As we packed up our Christmas ornaments at the end of the holiday season, part of that transition back to the everyday included a smaller decoration of the homestead, as we brought out non-holiday ornaments.
I’m not talking about our usual assortment of knickknacks, sun catchers and the like, but actual ornaments, originally intended as Christmas decorations, that we have adapted to every day use.
The Hallmark company seems to be a leader in non-holiday specific ornament manufacturing. I love browsing the Hallmark stores when the Christmas decorations go on display (in August! I’d ignore them till at least November, but by then the best ones are long gone) and I’m always bemused by the whole genre of pop culture decorations.
One could argue that this is not a new phenomenon; it could even be argued that it’s a return to old ways. The oldest commercial Christmas decorations would not immediately suggest the holiday season to us today. Particularly, the blown glass pickle that is a traditional Yuletide essential in many parts of Germany, completely baffles me. But I’m not one of those who really wants a Star Wars™ Christmas tree, a Batman™ or Barbie™ tree, or any other theme™. However, some of those ornaments, had I the money to invest on them, would be acceptable to hang around the house in non-holiday periods. Especially if I had a “man cave” on the property . . . .
Our everyday ornaments, like their holiday counterparts, have special meaning for us beyond their intrinsic beauty. The ones that inspired this particular essay come from Tenakee Springs. When my brother and his wife lived there, we would visit as often as we could, and we met many of the local artists. We have two hand painted wooden disks that we display on ordinary, non-holiday days. We could reserve them as Christmas ornaments, which may have been their original purpose, but we prefer to display them every day, particularly in the winter, as they depict Tenakee in the wintertime. Seeing these ornaments in our home remind us of our visits there.
Likewise, we have had, for many years, a collection of painted porcelain disks by Barbara Lavallee, an Alaskan artist you may have heard of. These disks, also intended as Christmas ornaments, depict scenes from Alaska Native life. As the artwork itself has no Christmas association, and since Lavallee is a favorite artist of ours, we generally display the set all year long. Well, not all year long; we take them down at Christmas time to make way for our Christmas decorations!