Christmas Past Nostalgia
December 8, 2019 10:02 AM   Subscribe

The Story Behind Vintage "Shiny Brite" Christmas Ornaments. 2019 responds.
posted by theora55 (12 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure millennials dislike shiny ornaments so much as that they don't have space, plus they have to stay mobile in their lives. I have a number of regular tchotchkes that I still have wrapped and packed in boxes long after my last move, because where do they go in this little apartment? They're safe in their paper, and they will be when I move again, which won't be long. Whenever someone gives me a breakable knick-knack as a gift, I smile when I see it, but I sigh afterwards: here's something that has to be put away. The idea of possessing delicate glass bubbles for regular handling, like my parents do, is bewildering.

I bought myself clear glass teacups, and I've broken two out of a set of four. Things have to be hard-wearing around me.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:55 AM on December 8, 2019 [8 favorites]

As a kid, our tree was thick with Shiny Brite ornaments. But, dang, it seemed like they'd break is you just looked at them wrong. Fragile doesn't describe them. I don't think any of them survived long enough for me to inherit them.

Still have bubble lights, though. Although, the new ones aren't nearly as dependably bubbly as the old ones.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:57 AM on December 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh wow, our tree is filled with Shiny Brite ornaments that we've bought from thrift stores on the cheap because people (on the whole) don't want them anymore. Like, me and my gf have found tons at the Goodwill outlet store by us where they charge by the pound, and even the pickers who resell stuff don't seem to want to bother with them. Thanks for the history of the brand!
posted by 23skidoo at 11:05 AM on December 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

We had those type of ornaments when I was little; I think some of them were brought back from Germany at some point. But they're all lost now.
posted by suelac at 11:18 AM on December 8, 2019

We still have some Shiny Brights. Also groovy "Stardust" indoor lights, covered in sugar-like bits of glass. Almost impossible to find any replacement bulbs that are functional though. Time erodes 50's electronic parts.
posted by Windopaene at 12:11 PM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

So that's what the ornaments my mom's parents bought decades and decades ago were called!

All this time, I've just been calling them the "precious ornaments." Also, where are my favorites: the glass parakeets?
posted by Delia at 12:55 PM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, where are my favorites: the glass parakeets?

OMG the clip-on birds! My parents have both glass and feathered ones, with clips down under their feet so you don't hang them on the tree, instead they perch on branches. I had entirely forgotten about those until I read this comment!

We don't do Xmas trees in this household, but I do find the tradition charming and enjoy the decorated trees when I'm around them. The ones I like the best are the ones which seem to have a deep history, with ornaments which aren't just generic boxes but instead have been gathered across decades/generations and probably each have a personal story to tell.

I never knew the name of this particular kind of ornament before, but they certainly were ubiquitous for many many years in my life.
posted by hippybear at 1:32 PM on December 8, 2019 [4 favorites]

Countess Elena, that is exactly my (millennial) experience as well. I have a box that I've carried around from apartment to apartment for my entire adult life, full of beautiful but fragile decorations that have been given to me over the years. I would love to be able to decorate a Christmas tree with all the vintage shiny ornaments my family has collected (including some of those clip-on birds!), but that's not in the cards for me at this point in my life.
posted by carlypennylane at 10:52 PM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have a couple dozen of these, though not branded as Shiny Bright. My Opa brought them home from Germany after WWII. No one else in the house is allowed to touch them, lest I bite their fingers off.
posted by MissySedai at 7:45 AM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have a small apartment without much storage space, and a cat who likes to break stuff. My solution is a 3 foot fake tree that cost $9.99 a few years ago at the drugstore, and little ornaments (which can be tricky to find.) Some of them are glass, and some of them are things my parents bought in the 1950s when they lived in Germany. I use them all anyway, and sometimes they break. It makes me a bit sad when they do, but I'm happier to use them and see them decorate my little tree, and think of my parents (both now gone), who had their flaws but who both loved Christmas and tried to make it special. This is the tree this year (daylight pic, looks better at night, but I think it came out pretty well.)
posted by gudrun at 8:28 AM on December 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

Thanks for the photo, gudrun. Precious tree!
posted by narancia at 12:16 PM on December 9, 2019

I did take my grandparents' ornaments, still packed up in two pretzel tins from a luncheonette some forgotten relative owned. I absolutely love them and have very carefully carted them through at least four moves. Every year we put them up, one breaks. My roommate at the time thought I was going to kill her, but that's just part of the tradition somehow. Now I have cats, and not a lot of time, so they don't always make it out.
posted by sepviva at 7:20 PM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

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