Posts Tagged ‘home’

I had a blast Wednesday meeting a friend for coffee and talking writerly stuff, and then there was a birthday party I attended. All in all, a very nice day. I’ve needed one.  During the party (which was at my house) I started snapping pictures of all the decorations we have up (we’ve kinda gone all out this year) and as promised here are some of the highlights.

Treee

Our Christmas tree has been up since the day after Thanksgiving. That’s a little early for us but with all the news we’ve gotten this year, extra cheer has been nice to come home to.  We use colored lights on the tree, and that’s the only place we use them. All the rest, as you’ll see, are white lights.  The ornaments on the tree are either gifts from friends,  bought at special occasions, or home-made.  Here are a couple of my favorite:

Nativity

This is a tiny little nativity hidden inside a white star. At the bottom, there’s a place for a Christmas Tree light to be tucked up inside and illuminate the scene, but I prefer it just plain white.  A friend from work gave this to me after he heard me admiring it for several weeks. He didn’t have much at the time and I wasn’t expecting a gift from him at all, it was so sweet (the ornament wasn’t much so I didn’t feel bad accepting it) but the memory is such a dear one, I smile every time I hang it on the tree.

Jesus

This one is special because of the whole Isaiah 9 proclamation that I’d been reading for several days during advent and then WHAM there it was on an ornament as if He’d dropped it down straight from the throne room just to encourage me. I’ve always loved this passage:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)

I’d never seen one before with Isaiah 9 on it. Oh, there are plenty from the New Testament, and some from the Psalms, but I’d never seen Isaiah 9 referenced so blatantly before. It was definitely a God Wink, from Him to me. Every year I remember that (I’ve been practicing this remembering thing for a while) when I set this on our tree.

Mt Vernon Globe
This is the last ornament I’ll share today. It’s a stylized ornament from Mount Vernon, and is meant to replicate the globe that George Washington had in his study in his grand estate. I had such a lovely time last Christmas with my cousin Sally, her friend, and Mom and Dad seeing Mount Vernon at night. There was a lovely tour of the estate with actors dressed in period costumes, hot cider, cookies, and even a real live camel!  If you ever have a chance to go at Christmas, take that chance, it was definitely an evening full of memories for me.

Aurelius

This, is Aurelius.   He’s a dwarf pine Mom bought me from Wegman’s and he’s only suppose to grow 2” a year. We’ll see about that Aurelius, we’ll see how fast you grow. Mom bought him for me because every year I lament  and look sorrowful over the fact that our Christmas tree is an artificial one, and so now I have my own TINY natural one. Speaking of which, he needs a good watering, I’ll be right back.  There, now he’s had a good drink.  Aurelius means “Golden” and while this tiny tree isn’t golden in color, he is definitely  worth more than gold to me.   Doesn’t he look spiffy?

Mantel

This is the mantle in the family room, and Mom and I are really proud of this one too!  The lights and decorations are just right, and the ribbon adds a sparkling point for the lights.  I also love the cheeky cardinal perched to the wreath. He’s just the right touch.  It always takes us so much longer than we think it’s going to take, decorating, and there are differences of opinion and small catastrophes to overcome but in the end we have this lovely sight and that makes it all worth while.

Mantle close violin
See the lights shining through the ribbon? The look is enchanting with the lights out, but then I can’t take a picture which is kinda the point of this post. Mantle close bells
It really looks as good or better than the decorations we saw when we were in Williamsburg in 2010. Our house has a  Colonial look and Mom, Dad, and I love Williamsburg so we tend to have  Christmas decorations that echo that style. There are  lots of berries, small birds, bells, and natural elements. We’ve even made popcorn strings before and strings of dried cranberries.

Cardnal

This gorgeous piece rested on our dinning room server for a bit, and was stuffed full of amazing little things.  It’s now over our door outside.

Door 2

It’s so lush looking! I love it. And it’s all wired into place so no one will be hurt as they walk beneath. You want to see more outside stuff? Sure! Door 1

That’s running white pine and some other pines draping gracefully down the sides of the front there, and that lovely over stuffed box fills the window nicely.   I wish you could  catch the scent of the running pine when the sun lays on it, it smells like Christmas.
Decorations 2012 Take 2 098

Here’s our door decoration (again greens, birds, bright ribbons and berries) which has weathered nicely.

Light

We have three outdoor lights, all like this one, and each one has a wreath too. Whew! This is becoming a long post even with the pictures. I think I’m going to have to do a ‘part two’ because we aren’t done  with the decoration tour, not by a long shot.

How does your family decorate for Christmas  or Hanukkah? Do you use family heirlooms, or add pieces bit by bit? A combination of both?  What unique part of your festival display is your favorite? Tell me in the comments below!

Top 5 Christmas Songs.

I started hearing them in the car on the way to work, and gave a mental groan. I like Christmas songs,  but I also work in retail so I hear them all day long from the middle of November to the end of December.  There are some tunes  I won’t get tired of hearing,  no matter how long they are on the radio or playing over head in the store.  My top 5  are :

Hark The Herald Angels Sing:   I love this one because when it’s sung correctly, the singer’s voices sound as a trumpet with their reverberations. The  story it tells Hark the Herald Angels Sing/ Glory To the Newborn King/  Peace on Earth/ and Mercy Mild/God and Sinners Reconciled/ Joyful all Ye Nations Rise/ Join the Triumph of the Skies/ With Angelic Host Proclaim/ Christ is Born in Bethlehem is also one of my favorites. My heart never fails to leap when I hear that.  There’s such a breathless expectation, and such wonderful news to share contained in this  carol.

We Three Kings or Quest of the MagiThis is a favorite because of the music. The slow, deliberate pace makes me think always of the ships of the desert sliding from side to side over a sea of white sand, with a silver star overhead to light the way.  Each Magi sings too, sharing in the lyrics  of the song,  what they’re bringing and  telling why they are bringing that to the little One.  It’s a somber song laden with word pictures, and referencing another part of the  Nativity story, the Star.

Birthday of the King:  I love this one, because it was introduced to me by my Dad’s mother, MomMom.  She recorded it onto a cassette tape for me, in the 1980’s from  a record she had from her girlhood.  Her father would play it for her Christmas morning as she came down the stairs. When I found out, I used to crouch at the foot of the stairs in our house  with my trusty Fisher Price (TM) tape recorder on Christmas Morning,  and play it for her again as she walked down the stairs.  It always made her laugh through her tears, all those triggered memories. And I’d get a big hug and a “Merry Christmas” from her. It was our special tradition.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: This is a favorite because of the military sound of the music and the rhythm of the words. I love the bold stepping sound of the song. While the meaning of the first line of  it has been debated back and forth for years,  the clearest  understanding in my mind is “God make you merry, Gentlemen”  (merry meaning not mighty rather  to gladden the heart and be boisterous). What could make a heart gladder than remembering the truth contained in the rest of the song?

For Jesus Christ our Savior
Was born upon this Day.
To save poor souls from Satan’s power,
Which long time had gone astray.
Which brings tidings of comfort and joy.

Silent Night:   I love this carol because of its ethereal, lullaby quality.  It’s one of the last songs that we would sing at the Christmas Eve candlelight service when I was growing up. It always started at 11:00 and went until just after Midnight so that when we sang this song, it really was very early Christmas Morning.

I remember bundling up in the narthex of the church, shivering into my coat, and walking over the cold pavement in church shoes that pinched the sides of my feet slightly (they always did that)  to the van. I was so tired, and as I watched my breath make dragon-curls in the dark morning I would continue to sing  the song. Everyone and everything seemed to be asleep. Snow or frost would glitter brittle bright under the church parking lot lights, and there would be a wonderful flipping in my stomach as I realized it wasn’t quite time for presents yet. That sleepy giddiness is forever linked in my memory with Silent Night, and is one of my fondest childhood memories.

What five Christmas Carols top your list?  Why?  Tell me in the comments below, or reblog this post.