There are two types of nutcrackers… those that crack nuts and those that do not. I collect nutcrackers that are usually carved of wood in the shapes of soldiers, knights, kings or other professions and are not functional for cracking nuts. Since at least the 15th century, carving nutcrackers in rural forested German towns became an industry that often provided the only income. Nutcrackers became popular in the United States after World War II due to the first production of the Nutcracker Ballet in 1940 and to soldiers talking about the carved “dolls” when they returned home from the war.
My collection started almost forty years ago when my daughter Emily was taking ballet lessons in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I took her to the Tulsa Ballet performance of The Nutcracker. I had never taken ballet, and it was my first time to see what has become a Christmas tradition for many. I decided I would give her a nutcracker each year for Christmas.
The first nutcracker was a tall soldier that I bought at a shoe store after Christmas. It had been part of the store decorations. I still have the box. It was $35 and made in Germany. One of the next nutcrackers was a woman with a blue dress carrying a basket of apples and carrying an umbrella. It was unusual to see a female nutcracker. There are a few others in the collection – Little Red Riding Hood, the Queen of Hearts, and Clara, from the ballet. I quickly became a “collector” when I would buy them on trips and receive them as gifts. A few of my other favorites are the tall and short Boy Scouts who remind me of my son who is an Eagle Scout. I bought a baseball player in Omaha when Rice University won the National Championship in 2003. My husband was a pitcher at Rice. Another favorite is a Texas cowboy that I bought in Lukenbach, Texas.
I started a collection of Santa nutcrackers for my 11-year old granddaughter, Lucy. My grandson eight-year-old grandson, Byron, has received soldiers, baseball players, and most recently, Star Wars figures. Their nutcrackers are part of the collection displayed at the church this year. I have them out all year at my house, so during the Christmas season, I am pleased to share with St. Luke’s, especially the children attending the pre-school.
Stop by the display case near the church offices to see Kathleen’s nutcracker collection.