized ornaments.