Thursday, December 28, 2023

Message on the tree

Christmas trees almost always have some sort of topper to finish things off. It might be an angel, a star (what my parents used), or something else entirely. But to folks like me who grew up with something on top of their tree, it seems incomplete without one. This year, I bought a new one for my tree, and it was because of the (extremely) subtle message it sent.

Last year, I bought a new Christmas tree so that I could use ornaments again. I also bought a topper for it, but there was nothing at the top of the tree to support it, so I put it on my dining table instead and left the tree topless—I meant, topper-less.

This year, I hadn’t really given all that much thought to the topper problem, though I vaguely thought about using cable zip-ties to lash a thin dowel to the tree’s trunk so there’d be something to support the topper I bought last year.

Then, everything changed.

When I talked about my Christmas tree lights this past Sunday, I mentioned that “I was browsing on the App for The Warehouse”, but one of the things I saw was a tree topper (photo up top), and I knew I had to have it. When I went to the shop, in addition to getting the new lights for the tree, I bought the topper and a smaller ornament of the same figure—just in case I couldn’t make the topper work (the topper has the same sort of coiled wire base as last year’s).

The reason I bought the topper was because of a TV ad—not for the topper itself, but because the figure was in the ad. Last year, The Warehouse ran an ad that, as I described it for my “2022 New Zealand Christmas TV Ads” Playlist (the fourth ad, or you can see it directly on YouTube):
This ad is—well, kind of odd. It reminds me of some UK stores' Christmas ads from years past, and it’s nice and all, but I kind of don’t get the message? I mean, apart from the obvious, the “Whatever your Christmas wish. The Warehouse.” tagline.
The ad features a toy soldier who has a Christmas wish to be the family’s Christmas tree topper, replacing the angel up on top. The soldier also seemed to be gender non-conforming, because the soldier ended up wearing the former tree topper’s lacy skirt and wings—and had a look of sheer joy after the wish came true. My tree topper has the same look—though the tree topper and matching (though smaller) ornament are, um, well, much more cheaply made. Fortunately, my cable zip-ties idea worked, and the topper is on my tree (so is the ornament, actually).

Here’s the thing. Last year, I didn’t know the TV commercial was called “Nigel’s Wish” until I put my playlist together. Now, however, I know the soldier’s name is Nigel, and it made me smile to have a wooden toy soldier tree topper named Nigel symbolically including my Nigel as part of my Christmas tree. To be honest, the fact I’m one of the few people who’d ever know all that kind of makes it a bit more special to me. I said last year that, “I think my Nigel would’ve smiled” about the ad, and I know that he’d totally understand why I wanted that tree topper.

These days, having a Christmas tree with ornaments is about as close as I get to carrying on any sort of Christmas tradition, and even that’s a bit tenuous: I bet there’ll come a day when I won’t want to do it anymore. But for right now, this is what I want, and so is that tree topper and the very subtle message it carries.

I guess my own Christmas wish for this year came true, too. Fitting it had a figure named Nigel as part of it.


Roger Owen Green said...


Arthur Schenck said...

I do have to explain it to people, though. Actually, that's probably part of why I liked the idea so much.