December 09, 2015

Photo Essay: The Spirit of Christmas Kitsch

I had such a great time at the Grier Musser Museum for its Halloween open house that I made it a point to return for its Victorian Christmas celebration.

Of course, the house itself is Victorian, but the decorations span the ages...

...and the globe, with many figures coming from German origins.

Of course, Christmas was always huge for me in both childhood and adulthood—regardless of religious affiliation—

...but I haven't been able to get into the spirit the last couple of years.

Maybe it was accepting the fact that I wouldn't be home for Christmas, both last year and this year.

Maybe it's the bittersweet memories of Christmastime with the Hemmerleins...

...warm cookies, a fragrant tree, a plastic gingerbread wind chime jangling on the kitchen chandelier...

...and a screaming mother, furiously cleaning up needles and tinsel and insisting we clear everything out on New Year's Day. Not to mention the always-toxic gift exchange.

Like many aspects of my childhood—and, I think, childhood in general—Christmas was both thrilling and terrifying.

It could be wonderful and wondrous...

...or it could be grim and ghastly.

If you believe in such things, I think Krampus frequented our house far more often than St. Nick—except I wasn't fortunate enough (or naughty enough) to be carted away in his basket.

But for whatever reason, I like spooking myself out pretty much all year long... I subjected myself to the haunting memories of my German childhood...

...of Fröhliche Weihnachten...

...and Lebkuchen... 

...and fragile, antique glass ornaments placed gingerly on the tree by my father.

And, of course, there were all the faces of my mother's porcelain dolls...

...that stared out at me from rooms I wasn't allowed to enter (other than to clean).

The Grier Musser Museum collection of holiday collectibles and keepsakes seems like it would be a "hands-off" environment, but its live-in proprietor Susan walks visitors from room to room, turning everything on—each animatronic, singing, dancing, flashing light show of a figurine.

And all at the same time.

Despite the fact that I walked out of the house feeling a bit creeped-out (which was entirely self-imposed), seeing it all literally decked out was just the boost I needed to get me into the Christmas spirit.

And so, I started putting up a tree tonight. I hope to decorate it tomorrow.

And I'll be back to the Grier Musser house for Susan's Valentine's Day extravaganza.

Related Posts:
Trinkets and Treats at a Victorian House Museum
Photo Essay: Willkommen Krampus, the Christmas Devil
Christmas With Puppets
Photo Essay: Hoppy Holidays from The Bunny Museum
Photo Essay: Lighting Up the Streets for Christmas

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