Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ornamentalism 101

Everywhere I go lately everyone is talking about their favourite ornaments, so, now that we've got our Christmas tree up, I thought I'd talk about MINE. I certainly have enough of them - ask my family: at one point during the weekend Richard was looking distinctly nervous ("Um, are you almost finished? Aren't there rather a lot of things on this garland? Uh, is this room going to stay like this?" "Surely you aren't going to use all this stuff?") while the kids were equal parts astounded and excited. Dominic's reaction was "WOW! This looks like that Christmas store downtown! There must be ZILLIONS of ornaments in this room!" Even Max was impressed: "Finally. Cool." (trust me, he was impressed) FDPG followed me from room to room, talking and talking and talking and talking and talking ("I can hardly wait till Christmas!" "Can you hardly wait till Christmas, Mum?" "Dominic, can you hardly wait till Christmas?" "Max, can you hardly wait till Christmas" "I can hardly wait till Christmas!"). At one point I had to fob her off with a candy cane, or go mad.

So, in the interests of spreading Christmas Ornament Joy around, here is a Tour of Sheila's Favourite Christmas Ornaments.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let's begin...
This is a gaucho nutcracker, at least, I think it is. Doesn't he look as though he belongs out on the pampas somewhere? He's got great pants, anyhow. I bought him in San Diego a long time ago, when Richard and I still found it wildly amusing to attend MLA conferences. I actually bought him as a gift, but when I got home I was too attached to him and his shiny green pants. There is something about him that screams I AM AN AMAZING GAUCHO. I like a nutcracker with that kind of confidence.

Here's another nutcracker - a Victorian chimney sweep. He came as part of a set I bought in the US last year. He was accompanied by an Uncle Sam nutcracker, of all things. Normally I am a big fan of most things American, but this Uncle Sam nutcracker was a hard sell. I tried to imagine us Canadians manufacturing Canadian People nutcrackers but I couldn't: we're all far too embarrassed by evident displays of patriotism to do such things. We Canadians are a wallflowery lot. The nearest we get to patriotism is making silly movies about curling. Or watching a man in bizarre coats talk about hockey on national television. Embedding coins in centre ice during Olympic events, even.

Hmm. Put that way it's even weirder than an Uncle Sam nutcracker, isn't it? Forget I said anything. Let's just focus on this charming Victorian chimney sweep.

Here's my ancient Burgermeister Meisterburger. I bought him with babysitting money when I was in my teens. He's small and wooden, but he too packs a lot of attitude. When Dominic first saw him he said "Why is that man smoking?" I thought about all the relatives I had that had smoked, and how none of Dominic's relatives smoke, and didn't quite know what to say, other than the banal "People used to smoke a lot back then." It seems a long way from those days. Gave me a pang of nostalgia.

A skiing snowman. Who doesn't like a snowman who can ski? He's another babysitting money purchase, and has a charming little gold tag on his bum that says MADE IN KOREA. Now that's old.

Some time ago I started giving the kids an ornament each year on the day we put up the tree. I tried to find themes that had caught them up each year: birding obsessions (Stellar's Jays), LEGO, Webkinz, even junk food. The theory was that we would have fun each Christmas as we pulled out all these moments of fond maternal madness, but the kids had other ideas: that the ornaments would be theirs to play with all through the year. So we wrangled pleasantly about this until I got my way we all agreed that if they weren't packed away each Christmas they would probably be toast by the time the kids grew up, because things like LEGO snowmen would be highly unlikely to remain LEGO snowmen, particularly if someone needed a black round brick or something...

So there you have it. Ornamental memories, 2010.

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