Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Karla of Karla's Kottage is having a What Do You Love About Your Holiday Home Party. This is my humble contribution to this blogger's holiday open house. It's a great idea. Unfortunately the "holiday" part of my home at the moment are the dozen plus holiday boxes scattered everywhere. Some flung open, contents rummaged through to find decorations, ribbons, or cards. Some still stacked and awaiting my attention. There are some fresh garlands hanging over the back of the loveseat ready to be draped.... somewhere. My living room has been taken over by a giant card table, set up as a gift wrapping station as I tried to get everything ready that needs to go to the post office tomorrow. In other words, I'm nowhere near ready to entertain.

But let's forget all that. What's a little chaos between friends, eh? If you're having trouble finding my house, just look for the candy cane trees.

The icicle lights are peppermint stripes too. We've only got the ones on the eaves put up so far. I have a bunch more for the fence. I'll get hubby out there tomorrow putting them up. Inside I only have one thing decorated so far. You can see it through the front door.

So, come on in. It's rather chilly out there. Supposed to get down to ten degrees Fahrenheit tonight! Go ahead and toss your coats .... uhm.... here on the loveseat. Let me move a couple of the cats. There ya go. Just give me a minute to put the kettle on for tea and set out some of my homemade biscotti and then I will give you a little tour of my tree and some of my tree trimming traditions and favorite ornaments.

The tree has always been a center of celebration in our family. My mother's trees always looked like something out of an old fashioned postcard and my trees have followed suit. It's always been expected that our family tree is exceptionally special and imbued with holiday spirit. At least that's what people say when they see it. My children tell me so. I tried a few years ago to break away from our traditional tree and do a "theme tree". The idea was NOT well received. So now if I want to do a theme I play with the idea on a small table top tree and I don't mess with the Sacred Eclectic that is our holiday tree.

I have spent several decades claiming I would never, ever, EVER have a fake tree. For many reasons, which I'll save for another post. But of course never say never. For a number of reasons this year we do not have a live tree. I'm okay with this, for at least this year. My kids are okay with it. I'm not sure about my friend Kathy, who announced I'd destroyed her image of me, perhaps forever. I guess I'll have to work on retrieving my "Earth Mother" image next year. Despite my detour into the world of green plastic, I think our tree is still very magical looking. In great part because of the ornaments.

Everyone have a cup of something hot and fragrant? So, let's take a peek, shall we....

We have a lot of homemade photo ornaments. Here are the five kids in the one and only group portrait of their childhood. The little blonde fairy reminds me of my daughter.

A lot of decorations have traditional spots on the tree. Angels always go on the top. Many of my angels were made my my great aunts and grandmother. My Great Aunt Bobby made the Ojo de Dios angel you see here. The large muslin angel I bought when I was a new bride many decades ago and she was our tree topper for many years. I bought the sun angel more recently. As we celebrate both Yule and Christmas, I like to incorporate symbols of both holidays, although most symbols overlap both celebrations. The little knitted boy was part of a family I made for William when he was little. He loved playing with them but unfortunately, so did the cats. I think he's the sole survivor that doesn't need repair.

Several years ago my friend Shelly lost all her ornaments to water damage. Since she and I have a weekly dinner date, and we share a love of all things tea related, I started gifting her each year with a tea pot or cup ornament and then putting a similar ornament on my tree. I have some other "beverage" ornaments as well, including some Starbucks ones because my daughter-in-law and I have a lot of holiday "Starbuck moments". The little felt Snoopy was made for me by my Aunt Virginia. And of course everyone needs a red chili pepper ornament. I've got a glass pickle one too.

I used to have a dozen of these little book ornaments. They really open up and have little stories in them. I think I still have more of them but I'm not sure where they are. I only found this one in the box I used to decorate the tree this year. Lots of sun and celestial themed ornaments on the tree.

Isn't it funny how one can forget entire episodes of one's life but remember small moments in great detail. The blue wooden bead garlands I found in a bargain bin near the counter at a Sear's Repair Department. I had taken my vacuum cleaner in to be fixed. On the other hand, I can't for the life of me remember where or when I found the star garland you see in these photos. Still, even though it tangles something crazy, we all love those stars. You can see the Eiffel Tower I found to remind us of our five great days in the City of Lights. You can see part of two Harry Potter lightning bolt icicles. We're big Harry Potter fans and my mom gifted us with a lot of HP ornaments when we first discovered the books.

More angels. The two on the top right are made by older relatives. The child angel in the center with the wee red shoes and the yellow elf in the bottom left are both vintage and were from my mother's tree. They were favorites of mine when I was a child. And bottom right is a glass witch. I might move her and my other glass witch to the Halloween boxes now that I put up a Halloween tree as well. Oh, and that yellow banana you see stuck up there in top left? It's not a banana. it's a crescent moon I made. I know, it looks like a banana. Sigh.

The little elf in the metal swing is from my grandmother's tree! Peeking out from it's traditonal place leaning against the trunk of the tree is a giant paper ornament my son Joe made in nursery school. You can't tell from the photo but he's holding a Cabbage Patch doll in one arm and his two week old baby brother Sam (who's due date was Christmas Eve but he had the good sense to be born two and a half weeks early) in his other arm.

My mom gave me this wee cottage and my friend Deirdre made me the ATC that makes a nice snowy backdrop for the scene. I have a lot of paper and fabric ornaments from friends on my tree and each year as I hang them they bring a smile to my face remembering the pleasure of receiving the special little art in the mail.

I don't know why but this little skier is one of my favorite ornaments. I discovered he'd fallen out of the box and lost one of his ski poles this year. Pout. Maybe I'll find it when I go through some more boxes. Speaking of broken ornaments, while angels and fairies go up on the top of the tree, fragile ornaments get the prime spots in the midrange. As you get farther and farther down the ornaments get heavier and are more likely made of cloth or wood or metal or industrial strength plastic. Curious fingers and paws y'know. All my kids have grown up fingers now, but there's a new crop of grandbaby fingers ready to pluck something shiny and oh-so-tempting off those branches. And of course the cats. Always the cats. Or the wagging back end of our big dog.

Okay, so it's a Hallmark ornament. But it's another favorite. Winken, Blinken and Nod. There's another wee Hallmark ornament about the same size of little kids hanging from an umbrella I also cherish. When my kids were babies we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and rain, not snow, was expected holiday weather. But that ornament wasn't in the box I thought all my best ornaments were stored in. Now that I'm showing you these photos I'm remembering more and more that are missing. Well, I'm sure they're in another box. But now I'll have to look for them first thing tomorrow.

Another Harry Potter ornament and one of a handful of yellow butterflies that flutter about the branches. The first December without Joshua I bought one for the tree and I've added one each year. That means there should be five yellow "Joshua" butterflies on the tree, but there are actually a couple of exta that other people have gifted us with - they spontaneously had the same idea.

A little fuzzy, the green and gold beaded bell was made by my grandmother. There's a Mary Engelbreit garden angel... no, that's the seewing angel, up in the corner.

A little blue paper tag that arrived in a friend's Yule card last year. I made the dried orange and raffia ornament about ten years ago during an "all things natural" ornament phase. I made the golden rounds, to symbolize the sun, from oranges, lemons, and limes. They've seen better days and are darkening as they age, but I'm amazed they've survived this long! I think this one looks a bit like stained glass with the light shining through it.

A shimmery spiral, another surprise in a friend's Yule card.

I've gone through a lot of phases. When my kids were little, I made a lot of kid proof fabric ornaments. For a while I liked homespun country ornaments. Everything botanical and nature themed had it's run. Gold celestials. Retro. White or icy. This star is both icy AND celestial and you can't tell too much but it's finish shimmers like abalone shell. I have a lot of these in star and snowflake designs but I've held most of them aside this year for a window project I have planned. This year my taste runs to all things opulent and richly colored but I'm settling for a few small additions as I'm more interested in finding new ways to use items I already own than to add to my substantial holiday stash.

Whew. I've rambled on for quite some time. Looks like most of you have finished up your tea and it sure looks like you all enjoyed the biscotti - I only see crumbs left on the plate! I know some of you are in a hurry to visit with other, probably more organized, holiday bloggers. I'm sure I'll see you all again as I'm making the rounds myself. But I hope you'll pop back in again this month as I'll be posting more holiday decorations as I get things put up. I'm always babbling on about things philosophical or quirky or amusing (at least to me) and posting family-ish pictures over on my Beach Treasure blog too.

For those of you who have to get going, thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you've enjoyed your visit. I'm grateful no one has tripped over any of the boxes. Here, let me get your coats. Oh, a little cat hair. Well, consider it a little holiday gift you can take home with you. Hehe. I'll get the door. BRRRRR! Well, at least it's not icy out there. Bye-bye! See you soon!


Stephanie said...

I have SOOOOO enjoyed this holiday open house!! Your tree is beautiful and I agree with the must keep this tradition of all your family ornaments. Your photos are beautiful, I love the stories behind each one.

have a merry MERRY Christmas!!

Southern Heart said...

Your decorations and tree are just beautiful...I love the closups of all your ornaments. I think that my favorite thing is the photo of your children...that is definitely a treasure!

Thank you so much for sharing your home,


Adeline's Shabby Cottage said...

Your decorations are just lovely!! I agree, keep the famiily ornaments!!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Handmade ornaments are the absolute best...umm, next to handmade cookies. Your tree is beautiful. So festive. Susan

Stephanie said...

Your yard decor is so festive! Love that shot looking in thru your front door. Beautiful tree full of precious memories! Thanks so much for sharing. Please visit my holiday home!

Merry Christmas!
Angelic Accents

Alison Gibbs said...

Love your christmas decorations. Some lovely and special ornaments on your tree.

Lori said...

that's a loaded tree!!! it looks wonderful...i adore the sweet fairy ornament!!!

Miss Sandy said...

I have viewed a lot of homes today on the home tour and your post is my favortie so far becasue of the honesty behind it! You are the kind of person I could be friends with, real friends, who can come and go in one anothers homes and mov a cat or a box out of the, sip some tea and then pitch in to help one another get the job done! Love your tree but more than that, your attitude! Merry Christmas, Miss Sandy.

Debbie said...

I totally agree with Miss Sandy. I'm so glad you decided to join the party! I had such a nice "visit", cats, dust bunnies, and all! BTW, I too swore that I'd never have an f-word tree either. That's "f" as in fake! This year mine is not only fake, it's a lavender theme tree!!! Next year I will have a green tree and put up all my favorite ornaments. I miss them!

The Rose Room said...

Love your ecletic fake tree:) Merry Christmas and Blessings - Rachael

Cindy Roberts said...

Beautiful ornaments! Each one is so colorful and unique! Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog! Yes, aren't pink and yellow poinsettias wonderful! Cindy

jen said...

Love the homey/family feel of the tree, and it's great the way you decorate outside as well!

The Rose Cottage said...

I love your tree, yes, homemade and older ornaments are the best :)

Thanks for visiting my holiday home too ;)

Jaye said...

Thanks for sharing. it is so great to see such wonderful memories being evoked from a tree. It is nice to see all the ornaments you have from your rellies. My grandmother's ornaments were really beautiful. She got rid of them when she and my grandfather got divorced and I mourn for them still!

Paul-ene said...

That's ok, I'm use to the COLD(ha)! I really enjoyed looking thru your holiday home and love the tea and biscotti(my fav)thanks for being so inviting.

Your tree and ornaments are so pretty and fun.

Thanks for sharing your holiday decor and have a merry christmas!

Miss*Laurence said...

Well, WOW!

Amazing stuff on your tree! I just loved going down from the fairies to the orange slice... You have so many interesting items, and they all have a story, which is just the best!

Me too I thought i'd never have a plastic tree... but we were given one last year! So here are my reasons for having one:

1- I can build it around the furniture, big here, small there..
2- You don't have to waste a tree's life again for just 2 weeks of sparkles
3- Real trees used to smell so fabulous... it is all gone now since it is compulsory to spray the trees with anti-flammable chemicals smelling of rubber! I'd rather have a fragrance-free fake one.
4- did I mentioned the needles?
5- Let's promote reusability!!!

So, Merry Christmas to you and you family - all their ornaments are coming together so nicely, it really has a story and you do deserve the " exceptionally special tree" award!