#356: Dad and Penguins.
I mentioned how animals were important in my family a couple days ago, how we each of us connect to different animals at various times for a multitude of reasons. What I didn’t say was that Dad has, for as long as I can remember, been pretty ambivalent towards family traditions like this. He didn’t really see the reason we (mostly my sister and I) got so attached to doing certain things and why they were important to us, but he’d go along with it anyway (for the most part) when we insisted.
This has manifested in interesting ways, and the penguins are one of the more interesting. Since each member of the family would get animal-themed presents (in addition to the wooden ornaments I already mentioned, we’d also get things like calendars and figurines and whatever else.) this meant that whether he wanted one or not, Dad needed to have an animal so we could get him presents.
I’m not really sure how penguins ended up assigned to him, actually, because it happened when I was still quite young. When I learned to use Mum’s sewing machine as a child, it was to hem Christmas-penguin fabric into bandanas for Dad. We’d get him penguin toys for his desk, and penguin ornaments for him to hang on the tree. However it came about, the penguins stuck, and have been ‘his’ animal for years now. They and my Dad have become forever intertwined.
#357: Mum and Birds.
Mum, on the other hand, has always encouraged our traditions — however much some of the more odd ones have bemused her. She has had many animals that are ‘hers’, and one of the most prominent on the Christmas tree have always been the birds. These are the birds made with real feathers, and wires on the feet to wrap around the branches so they look real. I have no idea how many she has now, but there was a time when she’d receive one or two new ones each year. All are unique, and I’m sure she could recount the story behind each one.
I’ve always thought the birds were one of the prettiest things on the tree, and I think it’s lovely having them perched here and there throughout the whole thing. They bring a little of the woodland into the living room — appropriate in so many ways — and are each beautiful works of art and craft.
Some of the ornaments we hang tell the story of our heritage. Mum loves discovering and learning about the genealogy of her family — a passion she’s slowly rubbing off on me — and we honor it in a number of ways. This viking ship is one of them, since our Danish ancestors were, in fact, vikings! It’s little things like this that help keep those roots real in our hearts and minds, when so much else is lost through the generations of separation between us and those distant relations. And what better time to reflect on our past than on the holidays: a time of family and celebration!