• Kathy Troxler

Christmas Critter Choir


When Mike and I were newly weds with our first Christmas tree, I did make ornaments for our tree and the topper was a Polar Bear! Since this is before cameras in cell phones (okay before cell phones at all) there are no pictures! All of the ornaments were made out of white polymer clay and painted. I'm not sure why- and trust me there's no rhyme or reason for it- but they were all woodland animals. I think it started with mice with little hats scarves. What started out with a mouse, evolved into a choir of critters including stripped chipmunks, penguins, a Canadian goose, and a hedgehog (I ruined a garlic press forcing sculpey clay into hedgehog spines-the garlic press never recovered from that little incident, but the resulting hedgehog ornament was worth it). They were all happy little Disney inspired souls but for some reason it occurred to me that there needed to be balance in the mix and (go figure) I decided that what the choir needed was a grumpy badger! Why a badger? I think it probably had to do with Mikey telling me about having a near miss with not one but two badgers while sitting out in the Colorado woods on a hunting stand that year. Regardless of the inspiration, the last member of the critter choir was the badger, and he wouldn't sing. Just didn't seem right. But he showed up. And that darned badger ended up holding the lantern for the others. Having populated the tree with the choir, that left what to do with the top. I must have come up with the solution after the tree was in place because I do remember how I came up with the idea. Our tree that year was a spruce with really sturdy limbs and the top was perfectly straight and stuck up quite a ways. In my head - I kid you not- I thought "how in the world would the critters get a star to the top". They're all little animals and the star - not sure where that was from, but it was a traditional foil star-was comparatively large so-obviously- I needed a big animal for the star. My solution was to make a polar bear shinnying up the tree with one paw reaching up to put up the star. Those little critters were our decorations for many years, but there was a draw back to my choir. Polymer Clay (at least back then) was pretty heavy and I my animals were hefty, especially the bear!

These ornaments made the "cut" of the items stuffed (and I do mean stuffed) into the trailer for our move to NY, but the humidity here wasn't kind to them and that, plus their age, meant they eventually fell apart. Which was okay, because the making of them was the most fun.