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Molly Procell keeps Christmas ornament giving alive

Family traditions run thick in the Boa family and one of them began after Molly Rod Boa Procell was just a baby. 

Her mother, Molly Broadfoot Vinzant Boa, began the tradition of giving a Christmas ornament to her each year and when brothers John and Hunt were born, they too got ornaments.

“Mama was a strong advocate for family tradition. We did certain things every year for years; some traditions are still alive and others were replaced, as we grew older,” Procell said.

“A favorite of my brothers’ and mine is the Christmas ornament tradition. My first Christmas, Mama made me an ornament, which I still have. Ever since then, each Christmas Eve we all received an ornament for the tree,” she said.

Procell thinks the reason her mother started this tradition was because she wanted to make sure her children had ornaments for their trees once they had their own families.

“And memories with which to start our own traditions,” she said.

Of all the ornaments received through the years, Procell said, a little handmade mouse remains her favorite. It was the first one given to her and the only one ever made by her mother.

“King Rat, Chief Rat, Head Ornament was given to me for my first Christmas. I was 7 months old. Mama made it of Styrofoam and sprayed it gold then sprinkled it with glitter. He’s still intact, except for his tail,” she said.

Although the little fellow is a bit worn, Procell said she does not hide him on the back of the tree. He is out front and center for all to see.

“He gets to have the prime spot, on every tree, every year,” she said.

Procell’s first little mouse is now accompanied by plenty of little friends. She said she has a tree full of mice that she was given through the years as her mother added to her collection, as well as other ornaments representative of something she and her brothers liked “or were passionate about at the time.”

“My brothers have a lot of soccer ornaments, bears for John, pizza for Hunt, horses and a million mice for me.”

As the kids became teenagers, one might have thought the ornament tradition would have gotten dull or boring, but Porcell said never.

It continued to be one of the highlights of their Christmases  — anticipating what their mother would find for them that year.

“You never knew what you would get,” she said, but mine were usually mice. I have a ton of mice.”

Through the years, there have been a few casualties with the ornaments, but the “overwhelming majority,” have remained intact, Procell said.

Some of the mishaps that occurred included cats climbing on the trees and pulling the whole tree over, and the tree being so big that the stand could not handle it, she said.

Unfortunately, accidents do occur with ornaments, but to help keep them safe when not in use, Procell said, she stores hers in empty kitty litter tubs.

However, it was not until about five years ago, that she actually brought her ornaments to her own home.

“No one wanted to take them for years because when we did go home for Christmas, we wanted to see them on the tree,” she said.

Procell said she was not even sure if her brothers had taken theirs to their respective homes yet.

Decorating her tree with the mélange of ornaments she was given through the years was not what Procell said she had initially thought she wanted to do, but after having her own daughter, Mary Bay, things changed.

“Our trees were never ‘designer’ trees. Growing up, I always thought it would be wonderful to have a perfect tree with perfect matching ornaments and decorations,” she said, but I have found that I enjoy seeing them in magazines, or beautiful hotels, or in friend’s homes. I wouldn’t trade my mismatched tree of memories for anything. As I take out ornaments, I am able to say to my own daughter — this is the one I got in a certain year, this one is broken here because it was on the tree when the cat went climbing, this is the one I stole from Uncle Hunt, or this is one I’ve always loved because it reminds me of home.”

This will be Procell’s first Christmas without her mother. She died shortly after the holidays last year.

Although she will not be there in body with her daughter this year to celebrate Christmas, her spirit surely lives on in each and every ornament. 

“I think the Christmas ornament tradition is one of my very favorites because it is a way of creating memories and passing down family history. I have continued that tradition with my own daughter. I don’t dare try to craft ornaments, but they are meaningful to us. One day, as she decorates her own tree, she will remember the stories she heard, the hands that touched them, and will pass that love along to her own family.”

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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