How I Keep Calm: Christmas ornament shopping

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How have you been keeping calm during the pandemic? Carillon

Inspired by Alma.com, How I Keep Calm is our new series featuring different ways students are finding peace and contentment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When I returned home from the University of Regina after the coronavirus outbreak caused campus to go remote, I found there was little to do in my small town, Biggar. Despite having the distraction of my schoolwork, I missed simple luxuries like visiting friends, the gym, and coffee shops. I, like many, had assumed in the beginning that we would have a few weeks of quarantine, and then everything would go back to normal.

Oh boy, was I wrong.

I was not looking forward to spending months in my home cooped up with my parents. And yet, when I saw the announcement that all fall classes were going to be held remotely, all I could dream of was Christmas.

Christmas in my home is a magical time of year where my family turns off our bullshit for about five days and we can all enjoy each others’ company. However, Christmas this year means hopefully returning to my residence hall in the new year, and returning to some point of normalcy.

My mom and I begin prepping for Christmas early on with one simple task, ornament shopping. I realize that it might seem odd to have a Christmas ornament addiction but let me tell you, there is nothing more satisfying than someone entering your home, gawking at your tree, then proceeding to press all the buttons on the trinkets and baubles to make them sing and dance.

Since COVID-19 ruined everything I was looking forward to this summer, I found a weird sense of excitement when the Hallmark Ornament Dreambook was released early. My mom and I sat at the kitchen table, circling our favorite ornaments and keeping an eye on the release dates to get the special edition ornaments (keeping in mind the nearest Hallmark store is fours hours away from Biggar).

 Our most recent ornament ambitions are to try to collect movie characters – everything from Star Trek to Disney. Some of my personal favorites include Pinocchio and the Blue Fairy reciting her “Don’t lie or your nose will grow” speech, and Beaker from the Muppets singing “Ode to Joy.”

The ornament hunt doesn’t necessarily end at the chain store, either. Antique shops and thrift stores have a variety of unique, hand-crafted ornaments which decorate the tree nicely. Items such as glass candy canes and gruesome-looking nutcrackers add depth to the tree, compared to sportier ornaments such as our blinking Las Vegas ornament.

Our Christmas tree would not be complete without ornaments I made in elementary school. Lots of these dumpy ornaments get put up every year (despite my protest) such as an angel made out of coffee filters, a reindeer made out of popsicle sticks and pom poms, and, my personal favorite, two walnuts glued together covered in a clump of mystery fur to make a cat.

Despite potentially needing another Christmas tree to fill with ornaments, it’s oddly calming to find silly pieces to complete the overall uniqueness of our tree. The tree does not look like one that you see in a department store with complementary colors and aesthetically pleasing shapes.

My Christmas tree is a hodgepodge of wacky items that combine to form a strangely endearing misfit tree. In a sense, the chaotic nature of each ornament, all coming together to form a beautiful tree, works while making a statement. If purchasing a Hogwarts tree topper that plays the Harry Potter theme song gets me through isolation, then so be it.

Buying ornaments for my Christmas tree signifies a return to the normalcy I hope will come sooner rather than later.

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