Tuesday, November 26, 2013

the story of bullwinkle

Sometime in high school, I had to sell items for a fundraiser. I bought a set of Rocky and Bullwinkle fan pulls to attach to the chains of my ceiling fan and they lived there for years and years. Even though I haven't lived in that room for quite some time, my mom still keeps Rocky there - I don't know what ever happened to Bullwinkle.

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 skirt robe says 1970) will have the top spot, essentially disrupting the gold and glittering Christmas tree vision I imagine.

Ready for 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.

   Glossy Blonde


  1. i don't judge trees at all. i admire those who have trees that are trimmed to the tits but i like trees that are a little messy and have personal/sentimental ornaments haphazardly hung all over the place. feel more cozy.

    my FIL's tree is a hot mess. seriously. it's like he put the tree up and then opened up a bag of ornaments and threw it on. there is no organization at all. he only decorates one half of the tree and then when the grandkids arrive, he yells GO FOR IT! and it's 4 kids ages 5-10 decorating a tree. imagine the chaos. yeah, the tree looks exactly as you imagine. BUT that's the beauty of christmas; they can look at their tree and know that their grandkids did that. it's adorable.

    Vodka and Soda

  2. I almost cried reading this, it means a lot to him and as "old" as it is, it seems to mean so much to him. Glad you are keeping it. Those long held traditions mean so much more than a picture perfect tree.

  3. I gave up on our tree a while ago. Jason has a ton of old ornaments that he won't let go, and so it sort of looks like Christmas threw up on our tree, but it's also kind of sweet ;)

  4. Aww I love this! We have LOTS of family traditions that we stick to, mainly because if we don't my sister will disown us. Every single ornament we have has meaning and I love it. Also (I'm going to do a post about this one day but I'll share it with you now) we once had a nice angel that goes on top of the tree but when my sister was little she broke it and didn't tell anybody. We found her down the basement attached a Barbie doll Ken head with a baseball hat onto the angel body, and that is the angel we use every year. haha

  5. My tree looks a lot like your tree, we use ornaments that have been around forever in some cases.

    I would never want a Pottery Barn tree, I love the more personalized look of "Bullwinkle" or anything else that you can't buy at your local Walmart/Target/Pottery Barn.

    I've never found the perfect tree topper for my tree, I look every year for something I LOVE but I'm not there just yet.

  6. We have an ugly gargoyle looking monk on top of our tree. It's MFD's connection to his grandparents' christmases, so I let it go. LOL

  7. I applaud you for this. How many women would nag their husbands, hide, or break the thing! You see the connection, and realize it's not a big deal. Our big tree is beginning to get super fun ornaments as the years pass...our child loves to add things. It's OUR tree. I love it more than the old Pottery Barn Ball Filled tree anyday!

  8. What a sweet story! Too precious to object. The husband and I started with a mini tree and now we just go crazy haha ALL colors and an angel that changes colors on the top. One "tradition" is buying an ornament from every vacation =)

    p.s. stalking you from brunch with amber!

  9. I LOVE this! I have a post ready to go soon about how sentimental I am with all my Christmas décor. I have ornaments on there that were my grandmother's, my moms, family things that were made, ornaments given to me as presents with the peoples names written on the bottom, and all the ornaments that my mom has given to me each Christmas since I was little. I have care bears, and snoopy and my little pony and other child hood characters along with normal balls and bells and such. My tree is the most mist matched non themed tree on the planet! My husband probably gets tired of hearing my sentimental stories every year as I ohh and ahh over pulling out the décor.

  10. I think Bullwinkle is perfect and I love that you keep him on top of your tree every year. That's love.

  11. love your tree and love that you're letting him keep his tradition :)

  12. Your tree is pretty! :) I always think I'm going to not put up the ornaments from my childhood and do all one color or something, but I just can't. So I have a rag tag set of ornaments that in no way go together. BUT, it also reminds me of our tree growing up that my sister and I decorated. My poor Mom tried but we always wanted the 'fun' ornaments! :) haha poor Mom!

  13. I love this post! For what it's worth, I don't see Andrew's tree topper as Bullwinkle either. He looks more like dog in my eyes -- but I love the meaning behind putting it up. I tend to like trees that are decked out in sentimental ornaments instead of all color-coordinated for some sort of theme. My mom still keeps my preschool ornaments around (like a pinecone dipped in glitter). :)

  14. My favorite trees are the ones with the family heirlooms and ornaments with meaning. I'm trying to start that tradition in our house. If you go to my MILs house, on the other hand, you have to spend and hour with her so she can explain what every. single. ornament. came from/who made it/what year, etc.

  15. So so sweet. I think Bullwinkle is here to stay. :) I love that it says 1970 on it. Do y'all know where it's really from?

    I don't like "perfect" trees. My parents always put the funky ornaments we made in school up and we threw tinsel all over the tree. And then they complained when they accidentally vacuumed all the tinsel up and it got caught in the vacuum. But those are the funny memories that we hold on to.
    Your tree is so pretty!

  16. Oh my goodness... this is seriously so sweet! :) I love the personal touch! :)

  17. Growing up, my mom always insisted on a "Pottery Barn" type tree where everything had a specific color scheme and even the wrapped gifts had to match! Somehow along the way, I totally rebelled and now I love the colorful and sentimental trees where the ornaments have meanings and have been passed down over the years. So of course I love this post!

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