Deck the Halls

Handmade decorations evoke a special aunt

Many families have traditions.

Those traditions can be quite similar from family-to-family.

Mine is no different, with one exception; Aunt Dianna.

She was a tall, glamorous, blond woman with a tall personality to match.

She never entered into a room unnoticed, due to her bright smile and gregarious nature.

It was not uncommon for her to make friends of strangers — often while in line at her beloved craft store (often after telling them her life story for an hour).

She had enthusiasm for many things, her husband, dog, friends and Christmas.

The woman loved Christmas.

Once I counted how many Christmas trees she had set-up in her home, the count totaled 15.

Every year my cousins, Aunt and Grandma would make the trek to her house to bake and decorate cookies.

During this annual pilgrimage we would watch movies together and eat tons of sugar as she played the same three Christmas albums on repeat; A Charlie Brown Christmas, Barbra Streisand and Kenny G.

Her nieces and nephews were very close to her because Aunt Dianna couldn’t have children.

She was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32 and continued to fight that battle off and on until she died at the age of 50.

Because of this, a lot of her time was spent at the St. Joseph Cancer Center in Ann Arbor.

To help bring joy (something she always managed to do) to fellow patients, she began to put up and decorate Christmas trees all over the unit.

My Grandma would help her, every year and they would create their own ornate bows, bulbs and garlands.

The trees were always themed (many times by color) and they had to be perfect.

Not a bulb or ribbon was to be out of place. One of Aunt Dianna’s proudest moments was when a local TV station did a story about her efforts. We watched the segment together as a family.

Her love of Christmas was so deep people didn’t question why there was a Christmas tree at her funeral in February.

After she died each niece and nephew received boxes of Christmas tree decorations.

There were different colors to choose from , I have purple and gold decorations.

Many of them were hand created. Some of the ornaments have chipped paint, and the glitter has worn off, but I won’t get rid of them.

They will always find their way on my tree every year.

Editor’s Note: This is the next part of a month-long holiday series highlighting photos and stories of special Christmas decorations. Our readers are invited to send in a photo and story as well. The story behind the decorations can be brief or include some length – whatever suits. Email submissions to:

Photos and information also can be texted to: 989-255-3620.