It's that time of year.
Last weekend we dragged out the Christmas boxes from storage and got busy putting up the tree(s) and other decor. I never know what I'll 'feel like' using for decorations from year to year so we drag it all out, I go through and pick and choose, and then we drag it back in until the week after Christmas when we put it all away again.
This week as I went through the boxes, I did something I have done for about 20 years now. I opened one of the bags of old ornaments, looked through them, smiled at a few of the memories attached to them, and put them away again as it's not the style ornament(s) or decor we've used since... well, it seems like forever.
But once upon time....
My husband and I married as teenagers just out of high school. Difficult enough I suppose, but then we moved 2000 miles away from all our friends and family so he could attend school in Los Angeles. And we were poor. As poor as church mice (so the saying goes.)
Our first Christmas, we put up a small artificial tree my Mom had tossed our way before we moved. It was an old tree her workplace had had in storage for about fifteen years, and they were going to throw it out.
The only ornaments we had were a couple little felt mice. These were given out by McDonald's (I don't recall if it was with a Happy Meal or if you get one with any 'sandwich' purchase; which they often did back then. We didn't buy Happy Meals at the time so I suspect it was a 'with any large sandwich' type promotion) the winter before. I knew we would be needing decorations after we were married, so I kept them and brought them with us when we married and moved to Los Angeles the following summer.
For the next two years, my mother and my Uncle both sent us books of McDonalds gift certificates because they knew we were too poor to afford to go to McDonalds to eat. My husband was attending school right around the corner from a McDonald's but we couldn't afford for him to eat lunch so he usually tried to bring something from home if we had anything on hand. But as Christmas time approached we were ever so happy to receive envelopes that were a thicker than just a normal letter, we knew those would hold the oh-so-wonderful little coupon books of $5 worth of McDonald's gift certificates!
(For those of you in your 20's who have no idea of what I'm talking about: before gift cards with magnetic strips, and obviously before the internet 'e-gift cards', you gave 'gift certificates'. A printed piece of paper that entitled the bearer to whatever amount or item was printed on it. For McDonald's, it was a $5 book of $1 coupons that looked like little checks. You ripped it out and used it towards your bill.)
Thanks in part to being able to buy a little bit of McDonald's food as well as my Mom and Uncle knowing we didn't have money for ornaments either, they often threw in a couple of the free toys they had laying around after buying Happy Meals for various family members.
With our little mice (Gus and Jaq) along with a couple more that my Uncle and Mom sent us, we had our first Christmas tree. I couldn't afford to buy any ornaments at all to add to it, so for our first Christmas together, I used items I had on hand and cross-stitched a "First Christmas" ornament, made with leftover felt from a craft I did for my early elementary education classes, and stuffed with paper towels from the kitchen. We still have those ornaments as well.
For the next few years we had what we called a "McDonalds Tree" as the only ornaments we owned were the free ornaments from McDonalds. We were not actually TRYING to collect ornaments, because we didn't care about collecting them and certainly didn't have the money to do so. But with the ornaments my Mom sent and the one or two we picked up when we used our precious McDonalds gift certificates, we had a smattering of ornaments and boy did they come in handy!
I believe we had our "McDonalds" ornament tree for about 4 years before I was finally able to buy some other ornaments and balls on clearance after the holidays to add to our poor little tree. For about three or four more years we had a mixture of all kinds of ornaments as we had children then so we had little hand made crafty ornaments as well.
However! There were some ornaments I didn't like and we never actually used. Or even took out of the boxes they came in. I really, really did not like Bianca from Rescuer's Down Under. I think all 3 of her ornaments are still in the plastic they came in. Same with her counterpart Bernard.
Although I never cared for the movie or characters from Oliver and Company, we did use those ornaments because they were "puppies" and "kitties" which our babies and toddlers loved.
The mice, Jaq and Gus from Cinderella? Loved. They graced our trees for many years. But admittedly, you can have too many Jaq and Gus's on your tree. So only a couple of them were really used. A couple more just mostly lived in their boxes.
And for the past oh, 20+ years... they've all lived in their boxes and bags.
But I take them out and visit them every couple years as I dig through the Christmas decor. I'm not sure they are ever going to grace our Christmas tree ever again though.
I'm not selling mine (because I'm too lazy to package them and have to go to the post office and mail them) but you might also be interested in these items available through Amazon, related to this post:
Disney's "The Little Mermaid" Sebastian Plush Ornament
Disney Little Mermaid Plush Flounder Christmas Ornament from McDonalds 1989
McDonald's Rescuers Down Under Miss Bianca Christmas Ornament
BERNARD ORNAMENT 1990 MCDONALDS RESCUERS DOWN UNDER
Walt Disney Oliver and Company McDonalds Vintage Dodger Plush Christmas Ornament
Disney 1987 McDonald's Cinderella Holiday Happy Meal Toy - Plush Gus The Mouse Christmas Ornament