Monday, December 22, 2008

christmas heteroglossia

Growing up, my sister and I always turned our noses up at traditional Danish Christmas ornaments, which had somehow been instilled in us as "bad taste" - I suspect my mother, the born and bred Swede, was partly to blame for it.

So instead of homemade Christmas hearts woven together by different colors of glossy paper and an endless string of tiny Danish flags, we decorated our tree with other tasteful and color-coordinated things, which my mother bought at IKEA, as any sensible Swede would do.

When my sister and I got around to decorating the tree at my father's place this year, we started out with a fine combination of all deep purple baubles, blown-up glittery snow-flakes and some sort of stringy thing with lots of jewelry like little pendants - all of it selected by my mother last year with the intention of ensuring my father a somewhat tasteful Christmas.

But as we decorated the tree, my sister and I found that it all looked a little too dull, the deep purple almost disappearing in the dark green. And so, out came an oversize box filled to the rim with past Christmasses' color-coordinated ornaments.

"These could go with purple, right?", we would take turns asking, somewhat rhetorically, as we threw on another 10 baubles in pinks, greens and blues, and somewhat baroque and vulgar, golden cherubs.

And as the box became empty, we had managed to produce something looking fairly close to that Christmas tree mess that we've always tried and been taught to avoid.

But it actually looks pretty in all its overly decorated-ness. Like a healthy mix. Of Danish and Swedish. Some Anglo-American and French thrown in too. Of my great grandmother's neat crochet and sparkling things imported from India to fancy London department stores. Peppermint candies sewn in fabric by my mother and stuffed with cotton balls by me. The mile of electrical string lights thrown in to comply with my father's neurosis with lit candles.

A good mix indeed.

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