Decking New Halls

If you’ve been following along here for any amount of time, you’ll know that 2014 has been a year of transitions for my dear husband and I. We started out the year in Virginia, then went to Georgia, then Texas, then back to Virginia. We moved 2-3 times in the past year. We finally settled in a house that is approximately 950 square feet and it felt like a mansion. A whole extra bedroom! A mudroom! A front porch! An actual dining room as a separate entity! It was and is glorious.

One consequence of our lovely new house (which, incidentally, we are renting. Hopefully for a good bit longer) is that we have all sorts of new nooks and crannies to decorate for Christmas. While my favorite Christmas decoration has been and always will be our real tree with colorful lights and our ornaments, we also have some pretty rock-awesome decorations in the house this year. Most of them are heirlooms chock full of memories and stories that were gifted to me in the past few years. And, the biggest bonus of all, all the people I inherited these gifts from are still alive and well. That is my favorite kind of inheriting.

First up: my nativity. This was handmade by a relative many moons ago and was my mother’s for a long time. It was the nativity of our childhood and now that my mom has a new one, I get to have this one:
IMG_6610It is all white and ginormous. That’s why it is on two shelves: I didn’t have anywhere else to put it. My dear husband was helping me brainstorm where to put it and he had never seen it before. I had to explain to him that we were dealing with camels about a foot tall…

Seriously. So big.
IMG_6612IMG_6614They are hanging out in our dining room. In our living room, we have a few pockets of decorations:
IMG_6616My mom made me the “Happy Christmas” part by gluing old school blocks together. (Did you know that I prefer Happy Christmas? It started out because I not-so-secretly wanted to be British and now it just makes me happy). I added a the pieces of Christmas trees past and some lightbulbs I found at Goodwill. Did you ever have those big chunky lights? That’s what we would also put on the outside of our house when I was growing up. I love them. I am still not completely satisfied with this display, but I’ll keep tweaking it and see what comes of it.
IMG_6620This corner of our bookshelf holds some old (the candlesticks are much storied and quite old), some new (the churches), and some things we had in Texas (the star and snowflakes).

IMG_6622This wreath was made by our church in Texas. They gave it to us on the last Sunday my dear husband and I were there. It hangs on our back door and gives a lovely jingle anytime someone comes in.

IMG_6625Our Advent wreath sits on our dining room table. The wreath was made by my dad and grandfather after I asked them how easy it was to make a circle out of wood. They responded by handing me this lovely wreath. I decorated it with some felt garland and fake berries.

IMG_6626Although I love all these decorations and all the ones not pictured here, I think my new favorite is my ceramic tree:
IMG_6618My great-grandmother (who I called Gaga in the brief years I knew her) made it. I did a bit of research and apparently ceramics were all the rage in the ’70s and ’80s. One lady at our church in Virginia told me about the ones she made too. Lots of shops had ceramic molds and would make the tree and then let you paint it. Our friend was church was saying a few local beauty salons around here had some molds in their back room and would let you make trees there! I feel like everyone has a ceramic tree or two floating around in their Christmas memory. My mom has one that she pulled out every Christmas. My grandmother had one too. And now I have my own.

I am still working on these decorations and more. To be completely honest, my house is an absolute mess right now… Smack dab in the middle of “it has to get worse before it gets better” with a healthy dose of “knitting for my Etsy shop is way more fun than actually putting boxes back in the shed.” My dear husband and I are getting our inside tree tonight and will hopefully decorate it tomorrow morning (don’t worry, I’ll be back with a full report and plenty of pictures on Thursday). Then I’ll be able to clean up and finish decorating.

I love it all… All the tradition, all the stories, all the red and green and silver and gold. I love having so many decorations from my family, so many handmade things, so many stories. I love finding new to me decorations from the thrift store that have stories I can only dream of. I love making new traditions and new stories. Christmas does my heart good.

I think I’ve decided my favorite Christmas decorations are the ones with light and stars. I love waking up early in the morning, sitting on the couch with only the Christmas tree lights on, and drinking my tea. The lights help me remember what Advent and Christmas are all about: standing in the dark, waiting for the light.

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