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Posts Tagged ‘decorations’

This year, it seemed that fully half my friends (at least, the ones who post on Instagram) hauled their Christmas decorations out in early November. I couldn’t fault them for it: as my sister and others have said, 2020 needs all the joy it can get. My mom famously decorates early every year (my parents have three Christmas trees), but everyone else seemed to jump on that bandwagon this year. It made a lot of sense to me, but I just was not ready to put up my own decorations.

Decorating the tree is one of my favorite Christmas traditions: I am one of those people who loves tons of (small, white) lights, and for whom nearly every ornament has a story. But since my divorce, that ritual is a bit fraught. Last year, I had my friend Lauryn come over and help me decorate, and this year, I asked my guy to help me do it.

We hauled my little tree and assorted decorations out of the basement on a Saturday night, and assembled it on the fireplace. I strung the lights that night (he provided moral support and Christmas music), and we waited another week to do the ornaments. I sort of like the look with just the lights, and it felt like a small acknowledgment of Advent: waiting, letting the process take its time.

Last weekend, we unwrapped a few cherished ornaments (plus two new ones I bought at Albertine Press), and hung them on the tree. And we also bought stockings at Target, and hung them on the snowflake hangers I’ve had for years. Old alongside new.

I can’t erase the memories of Christmases past, nor do I entirely want to. But we are moving forward, and I’m so pleased with the effect. It’s cozy and twinkly, and since I’m home all the time these days, I get plenty of chances to enjoy it.

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As a lover of Christmas (and twinkle lights), I have a soft spot for December. It usually feels both hectic and peaceful: holiday celebrations and travel prep and last-minute gifts alongside the hush of quiet evenings and diamond-bright, blue-sky mornings.

This year, of course, December feels different: I’m not packing for Texas, not finishing up a semester of full-time work, not going to Advent services or planning to sing carols in church on Christmas Eve. I am trying to wrap my head around a low-key, cozy, local Christmas. But I am still observing a few tiny rituals of the season, and I thought I’d share them with you. They include:

Stringing twinkle lights on a Christmas tree – I put mine up last weekend, well behind the pandemic-inspired holiday rush but with plenty of time to enjoy it before Christmas.

Lighting the good candles, as often as I want.

Pulling out a few cherished mementoes, like the metal mailbox with a little moose on it and the words “Merry Kiss Moose” in red letters. And the coat-hanger tree I’ve had since junior high, which still – miraculously – works, at least for now.

Listening to The Holiday soundtrack while I clean or cook or write. And watching the movie itself, which is a perennial fave.

Addressing Christmas cards and wondering whether I need to buy more stamps. (Related: texting friends to ask for snail-mail addresses.)

Pulling out my now-worn Advent book and flipping to my favorite essays.

Seeing those plush reindeer antlers and noses on cars around town, which always make me smile.

Revisiting Shepherds Abiding, a tale of Mitford at Christmastime that charms me and chokes me up every. single. year.

Searching out stocking stuffers (this time, for my guy).

Looking up at birds’ nests in bare tree branches.

Snapping photos of holiday decorations around town.

Humming the carols I love, and pulling out a few favorite albums: Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong, James Taylor’s At Christmas, the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack.

Following along with Ali Edwards’ December Daily stories, even though I’m not making a scrapbook myself.

Pulling out the fleece-lined tights and handknit accessories.

Remembering Christmases past: red felt stockings on the mantel at Mimi’s, candles in the sanctuary at my parents’ church, the words of Luke 2 from Mom’s worn old Bible, Christmas-morning shenanigans with my nephews.

What are your tiny December rituals?

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I am (it’s no secret) in love with my new neighborhood of East Boston, tucked between the water and the airport. I’ve spent nearly five happy months here now, and I’ve loved watching my neighbors get festive for the holidays.

The Italian restaurant around the corner was one of the first to decorate:

My neighbors are putting up wreaths of all kinds, including this shiny silver one:

Fences are draped with twinkly lights, including this display down the street from my house:

Even the yoga studio has gotten into the spirit, with this tiny, charming tree:

The wreath at the top is from the park near my house, which also put up a lighted tree last week. I love walking down the dark streets after work and seeing all the festive trees and decorations in people’s windows. And, of course, I’ve done a bit of decorating of my own.

It is that famously hectic week before Christmas, with work projects and holiday parties and last-minute details galore. But just like every year, I’m trying to slow down and notice the sparkle. I hope it’s looking cheery (or quiet and peaceful) where you are.

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We’ve hauled our tree and ornaments up from the basement, put on the Christmas music, and decked our halls. As per tradition, I snapped photos of a few treasured ornaments to share with you.

red boots ornament

Sweet Bethany sent me these red boots last year. They look just like my full-size red wellies.

eeyore bell ornament

This bell-ringing Eeyore was a gift from a high school boyfriend. He spent years hiding in a drawer, till I found him, dusted him off and put him on the tree.

green christmas ball ornament

My friend Courtney gave me this glass ball back in seventh grade. Her familiar, loopy handwriting makes me smile.

teapot mount vernon martha washington

J and I visited Mount Vernon this summer on our trip to D.C., and came home with this wee reproduction of Martha Washington’s Blue Canton everyday teapot. It brings to mind three of my favorite things: travel, tea and adventures with my love.

snowman ornament christmas tree

This snowman’s origins are lost to history, but he’s been part of my family’s Christmas collection for many years. I love his red hat and tiny bottle-brush tree.

I am staunchly devoted to my mismatched, eclectic, storied collection of ornaments – unwrapping them each year is like opening a series of tiny gifts. I’ve come to love the tradition of sharing them with you on the blog. Check out my first, second and third ornament posts for more stories.

What kinds of ornaments hang on your tree – do you have matched sets or a colorful hodgepodge?

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From the booksellers at Brattle: stockings hung with care, Christmas books galore, and a tree MADE of green books. How perfect.

Of course, I’ve got some books on my Christmas list – including the new Father Tim novel, the letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, and books by Adriana Trigiani (whom I’ve just discovered; she is delightful). Anything literary on your Christmas list?

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(My new red coat, beloved gold flats and some Christmas gifts. So merry!)

I’ve always loved decorating for Christmas, but have really gotten into it since moving out and having my own place. When Bethany and I lived together in college, we always bought a real tree (she’s from the Piney Woods, so real trees are a must) and hung stockings on our little mantel. (Our living-room walls were a deep crimson, so, as she said, “just add green” and we were ready for Christmas.)

When I lived in my little flat on Avenue F, three years ago, I decorated the living room and kitchen – you can see photos here. That little place was about 400 square feet, but bursting with Christmas spirit.

My housemates and I, when we lived in Cowley (east Oxford) together in ’07-’08, bought a tiny tree and some icicle lights and threw a party for my beloved ACU-Oxford crew. We all scattered for Christmas, obviously, but we had a wonderfully festive season.

Nowthat J and I have our own house, decking our halls together is a favorite ritual. My mom bought us a tree last year (fake, because J is allergic to real ones), and a gift card for a bunch of ornaments and stuff. We got it all out two weeks ago, spent most of the evening on Dec. 4 decorating, and here is the finished result:

Isn’t it lovely? I am loving sitting in the living room in the evenings, with just the tree, a candle and maybe a lamp providing light. And I’ve broken out the Christmas music – James Taylor, Sarah McLachlan, Vince Guaraldi, Jars of Clay, Elvis, some big-band music and even Jim Brickman.

We hosted two Christmas parties this week – one for our “crew,” which includes Bethany and what we call “the Evans-Lollar clan.” (Abi and Kelsey are sisters; Nate and Jake are brothers; Abi is married to Nate; and Jake is engaged to Sarah, whose family is part of our small group.) Taken together, they are “the clan” and they are some of our favorite people to hang out with.

Here they are: Nate, Abi, Bethany, Sarah, Jake, Kelsey and my own Jeremiah. (I took the photo.)

We ate a TON of snacks, played Taboo, shrieked with laughter and goofed around under the mistletoe. So fun.

Here’s a shot of the girls. Abi, Bethany and I have known one another since we were freshmen, but we’ve never been as close as we are now. I’m so thankful we’re a part of one another’s daily lives. This time is precious.

The next night, I had the coffee ladies over. We did what we always do – talked and laughed, drank tea and hot cocoa, snacked and told stories and laughed some more. Fabulous.

I’ll leave you with a shot of my sweet husband and me, under the mistletoe:

More December views to come soon – and I may follow Jana’s example and blog about my treasured Christmas ornaments. Happy Love Thursday!

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