Natchez woman has cracking good hobby

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 15, 2008

NATCHEZ — For some, nutcracker dolls are a seasonal decoration, but for Deede Daniels, they’re a year-round obsession.

When The Dart landed near her residence on Martin Luther King Jr. Street, Daniels’ had recently made the switch from Thanksgiving-themed nutcrackers to those with a more Christmas-y flare.

Most of the time, Daniels’ extensive collection stays atop shelves in the kitchen, but at Christmas she spreads them around the house.

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But it’s the nutcrackers she keeps in the kitchen that catch the eye.

Those include a Cassanova doll, a Harlem Globetrotter, a Fisherman, a kilt-clad Scotsman, the Characters from the Wizard of Oz, Uncle Sam, the biblical Noah — and the list goes on, even including nutcrackers garbed in Mississippi State and LSU gear.

The collection started when a grandmother gave her oldest son, who is 22, a nutcracker one Christmas, but it has grown extensively since then.

Her son has helped her in the nutcracker hunt — he was the one who gave Daniels the LSU nutcracker — but she’s not ready to hand over the collection just yet.

“Every time he comes over he says, ‘Mom, I’m taking my nutcrackers,’ and I just have to say no,” Daniels said.

While she doesn’t actively hunt for nutcrackers, if one catches her eye — even in July — she will pick it up.

“Some years, we just see things that are different, but some years we don’t see as many,” Daniels said. “We haven’t gotten any this year.”

A few years ago, Daniels’ collection was threatened by a house fire.

“My mom took an afghan in and raked them all off the shelf,” Daniels said. “I had to put a lot of them back together. Can you imagine all of the little parts that came off?”

There are still a few pieces Daniels wants to add to her collection — large nutcrackers to set next to her fireplace, if only for the Christmas season.

But Saturday, she decided on a new nutcracker to look for.

“I need to find a hippie,” she said. “You just get tired of the little soldier men.”