When you’re a pop culture tragic such as myself – “Hi, my name is Andrew and I’m a pop culture addict”, it tends to infiltrate every part of your life.
Your T-shirts display your favourite characters. Your book shelves are lined with books on your favourite TV shows and movies, with Pop Funko ornaments, collector cards and figurines filling any leftover available space.
And come Christmas, your tree is filled with nothing but pop culture ornaments.
Many, many, pop culture ornaments.
In fact, baubles, lights and tinsels aside, they’re the only type of ornaments that go onto my Christmas tree, save for a few treasured keepsakes such as the ornaments I bought back in 1992 when I started decorating a tree for the first time as an adult.
As a pop culture addict of course, and a ceaseless consumer of new things, I feel compelled and take great delight in adding new ornaments every year. You’d think I’d pick a few choice pieces, and goodness knows my boyfriend probably wishes I would, but every year, and this year is no exception, I ended up with a lot of new ornaments.
Picking five was challenging but I managed it with the following characters carrying all kinds of meaning for me and having some pretty ornaments to get me and them into the festive spirit.
Apart from the Cars series which did absolutely nothing for me – to be fair actual cars do nothing for me so it stands to reason that their animated cousins would fare just as poorly – I am an avid Pixar fan. Picking a favourite is damn near impossible since all their films are so beautifully made but Ratatouille, the delightfully sweet, emotionally-resonant tale of a Parisian rat who dreams of a career as one of France’s famous gourmand chefs, would have to rank well into the top 10. So adding the central character Ratatouille to my tree’s ornament is an absolute no-brainer. Now if only he could whip up some fruit mince pieces and a delicious roast turkey dinner …
It’s true that Willy Wonka, one of Roald Dahl’s darker, more capricious characters, can be a little unsettling. The owner of the magical chocolate factory featured in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and its sequel Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, and of course, the wondrously technicolour film starring Gene Wilder (the Johnny Depp version not so much), Willy Wonka is a man of oddness and weirdness but also great integrity and honesty and you can’t help but like him for being true to himself. One other reason I added him to the tree this year is that Wilder and my father were the same age when they died last year and I distinctly remember watching the film with my beautiful dad. So a lot of nostalgia at play but also love of a beautifully-crafted, one-of-a-kind personality.
When I first saw Star Wars back in 1977 – 40 years ago can you believe it?! – I was very much on the side of Luke, Leia, Han and the rest of the gang. Unlike many fans who found Darth Vader, the stormtroopers and the Emperor a little bit naughty and kinda sexy, I was no fan of the Dark Side nor its servants which possibly accounts for why stormtroopers have taken so long to make it onto my tree (that and Hallmark didn’t make one until this year). But a few years back when Hallmark created a talking Darth Vader, wearing a Santa hat and carrying a pressie, I knew I had to tilt Christmas a little to the other side of the force. Not too much mind but hey can you resist a stormtrooper carrying a giant candy cane? Ha! See … think of all the sugar and not so much the evil clone heart.
As a pop culture addict who did my growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, my love for Stranger Things, which draws on all kinds of TV shows and movies from that period, knows no bounds. Sure there’s a horror element but it’s so well wrapped into a story of a bunch of young kids brave enough to try and save the world, with real heart and the ability to be its own thing even with all those influences, that I can’t help but love it. The good news this year’s second season matched the boldness and thrills of the first, save for the loss of the novelty factor, and so it makes sense that they’d join the tree this year. Let’s hope the demogorgon doesn’t come along with …
GOOFY (AS JACOB MARLEY)
Oddly enough, it wasn’t until this year that I finally got around to reading Charles Dickens’ famous novel A Christmas Carol from start to finish (the review appears later on in the month in the 12 Days of Christmas series). So widespread as a festive touchstone is the book however that I feel like I have an intimate knowledge of its characters, its narrative and its message, having enjoyed it in a great many and highly imaginative forms … and yes, the purists may blanch but one of my favourite iterations of this timeless morality tale is one produced by Disney which, appropriately enough, features Scrooge McDuck as the protagonist. Quite happily, it also has Goofy in it as Marley, Scrooge’s partner who ushers in his night of redemptive contemplation, and given how Goofy is my favourite Disney character period (yeah, sorry, Mickey), adding an ornament in where he’s dressed as Marley makes perfect sense. Quite how I missed in 2011 when it first came out I don’t know but glad it’s finally found its sage home with me and my tree.