Opinion: Odd Ornaments


Hannah Gebert

A pufferfish wearing a hat, a praying mantis, a literal pickle. Christmas ornaments can represent a world’s worth of memories.  

Walking through a German Christmas in Covington, Kentucky market, the vendors are closely packed under plastic tents. Items like nutcrackers and wooden toys are plentiful but not as culturally relevant as Weihnachtsgurke, or pickle ornaments. Many who were at the market innately understood what the pickle was all about. The German tradition of hiding a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree is not an uncommon celebration for the numerous German-Americans living in Cincinnati. Those who take part in the tradition each year, including myself,  have fond memories of finding the pickle ornament first and receiving an extra present or good fortune. Happily, I watched families with small children walk up to the vendors selling pickle ornaments. Collecting unique ornaments like the pickle can bring back experiences that make Christmas such a warm holiday. 

A special ornament doesn’t have to commemorate a cultural or deep-rooted tradition though.  Sometimes Christmas memories worth remembering are sudden. A central candidate for creating unexpected Christmas memories is the Christmas tree. Live trees can not only be knocked over destroying a good portion of the living room, but they can also hide some little friends. Praying mantis had built a nest in one unlucky Christmas tree. Unfortunately enough the family celebrates the invasion of the mantis by having a bunch of tiny green staples everywhere. It was only right that they later bought a praying mantis ornament to honor that Christmas. Through the chaos of experiencing that Christmas together they could now bond over either the stress or the excitement. You can always procure positivity from mishaps.

Another of my personal experiences, I indeed find value in hanging up a puffer fish ornament every year. When I was little with a little brain, I found a pufferfish ornament in Florida. I was utterly shocked that there was a real Pufferfish on a string (as only children can be). As any captivated child would, I started making a scene toward my parents displaying my amusement. Considering that it was almost Christmas my parents got me the ornament. Every year when I put that ornament on the tree I think of how Christmas looked in the mind of a child. Ornaments can help comfort and hindsight well up around the holidays. 

Christmas is a time for things such as family, thankfulness, and memories. Ornaments are a miniscule part of the celebration of Christmas but they can beckon so much more than just beauty. Finding what reminds you of Christmas or joyful occasions is important. Everything happens for a reason and being content with that is an underlying theme of Christmas, ornaments can help that. Taking a moment to think should be a tradition for all during the holidays. Even if you do not collect ornaments you have a story, one to remember.