About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Decking the Holiday Halls Done Right

Our host for November 15 Fun Monday is Julie at Another Chance Ranch and she wants us to get started thinking about decorating for the Christmas holidays. Do we pull out all the stops? Put up a tree? Have a decorating theme? Actually it has been many years since I decorated for Christmas--fourteen in fact, when I adopted Willie, a mischievous pit bull pup. At the time I had three older dogs who left the tree alone, but I didn't trust a three month old puppy to not bring the tree crashing down on his head and breaking all my precious antique glass ornaments. Sadly, after skipping one year I got out of the habit of decorating.

However, I do have definite opinions about what makes beautiful holiday decorations.

Here's my thoughts on decking the halls for Christmas, re-posted from December 2008:

I watched the Rick Steves' European Christmas special on PBS last night as I do each year because it reminds me of what Christmas done right is all about. Starting in London's Trafalgar Square and traveling on to the Swiss Alps with many stops in between, Steves provides an insiders look at how people of many countries celebrate the winter holidays. Regardless of the country, the essentials of Christmas--family, friends, community, customs, traditional decorating for the home, food, music, and faith--can be found.

Many years ago I really loved the holiday season. Starting in early November, I began cleaning the house from top to bottom; nursing live plants like paper whites, amaryllis, and poinsettias into bloom at just the right time; gathering the live greenery, berries, and ribbon to make wreaths, swags, and arrangements for all through the house. I studded oranges with cloves and rolled them in cinnamon for hanging pomanders and even buffed great quantities of Red Delicious apples to a high sheen and piled them in pine bough lined baskets.

Finally the first week of December it was time to bring home the Christmas tree--which was my favorite thing about the holiday. The tree had to be a fraser fir from the mountains of North Carolina because no other tree branches would hold up under the weight and quantity of glass ornaments that I'd collected at tag sales, auctions, antique stores, and Christmas shops throughout the year.

If you look closely at the tree you can spot some of my most treasured ornaments. There's
the six huge striped and decaled balls that I found at an auction. There's all manner of Shiny Brite ornaments with their bold stripes and glittery sentiments like "Silent Night" or "Joy to the World". Shiny Brites were popular in the 1950s. I also had a great collection of fancy shaped reflectors that went around each colored light. When the tree lights came on it was magic. In addition to the balls, icicles, and pendants, my all time favorite tree decorations would have to be the German and Czech glass ornaments of every imaginable shape--houses, fruit, vegetables, animals, lamps, teapots, birds, clocks, Santas, and even the good luck pickle.

Underneath the tree, all the presents were wrapped in simple paper and tied with real ribbon. That is, except gifts for Zack the crazy border collie, whom you all have met on many occasions, and his brother Frank the chow mix with his white "taillight"! Their presents went in gift bags, which as you can see, was not nearly secure enough to last until Christmas.

So Julie, this is how I'd decorate for Christmas if I did any more. This year I'll help my sister get out all her decorations over the Thanksgiving holiday. She leaves no surface undecorated. And good for her because she gets so much pleasure from it. I'll concentrate on sending and receiving Christmas mail, going to some holiday concerts and plays and movies, and adding a few new holiday CDs--usually Celtic artists--to my collection.


Jan n Jer said...

I love the way you decorated Faye, you have some very beautiful ornaments. It is easy to get out of the habit of decorating. Its a lot of work and I think you realize that you can enjoy the season without all the hoopla. I have really downsized my decorating. Sometimes.."Less is Best"

The Church Lady said...

Ah yes, I think I remember you sharing your collection of beautiful ornaments before. I'll bet they would look pretty in a decorative bowl on your table.

I would not do as much decorating if it were not for my kids and the fact that I have Christmas open house every year. I always loved getting a live tree too. We kept this tradition for years. I kind of miss it. But it is just so easy to pop up the artificial tree.

BTW, glad you had a nice Birthday!!

Sayre said...

I love Christmas ornaments! At this point I have so many that there isn't enough tree. And I'm switching to a smaller, artificial tree this year to boot. I will take some of the more child-like ones and put them in a box for my son to take with him when he moves out (10-12 years from now) so he'll have some to start with that mean something.

The ornaments I miss most from my childhood? Some hand-made ones by my aunt made out of mexican blankets and felt and those bubble ornaments - the bases with tall spires of liquid-filled glass that bubbled - but I don't think you can get them anymore...

Lane said...

Frank and Zak were gorgeous. I think they really appreciated your efforts:-)

You have a wonderful collection Faye. I love trees which are dripping with decorations collected from all over. Especially a 'good luck pickle!'.

Jill said...

since our girl is little we have a ways to go to get it all glammed up -- but keep it safe--my parents dogs tend to sling their tails around and catch the ornament hooks-- whoever is laughing the least gets up and rescues the dog!

Debs said...

Love those photos. Those are to inquisitive dogs. I love that they're so interested in the presents and tree.

Your decorations are lovely. I have the glass ones at the top of the tree but material, wooden, etc ones lower down for the youngsters that will be coming for Christmas lunch.

joangee said...

Thanks for sharing. I too love music, especially seasonal olde fashioned carols. But dislike the repetitive 'musack' played endlessly in shops and malls.

Qtswede said...

Neat tree :) I am end up going that route one of these days, but for now, I get a kick out of it, and my little boys like it. Gorgeous ornaments!! We tend to play lots of Bing Crosby ... special to us, since my favorite uncle sounded just like him, and he passed this year.

Susie Vereker said...

How pretty. We always have a real tree (with same 30 yr old decorations) and a new wreath on the door, and the Christmas cards make up the rest of the decorations. I hope I'll be able to pick garden greenery this year for the wreath despite all our early snow. Then we have Christmas crackers which are traditional table decorations with silly present inside, not cookies!