To tell you the truth, I’ve never been very fond of the Nutcracker. The ballet is okay. I’ve seen it about 100 times, in a lot of different cities. Mary had this thing for taking the entire family every year to see the show. A couple years back, Mary was making the plans for us to see it again. Haylee, our oldest granddaughter, went up to Mary, put her arm around her, and said….”Nanny. Don’t you think we’ve had about enough?”
- Thank God it didn’t come out of my mouth.
- Thank God Haylee said it, because now we don’t have to see the same ballet every year. As beautiful as it is, I could probably play the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy by now.
But that is not the Nutcracker to which I speak. No, I am referring to the wooden soldiers with the Chomper Mouths. A few months ago, I had to stop at a building where a group of Psychologists had their practices. They had a large glass display case in the waiting room. It was filled with Nutcrackers. I laughed out loud.
My first experience with a nutcracker was not of this kind though. It was, in fact, one of those metal nutcrackers, that look a little bit like a vice grip. Two handles, and two rows of teeth near the top part where they join. During Christmas, my Mom would always put out nuts on our coffee and end tables in the living room. The bowls were shiny. Blue on the inside, and silver on the outside. The nuts varied. Mostly Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans and lots of Walnuts.
I was pretty young, maybe five-years-old or so. I can remember that I stood at the bowl, and carefully selected a Walnut. I was fiddling with the Nutcracker, figuring out the logistics of how to crack the big nut. One of my dear sisters, joined me, took the device from my hand, and announced that she would show me how to use the mechanism. Then, she quickly put my forefinger between the metal teeth and squeezed. Oh, the joy of Christmas. I can assure you that Santa does not watch at all times. Come Christmas morning, that same sister received loads of presents. I was disappointed, to say the very least. I wrote a strongly worded letter to Mr. Claus the next day.
But back to those Soldier Nutcrackers. They scared me. I don’t know if it was because of the early trauma, or if it is some kind of a Scary-Clown sort of thing. I like Clowns well enough, but Nutcrackers give me the heebies. And the jeebies.
Their origins began in Germany, a long time ago. And, according to German folklore, those nutcracker-soldier-boys were given as keepsakes to bring good luck. The family would accept the good gift, and it was supposed to protect the family and their home.
The legend goes on. It says that a nutcracker represents power and strength. It will watch over the family and guard them from evil spirits and danger. “A fierce protector, the nutcracker bares its teeth to the evil spirits and serves as the traditional messenger of good luck and goodwill.”
Not so much for me. It gives me the willies. Back to Mary. She so loves the Nutcracker that several years back, she bought those really big ones that are about 4 feet tall. They stand on our landing, on the way to our downstairs. I have to close my eyes, to get by those things. I’ve done a face-plant into the wall, three times now.
So. Yeah. Me and the Nutcracker Situation. It’s working on me.
This is just another part of the Holidays, that is not what it is cracked up to be.
“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’
‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”
― Emma Donoghue, Room
“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”
― Michael Pritchard