With candles generating the heat that spins the turbine of a carousel of angel figures to chime a carillon of bells, Christmas angel chimes, known in Sweden as änglaspel were first brought to the United States by German immigrants more than a century ago. Many songs have been written about angel chimes, including “Angel’s song, the Christmas Chimes.”                     

Each Christmas, when I was a boy, my mom always brought out the box of angel chimes and had me set them up atop the library table in the reception hall. There was nothing as peaceful and enchanting as sitting in the warm glow of candlelight, watching the angels delicately chime the carillon. My mom told me to think of the magical chiming of the bells as the song of angels among us.      

With four children in the house, along with all our friends, the angel chimes got a lot of wear and tear. The brass parts could be a bit flimsy. More than a few times my mom headed back to Roger’s dime store to buy another set of the chimes for spare parts. I always felt bad that she had to buy another set. At $1.87, she said the decoration was worth every cent given all the enjoyment it brought.

There was none as durable as our first set of angel chimes. Each time a different part broke and knowing how fascinated I was with the magical chimes, my dad saved all the brass parts in a box and put me in charge of maintaining the charming yuletide decoration.

The angel chimes I use to this day, sitting atop my fireplace at Christmas time each year, were all assembled from parts my dad salvaged back in the 1960s. I am still fascinated with them.

Van der Hout lives in Southeast Portland.