The way that early January weekends fell this year, we hadn't gotten around to undecorating the Christmas Tree until January 7th. I suppose that's not too bad, considering that we resisted putting the tree up until about the 20th.
While undecorating, we like to take a few moments to organize the ornaments. We've got Victorian (flower fairies, and 1890's Santas), and Celestial (stars and the Egyptian Horus), and Holly-Jolly (little mettle bells and green glass hearts), and Origami (paper doves etc. hand folded by Mark) and Goofy (The Christmas Gargoyle, Light-up Klingon Bird of Prey, and glitter encrusted flying pig). And the ornaments that may wind up on the Island of Misfit Toys.
And then we have The Country Cute Ornaments.
Mark won't let me call them "Homestead" or "American Gothic." "Arts and Crafts" would come close, except we're not sure if these ornaments are missing the art or the craft part. "Little Old Lady" might be close, but takes too long to say -- and besides, we don't have any little porcelain owls, Beatrix Potter prints, or miniature garden gnomes.
Usually, Country Cute ornaments look handmade from raw materials found laying around. The wooden ones look like they were cut from a plank with a jigsaw. Paper ones are made from recycled holiday cards or wrapping paper (canning jar lid optional). They frequently feature a star, a heart, or a flower in their design.
The most unsettling thing, however, about the Country Cute Ornament is the gradual and horrible discovery I made:
JOHN (holding up small pine cone on a red ribbon): "Do we have a natural group yet?"
MARK: "No." (Uses Perky Voice) "That's Country Cute."
JOHN: "Oh, yeah; you're right." (Puts cone into Country Cute Pile. Goes to tree and holds up sand dollar with red ribbons): "Oh, this is nice."
MARK (secretly smiling): "Put it in the Country Cute pile."
JOHN (slightly horrified): "But, this isn't... (holds ornament over the collection)... oh! It is." (Goes over to tree, picks up African shaker things). "These are not Country Cute."
MARK (opening smiling): "Country Cute."
JOHN: "Augh! No! They are!" (Looks confoundedly at the purple and green basket-weave design on the miniature shaker gourds) "How...?"
MARK (turning up the Perky Voice a notch): "They're African Country Cute!"
JOHN (noticing a stain glass angel created by Mark's mother): "What's this angel doing here? I like your mother's angels."
MARK: "John, that angel's holding a small, white ribbon rose! (Openly evil in his perkiness) "And John, you like Country Cute."
I looked more closely at the stain glass angel Mary made, seeing for the first time the rose for what it was, and then was struck by metal ribbon trim that was the angel's halo: like a Barbie tiara, it had a heart in it.
I turned to the brown Papier-mâché Solstice Deer (with pearl necklace), but it gave me no solace, being Gay Country Cute.
Mark was right. It was true. I liked the Country Cute aesthetic. Somewhere deep inside my fiber, I want to hang little red-painted, star-shaped pieces of plywood around the house. I want to stencil sky blue bird silhouettes along the upper reaches of our walls. And I want stain glass angels in the windows.
All I ask is this: By all that's holy, please -- oh please -- don't let me slide into The Little Old Lady Aesthetic!
Augh. I need to go get some lasers or chrome-plated gears or something...