An angel for Christmas: Mother’s gift connects generations

CAPE GEORGE — In 1970, Mary Maltby’s mother gave her a present — a small angel, kneeling, its cupped wings holding an infant.

The angel was a silent acknowledgement of the loss Mary and her husband had recently suffered. That same year, Mary’s father died at the age of 63.

And every year afterward until she died, her mother gave Mary an angel for Christmas.

Now a grandmother, Mary Maltby has collected more than 100 angels of all sizes and shapes, from drugstore figurines to fine porcelain pieces.

Some were gifts, some were inherited, some she bought herself at a gift shop or garage sale.

But each is a keepsake, a symbol of hope and love passed down from mother to daughter, grandmother to granddaughter.

“I gave one of my mother’s angels to my niece, a snow globe with an angel in it,” Maltby said.

“She was only 10 when her grandmother, my mother, died.”

Most of the angels are female, most are young. Some kneel in prayer.

Others, designed as gifts for young girls, have a more lively persona.

Among Maltby’s favorites are a set of three young angels from her mother’s collection, each playing a musical instrument.

Two larger angels are by Lladro, the Spanish porcelain maker, and were gifts from Maltby’s daughter when she worked in Spain.

Of the two, the larger, chunkier angel is one of Maltby’s favorites.

“I like the bare foot sticking out,” Maltby said.

Maltby will share her collection on Saturday at First Presbyterian Church as a new addition to the Presbyterian Women’s annual Nativity Open House.

When Christmas is over, Maltby carefully wraps each angel in bubble-wrap, then places it in a storage crate.

When it comes time, she will pass on the collection to another generation.

“I know my youngest daughter will appreciate them.”

From there, they will be passed down to Maltby’s granddaughter, Olivia, who is the image of Mary’s mother.


Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter/columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at

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