December 17, 2013

Decking My Halls

Christmas Village on living room shelf.

My daughter putting the final touches on Christmas Tree.

Also the various rooms, the patio and porches, the yard and the garden house...

It is such a busy time of year. I have not gotten around to a post in a while, and this one will mostly serve to show off our holiday preparations here at The House. There has really been no break in the fevered activity around here since the All-Hallows Barn Party we hosted the first weekend in November. It seemed like I was barely cleaned up from that and it was time for Thanksgiving Dinner. We had a family gathering that included all of my children and grandchildren as well as my Mom and Step-dad, my daughter's Mother-in-Law and some significant others. It was fun. I was better organized than last year, but still not where I would like to be. The weather, which has mostly been more like summer than autumn, took a cool turn. It would have been great except for the relentlessly chilly wind. We had moved the picnic table onto the patio in anticipation of being able to dine outdoors—some did, but it was a bit cool for most, so everyone found a spot and ate the buffet style meal in small groupings.

 Lovely as the day was, I realized afterward that I had taken no pictures. I tend to immerse myself in my job as hostess to such an extent that all else goes out of mind. It is not that I am that good of a hostess, but it is my comfort zone I have come to realize. I am never really at ease in social situations unless I am the originator, and then I am so caught up in the process that I never really have time to just socialize. Aah—nothing like a little self-reflection to make the holidays brighter. At any rate, having wrapped up Thanksgiving we dove almost immediately into preparations for Christmas. Actually, I had put the outdoor lights up on the Garden House almost two weeks before Thanksgiving. Last year the power outlet on the front of that small building wasn't working, so I didn't decorate it. I was quite excited to be able to this year.

Peace Moose-- Christmas Decor
 Again, I am better organized than I was last year so soon after moving here, but not yet where I want to be. This year seemed particularly rushed with Thanksgiving coming so close to the end of November. I do not go shopping on Black Friday. Thinking back, I do not recall that I ever have. I understand the pressures on retail businesses, that the holiday season at the end of the year is what makes or breaks them, but I still find that I resent the frenzy and the stupidity that has resulted from this blatantly commercial approach to the Holidays. Having myself worked in retail and even owned my own shop for a time, I have worked on plenty of holidays or days after holidays. However, this extension of hours, opening long before dawn, or the new trend of opening the stores before the turkey can be shoved into the fridge after Thanksgiving dinner, absolutely sickens me. There are few actual holidays left any longer that most of us have off, and getting to be fewer all of the time in this fast paced 24/7 world, but traditionally Thanksgiving and Christmas have remained mostly sacrosanct. While everyone has different customs and traditions, and more often these days none, trying to lure people away from the family table to shop, and worse, making many of those who would love the chance to spend the Holiday joyously dash to work instead, is just another indication of how crass and greedy we have become as a people. We are a culture in dire need of self-reflection and examination.

Merry Christmas- Lights
Welcome
 But enough of my soapbox for the moment. Come on up to The House and see what we have been doing. We will start out front at the patio. I used snow flakes and white lights on the rose trellis, and I love the way they look. It was a challenge getting those lights on there, and I can not help but cringe at the thought of taking them down. Those roses bite.

Christmas-- front entrance




 If you come up the sidewalk to the front entrance, we will go on in. We only ever use this front door for company, so consider yourself our guest for this tour. I am still not happy with the front of the house, but it is much cheerier than last year. I think I still need more lights.











The tree in the front hall is artificial and still a work in progress, but it is so cute. It is covered with lots of handmade ornaments—a number of them made by the kids going back to kindergarten years. There are also ones made by myself or friends. Other ornaments on the tree are vintage or the more primitive styles from among my large collection of Santas.





An elf on the tree



 The elf hanging on this tree is the real deal. My mother had these for many years (and I would be remiss if I did not add that when I was younger I thought that these and several other of her treasured ornaments were tacky and less than chic) before passing them along to my youngest children.




The bench below, a gift from my Dad and Step-mom, found its happy home in the entrance hall. It's a cozy place for Santa to sit down and take a rest.




Prim bench with Christmas goodies.

 

Some of my Santa Claus Collection...

Santa Clause wall plaque
Santa Claus wall plaque
Santa Claus figurines--mantel
Old World Santa figurines- mantel
Santas- made by my sister as gifts over twenty years ago.
Santa on kitchen shelf







These are only a small sample of my Santas. I have been in love with Santa Claus for my entire life, in all of his many guises. Father Christmas, Père Noël, Saint Nicholas and all the rest live in my heart, and at Christmas on shelves, in nooks, on the tree and all over the house.  I like to think that someday I will do an inventory, but I acquire new (or sometimes old) Santas every year.

Lets take a quick look into the dining room before we move on to the living room.







Yes, there are more Santas in here. I haven't done much as far as actually decorating the dining room, but I will do more after I set up a buffet table for the Christmas Eve open house. Much of the contents, both Christmas and otherwise, of the hutch are things I either thrifted or rescued. The Santa figurines in the window as well as the little Santa dish in the hutch are from the townhouse my Mom and Step-dad cleaned out after some tenants moved and left a Hoarder's Paradise behind.



Living room Christmas Tree

Just a quick stop in the living room before we go into the kitchen and back outdoors. The tree in here is real. We went with a smallish one this year because we liked the shape (and I was tired from Thanksgiving). Next year could be altogether different. It is a Douglas Fir. We almost always have gotten Fraser Firs in the past, but last year we chose a Douglas because the tree lot was out of the Frasers until the next day. As it turned out, we were enchanted by the way the tree looked decorated, and since we do not have carpet in this living room, we really weren't concerned that it was a bit more likely to shed needles. It just goes to show that sometimes it is good to change old habits if for no other reason than to bring a little novelty to life.

Thrifted vase and Christmas baubles


View of the top of antique pie safe
I do not have a lot of decorations in the kitchen really, but it is, at least in this household, really the heart of Christmas in many ways. It is, after all, where all the Christmas goodies are kept and where many of them originate. Besides my display on top of the pie safe, there are Christmas knick-knacks on the book shelf, and Christmas tins, some of them vintage and some only vintage styled, litter the counter tops. A bout of the flu or some nasty virus has kept me from making as many Christmas cookies as usual so far, but I need to finish this post so I can roll out the gingerbread dough I made a few days ago and put in the refrigerator. There is still time to make all sorts of Christmas cookies and candies before the big day.

Shelf with tins and antique coffee grinderUltimately, while presents, treats and gifts are nice, especially for the children, it is the Heart and Soul of Christmas that speak loudest to me. The Spirit of Santa Claus—helping those less fortunate, sharing and giving with no expectations of return—is what I keep as the true message of Christmas. The Birth of a Savior, a Son-of-Light to guide us from the Winter Darkness to the Dawn of Spring is a much more fundamental and essential idea than whether one is a Christian, a Pagan or of any particular faith. It is an idea, a spark of Light, that was ignited in the breasts of our remotest ancestors. It is a custom that, one way or another, most of us still keep. While it may change with zeitgeist or paradigm, the core realities surrounding the passage from darkness to light in human experience do not. Though outwardly at least, we, as a culture, have changed mightily, we have not escaped from the cyclical nature of our existence. So I say be damned to political correctness and wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas. Or whatever, in your own belief system, you call it. It is time to get past all the petty judgements and divisions. That, too, is what Christmas is supposed to be about.

Rose Christmas spray





Since we are ending our tour for today in the kitchen, we will just slip out the back door, where, through the magic of time-travel, it is now daylight. Here is one of the two White Rose Christmas sprays I found at a  thrift shop and hung on the patio. Since I had used the white lights and snowflakes at this end of the house, I thought they fit rather nicely.


Metal Stocking with greenery

 

Yet another thrift shop find. A metal stocking that I filled with boughs of greenery and hung by the back door.




Out in the Garden House it is Christmas too. This is Florida, so though the little succulents and more tender plants are tucked in the snug little building in front of the south facing window, we have not yet had a frost. Everything is green and still growing. I found the stocking on a clearance rack last year and thought the botanical motif was perfect for my favorite place on this property.

I hope you have enjoyed the tour. I have certainly enjoyed showing off our lovely home a bit. I do not know if I will post again in 2013, but in any event, I wish you and yours a magical and blessed Christmas, and an abundant and healthy New Year.

Peace to you all...

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