30x185 spacer

Nutcrackers make annual appearance at Michalsky Ranch

Friday, 22 December 2017. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Nutcrackers make annual appearance at Michalsky Ranch
Connie Michalsky with just a few nutcrackers from her collection.   Photo by Georgia Dale

Nutcrackers make annual appearance at Michalsky Ranch

By Georgia Dale

With over 409 nutcrackers (she doesn’t count the really tiny ones) occupying her little house on the eastern edge of Coleman, Connie Michalsky’s Christmas collection is impressive, to say the least.

They come in almost every shape and size, from “Fritz” who guards the door, measuring in at over six feet tall, to the centimetre-high ornaments that festoon her Christmas tree.

There is a nutcracker from almost every town Connie’s friends, children and grandchildren have visited over the last 45 years. There is a pirate, a pilot and a fireman nutcracker, and there are hockey players, hunters, cowboys and bakers. She says the collection has “taken on a life of its own”.

Connie even has a cookie jar nutcracker, and though he suffered a shattered face (the lid) in his early years, he has been restored to perfection. One would never be the wiser.

The nutcrackers have uniforms of almost every colour, and in spite of the fact that her friends and family have been bringing them to her for years, there are only a few duplicates.

Some nutcrackers carry elaborate stories — like the ancient one who showed up in a box of motorcycle parts that her son bought at auction, or the nutcracker from the Empire State Building in New York — but many seem to have just appeared and joined the ranks one day.

As Connie shows me around her house, carols play softly in the background and the house smells warmly of cinnamon apples.
Everywhere I turn there is a perfectly polished nutcracker standing guard. Her curio cabinets are stocked full of the shiny soldiers.

She calls it a labour of love, and labour it must be to unwrap and curate each nutcracker so carefully.

Connie displays her collection for close friends and family who visit, but her house should almost be an exhibition for Crowsnest Pass residents this time of year, because it truly displays the magic of the holidays and shows a little bit of local history too.