Four Ornaments and a Nutcracker

Aujourd'hui I would like to introduce you to four of my favorite Christmas decorations.  (Tidbit, because you wanted to know:  I write "aujourd'hui" instead of "today" on all of my to-do lists.) NUMBER 1:  The Angel.

I've had this beautiful little angel ornament for as long as I can remember.  (I'm sure it came from the Waldorf school or something.)  It's the first ornament I remember being mine, and I love her unconditionally though I've had to defend her honor more than once.  One year I was asked to move her to the back of the tree because it looked like "a used cotton ball," as my brother and my stepdad so lovingly put it.  I don't know where they got that from.  CLEARLY she is regal and angelic-looking.

I happen to think she is beautiful and real - like the Velveteen Rabbit.

NUMBER 2: The Styrofoam ball.

I have never wanted my Christmas tree to match.  I do not want a "red and gold" tree, or a "white and silver" tree; I want funky, homemade ornaments top to bottom.  Enter the styrafoam ball.  I don't remember how old I was when we made these with my mom, but I do remember how badly my fingers hurt by the end of it.  Almost as badly as the first time I poked cloves into an orange.  Evidently my mom prefers her Christmas decorations come with an element of pain.  You take a styrofoam ball and use little sewing pins to stick it with beads, sequins, and ribbon.  We had a bunch of these babies at one point, but I think I own the only survivor.  Though I can't remember, I suspect this may also have been  a back-of-the-tree ornament.

NUMBER 3:  The X.

When we were in college, Dan was the RA of Dorm 10.  They used the roman numeral on t-shirts, and they flashed the "X" sign all the time, all over campus.

Because Dorm X was our brother dorm, some girls on our floor decided to make each guy a Christmas ornament.  This was around the time that Dan and I started dating, and I like to think that the FINE craftsmanship of this spray painted popsicle stick had something to do with that.  Who can resist an artiste?  This little buddy still hangs on our tree today (though, admittedly, near the back).

NUMBER 4:  The Legal Jargon.

One year when I was in high school my friend Derick made me this ornament.  Earlier that year he'd dated another girl by the name of Kate, and there was this very confusing "Kate #1/Kate #2" thing going on.   After their relationship fizzled, an ongoing joke developed among our group of friends that I was (for the time being) "The One And Only Kate."

Sidebar:  I wouldn't mind if you all started referring to me as "The One And Only Kate" from now on.

At any rate, a bunch of people got together that year to make Christmas ornaments.  Everyone gave an ornament to everyone else, and this is the one I got from Derick.

The back reads:

"To The One and Only* Kate, From Derick

*Disclaimer: status of "one and only Kate" subject to change without notice. No purchase necessary, void where prohibited.  Status open to all persons named Kate who are legal citizens of the United States and all occupied territories.  Must be 18 or older to compete."

I know I said 4 ornaments, but I had to throw this one in for good measure.  It's free.

THE NUTCRACKER

This is far and away my favorite Christmas decoration.  This little nutcracker reminds me of how amazing my husband is, and how blessed I am to have him.

Last year at this time, both Dan and I were unemployed.  We were living in our little house in Georgia and working every odd job we could get our hands on.  I was substitute teaching on a semi-regular basis, and Dan had been sending out resumes and making phone calls from dawn until dusk for nearly two weeks.  One afternoon Dan marched into the living room, threw on his coat and said, "I'm going to get a job.  If I'm not back by midnight, you can assume I'm applying at all the Waffle Houses and 24 hour Wal-Marts."

And he found a job - three, to be exact.  He wasn't able to spend Thanksgiving Day with us last year because he was carving ham for the guests at the Ritz Carlton.  He started his next job on Black Friday, working at a children's retail store in the mall.  And finally, he worked as a parking booth attendant at a hospital - the 5:00 am shift.  My husband who HATES the cold and the dark in a compulsive, irrational way, got up in the wee hours of the morning, bundled up in his uniform, and sat in a freezing parking booth punching tickets so that he could provide for our family.

One evening while we were hanging out at Dan's parents' house, Dan told us about his long (13+ hour) day at the Ritz Carlton.  He had to wear the white waiters coat, of course, but the one that they provided had the name "Barry" stitched into it.  (Apparently someone named Barry had quit and turned in all his uniforms.  So Dan, as well as the three people standing next to him in the serving line, were all wearing "Barry" coats.  A whole row of  Barry's carving your meat and dishing out your veggies for your Thanksgiving meal.  Bizzarre.)

That year Dan's mom found a Chef Nutcracker, bought it, and painted the name "Barry" on his white coat.  She gave it to Dan for Christmas - as a joke.  Last year that nutcracker was silly; this year it is precious.  We are in different jobs, a different house, a different state, and that scary time just last year seems a million miles away.  But this funny little nutcracker reminds me that I have a husband who loves me.

Dan is the best man; he is strong and brave and good.  He's a hard worker who doesn't consider anything beneath him.  He's a servant, and he has a heart of gold.  And I love him very, very much.