Like many couples, each year my wife and I take an annual car ride to the local Hallmark store with the express purpose of purchasing ornaments for our children and other family members. My stepson is usually gifted with a Star Wars ornament, our parents with one grandparent bauble or another for the tree. Every once and a while, we'll pick up an ornament from a series, like the 12 Days of Christmas, for which we search out annual additions. This year I came across the John Wayne Rio Bravo Hallmark Keepsake ornament, and bought one to be wrapped under the tree, for myself.
Though I would not consider myself a "John Wayne fan," I do love what John Wayne means to my childhood. The sentimental idea of John Wayne is something I have long associated with my grandfather who passed away almost twenty years ago now. As was the case for many a World War II veteran such as my proud "Baba," John Wayne was representative to him of what an American man should be, such as the one commemorated with this tree ornament memorializing Wayne's iconic role from Howard Hawkes 1959 Western, Rio Bravo.
There were many Sunday morning's spent laying on the carpeting in front of the living room television while my grandfather, in his recliner, would watch Wayne movies. Too young to understand the events of the films, let alone the nuances of Wayne's unique acting style, I would do so willingly only because it meant spending time with my grandfather, who I knew loved me.
This coming Tuesday morning, while handing out and sharing presents, I look forward to unwrapping and unleashing this latest commemorative ornament; placing it alongside other memory inducing plastic adornments and reflecting on the memories of Baba and the Duke.