For almost four years after my first husband died, the boys and I lived with friends in their spruced up basement.  The rooms we occupied were spacious and the cost of living was super low but it was still one of the hardest living situations I’ve ever endured.  There were a lot of us in a not so big house and the rooms the boys and I could call our own had no windows in them.  The only way to get a little alone time was to go to what felt like a dungeon to me or to leave the house.  I chose the latter often.  My fatherless boys had to go everywhere with me and they were probably subjected a lot more window shopping at the mall than any other toddlers.  I especially liked to go around Christmas time.  It’s a lot of work to get little ones dressed up to play outside and they tend to only be able to do it for a short time.  I did take them out into the snow like a good mama should but found that I needed R and R after sledding, snowman building and snowball fighting with them.  The mall was our friend.

We didn’t celebrate Christmas commercially back then.  There was no tree in the home or gifts to buy.  No lights.  No decorations.  Nothing of that sort.  I got my fill of pretty things by browsing the mall trees and decor.  While I oohed and aahed over colour combinations, my boybarians flew to the nutcrackers.  They liked those funny little guys with their funny little faces.  When we moved out of the basement to our own condo, I decided to buy the guys their own nutcrackers.  The first ones we bought were tiny ones from the Dollar Store.  D and P loved them.  Each year we would buy a few more and last year we started marking the year on the bottoms of the ones we bought.  It’s still exciting for they guys to welcome this year’s new nutcracker.

Most of our nutcracker collection is sitting at the front door entrance this year.  Want to meet some of our characters?

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The one carrying the red flag was the first to get a date put on the bottom.

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The tall green one is this year’s addition.  D and I found him marked down 60% when the Christmas stuff first came out.  (Yes, we still do window shopping together sometimes!)

Not all of our nutcrackers are at the front entrance.

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This one is standing guard in the main floor bathroom

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and this one’s on my kitchen window sill.

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This fella is hanging in the dining room.  Pull his string and his arms and legs move.

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Homer Simpson as a nutcracker is the boys’ favourite.  I put him in their bathroom since he isn’t my favourite character.  D found him after Christmas last year marked down and pleaded with me to give him a home in our collection.

I don’t know if any of this makes my house more beautiful but it was fun to see the boys’ faces light up when they saw the nutcracker army front and central when they walked in the door coming home from school.  This collection will be divided up and go with them when they leave home.  For now though they are part of our past and tell a part of our story as a family and therefore get a place to stand proud over the holidays.

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