I’m not extravagant. Honestly I’m not,
I’m currently sitting on everything I could ever need.
I have a Jeep – almost paid for - that I guarantee you I will drive until it falls apart. (Anyone who knows me personally can confirm this). I still wear 10-year-old jeans. My shoe of choice are Converse Chuck Taylors….think I have about 10 pair in varying states of wear and tear. They cost about 30 bucks a pair at the outlet.
I’m lucky to have a decent job and live inside my means.
20 years ago, not so much.
20 years ago, spending big bucks for a Christmas ornament was just outrageous.
Christopher Radko was still new on the Christmas ornament scene then, and only the fanciest of stores sold his delicate hand-blown, hand-painted glass ornaments.
It was at the very fanciest of all the fancy stores in Dallas, Neiman Marcus, that I first saw this guy.
(insert sound of angels playing trumpets here)
“Injun Joe”, from Tom Sawyer I assumed.
He was created in a vintage mold that hadn’t been used in about 50 years until Mr. Radko revived the Eastern European tradition of hand-crafted glass ornaments. Each one takes about a week to make.
“..and his price?” you ask.
Might as well have been 2,000 dollars, because I didn’t have that kind of money to spend on a 3 inch glass ornament.
Enter my dear friend Lenny, the minute he saw this ornament, he could think of only one person who would truly appreciate it…..me.
Of course I would, it was everything that I love – Christmas, Indians, Neiman Marcus – all wrapped up in one fragile little item.
He gave it to me in a used Tiffany gift box, which he quickly reclaimed, (my gift was the ornament, not the box)
The very next December, at Neiman Marcus of course, I met with this man – Christopher Radko – and he signed my Indian.
My very first Radko glass ornament.
And so the dice were cast……..
For those of you that don’t know, the Radko company started with a crash.
A BIG crash.
The new tree stand that young Christopher Radko had bought for his family’s Christmas tree snapped under the weight of the decades worth of heirloom blown glass ornaments and sent the collection to the ground. Young Mr. Radko immediately started an attempt to replace his family’s cherished collection, only to find that “new” ornaments were mostly cheap and plastic. On a personal holiday in Poland, he found some blown glass bottles in a shop, and asked if it were possible for the artisans to also make glass ornaments, like the ones his family had lost. It was, and he brought a handful back to the U.S. But they never made it to his family tree. They were immediately snatched up by his fiends who were looking for the same link to their Christmas’s past.
……..and so a brand was born.
That was 1985,
The 10 year anniversary in 1995 saw the debut of the Radko collection in a table top book.
Now, I know which ones I’m still missing.
Little did Lenny know, or Mr. Radko, or myself for that matter, that that little indian ornament would snowball into an almost 20 year collection of Radko ornaments.
I have so many now that the tree is almost completely covered.
I just hate to see any bare spots.
Mostly Indians, and cowboys, and snowmen, and Santas, and Mickey Mouse, and a myriad of storybook characters…..here are just a few of my favorites (there are way to many favorites to photo every one)
I mostly find them online. The ones from the mid 90′s are my favorites and pretty reasonably priced on eBay.
Sometimes, I pick up a newer one that really calls to me in a store.
But most of them are gifts from family and friends.
And my friend Lenny, yeah, he’s given me quite a few more over the years.
I almost have enough…….
……not too many bare spots left.
Looks even better with a layer of tinsel icicles,
I just hate to see any green on a Christmas tree.
…and the Indian that started it all?
Same place every year.
He’s right there near the top.
So I can see him from the couch…….