"Don't be afraid. My beard is long, my head is large, my look is grim, but that matters not. I won't bite you. In spite of my big mouth and grim appearance, I look with my heart for your happiness."
~Steinbach Nutcracker history~
If there is one thing in life that I love collecting, it's nutcrackers.
We have somewhere around 37 or 38 nutcrackers right now; all ranging from 3 inches to 18 inches. Soldiers to bakers. Snowmen to Spaniards with guitars. Moose to US Marines. Seamstresses to Hockey players. Policemen to penguins.
They stand guard in the house, baring their teeth at strangers and grimly keeping their post. Well, now that I think about it, the penguin nutcracker might be smiling... Hmm, I'll have to go have a chat with him about that later. But setting out the nutcrackers is my favorite part of Christmas. It's like seeing old friends as we unwrap their wooden faces from the newspaper that has protected them for the last eleven months.
Their wood is cold as we fish them out from the Christmas box... They've been hibernating in the shop since last December. They smell faintly of dampness, but it wears off as they warm up inside. We discuss where to put each one, so that it can show off it's uniqueness to its best advantage. The candy striped baker somehow ends up standing next to the camouflage Army soldier, the penguin is next to the cowboy. The Spaniard strums his instrument next to the drummers, and the seamstress smiles next to the snowman.
Each year, we try to add two or three new nutcrackers to the growing collection. This is no ordinary search, though. It's a hunt. Not just any nutcracker will do; it has to be the most unique one we can find that year. Something needs to make it stand out from the rest of his nutcracking mates before we will consider him. We scour the local shops, finding the perfect "him", and oh the glory when we succeed in our quest! Our newest addition is carefully brought home, and then proudly displayed with the rest.
Yet another guardian of the winter home.