Christmas transforms my home into a journey a cherished memories… the ones in the past and hopefully the ones for the future. Each decoration, no matter how big or small, tattered or new, expensive or not… has its own story. As I unpack each box or bin or tin, people and places come alive for me in a most magical way.
I love Christmas. I love tradition. I love that my family and friends love my home at the holidays!
Let’s start with the stockings… yes, hung by the chimney with care. I have always loved stockings that look like stockings, so when my family took a little trip to North Conway, New Hampshire many, many years ago… actually, Jane was just a baby… I found my perfect Christmas stockings in a little Christmas shop. I had them all monogrammed, and even though all the kids are grown-up with homes and fireplaces of their own, I still smile when I hang the “family” stockings. My grandchildren now get a big kick out of seeing their Mommys’ or Daddys’ names on the stockings, and inevitably ask if Santa still stops at my home. “Of course,” I explain, “because your Mommy and Daddy are still my kids!”
My little silver reindeer are a more recent gift. Last year, Jane and I were wandering around a discount store in Rhode Island (Job Lot, actually) and I spotted the silver reindeer with six tapered white candles as antlers. Well, I fell in love with them, but we were in such a hurry that the reindeer were left behind. So when I unwrapped an odd shaped gift from Jane a couple of weeks later, I was just so happy! My reindeer! I put them near an icicle tree at Christmas time, but I keep both of them on display all year ’round because I love them that much. Now I know why I love them so much… last week my little 2-year old grandson Alexander happened to get a little discipline from his Daddy and Mommy at my home. He cried with such despair that it broke my heart. I know that he loves my silver reindeer, so I took him into my dining room to help him settle down a bit. Well, he whispered to me as he pointed, “Grandma, that rein-dee-ah is named Ally, like me.” Then he pointed to the other one and whispered, “And that rein-dee-ah is Uncle Dimi.” I was so taken aback. Uncle Dimi is Audrey’s husband’s best friend and our little Alexander Dimitri’s namesake. Alexander never met Uncle Dimi… he died in Iraq in November of 2004. I asked Ally if he talks to Uncle Dimi. He answered so perfectly innocently, “Yes, Grandma.” Heavenly magic.
My home was built in 1780 by a cousin of the Revolutionary hero Nathanael Greene. We love its beauty. We cherish its history. And we love the crooked walls, uneven floorboards, and even the winter drafts (well, maybe not!). But we absolutely adore our 8 fireplaces. This fireplace is in our master bedroom. Each year I hang two little stockings that my husband and I use for a special little gift to each other. I have already picked out my little gift, but like a good elf, I cannot reveal it yet! Little gold reindeer wander along the mantle along the gold beaded garland.
Ah, my husband Barry in our kitchen sharpening his knives! Barry is Portuguese… and he LOVES to entertain. His specialties are pancakes grilled in bacon grease (oh, yes…!) for breakfast, fried bologna and tomato sanwiches for lunch, and prime rib with all the trimmings for dinner. Barry is not a chef, but his love for family and friends, and his love for cooking (inherited from his Mom, who is 89 years old and still cookin’) make his feasts incomparable. Barry is my most precious Christmas memory of all!
This is my dining room fireplace. I display my bell collection of this mantle at Christmastime. I have crystal bells from all over Europe. I have Hallmark bells with the words “Mom & Dad.” I have plastic bells that my kids have given me over the years. But my most prized bell is the one from Jane’s wedding. She and her husband Steve had a December wedding and gave little bells as wedding favors, with a tag that reads, “Thanks for hanging with Jane and Steve… December 4, 2004.”
Ah, my Santa collection! Each year I unpack and unravel dozens of Santas that I have received as gifts and collected since I was a little girl. I place them all on my family room mantle where I can see them from the kitchen, while entertaining, watching television, reading to my grandkids, or having a cup of tea (or glass of Port… remember, my husband is Portuguese!) My most prized Santa is the one I have had since childhood… this Santa holds a Christmas tree that has lost many of its branches, but is still my favorite Santa and tree of all. Another favorite is one I received from my Nana when I moved into my first apartment. It is a Santa with a little attached sleigh. Each of my Santa’s is priceless to me. Each of my Santa’s has its own beautiful story!
My front hall is always decorated with simple greens at Christmas. At night, I leave the front door wide open so passers-by can see the tiny white lights that go all the way up the stairs. And the front hall is where I hang my quilted Advent Calendar with the folk-art Santa. You can see it in the reflection of the mirror. This calendar is a precious decoration from a little store in Barrington, Rhode Island. I bought it when Jane was a baby, and I have watched tiny fingers place the little quilted Santa in the little dated pockets each Christmas season… for decades now. To now watch my grandkids place the little quilted Santa in the pockets is just a dream-come-true!
I spend much of my time in my library, writing and researching. This is one of my favorite rooms in my home because the window looks out to a busy main street in a small New England town. I can just imagine the discussions that have taken place in this room during my home’s 230-year history! I always place another favorite Santa on the mantle in this room… Santa studying the globe. I received this Santa from my brother-in-law several years ago, and I truly love my brother-in-law… and the worldly Santa. Inspiration is the word for this room and for this Santa!
My living room is reserved for my white, silver (or very shiny!) decorations! On the mantle in this room I put white Santas, balls, Demdaco statues… and this year two beautiful snowmen. These snowmen were gifts from my grandsons William and Alexander last Christmas. They are paper mache boxes with the words “May Your Christmas be full of Faith, Family and Friends.” These words say it all! The sun streams into this room in my home all afternoon, and the shimery mantle makes me feel completely at peace.
As you leave my home through the front hall, you must pass right by my dining room door. As quests leave, I love to give them a silver bell. One of my greatest joys is hanging my Silver Bells sign and finding bells to hang for all to enjoy!
Before the grandkids, I loved to put dozens of angels, small trees, ornaments and the like on every surface of my home. Now I put lots of stuffed Santas, reindeer, gingerbread men, snowmen and pillows on every windowsill and chair! The grandkids love to play with them, toss them on the floor, jump of them, throw them into the air, carry them… just plain enjoy them! I love it! My newest pillow is one that reads “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe.”
When I was a newlywed, my mother-in-law gave me a service-for-4 of Christmas dishes. That was one of my favorite gifts of all time! Well, over the years she has added more and more… and others have added more and more… til now. I have a service for 32! My Christmas dishes are not expensive. They are not irreplaceable. They are a combination of many manufacturers. But collectively, these dishes and the meaning behind each and every piece, is beyond priceless. When I put my Christmas dishes on each of my two kitchen hutches each holiday season, that is when the holidays begin. That is the start of the magic.
Thank you for taking the Christmas Tour of my home! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I loved sharing it with you!
You can find Jane’s Christmas Tour here!