Collections and Collectors: An Army at Attention
Her tradition began one winter night at the The Nutcracker ballet, watching the dancers slide across the floor in their magical costumes, leaping and gliding to the classical music. Claire Holthaus ‘21 grew up surrounded by family friends who were ballet dancers. Because of this, she began dancing at a young age, increasing her love for ballet and the performance.
Every year, Holthaus sees The Nutcracker with her grandmother and mother; the first time she went as a little girl and was gifted a toy of her own. The gifts soon turned into a tradition that continues to the present day.
In the beginning, the nutcrackers commemorated the experience of going with family to see the ballet. The gift is also “a reminder of home for me and a reminder of family,” giving her a sense of nostalgia for Cincinnati — where she is originally from.
Now the nutcrackers are growing into a collection, with specific ones having deeper meanings than others. If they were from her childhood, they tend to hold particular happy memories for her.
“Most of the specific ones that I really like are the ones from when I was really young, because when I was younger I used to play with them, and so they would all have little personalities.”
As family members started learning of Holthaus’ growing army of nutcrackers, more began appearing on the shelves of her bedroom, resulting in an increasing amount of statues — more than the amount of times she has seen the ballet.
Holthaus is someone with varied interests, such as paranormal things (like ghosts, demonology and angels), world and language building, calligraphy, and being a big hockey fan.
“Most people, when I tell them I collect nutcrackers, is it’s not what they expect from me, like maybe books or something else. I guess people don’t expect it.”
The now thirty nutcrackers stand at attention on her shelves are unique, each one different from the last. While Claire says “the collection can be a bit creepy at times,” they have a special place in her heart, reminding her of childhood and a tradition that has continued over many years.