Monday, November 30, 2020

Christmas By The Book Part 1


From our home to yours.

One of the things that I find myself needing to do every year is to bring out the books and magazines for ideas and inspiration for Christmas decorating.  I had the outside of the house all planned out since late summer when it dawned on me that maybe we should try to bring light to a dark time.  We had a few warm days in early November when my husband was able to at least put the lights up and then as it started cooling down we brought the rest out.

Try as I might I just couldn't get a good photo - but don't you just love the moon over the house?

I'm hoping with every car that passes by it will give them a bit of cheer.  I know it always makes me happy when we go out and look at lights knowing that someone has put in a little effort for us to enjoy.

We had such a windy day yesterday that we went out several times picking things up that were toppled over.  Here is how we found Santa in our back yard:

Notice the little bear - he's looking away - I think there's a bit of embarrassment on his part.

Christmas decorations on the inside of the house have always gone up Thanksgiving weekend, so this year I slowly pulled things out.  I knew I wanted the outside all decorated up, but there was a part of me that hesitated about the inside.  Like a lot of people this year I, too, am having a difficult time of it.  Several people in my extended family are really experiencing a lot (and that is an understatement).  And while putting up the decorations I had to sit and pause and think.  Usually I tear through everything and get it all set up - not this year.  I needed times of pausing and the shedding of a few tears.  Get back up and do a bit more and go and sit again.  In the past I would have just called it good and not go much further with it, but there were a couple of deciding factors that led me to keep on decorating.  

The first, and most important, is this:

The birth of Jesus.

I know.  We don't have to decorate and put up a tree and bring out the Christmas "treasures" in order to celebrate the birth of Christ, but I want to. I need to.  In this very hard and difficult year, it's been a time of getting closer to God for me.  I feel I have so much to be grateful for even in this time we all find ourselves in.  

The second reason came from a book that I pull out every year:

It was in this book that my eyes were opened to how men feel at Christmas.  Men don't feel the importance of "doing it all" at Christmas like women do.  We take on the responsibility of planning, shopping, decorating, cooking, baking.........and then all the men see is this blur go by (you) and just wish that you would settle down.  In this book it taught me to ask what my husband thought was important, what he liked, etc.  I did this when our son was growing up too.  For the guys, it's surprising how little they want.  In our family the list looked like this:

*Watch Christmas movies together
*Decorate the house
*Drive around and look at lights
*Have Christmas music playing
*Just a couple of favorite foods/baked goods
*Play games together

That's it!  It really helped me to see that my expectations for Christmas far exceeded what they wanted and it helped me to be able to simplify.  But because my husband is retired and at home, I really think it's important to make our home pretty and comfortable so that he can relax and enjoy it.  And because our son and his wife celebrate with us, it's important that our son comes into our home and it has the feeling of home that he grew up with.  All the old favorites.

So, even though I may not have felt much like decorating this year, I did it.  For them.  And, to be completely honest, once I began it made me feel much better too.  

One thing that I've noticed this year is that I have been listening to Christmas music since September BUT have not been able to listen to the music with the words, only the melody.  I don't know why, but I'm just more soothed by the instrumental version of all my favorite songs.  They seem more beautiful somehow.  

Another thing that I've found very helpful in getting through this year and putting things into perspective for Christmas is re-reading the "Little House" books.  I just find that I learn SO much from them!  Talk about people who experienced tough times!  Yet they got through - they had fortitude - they just knew how to get by (with very little), yet were quite happy and enjoyed life.

The first book:

These are especially good if you have children and/or grandchildren around, but it's still applicable for everyone.  Here is what I wrote down in my notebook while reading:

Christmas ideas from the Ingalls:

*Make gifts - I know this is daunting and in our modern world why would we when we can buy everything?  I think that for some people in our lives (okay, maybe not the guys) a little homemade something would be very nice.  It takes some thought and effort, but maybe that's part of the gift as well.
*Cook/bake family favorites - at Christmas, we all have our favorite meals, our favorite candy, our favorite cookies.  Bless your loved ones with these.  The thing that keeps it special is when you save it just for this time of year.  
*Provide hospitality - again, I know this year is the year of no, or very little, hospitality but it won't be forever.  Hospitality is an important part of the holidays - this year it's just being done a bit differently.  It's all about the thinking of others and what we can do for them.
*Keep the presents simple - we have created Christmas to be all about the gifts and, yes, it's a fun part of it, but there is no reason that we can't begin to scale back.  For Laura and Mary, a bit of candy, a new doll, and new mittens was a real treat!
*Plan a simple, but special breakfast.  It was special because it was different - it wasn't the same thing that they had to eat every morning.  
*Plan a simple, but special dinner.  You don't have to go all out with every kind of appetizer known to man and a whole variety of beverages to go with.  You don't have to exhaust yourself in trying to please every appetite - just think simple, but special.  It should be a treat.  Something to look forward to.

Winter wonders from the Ingalls: (to stay active during the winter months)

*Indoor chores - seriously, not everything has to be fun!!!!  But chores NEED to be done and the rule was always "work first, play later" - good advice!
*Fun activities - hobbies, play games, get creative 

Do you see the simplicity in all of these things?  They are all so do-able yet so nice and homey and special.  During the difficult times we can create good memories.  I wonder how many times Ma woke up and knew that life was going to be especially hard that day and all they had to eat were a few potatoes and some tea and milk that the cow gave?  Yet she did it.  According to Laura, they were happy and content.  To me, that's amazing.

I encourage you, dear ladies, in this.  

My favorite vintage angels.

And a few Santas.

A favorite ornament.

A few of my favorite things.

May God bless you in your efforts.  May He bring you close to Him as you bless your friends and family in one of the most difficult times we've experienced in a long time.  

Thank you for dropping by - I appreciate it so much.


  1. Dear Mary,
    Your decorations, both inside and out are BEAUTIFUL and so uplifting! I imagine anyone who drives past your home in the evening cannot help but smile. Perhaps you will even lighten the load a wee bit for someone you may have never even met.
    I so love the way you “took your time,” with it all. I find that when I bring out the Christmas ornaments, I see the ornaments from years passed, some I made with my mother as a child, tears come to my eyes because of the memories.
    The Little House books were my joy growing up, and since you love them so much too, I know they will be an encouragement to you all over again.
    Sending hugs and thank you ever so much for the lovely photos.

    1. Thank you, Christine. You are VERY kind. : )
      God bless you. Mary

  2. Your home looks wonderful! I love all those lights! Very cheering. My boys haven't put ours up yet. On Friday they said they needed to rest and would do it Sat. On Sat. they did the yard work and said Sunday. On Sunday my DHs work computer broke and they dealt with getting a new one all day. So maybe this Saturday it will happen! I put up lights in our living room and hope to put up the tree tonight. Your interior decor looks beautiful!

    This is also the first time in my life I did not decorate on the day after Thanksgiving. I was all tired out from deep cleaning my house and hosting. (I was shocked at the dirt under the rug and all the dust bunnies under furniture I moved!) I'm doing a little decorating each day instead.

    I went to my favorite boutique this morning - opening day - and the line was hundreds of people just to enter, and opening day is at 9 and not 10. I always get there before opening time and I'm usually #40 in line (yes I always count!). Today, I took one look and thought, "Do I really need anything that badly? The candy, the knickknacks, a "surprise" gift I might find for someone?" and I said "No" and left. My mom and I are going out Friday to another boutique - good enough!

    I haven't read "Unplugged" though I remember you mentioning how good it is. From your description I can see why! Our list is the same, though we've crossed out looking at lights and games as our son is no longer interested. I bought a Snoopy puzzle online to put out - but it's on back order! I only bought the 100 piece, and not the 1000 piece, because I don't have room for a puzzle table. And like you, as I decorate my spirit is uplifted.

    On Thanksgiving we watched Peanuts Mayflower and The Best Xmas Pageant Ever, and when they took gma home, I watched the 1933 Little Women, which I think is the best. Fri I watched the 1948 which is second best. Sat I watched the one with Winona, and it is good, but not as good as the older ones. It's very interesting comparing them all. It esp struck me how feminine they were, and how masculine the men!

    Yes, when I think back on how hard times used to be, I wonder if I would have survived. I never got into the LH bks (though I've been collecting them to read and did read the one pictured) but I enjoyed the show. I bought Lydia Sherman's book for my mom for Christmas, because she likes LH so much, and Lydia's stories reminded me of Little House, but in Alaska. Lovely photos of your decor!

    1. Hi Janine! Thank you for your kind comments once again. : ) It sounds like you are enjoying the season so far. I always love hearing about how others are doing and what they are doing at this time. Nice to hear from you again. : )

      Take care, stay safe, and God bless you and yours!!!!

  3. I love the picture of the lights and the moon over the house. Thank you so much for this post as well as the other one above. I needed some new ideas.

    1. Thanks so much, Christina! I've been having fun re-reading books and seeing what I can use for us here too. I appreciate you commenting! : ) Have a good rest of the week.