The Christmas Ornament Showcase
It just wouldn't be Christmas if I didn't do a Christmas article. Actually Christmas itself would go virtually unchanged, but I would be forced to answer a variety of Christmas-themed questions. Where's your obligatory Christmas article? Why haven't you done a Christmas article? When will your Christmas article be up? And so on. Originally I was going to review one of the many Christmas specials out there, but I ultimately decided against it. I asked myself this: what's the best part of Christmas? Presents? No. The birth of Jesus? Fuck no. It's the decorations. And since I have a bunch of twenty-year-old Christmas ornaments, I figured I might as well write about them.
In the year 1 A.D., a baby was born; that baby was Jesus Christ. Then nothing happened for a long time. Flash forward 1980 years, to the birth of Syd Lexia. While much fewer artifacts exist celebrating Baby Syd than Baby Jesus, there are a few. For example, there's this decidedly fruity Christmas ornament celebrating Syd's first Jesus Day. You may notice that there's a quasi-poem on the back. You'd think that its creators would have tried a little harder to make it rhyme properly, but apparently they were complete assholes. On the plus side, this ornament is unbreakable. You know, like Bruce Willis in that movie.
This 1981 ornament shows Paddington Bear reading "The Night Before Christmas". I don't remember a whole lot about Paddington Bear except that his adoptive family, the Browns, found him at the London Paddington train station and that he loved eating marmalade and flashing his junk at people. Also, he had a show done in stop-motion animation that used to air Nickelodeon in the 80s as well as a series of books that predated it. Paddington Bear is still wearing the tag that the Browns found on him: "PLEASE LOOK AFTER THIS BEAR. THANK YOU." Oddly enough, Paddington's signature suitcase is missing from the ornament.
You can put just about any trademarked property on an ornament. In 1983, Cabbage Patch Kids were the must-have toy of the season. But people seem to ignore that the Cabbage Patch Kids were a total rip-off of the Campbell Kids that the Campbell's Soup company introduced some 79 years earlier in 1904. Just look at those chubby faces, rosy cheeks, and wide eyes and tell me the goddam CPKs didn't steal their look from them. The difference is that no one was ever trampled to death over a can of Campbell's Soup. In fact, Campbell's Soup has made countless lives better with its mysterious healing powers. So hail to thee, Campbell's Soup! Your 1983 ornament stands a lovely reminder to the many Lexia family colds that you've helped to cure.
For some reason, I remember Beatrix Potter books being fairly popular when I was kid. 1982 marked the 80th anniversary of The Tale Of Peter Rabbit, so maybe that had something to do with it. This 1983 ornament has Peter's mother between giant banners that let you know the ornament is in fact from 1983. I know it's not the most interesting ornament, but they can't all be winners.
Here's yet another ornament from 1983, this one featuring Raggedy Ann and Andy driving around in a soapbox race car. This ornament raises two very important questions. First, why the fuck does a Christmas ornament depict a springtime scene? And second, why would anyone trust a woman to drive? They may be out in the open countryside, but I bet you anything that Ann will still find a way to hit something. I mean, come on, she doesn't even have fingers.
When the animated feature An American Tail came out in November of 1986, adult men everywhere were surprised to learn that it wasn't already the title of a Dark Brothers movie. However, no one was surprised to learn that An American Tail had a string of promotional tie-ins. One such tie-in was a series of tiny stockings featuring Fievel Mousekewitz. The stockings were joint venture between Sears and McDonald's. They were sold at McDonald's as a holiday gift and they came with a $5 Sears coupon. As far as stockings go, it's pretty lame. The stocking will hold roughly 2 bags of Skittles, making it a useful fireplace garnish for no one except the fictional mouse emblazoned on it. It's a decent tree decoration though.
Disney has done a shitload of stuff, so every year marks some stupid milestone in the company's history: 15th anniversary of Beauty and the Beast! 53rd anniversary of Peter Pan! 69th anniversary of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs! But here's a 1988 Christmas ornament that commemorates a milestone that people might have actually give a damn about: the 60th anniversary of Mickey Mouse. Aside from his appearance in Fantasia as The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Mickey Mouse kinda sucks. Actually, he really sucks. Mickey is one of the most patently unfunny cartoon characters ever created and he usually relies on Donald Duck and Goofy to provide laughs. Still, there are people out there who give a shit about Mickey, like my mom. This ornament is for them.
In November of 1989, Disney released The Little Mermaid, its first proper animated feature in many years. The movie spawned not only its own McDonald's Happy Meal but a set of two buyable Christmas ornaments from the fast food giant as well: Holiday Sebastian and Holiday Flounder. I got Sebastian and my brother got Flounder. Since Sebastian is the only one who survived, see if you can guess which one of us was better at taking care of stuff. The Sebastian ornament is certainly apropos for the seasonal, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. As a crab living in the ocean off the coast of Europe, Sebastian would be acclimatized to incredibly cold temperatures. So then why the hell would he ever need mittens and earmuffs? And why did he have that goddam Jamaican accent? Damn you, Disney! I want answers!
In 1990, Disney released The Rescuers Down Under, the mildly successful sequel to its 1977 animated hit. To coincide with yet another November release, McDonald's sold limited edition Bernard and Ms. Bianca ornaments. Since I was a boy, I got a Bernard ornament. Or maybe I got it because Bernard was voiced by Bob Newhart, who my parents absolutely loved. I kinda wish I had the Ms. Bianca ornament, because she was pretty hot for a cartoon mouse. I know she was voiced by Eva Gabor who was probably close to 200 years old in 1990, but still.
Next up we have a 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ornament that my brother's third grade teacher gave him as a Christmas present. These days, I doubt public school teachers could get away with something like that and I'm surprised that it flew sixteen years ago. Not every kid celebrates Christmas after all, so giving your students Christmas ornaments might be seen as more than a little presumptuous. Seriously, what kind of a teacher gives out Ninja Turtle ornaments? The coolest fucking teacher EVER, that's who. Still, I have to wonder why the Ninja Turtles would be celebrating Christmas as they stand nothing to gain from the birth of Christ. Under Catholic dogma, only humans have souls and thus only human can enter Heaven. In a universe that's largely anthropomorphic, such as the Disney one, I have no problem accepting the idea that humanized animals can enter God's kingdom when they die. However, that is not the case in the TMNT universe. In the TMNT universe, humans still rule the world and the Ninja Turtles only exist as the result of mutagen. Since the Turtles were originally turtles, they can't enter the afterlife anymore than Frankenstein's monster or any other scientific abomination could. On the other hand, mutants who were ORIGINALLY human such as Splinter, Professor Baxter, Bebop, and Rocksteady can indeed enter Heaven. It is unclear whether or not Krang and the Rock Soldiers can go to Heaven. While they are the normal residents of their dimension, there's not a whole lot of information out there on how alternate dimensions interact with the eternal one. Perhaps each dimension has its own God, I don't know.
In 1992, Hallmark released an ornament modeled after the Galileo shuttle from the original Star Trek series. It had voice clips of Leonard Nimoy wishing you happy holidays and it was fucking badass. Unfortunately, I never got that ornament. However, I did the get the next ornament in the series, the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The ornament has lights built into it and it can be plugged into a string of Christmas lights to power them. While not quite as cool as the 1992 ornament, it's still pretty bad ass. Besides, TNG was a much better show.
In 1994, I received the next of the Star Trek plug-in ornaments, a Klingon Bird of Prey. While this ornament was meticulously crafted to closely resemble the ship from the TV series, it was also poorly crafted. The gun turrets on the ends of the wings were very thin and could break off very easily. In fact, the first one I got was broken before I even opened it. The second one broken while it was in storage between Christmas '94 and Christmas '95. After 1994 ornament, my mom vowed not to let me get anymore plug-in ornaments because she didn't like taking bulbs out of the light strings to plug them in because the loose bulbs would get lost and light strings were then ruined in her eyes. You know, unless you plugged the same ornaments back into them the next year. This threat was not fully implemented until 1997.
Sweet Fucking Christ, it's a Barney ornament. You might be wondering why I have a Barney ornament. Well, there's a simple explanation: I am Satan and I am here to unleash unholy terror upon your eyes. That, or my sister is twelve years younger than me and someone bought this gay shit for her. This is yet another plug-in ornament, one where you can watch Barney sled mindlessly around in circles. Some text on the front of the ornament boldly proclaims that sledding is "simply stu-u-u-pendous". I'm not kidding. Oh, how I wish I were kidding.
Yes, it's yet another fucking Star Trek ornament. What can I say? I loves me some Next Generation. This ornament is a Romulan Warbird from 1995. It's much sturdier than the '94 Bird of Prey, making it perfect for use in mock battles against the '93 enterprise. This was the last Star Trek ornament I got. When the 1996 ornament was the USS Voyager, I lost interest. I kinda wish I hadn't... the Borg Cube ornament from 2000 was pretty damn cool.
I have one last ornament to show you, and it's the freaking pope. The real pope, not that bullshit Ratzinger one. This 1979 ornament commemorates Pope John Paul II's first trip to America. It was given to my mom by a nun who was a childhood friend of my grandmother. Here's the text from the back of the ornament:
Born Karl Joseph Wojtyla, May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland of modest means, Pope John Paul knew labor as a boy and in his teens as a stone cutter. During the Nazi occupation, he actively aided Jewish refugees by working with the Christian underground and studied clandestinely. Ordained a priest at the age of 26, Bishop at 38, Archbishop at 44, and Cardinal at 47. He gained great prominence with his work in the 2nd Vatican Council, making his election as the 264th Pope eminent.You like that shit? Of course you do. Well, that's it for now. If you enjoyed this article, I've got some good news for you: I still have enough mildly interesting Christmas ornaments to do this again next year. Of course, if you hated this article, I've got some goods news for you as well: I probably won't feel like doing this again next year and I'll probably just resort to an Elf Bowling review. Or maybe you'll get really lucky and I'll die in a fiery automobile accident in March. Hey, it could happen.
Pope John Paul's triumphal tour of the United States in October, 1979 and his message of love for America shall long be remembered by all.
"May Peace Be with You Always, America!"
Posted by: Syd Lexia