Saturday, December 25, 2010


Though I can't help getting sucked in sometimes, I've never been one for buying souvenirs when I travel - not of the Greetings from Blackpool sort, anyway: that's just stuff, ie what we could all do with less of in our lives. But Christmas tree ornaments are quite another matter, especially as we seem to travel most frequently late in the year, when they're on display in the shops: it's lovely to choose something that's not just pretty but personally meaningful too. While all the usual Christmas Day dramas are played out beneath the tree (nit-picking refinements of Secret Santa rules, Jekyll/Hyde transformations from bright-eyed to glazed, gradual shifts of social power from one generation to the next), the decorations hang there, reminders of other places, other times.

The pretty pig above is from Kris Kringle, the Christmas shop in Leavenworth's Front Street, open every day but one in the year: two storeys of sparkle and glitter of every shape and type you could imagine, and staffed by relentlessly cheerful assistants who have a superhuman resistance to the year-round continuous musak of carols and bells. Tucked into Washington state's Cascade mountains, Leavenworth is a Bavarian town that's picturesque all year round - certainly in autumn, when we were there - but really comes into its own at Christmas when the lights shine brightly (but aren't allowed to twinkle) and the snow lies fluffy along the streets.
New York would be fabulous at Christmas too, with skating at the Rockefeller Centre, muffled-up carriage rides through Central Park, the lights on Fifth Avenue, snow maybe... I do love a cold Christmas, it's the best.
Probably not San Francisco, though, which I suspect would be chilly and damp and grey, and not that inspiring outside. Far better to look at this ornament and remember riding the cable car to Washington Square and Little Italy on a sunny October day, hanging on tight on the surprisingly steep ups and downs, catching glimpses of the harbour, the Bridge and the Transamerica Pyramid.

Not all our ornaments are American: there's a red glass post-horn from Austria, a kookaburra bauble from Australia, a country mailbox from Canada and lots from England where this year there Bing Crosby was probably banned from the airwaves: with the entire country, including the airports, frozen solid and immobile, there can have been very few people genuinely delighted about their white Christmas.

2 comments: said...

Hi! I'm very interested in that New York bauble... Where can I get it? Cheers!

Pamela Wade said...

In the souvenir shop at the top of the Empire State Building. You're welcome!


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