The 3 Ugliest Christmas Decorations Known to Man (And Why You Should Love Them)

I heard my five-year-old niece talking to my wife in the living room.

“Ooooooooooh! This one is big! Can I put this one on the Christmas tree?”

Gabby, without looking, said, “Honey, those are the breakable ornaments. The ones for the kids are on the couch. Come over here and…”

Then something stopped my wife in her tracks. She continued.

“Oh. That one? Knock yourself out, kid. Hang away!”

I came around the corner to see little Ava precariously swinging a glass ball the size of a newborn’s noggin on the end of her finger. While Gabby’s eyes filled with hope, I cringed and said,

“Careful Ava!”

She delicately hung the ornament on one of the lowest spots on our tree. The branch buckled under the weight and bent down, pointing toward the floor. Luckily, a sturdy needle grasped the ribbon to keep my Christmas treasure from shattering on the ground.

Crisis averted.

The ornament in question is one I received from a coworker nearly twenty years ago. The woman is a regular Martha Stewart and made gifts for each of her fellow employees every year. The giant glass ball is painted on one side with a bright red and green poinsettia flower. On the other side the WorldCom logo. Yes, I said WorldCom. My former employer. The one whose CEO, Bernie Ebbers, is now doing 25 years in federal prison for masterminding the largest corporate fraud in history.

Which reminds me, I forgot to send him a card.

AM Christmas WorldCom

The ornament was once a clear, gleaming globe, but has now been clouded by years of fingerprints, smudged paint, and a felony conviction. Still, it means something to me. I’m not sure why I like it so much. It doesn’t make any sense, really. I am embarrassed to have the company name on my resume. My meager 401K was decimated when the allegations came to light and the stock tanked. Yet, for some strange reason, I still love the decoration on the tree.

Each year, there is a debate as to where to hang it. If I am the one who comes across it in the box of breakables, I gingerly place it in a prominent spot, only to find it slowly move toward the back of the tree as Jesus’ birth nears. I think Gabby just wants to make sure it’s out of the line of sight of our under-the-tree nativity scene before the Christ Child finally shows up on the 25th.

Might upset the baby.

But each year this Christmas Abomination lives on, along with many other surprising decorations.

Take “Hanta-Santa”, for example.

AM Christmas Hanta Santa 2

Hanta Santa is a name I gave to this ornament after finding it had barely survived a rodent attack in the attic. Notice how the hems of his coat and sleeves have been gnawed into a lovely scalloped pattern? Luckily, I was able to tame Kris Kringle’s mild case of Hanta Virus with a healthy dose of pine-scented Lysol and a Silkwood shower. After fifty years of faithful service, you can’t just throw the Jolly Fat Man to the curb because of a frayed coat and contagion, can you?

No way. Not on my watch.

And then there the “Mistle-Toes” – a disturbing display hung in our entry way.

AM Christmas Mistle Toes

It’s supposed to be an inviting sprig of mistletoe intended to entice yuletide lovers to smooch. Instead, it’s really more of a reminder to Santa to pay his gambling debts, lest the rest of his elves will end up stuffed in a sack like this poor guy. Even though my wife refuses to kiss me within a fifteen foot radius of the Mistle-Toes, it’s still a Christmas tradition.

I know all of these trinkets are an abomination to the Pottery Barn Christmas we see in the catalogs. Heck, they’re so tacky that even the Chuck E. Cheese ticket counter would refuse to give them to a kid trying to spend his Skee-Ball winnings.

But that’s why I love them.

This time of year, every single one of us gets wrapped up in lofty expectations. We have visions of sugarplums and Christmas card photo shoots where everyone gets along. We delight in the promise of the Season. And happy memories flood our senses as we recall Christmases past.

But these memories are sanitized versions of the truth. The fully-edited movies of our lives. And we forget all of those moments that ended up on the cutting room floor. Kids complaining. Stressed-out shoppers. Overbooked schedules. Fussing and fighting. Nope. Those memories somehow got shredded or mis-filed, like incriminating corporate memos, never to be seen again.

That’s where the Christmas abominations come in.

You might think these decorations are a window through which we see our Christmases past. A way to recall happy times and treasured moments. In truth, I think these ugly eyesores are actually a mirror with which to see ourselves. They provide a reflection of reality. Reminders of bad choices. Mistakes. Imperfections. Warts on display.

Perhaps that’s what leads my wife to pack them away every January. Lovingly wrapped in old newspaper, despite how they look. Because deep down we all understand that an annual celebration of the birth of our Savior is no time to start feigning perfection. God did not come down to earth via C-section in a brightly sanitized hospital covered in pristine marble. No. Not even a hotel room. The truth is that a scared young girl gave birth to Jesus in a filthy, drafty, dirt-floor stable filled with flying bits of dust and the smell of manure.

Such an imperfect place for a perfect soul.

But it seems very fitting for a baby who grew into a man who sought out the broken and the lost. The outcast and the afflicted. The poor and the lame. All to show them how God sees their imperfection as a perfect gift.

Love come down.

So each year brings another Christmas miracle. Another chance to see ourselves as God sees us. This year, as you celebrate the Season, I pray that you proudly display your own Christmas abominations to celebrate imperfection. And I also pray that we are all able to see the beauty in the mess. This life that God has given to all of us.

And when the time comes to pack it all away in the attic, I invite you to use a little extra bubble wrap for the least of these. Because all of these imperfections need a soft, forgiving place to rest.

If only for a while.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “The 3 Ugliest Christmas Decorations Known to Man (And Why You Should Love Them)

  1. Pingback: Pom poms and pipe cleaners and squiggly eyes, oh my. | rhondaisgrateful

  2. Thank you for writing. I look forward to every one your posts. Always thought provoking with a delightful spin of entertainment. Your creativity in seeing a message in the everyday things (or ugly Christmas ornaments) is inspirational. Please keep sharing your insights!

  3. Kiere Keil

    Interesting how the traditions have infiltrated the homes and churches of believers. Christmas is a simple thing, yet soooo forgotten with the complex. What would happen if everyone of us put away traditions that don’t represent what CHRISTmas is all about? I know, seems odd and extreme. But when was the last time you went to a party on someone’s b day and everyone but the birthday person got elaborate gifts, many gifts? I’ve never been to a party like that on a birthday. Yet, most American homes spent Jesus’ birthday doing this. He was forgotten but got to observe a fat guy honored, talked about, snacks left out for the fake guy, and
    basically Jesus was isolated to buildings around Andis
    America, but not homes. And how about the big, green tree decorated beautifully? Never saw one of those at a birthday party either.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR

    • Kierre- Your posting was incredible. I hosted a Christian radio talk show for 5 years in Detroit and the topic of your response was one of my favorite. I once did a tongue -in- cheek show on how to overtake the Muslims. I suggested running TV ads for 30% discounts during Rammadan and selling flat screens at deep discount Ramadan-Madness sales. Then finding and make folklore about a fictional character named Ali-Babba who flies around on a magic carpet that slips under the door each Ramadan Eve. Ali Babba leaves candy, toys and money for little children. Then on Muharram, the Muslim New Year we use a cute little squirrel, (call him Sammy) who brings nuts, candy and toys in wicker baskets .That way they have the equivalent and masterfully (evil) planned distractions in place for the Muslims just like we face with Santa and the Easter bunny, to keep the following generations of Muslims focused on lies and fantasy and not the real purpose of their Holy days. Within 70 years or so, Ali Babba and Sammy bring about so much turmoil and distraction that the Muslim Faith begins to deteriorate as quickly as Christianity is today and we use these subversive techniques to prevail and stamp out Islam. Of course by then, Christianity will be a lost religion, Jesus imitators will be hawking discounts for the Apple 37-C, Santa will be be cage fighting Ali Babba and so forth….

      As you said, try giving gifts to everyone but the 8 year-old who is expecting gifts on his birthday and then do so year after year. Then see how he feels when he is 18, his birthday rolls around and he is not excited or pleased. I assume Jesus only expects the gifts of appreciation and love on his birthday supposedly on his December 25th birthday. Of course, only God knows. Yet even though it’s an assumption, as a loving father myself, it’s all I ever need from my kids who as of yet, do not celebrate anyone else’s birthday on 23rd September except mine and I appreciate it.

      So the best choice I think is simple- redefine Christmas by eliminating all charity, gift giving, partying and every other activity assumed to be pleasing to God that are actually designed to make people feel good themselves and in fact, are not Biblically justified or stated.. I think a jealous God has rights to one day of focus. For this 1 of 365 days, just worship and thank God. No clothing drives , no tinsel, no gifts for the poor, no charity and no Channel 7 newscast from the soup kitchen on Christmas Eve where the newscaster and the volunteers provide their token 1- day benevolence serving the homeless. Then after the camera shuts down everyone vanishes from the ghettto for another year.

      I say do all the benevolence. 364 and keep Christmas solely for worship and make it a very low key Holy Day on Christmas, similar to other religions who have no celebration on very Holy Days. It cannot be a coincidence that our two most Holy days are shared with a bunny and a fat man in a red suit. as I also suggest, calling the retail orgy celebration presently known as Christmas another name- Winterfest. Rename the egg hunt, marshmallow bunny day from Easter to Springfest and keep these pagan traditions of the Santa/Easter Bunny sham- just take back our Christian name so they are not used to brand sales and guilt people into gift buying as a Godly requirement. Lump them together with Halloween and New Year. Then finally prove the exact or near exact day Jesus was born and the day He ascended to Heaven (or) pick dates far away from 25th December and whenever Easter falls. With new dates agreed upon by all the Christian churches, we keep our Christian Christmas and Easter days Holy and still celebrate the renamed pagan Spring and Winter festivals and have fun with the phoney bunny and fat man. This way our kids are miserable in Church waiting to get out to open gifts or so tired at Church because they got up at 5 am to find baskets and stuffed stockings. We regain our dignity as Believers, compliment and apologize to God for our ignorance and get back to reality. You hit it spot on and now I know I’m not alone in my prayers. Thanks

  4. Gloria

    Hi Accidental,
    I feel that the messages of Christmas should be a depth preference of everything Christmas represents instead, and evaluate it with the thought of greatness, that makes the holiday not only special, but spectacular. The Christ Child represents everything that is hopeful in all the ways it matters. The sense of purpose that is interpreted through The Holy Spirit, that invites paupers as well as kings, a chance at a different shimmering ornament, that ornament being the soul. The very thing that cannot be purchased, every opportunity has been afforded by the adversary to Purchase, much of the stuff we gallantly adore, but so little for what we Hope for. Pure salvation, a chance for higher purpose to be loved and accepted for who we are. Most things that are brought are a spiritual tie to say, that we don’t know how other to express that we are filled with Joy, at having been given a Christ Child, and bare salvation that we can be forgiven for our sins.

  5. Concerning your take on the misuse of what is and is not a “blessing” by Christians in describing things of a positive nature that occur in their lives, my fiance’ sent me this link of yours:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-dannemiller/christians-should-stop-saying_b_4868963.html

    Your dissertation provoked alot of thought and my short- term response is that you seem to be on to something. Just like celebrating Christmas with gift giving is traditional but not Scriptural and WRONG, the quip, “I’m blessed!” also stands out as a potentially wrong yet long -standing Christian tradition. Its misuse needs to be explained, exposed and ended if you are Scripture- based in all that you think, say and do. I appreciate your dissection of the topic- it was thorough and convincing. However, don’t expect many people to concur anymore than you might expect mom and dad to stop giving gifts at Christmas just because supposedly it’s “What Jesus would Do” or what the 3 wise men supposedly did. That false extrapolation perpetuates the disgusting nature of Modern day Christmas That’s why Christians like pagans give, get and spend and forget the day is about thanks and worship ONLY!

  6. Don

    Scott – thanks for your posts, I enjoy them all!

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