Nutcrackers take center stage in San Leon home
Walking into Diane and Mike Magliolo’s San Leon home during the Christmas season is like entering a toy store. On display are more than 100 nutcrackers Diane Magliolo has collected since 1979.
“I’ve never met a nutcracker I didn’t like,” she said.
According to legend, the German folklore keepsakes bring good luck and protect one’s home, baring their teeth to ward off evil spirits.
“I’ve always been a collector of antique furniture, figurines and pottery, but when my sons were small, I wanted to start a collection of something a bit more manly that had a Christmas component,” she said.
Christmas is an important holiday to Diane Magliolo, who was one of six siblings.
“I love Christmas,” she said. “The religious aspect, the music, the decorations, the shopping and the cold weather. Plus, ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet.”
Although Magliolo’s young sons did not resonate with the ballet as she had hoped, her four granddaughters have fallen in love with it and all its magical characters.
One granddaughter in particular, Clara, has the same name as the ballet’s main female dancer. Magliolo even gave Clara a few nutcrackers from the ballet. She also gave another granddaughter, Caryss, a Dorothy — “Wizard of Oz” — nutcracker.
Most of them are authentic nutcrackers, meaning they do indeed crack nuts.
The nutcrackers represent all aspects of the Magliolos’ life together — sports, hobbies, holidays, colleges — and remembrances of certain periods in history. Ninety percent are gifts; Magliolo bought the rest.
She bought her very first nutcracker, a soldier, at a garage sale in 1979. She still has it. Her favorite nutcracker is Uncle Sam.
Her most prized nutcrackers, resting atop the dining room buffet, are the 12 limited-edition, German-made Steinbachs, representing the carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Several are signed by Steinbach family members, and most of them contain music boxes that play the tune, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
One table holds a hodgepodge of themed characters — an astronaut, Statue of Liberty, a firefighter memorializing 9/11, St. Valentine, St. Patrick, the Easter bunny and all major U.S. holidays.
The living room is overflowing with more nutcrackers — Tiny Tim, soldiers, a bull rider, football player, tennis player, scuba diver, Elvis and, of course, a doctor, because Mike Magliolo is a physician.
Atop the fireplace mantel are the three wise men — Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior — facing the East, standing behind shiny gold ornaments and candles.
When the holiday season ends, Magliolo will pack most of the nutcrackers in boxes and put them back into her store room. But many of them, like Mickey Mouse, nesting dolls, a rocking horse, clown, trapper, court jester and others will reside atop a kitchen shelf year-round.
“My older son recently asked me when I was going to hand down my collection to family members,” she said. “I didn’t have a response, because I’m not ready to let go of them. They are a huge part of my Christmas memories.”