Look I get it. In many ways, Christmas is about the aesthetic. There's nothing wrong with that. How else can you wake up in the morning, walk downstairs and experience that Christmas vibe without a decked out Christmas tree? What makes a winter stroll through your town centre better than an ungodly amount of fairy lights lining the streets? Please, do not think this is an argument against pretty Christmas decorations — they are and always will be one of the most welcome aspects of the season. But should they be the be all and end all? Is it justifiable that they, and only they, deserve to hang on our doors and adorn our window ledges? Is it right that their very existence alone should negate the need for that age-old festive tradition, the ugly Christmas ornament?
Now I'm not advocating for you to hoard your decorations. Not at all. But think more carefully about what you purchase. Will that lopsided angel made out of straw really find its forever home atop your tree? Remember, ornaments are for life, not just for Christmas. Chuck away anything that doesn't "spark joy", but don't feel pressured to get rid of a decoration just because you fear the judgement of others. Sometimes I worry that we're going down a path of Christmas conformity, the standardisation of the festive aesthetic. Ugly ornaments are the last line of defence against the regiments of red baubles.
Take this little guy for example:
Look at him. He's hideous. Why is his beard so frizzy? Why is his body a perfect cylinder? Who decided to just glue his hands straight on to his body? This dude is the one Christmas decoration I will bring out every December, and every December I will be judged on my life choices. But dammit, that Christmas goblin has been in my life for longer than I can remember; I will always protect him from the fate that meets so many other goofy-looking decorations.
Cast out, abandoned, sneered at, confined to the bottom of the decorations box and locked in the attic year in year out. Is this any way to treat an old friend? And old friends they are. Every ugly Christmas ornament that you pick up, think "not this year", and toss back into the box was once a piece of your Christmas tradition. You once thought that Santa-hat wearing gnome was rather fetching, that the one-eyed wooden hedgehog on your mantelpiece really brought the room together. I'd wager that even the most dedicated of Christmas killjoys have pushed the button on a singing snowman in the middle of the supermarket and grinned as it wobbled back and forth sputtering a garbled version of 'Jingle Bells'. It's in our nature.
As far as I'm aware humans are the only animals that can empathise with inanimate objects. Look at how upset people got when the Mars rover ran out of charge. As a species we're a hopeless bunch of sentimentalists, and where would Christmas be without sentiment? Sending cards to friends we haven't spoken to for a while, singing along to songs we'd otherwise never be caught dead even tapping our foot to, and yes, making space for the little reminders of who we once were, our naivety and poor taste represented by the ugly Christmas ornament.