Is there such a thing as too many new Christmas ornaments.
I say NO, although my boyfriend likely thinks there is as the tubs of ornaments threaten to overwhelm our apartment (for the record he loves Christmas and my love of the season), which is why I went crazy this year buying all kinds of new ornaments and older ones new to me, the better to make a dark year seem just a little brighter.
Much of the fun of finding and buying these two ornaments has been discovering that some pop culture characters and franchises I thought had no ornaments actually do, and when you’re entire decorating scheme is those kinds of ornaments, the joy is ridiculous.
Sure I can throw in a DVD or stream the show or movie and have those characters with me that way, but it’s also just delightful having them there on my tree for a couple of months, sharing the season I love so much and bringing together an evergreen property I have gotten so much from together with the most wonderful time of the year.
When you get so much from detailed pieces of festive plastic, it’s hard not to jeep buying and buying although if I want to actually have room to move in years to come, I may want to think about cutting back … a little.
But not this year, no, not this year …
THE INCREDIBLES: Edna Mode
Edna Mode is the stylish heart of 2004’s The Incredibles and the 2018 sequel Incredibles 2, a fabulously together, always cool, calm and collected woman who steals every scene she’s in, and then some. Voiced by Brad Bird, who created the character while he also wrote and directed both films, Edna came about when, according to Wikipedia, referencing The Washington Times, Bird “often found himself wondering who is responsible for making the superheroes’ elaborate costumes”. It makes sense then that it’s someone like Edna who has style, a fabulously idiosyncratic accent and je ne sais quoi plus plus plus. She is adorable, funny and endlessly accomplished and so, it gives me great delight that she is now gracing my Christmas tree, Santa hat fashionably in hand.
LORD OF THE RINGS: Frodo Baggins
When the first Lord of the Rings film, The Fellowship of the Ring, came out in December 2001 in what became a short-lived but wonderful post-Christmas tradition (revived later when The Hobbit trilogy was released), it suddenly struck that I had never read any of Tolkien’s masterful works. Yes, I the fantasy reader from way back had somehow missed out the three amazing books that Peter Jackson turned into movies so richly told and visually lush that they remain a pleasure to watch all these years later. So, after seeing Fellowship the first time, I hurriedly raced through the first volume of the trilogy reading for my second and third viewings of the film – back when I somehow managed to do that; these days in the time of streaming excess, you can only dream of having the time to do that – before quickly moving onto the second and third instalments. While I did sometimes doubt Frodo’s (Elijah Wood) good judgement – thank goodness for Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin)! – I always found him a relatable, understandably flawed character who anchored the epic quest to destroy the One Ring with a deeply affecting humanity. Adding this ornament to the tree, not only honours that but pays homage to my annual fantasy escape into the Shire, and lands beyond, which remains a treasured memory.
I had a great many wonderful toys as a kid, the result of doting parents, grandparents and great aunts who gave me some very cool playthings over the years. One of the ones I treasured the most but which, despite my best curatorial efforts, ended up lost to the mists of time, was my red View-Master, first introduced in 1939 starting with travel and tourist photos on a thin cardboard disks before venturing into all kinds of pop culture properties later on. Thankfully, a chance find at the Bangalow Markets on the Far North Coast of New South Wales a few years back re-introduced me to View-Masters and some assiduous purchases on Ebay later, I now have two stereoscopes and a ton of reels to watch. Thus, it was a no-brainer when this ornament popped up in my searches, a happy side effect of buying more reels on Peanuts and CHiPs, bringing this much loved toy to my tree and well and truly back into my life.
Paddington Bear, who first appeared on 13 October 1958, courtesy of creator Michael Bond, in the children’s book A Bear Called Paddington, is precisely the sort of person (and he is in every way that matters) I would want to do anything and everything Christmas-y with. Innocent, free-spirited, determined despite the consequences (largely because he doesn’t stop, god bless him, to think them through more than he’s aware of them and doesn’t care) and possessed of any endless spirit of marmalade sandwich-accented fun, Paddington knows what matters and sets out to experience them to the full. With his adoptive family, the Browns, along for the ride of course. He was there, book and animated TV show form for my childhood and so it’s entirely fitting that he’s along for my present too, cutely adorning the tree in his trademark scarf and wellies with Christmas present thoughtfully in hand.
There are a lot of appealing Disney characters to like and let’s be honest, most people land on classics like Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, or newer animated stars like Belle or Simba. But while I love them all, my heart has always been with Goofy, “a tall, anthropomorphic animal who typically wears a turtle neck and vest, with pants, shoes, white gloves, and a tall hat” who debuted in 1932 with “Mickey’s Revue”, although he became closer to the Goofy we now know and love in “The Whoopee Party” later that same year. (Wikipedia). He may come across a clumsy and a little dim-witted but he’s a good and solid friend and often wises up to things in his own way faster than some of the other characters. He already has an ornament on my tree but I have always loved Grolier ornaments so grabbing this President’s Edition take on him was not a hard decision to make at all.
THE SMURFS: Smurfette
I first came across The Smurfs, who first came to life at the hand of Belgian comics artist Peyo (the pen name of Pierre Culliford) in 1958 (thank you Wikipedia), in the early 1980s when BP service stations ran a promotion where you could buy the figurines for $2 each when you bought petrol (gas). So besotted did I become with the small blue plastic people that I ended up spending lots of money buying many of the Smurfs that were released, quite a number of which I still have today (including hundreds more bought on eBay, and so naturally with an obsession that longlasting, it made sense that they would make their way to my tree. While I have number of ornaments that are essentially figurines with a loop to hang around the branch, I was excited to track down this Hallmark Smurfette ornament from 2011 which adds some charm to my tree and celebrates the fact that she was one of the first figurines I ever owned.
DOCTOR WHO: The Fourth Doctor
When I was kid, I was simultaneously thrilled and terrified by Doctor Who, first broadcast in 1963, which catered to my love of sci-fi action and adventure but which could also get more than a little scary when it came to baddies like the Cybermen and the Daleks. (Yes, I have a low horror threshold, why do you ask?) But when Tom Baker came along to play the Fourth Doctor – for those unfamiliar with the show, Doctor Who is a time-travelling alien from the planet of Gallifrey who regenerates at regular intervals, ending looking and acting differently though always with great integrity and a love for the human race – I was happy to watch more of the show than ever before. The Fourth Doctor, in Baker’s inspired hands, was witty, excitable, enthusiastic and had, what the Doctor Who Wiki calls “a renewed curiosity towards exploring time and space” and I loved him. This 2021 ornament thus fills a Fourth Doctor gap on the tree, who, David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor aside, is far and away my favourite TARDIS inhabitant.
RICK AND MORTY: Oh Geez, Rick!
Five seasons in, it’s fair to say that Rick and Morty, created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon has well and truly made its mark on the pop culture landscape – Szechuan sauce, anyone? This animated tour de force is endlessly, manically imaginative, capable of off-the-wall hilariously odd worldbuilding, smart and witty dialogue and some intense hits at our emotional gravity courtesy of the central relationship between recklessly brilliant, alcoholic scientist grandfather Rick and his grandson Morty who travel together across space and time and infinitely weird and hilariously strange realities via a portal which is on full colourful display in this 2021 ornament so Rick looking confident and Morty, well, sensibly looking a little terrified.
Created by Chic Young, and now overseen by the original artist’s son Dean (who took over in 1973 and has worked with a number of artists) Blondies was first published on 8 September, 1930, centering on the “the eponymous blonde and her sandwich-loving husband” (Wikpedia). While it is very much a heritage comic strip in certain key ways, Blondie remains as vital as ever (computers and modern ideas abound), and at the time of my childhood in the 1970s, was still one of the star attractions of the Sunday comic strip inserts. Now, that’s some longevity! This 1999 ornament from Carlton Cards, which sadly no longer makes and releases ornaments, captures the love and closeness of the two lead characters, suitably kissing under the mistletoe and surrounded by a candy cane heart.
MONSTERS INC.: Sulley and Boo
It’s funny how a movie you once cared only a little about suddenly, after a re-watch, ends up getting so deep in your affections that it’s highly unlikely it will ever get out. That’s precisely what happened with Monsters. Inc which I liked but didn’t love back in 2001 but which on repeat viewing twenty years later, suddenly hit me like a profoundly moving ton of bricks. Central to this wonderful piece of animated feature filmmaking is the relationship between monster Sulley (John Goodman) whose job involves scaring children to generate energy for Monstropolis and Boo (Mary Gibbs), a girl who follows Sulley back through the door at the back of her closet and causes all kinds of hilarious. Grabbing this 2021 ornament seems like the perfect way of marking my new love affair with this Pixar classic which stands as a great example of why the studios films are so greatly loved and revered, even decades later.
STAR TREK ENTERPRISE: Commander Trip Tucker
While it’s not as well known as franchise mates like The Next Generation and Voyager, Enterprise, which ran from 2001 to 2005 and is the only Star Trek series, bar the original, to be cancelled mid-stream (shows normally run for seven years), is one of my favourites, alongside Deep Space Nine. Set as a prequel in the 22nd century when human and their Federation allies were only beginning to really investigate the great big galaxy around them, Enterprise did an enjoyable job of giving us a look at the time before Picard, Sisko, Kirk and Janeway. Among an accomplished ensemble cast, my faviourite was Trip Tucker, played by Connor Trineer, the Chief Engineer of the eponymous ship and longtime bestie of Captain Archer (Scott Bakula) who really made an impression as the all-too-short show advanced through its four seasons. It also didn’t hurt that he looked damn good in boxer briefs. Having him join the tree feels fitting, adding more Star Trek-ness which thus far mainly has found representation, in Deep Space Nine ornaments.
GHOSTBUSTERS: Dr. Peter Venkman
With Ghostbusters: Afterlife close to hitting cinema screens in Australia, on New Year’s Day no less, it’s seems like the perfect time to add another Ghostbusters ornament to the mix (this one from 2019), this time featuring Dr Peter Venkman, played by Bill Murray, who along with appearing in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II is also in Afterlife. While I’ll be honest that I liked but didn’t the ’80s originals – rather seditiously, I loved the 2016 iteration Answer the Call far more – Venkman was my big fave, a mix of grave and witty that went down a treat as he battled the supernatural nightmares trying to take over New York City and the world. It’s exciting to know he’s back for the 2021 take on the venerable franchise since he’ll add some great personality into what looks like a thrilling new instalment in the series.
THE MUPPETS: The Electric Mayhem Bus
This 2016 ornament adds some of my favourite Muppets into my tree decorating mix. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem band, composed of Dr. Teeth, Animal, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Janice, Zoot and Lips, made their first appearance in the 1975 pilot of The Muppet Show. The show’s house band, they went to perform in The Muppet Movie, and The Great Muppet Caper and a host of other titles, and have neatly made their way into the Muppets digital outings in the 21st century. How could they not? They are larger than life personalities, especially manic Animal whom I adore, and give some frenetic edge and fun to the Muppets. Finding this ornament by accident on eBay was such a thrill, not only because of its colour and vibrancy but because one of the missing puzzle of my Muppets’ Christmas ornaments suite has now been filled.
Granted the live action Cruella movie made it onto screens this year, and is by all accounts worth a watch – it’s another casualty of ironically too much to watch in a lockdown year – but my heart has always been with the 1961 animated classic which introduced us to Roger and Anita Radcliffe, their respective Dalmatians Pongo and Perdita, who fall in love as completely as their owners, a lot of extra Dalmatian puppies and the villainous Cruella de Vil who wants to do unspeakably fashionable things with the dogs’ coats. I also read the book by Dodie Smith on which the film was based, and so 101 Dalmatians has become one of those films that has had a big impact on my growing up. For all the action and tension of the film, it feels overall like a great big reassuring hug that says everything will be okay, something this newly-released ornament conveys quite beautifully, showing as it does that magical moment when Roger and Anita met and everyone’s one worlds changed for the better, even with Cruella lurking in the wings.
FROZEN: Olaf in summer mode
Olaf you are the best! While I ostensibly only went to see the 2013 film Frozen to keep my niece and nephew amused on long Christmas holiday, the truth is I fell in love with Olaf and the rest of the film’s animated cast harder than any of the kids. A key part of the appeal for me is Josh Gad as Olaf, who gave voice and exuberant life to a character whose well-meaning and sweet, and wildly inquisitive thanks to effectively being a young kid, newly born thanks to the ice and snow-shaping magical powers of Princess Elsa of Arendelle (Idina Menzel), and who steals every scene he is in. Since that fateful meeting at a cinema in Ballina, New South Wales (Australia), Olaf and I have become great friends as he’s appeared in Frozen 2, Once Upon a Snowman, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure and Olaf Presents, and while, yes, I do have a number of Olaf ornaments already, who could pass one that plays on his hilariously delusional belief that he could survive as a snowman in the heat of summer. You know he can’t but good lord, you want him to be able to because Olaf is adorable, the very best of us, and he deserves everything he can get, frankly.