FUNKY FIND: Christmas nutcracker collection

Jenna Leigh's original nut cracker, center, has now been joined by others of all shapes, sizes and designs. (Keeley Hardin / Buy at

Jenna Leigh’s original nut cracker, center, has now been joined by others of all shapes, sizes and designs. (Keeley Hardin / Buy at

Special to the Chickasaw Journal
By Jenna Leigh Aldridge
HOUSTON – I love Christmas.
I know, it isn’t a huge revelation. A lot of people say it is their favorite time of year. Just like anything else, there are those people who go a little crazy. Entire shows are dedicated to insane Christmas light displays or Santa collections. My collection of nutcrackers will by no means end up on television, but it has gotten the attention of most anyone who comes in the Paisley Peacock.
My fascination with nutcrackers started when I was very little. Like most little girls, I took dance lessons from the time I could walk. When I was five or six, my mom and grandmother took me to see ourfamily friend, Haley Darnell, dance in “The Nutcracker” in Tupelo. I was mesmerized by the dancers and music.
That year for Christmas, my grandmother gave me my first nutcracker. It is still one of my favorites. It is about a foot-and-a-half tall, traditional soldier style with a red coat and black hat. My collection took off from there.
Each year I got new nutcrackers. I have everything from the traditional soldiers and kings to golfers and football players, even mailmen and firemen. I have beautiful crystal nutcracker candle holders as well as one made from sterling silver. The most popular out of my collection are the four main characters from the “Wizard of Oz” which Santa brought my senior year when I was in the musical at school. The last time I counted – when I was in high school, which was longer ago than I care to admit – I had around 125. I currently have around 35 of them on display in my store.
The Nutcracker ballet is one the most popular ballets. The history of nutcrackers goes back to ancient civilizations. The wooden nutcrackers we see today originated in Germany where they were a symbol of good luck. When Germany split after WWII, their popularity took off. American soldiers who were stationed there took notice and began sending them home as Christmas gifts. The most valuable nutcrackers still come from a German company named Steinbach who have been in the nutcracker business for six generations. All of their Nutcrackers are handmade and can take four-to-five-years to make.
Needless to say, that would break Santa’s budget so I don’t have any, but a girl can dream!
I love when someone comes in and asks about them. I especially love to show them off to kids. It takes me back to a time when magic was real, dreams could come true and anything was possible. The nutcrackers remind me of my family and how far I have come. I look forward to taking my daughter to see “The Nutcracker” and maybe even a chance for her to dance in it some day. That would probably be my ultimate collector’s item.

Funky Find is a regular feature of the Chickasaw Journal. If you have an idea for Funky Find or a neat collection of items, please call the Chickasaw Journal at 456-3771 and ask for Keeley Hardin.

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