Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Stairway of Misfit Ornaments

The boys were helping me trim the Christmas tree. A special moment, since I was sick of doing it and they were still under the impression it was fun. I worked carefully, since any sudden movement on my part might scare them off, especially if they realized they were actually helping Mom do something 'uncool.'

Then they found it - a creepy ornament. One created and purchased with the intent that yes, this will brighten someone's holiday, only to fail miserably and instead turn all gazers to stone. This particular one was a bulbous purple dinosaur somehow so popular with children. "Mom," my youngest said, "He's only wearing a Santa hat. Where are the rest of his clothes? And why is he looking at me like that?"

Everyone has at least one. Perhaps it was a gift, but it's hideous to the point you 'd like to flatten it with your car but you worry about feeling guilty later. Maybe you paid a lot for it and hope that one year it will suddenly be stunning in a good way. I can tell you that the only way it will ever be truly stunning is if you flatten it with your car.

I didn't have the guts to get rid of my 'gifted misfits' but I couldn't bear to display them either. Nothing like gazing at a beautiful Christmas tree and seeing a haggard, one-eyed Santa with a death wish staring back at you. So I kept them for years, stuffed in the bottom of a box like so many precious yet clunky memories.

My parents had ornaments from the Depression. Dark, worn, and fragile, for years I thought we kids weren't allowed to touch them because you could catch 'depression' from them. Why we put them on our tree I had no idea. Perhaps to appease the gods of depression.

Soon my kids were digging out more oddballs- a headless dog, an angry angel, an overly medicated banjo player, a tired dancing Santa, a teddy bear only Freddy Kruger could love. Silver Bells crooned quietly under the squealing as the boys chased each other through the house with their newly discovered Christmas freaks. They decided all the ghoulishness needed its own place of admiration, a "Creepy Hall of Fame." The pine garland on my spiral staircase became their spot. So much for making it into House & Garden this year.

The line between cheery and creepy is sometimes vague. Santa's supposed to be every kid's best friend - direct contact with THE King of Toys. But he scares the bejeebers out of kids. Same with ornaments - they're supposed to be beautiful and warm your heart. When they quietly turn on you, when all Santa needs is a carving knife to complete his outfit, it's all the more frightening.

Each night as we head upstairs and pass the Creepy Hall of Fame, the Misfit Ornaments stare back at us, waiting for us to close our eyes....that much closer to our dreams.

Keep that weirdo dino-freak away from me.


insomniac said...

i dunno... glue a surfboard under santa's feet and he'll look o.k...would he be 'goofy-footed' then?

Annie said...

Yes, he'd be 'goofy-footed.' It's just that the cheap velvet coating on his body has worn thru in spots right down to the plastic. For someone who's that 'shredded,' his happiness is a bit scary.