12 Days of Christmas – Susan Eaddy

For the final entry for this edition of the 12 Days of Christmas my friend, Susan Eaddy who creates the most gorgeous clay-based illustrations has a lovely memory of family Christmas gatherings and the importance of decorations and handmade ornaments that are passed from generation to generation. I love Christmas and all the decorations and symbolism so this is just the perfect way to end this current edition of the 12 Days of Christmas.


I open up box after box. Where are they? Which boxes? Oh WHY oh WHY didn’t I label those boxes more carefully last Christmas? Finally. There they are, my treasures, tucked into the safest corner of the highest, darkest closet shelf. Boxes opened, tissues unwrapped and ornaments peek out! The Christmas crab! The Yule Yak! The Upside Down Snail! There is the Whole Wheat Snowman crafted in dough by chunky 5 year-old fingers. Every handmade ornament is tenderly removed and admired as memories flood out of the box to join the shimmer of lights on the Christmas tree.

Every year since my daughter’s birth I/we have made ornaments. Each piece has a signature and a date on the back. YoJ turns into Joy as the years progress and the spelling improves. And oh what joy! We unpack the year of Shrinky Dink Rhinos, the year of Sculpy Kitties, and the lean years with ornaments drawn on poster board, our cardboard houses and angels strung with a sewing needle. Or once, the heartbreaking discovery that the Papier Mache nativity was dinner for a family of mice, leaving us with only a drummer boy to remind us of the year and the lesson that plastic storage works better than cardboard cartons. We have beautiful nativities, hand carried from Sienna or hand carved by artisans.

But the favorite, is the set built piece by piece, year by year, by the hands of my growing daughter, finally complete at age 9 and always in the place of honor. Through the years, households have shifted, families blended, but the constant always has been the ornaments. Friends join in; the gingerbread men made by 10 year old pals give way to teenage boy ornaments, of space aliens and race cars. Inspiration and creation are welcome in any form, from Grandma GiGi’s Toby dog, to my stepdaughter’s Christmas mermaid with her Neptune mate. And of course, a Christmas Rhino to satisfy my husband’s obsession with that wondrous beast. Our family history is reflected in the themes & memories from the year, as interests develop and events unfold, a Christmas cheerleader, senior class slogans, a bull from my now grown daughter’s year in Spain, a Grandma GiGi angel with a book in hand, and Grandpa Gi-Pop angel with his glass of rum.

And this year, a new theme. A first Christmas for my daughter’s 5 month-old twins, and the tradition carries on into a new generation.


Susan Eaddy dwells in her attic studio writing picture books and playing with clay. She lives in Nashville Tennessee, and is the Illustrator Coordinator for the Midsouth SCBWI. You can find her at her website – www.susaneaddy.com.

Her newest books are:

  • My Love for You is the Sun (written by Julie Hedlund), Little Bahalia Publishing Sept. 2014
  • Poppy’s Best Paper (illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet), Charlesbridge Publishing Fall 2015

and here is the video for Susan’s next book: http://youtu.be/kP2yMdmqBIA

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