Nutcracker Collecting

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2010

FARMVILLE – “Charlie” White likes nutcrackers.

A lot.

The day after Thanksgiving an array of 160-some figures returned from off-season sabbatical storage bins decorating her Farmville home. There were large ones, tiny ones, red and blue sequined ones and the pin on the host's festive pink sweater.

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And many more.

Oh, yes, what was gathered for a photo was a delightful taste of what's in the house with more courses to come. Those were yet to be unpacked.

“Yes, sir,” Ms. White affirmed, when asked if they all have a special meaning. “In fact, Sydney, the grandchild there from Atlanta, Georgia, (is) visiting and she says 'Nanny, I want you to go pick out one favorite-your favorite nutcracker.' I said 'I can't do it'. She said, 'But you got to.' I said I can't do it 'cause every one…means something to me.”

Pick up a decorative nutcracker and chances are you'll find the name of the one who gave it to her, the date it was given and the name of a grandchild. The name, as Ms. White puts it, is that of “who it's going to when the Good Lord takes me home.”

There certainly would be a wealth of Christmas cheer to share.

Still, as remarkable the size of the collection, it only dates to 1996 (the year she purchased the first at a Big Lots store). The majority were given by friends and family. Individual pieces, whether picked up from vacations for gifts come as far away as Texas, Canada, Oregon, Alabama, Arizona, and Georgia.

It all started with one or two, Ms. White says. Then when folks saw she liked them, she started getting them as gifts.

They kept marching in like soldiers.

The grandchildren, of course, like to play with the figures. If they break, Ms. White says, Poppy (who gets them for Charlie, too) glues them back.

No big deal.

“…I love memories. I love making memories with my grandkids,” Ms. White says. “And so I think this is one that'll carry on that when I'm dead and gone they'll say 'Nanny would've liked this nutcracker' and that's what I like about it.”

Ms. White's pieces don't all look like the classic soldiers featured in the Nutcracker Suite ballet (which, interestingly enough, she has not seen, but would like to). They range in form from classic English soldiers to flying ones with propellers and figures from The Wizard Of Oz.

“I haven't,” Ms. White says when asked if she has cracked nuts with them, “but I've caught my grandkids doing it and it actually does not work…they do not work.”

At least as a functioning unit, that's the case, but it's cracking as a decorative display.

It takes some two days to unpack and get all the figures (including a Christmas tree decorated with figures) on display, and about two days to pack them back into those 32 bins.

That may be normal, but it's likely to take a bit longer this year. Ms. White hasn't put a cap on the collection so far.

It's hard when collecting is such sweet fun.