My Strict Rules About Christmas Decorations Exist for a Reason
This is not just any old Christmas tree
I posted some happy snaps of my Christmas tree on Facebook a few years ago, and one of my library friends asked, "Are all your decorations escapees from cartoons?"
I answered yes— but the truth lies somewhere a little broader than cartoons, as most of my Christmas decorations hail, not just from cartoons, but pop culture. For the record, I count anything in print before it was commercialized as a cartoon in the book character category.
But and this is pretty big "but"— I have rules.
In the beginning, there was only one…
It started innocently enough, as most things do, in 1999 when I stumbled upon this Winnie-the-Pooh decoration.
Due to the forces of gravity, money flew out of my purse, and the decoration followed me home. This sort of thing happens to me sometimes.
When I got home, I popped Winnie and Eeyore onto my tree and stood back admiring them as they bobbed about on their sleigh, having lots of Christmas fun.
Nerdy-Sandi piped up with, "How cool would it be if all my Christmas decorations hailed from pop culture?"
Devil's-advocate-Sandi said, "Look here. You can't have a bunch of action figures and toys hanging on a Christmas tree. Where's the Christmas spirit in that?"
Librarian-Sandi chimed in with, "You can have rules. Classifications. Accountability. Order. They will need to have something Christmassy going on - a Santa hat, giving, wrapping a present, pretty much anything goes so long as there is a Christmas connection."
Nerdy-Sandi promptly agreed to the rules and shoved Devils-advocate-Sandi quite firmly back in her box.
It was done. Each year I would buy another decoration from the Hallmark range that fit within the criteria of the rules. Perhaps it would take twenty years to achieve my dream Christmas tree, but it would be complete one day.
Decoration hunting begins in O̶c̶t̶o̶b̶e̶r̶,̶ ̶S̶e̶p̶t̶e̶m̶b̶e̶r̶ NO! August
I learned early— the very next year— that to secure the Christmassy pop culture decorations, you have to go decoration hunting in September or October. Pretty much the week the Hallmark decorations are released because the best decorations are always in short supply.
In 2004, I missed out. But I didn't miss seeing the picture of what I had missed out on …
This situation was, of course, unacceptable. I had to have the reindeer Dalmations. It felt like they were calling to me. So after traipsing to various shopping centers, (yeah okay, it was every shopping center I could drive to) I admitted defeat and went web hunting.
I made a fatal click, discovered Hooked on Hallmark, and to my delight (and my budget's dismay) that Hallmark has a much more extensive range than the decorations that grace Australian shores. In an interesting quirk of nature, the aforementioned forces of gravity are not limited to my purse. They can work their magic on my credit card too, which ensured that the reindeer Damlations found shelter from Cruella in my tree after all.
As a side note, in 2016, I found out that September/October decoration hunting was the gold standard no longer. Buzz Lightyear joined my collection in August. That's right, August. 😲😲
I thought my favorite husband understood the rules
The first decoration I received as a present was in 2005 when Grant added the Tassie Devil to my tree. I thought Grant understood the Christmas Tree Rules. But in 2006, he went Secret Santa shopping — he decided on a skiing moose decoration for his recipient — that wasn't the rule breaching problem. The problem was, he liked the moose so much that he brought one for our tree too.
I love my husband, so the skiing moose joined the tree. However, the moose has always been delegated a special place at the rear of the tree where no one can see him.
Since the year of the skiing moose rule-breaking breach, Grant has redeemed himself many times over. In 2007, he brought two decorations back from Disneyland, and each Christmas since, I've received an ornament as an early Christmas present. He was delighted to give his very own "grouch" an Oscar the Grouch decoration.
I brought a Red M&M as a present for Grant but then hijacked it back after it became apparent that he didn't appreciate it in quite the same way I do.
In 2014 the rule-breaching skiing moose found himself some company. I pulled a "Santa climbing the Eiffel Tower" from my decorations box. What? Clearly, it had come from our recent trip to Paris. But like the skiing moose, Santa climbing the Eiffel Tower was a rule breach.
I frowned, putting it straight back in the box. With a deadpan face, Grant said, "But what if I brought you that when we were in Paris?" I must have looked crestfallen because he laughed and added that it really looked more like the crap that I would buy. Nonetheless, Santa climbing the Eiffel Tower joined the moose at the rear of the tree. I figure perhaps the moose might like some company.
Be still my beating heart…
I had a star at the top of the tree for a few years, then a red bow. But now, to my great delight, I have a Weeping Angel. Yes, yes, my dastardly angel is not wearing Christmas attire, but that is okay. This is not a rule breach, more a creative stretch. A Weeping Angel tree topper needs no special Christmas attire but can claim Christmas rights just by being an angel.
Of course, I had to get a TARDIS, so there would be someone on hand to keep the Weeping Angel in check. And in keeping with the rules, The Doctor has hung a Christmas wreath on the door. If only I could find a Dalek or a Cyberman…
Expanding past Hallmark and beyond
My web clicking ventures led me to discover the Grolier range of decorations which made my credit card whirl in a happy-forces-of-gravity shopping frenzy. Simba, The Tramp (the old-style Tramp that I remember from my childhood!), and Woody joined my collection.
When Star Wars became part of the Disney franchise, I finally managed to add a stormtrooper to my collection. Darth Vader soon followed. Yoda is proving a little trickier to find.
It didn't take 20 years, but…there's always a but
By 2015 only pop culture decorations were on the tree. (I'm not counting the skiing moose or Eiffel Tower climbing Santa. They're buried at the back - out of sight!) In places, the tree looked a little sparse, but it was serviceable. With Grant's present buying and my super-shopping skills, I added more decorations each year.
These days the decorations that fit within the rule criteria are super easy to find. I've got a diverse cast of characters, hailing from multiple Disney franchises, The Lion King, Looney Tunes, The Grinch, Doctor Who, Minions, Garfield, Scooby-Doo, Smurfs, Snoopy, Sesame Street, and one lone superhero —Spider-man. Rather than spending time online or traipsing through multiple shops, I seem to trip over them whenever I'm shopping now. Good news for me, bad news for my credit card. So I had to move off the Christmas tree and utilize the bookcase. And also admit that this dedication to my Christmas tree collection requires far more than a twenty-year commitment to complete.
Besides, I still need to find a Yoda, Paddington, a Dalek or two and Spider-man definitely needs some friends. Perhaps this is a forty-year commitment?
Sandi Parsons is an award-winning school librarian with over 20 years experience working in educational libraries. She lives with her favorite husband, two problem puppies, and a very expensive Christmas tree.