Advent, My Way #9

Vintage Polish ornaments.

Toy trains.

Nutcrackers.

This is the stuff of which Christmas collections are made.

It seems that Christmas decorating lends itself to themes, to the collection of lots of a particular kind of decoration.

So many different kinds of decorations are available, maybe it’s inevitable that we must make choices and collect one kind of ornament, whether for the tree or for the mantle or the sideboard.

Maybe it grows out of a childhood fascination, as with toy trains. Maybe it’s an extension of another passion or hobby. I knew a woman who collected pigs, in all forms, throughout the year, and her Christmas tree was a spectacular piggy fest.

It’s no different at our house. Our Christmas décor, while eclectic, still features certain collections.

For atheists, we have a peculiar number of nativity crèches.

We have an inordinate number of tree decorations that have an Adirondack, outdoorsy look to them.

But the favorite collection, the one that comes out every year, even when we are pretending Christmas is just another day, is the collection of Santas.

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They line the mantle. They gaze out at us with their impassive, nonjudgmental eyes.

I like them because they are folky-looking—not too shiny bright. I like them because they represent things we care about—they are diverse and represent many lands. We have Santas that represent Haiti, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Australia, Ireland, many places.

The dark faces fit among the white ones.

 

Others are tied to our region and to our college alma mater.

I like them because they bring their pets, to visit ours. Of course Santa would care as much for animals as for people.

I like them for many reasons.

I love them because of what Santa represents—a kindly soul who, somehow, knows what each of us desires most, in our heart of hearts, and brings it to us and leaves it without expecting or wanting anything in return . . .

Our Santas have not taken their place yet this year.* That should happen this weekend. When each one comes out of his box, we’ll greet him like the old friend he is and place him carefully among his fellows.

They will remind us that we already have our hearts’ desire, everything that’s really important, and we need nothing more from them, none of their presents.

Just their presence.

I imagine some of you will be spending the weekend in similar ways—unwrapping ornaments that delight you, finding some you had forgotten about and will fall in love with anew.

Of all your decorative Christmas items, is there a collection, or even just one special ornament, without which Christmas would not be complete?

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* The photos come from a previous post. I like the Santas so much, I just keep writing about them! It wouldn’t be advent with them.

Yes, Virginia . . .

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.    –Francis Pharcellus Church

IMG_4141Reading your blogs has taught me so much. One thing I’ve learned lately is that decorating for Christmas is a passion. I knew this on a theoretical level before but, now, having read about and seen so many of your decorations around the world, I understand it in a much more fundamental way.

Even those of us who could only be described as cultural Christians—non-religious now but having been brought up in religious homes, with lots of Christmas memories—find joy at this time of year in bringing out the crèches and other Christmas treasures.

And, when we decorate, many of us seem to focus around collections of meaningful objects and feature them in our homes.

For me, I love Santa. So, even when we don’t do the full-blown decorating of a big tree and the whole house, we always bring out our main collection at Christmas—these Santas that line the mantle.

Our Santas have been coming to us for over 20 years and are primarily from the line of Great American Collectibles Old World Santas. These are carved and hand-painted resin figurines, made in the US. A few new ones are released every year and depict, mostly, folk art-style Santas from around the world.

The first one of these Santas that we received Mickey, an Irish Santa given to us by a friend after we went to Ireland on our honeymoon.

We liked Mickey’s look so much, we’ve brought many of his brothers home over the years.

Many of the Santas have sweet animals with them, which adds enormously to their appeal for us.

Some of our Santas come from other places.

We have our Millennial Penn State Santa:

Penn State Santa

Penn State Santa

And our Santa from the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

American Folk Art Museum Santa

American Folk Art Museum Santa

And we have Santas from garage sales!

3 garage sale Santas

3 garage sale Santas

These Santas sleep patiently in storage for most of the year, waiting to come out at Christmas and remind us of all the good that Santa Claus symbolizes—love and generosity and devotion. I believe in Santa! Do you?