Anyway, Andrew saw these when we were dating. He said that his family had a Bullwinkle holding a star that they put on the top of their Christmas tree every year and it was one of his favorite things about Christmas. I thought that was cute.
I imagined something like this. Source
A few years later, Andrew's dad got all of the family Christmas decorations out of storage and had them sent to our house for our first Christmas cohabitating. We got everything out and Andrew told me stories and memories behind each ornament. And then he got to this... thing. A paper maiche animal with antlers wearing a red and white dress.
"Bullwinkle!" He was happy to see this relic from his childhood after years of not decorating a tree.
"Ummmm... what is that? It doesn't look like Bullwinkle." Clearly I was not a fan.
"It's Bullwinkle. In his choir robe. He goes on top of the tree."
In the way that you can never tell a child the truth about Santa, I couldn't tell my husband that his beloved Bullwinkle was in fact, probably a reindeer wearing a dress. So it went to the top of the tree.
Bullwinkle with one of Andrew's sisters, probably in the mid-80s | with Andrew when he was 10ish, so early 90s
I never had the privilege of meeting Andrew's mom, but I know his memories of Christmas are closely tied to his memories of her. In the box of ornaments and decor, I found a Christmas tree topper that was more my taste - gold metal, a sunburst of stars to come off the top of the tree. I asked him if we could try that one year. After all, his mom chose it so it would still have that family connection.
"No," he flatly told me year after year, "Bullwinkle goes on top of our tree. It's my only family tradition." And so Bullwinkle has kept watch over us each Christmas season for the past several years.
I have repeatedly accidentally called Bullwinkle an it, or even worse, a she. Every time I receive a death stare and a simple "But I love Bullwinkle." Every year I work hard on making our tree pretty, only to resign myself to the fact that this artifact (the date beneath Bullwinkle's
her his closeup | Proof that he's an old man
"Bullwinkle is an old man. He deserves your respect." I heard this last year, so I bought Bullwinkle his own home for 11 months out of the year - a tupperware shoebox that he lives in, wrapped in bubble wrap. I hope he's very happy there.
So if you see my tree, or anyone else's for that matter, this year, and it has some... interesting decor on it... please be kind. Ask about it. Some of us don't deck our trees in Pottery Barn at Christmas. Some of us don't live in homes straight out of Southern Living. Some of us live with a man who will always be a little boy, missing his mom, wanting something simple to remind him of the magic and tradition of Christmases past.
Our tree, this year. Bullwinkle and all.
But you better believe I held on to that sunburst-star topper, in case he ever changes his mind.