Cozy Homemade Christmas

There is a certain kitschyness that is completely and unabashedly acceptable at Christmas.

I’m a proud Cozy Minimalist. I decorate three main areas- Front door, tree, mantle – and I keep the rest purposely clutter free. This has helped me not feel the need to pack it all away the moment Christmas is over. I love decorating, but I love my sanity more.

All that to say, I’m not advocating clutter …

However…

There’s also room for fun small vignettes. We need to bring out the cheap plastic cookie cutters that remind us of Grandma. The wonky angel that grandpa had to repeatedly glue back together.

Because this ties us to Christmas past. Our Christmas memories may be some of the most visceral memories we have

I’m not advocating for getting stuck in sticky sweet sentimentality for the duration of December.

But a little nostalgia, like a bit of salt, helps balance our holiday experience.

It keeps us from taking our plans, our decorations c, our ideals, our aesthetic, our gift giving, or our experience too seriously.

You know your nana would roll her eyes at your monochrome color scheme tree.

You know your grandfather worked hard to carve that clunky snowman. Pull it out. Treasure it, give it a spot of honor.

Let the warm memories fill you to your toes. And don’t forget to relive those memories with your parents and siblings and aunts and uncles… and tell them to your children. Merry Christmastide.

Posing Puppy and Pet Portraits

Would you like a special photo of your Furry Friend this season?

There are plenty of wonderful pet photographers, but perhaps you would prefer to DIY this year?

Here are my tips:

1) Keep a Sense of Humor. If Fido isn’t in the right mood, it isn’t going to happen. And that’s ok. We want our pets to be happy and comfortable, not miserable while we try to get the shot we dream of.

2) The Perfect Photo is a Myth, it doesn’t exist. Especially when you are working with animals. it isn’t going to be perfect. Let that standard go. Instead , think of the goal as “ let’s get ten cute shots of Snoopy this month, in order to capture this time.” This is a far better kindest to go into your photo project thank wanting to get the perfect shot for your card.

3) Offer praise, treats and rewards. Your dog has zero concept of Christmas, and even less of an idea of Christmas cards. They don’t know that you want to send this image out to 100 people. But they love you and care about you. They’re doing their best, even though they don’t get the motivation. That’s worth the a treat. Or four.

If you relax your expectations, and realize that they are not trying to be difficult- it helps immensely.

4) Pay attention to their body language. Don’t push them to sit and cooperate for longer than they are comfortable. Snap a handful of photos and then take them on a walk or let them go play.

If you keep it light and fun, they won’t associate your camera with a miserable time for them. Best of luck to you and your furry friend!

It’s the Small things

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

What do you remember about your childhood Christmas?

A red felt stocking?

Blinking lights on a tree?

Playing in the snow?

A certain smell- hot cocoa or your grandmother’s cinnamon rolls?

A warm plush coat ? Maybe it was neon pink or baby blue.

Hand knitted hats and scarves that were so- not- in -style but made you feel like you were loved?

Freshly falling snow, the kind that are huge flakes and make the whole world appear magical?

Maybe your home wasn’t your safe place, but when you walked into a friend or relatives home you instantly felt a sense of belonging , of community.

This is what all those songs are trying to capture. Nostalgia, love, belonging. Being loved, and being surrounded by people you love.

When we say it’s not about the gifts, this is what we’re trying to capture. Those feelings and memories that are stirred up in our hearts. That make us all long for home – wherever and whenever that was for us- this time of year.

Christmas is a state of mind.

You don’t remember every gift you have received.

Your children won’t either. They’ll remember how they felt. Did they feel loved, seen, safe, cared for, accepted?

Did we – the parents- go out of our way to do something they would enjoy? This is what we will be judged on, remembered by.

They won’t care that we put in long hours to buy them that thing they think they have to have.

They’ll remember us. Hazily, and as interpreted through their own childish eyes, which is exactly how we remember the adults of our own childhood.

It’s the togetherness. The time spent sitting next to each other , reading , or starting at the lit tree in a dark room. It’s watching snow fall, and impromptu dance parties. It’s snow days and warm chocolate cookies.

It’s not Barbie or Lego. And it has nothing to do with the supply chain. (Aren’t we glad?)

It’s the Simple things. The small things.

Light of Christmas

“May the beautiful lights of every Christmas season remind us of Him who is the source of all light.” -David A. Bednar

Silver Bells… ( or stars and ornaments)

I adore the lyrics to Silver Bells. The melody is beautiful, and through the years there have been a number of truly gorgeous covers of this song. Bebo Norman, Michael Buble, Bing Crosby… whomever you prefer to hear sing it, you can’t escape the fact that it’s a very nostalgic song.

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style
In the air, there’s a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you’ll hearSilver bells (silver bells), silver bells (silver bells)
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling (ring-a-ling), hear them ring (hear them ring)
Soon it will be Christmas dayStrings of streetlights, even stop lights blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush home with their treasures
Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch, this is Santa’s big scene
And above all this bustle, you’ll hearSilver bells (silver bells), silver bells (silver bells)
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling (ring-a-ling), hear them ring (hear them ring)
Soon it will be Christmas day
Soon it will be Christmas Day”

And while I think it’s such a fun song, it has absolutely nothing to do with the meaning of the season. Which means it’s categorically secular. And yet, I never consider that aspect when I’m listing to it. It seems uplifting. And it is.

It is essentially an ode to a simpler time in America. It frankly sounds like a small town rather than that of a city.

“ Children laughing, people passing” may have been true to the city experience fifty years agonor more, but it bares little resemblance to the cities we are familiar with today.

If it isn’t about God coming down, and it has little resemblance to something we have ourselves experienced, where is the magnetic draw of the song? Why do we like it? what is it that we love about the song?

Is it the ideal? We would love to go Christmas shopping and meet with smiling strangers and hear children laugh and Bells ring?

I’m not sure that’s it either.

And yet, the song endures.

Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland
Gone away, is the bluebird
Here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song
As we go along walking in a winter wonderland

Tis the Season To Be Jolly

From Wikipedia, the veritable Fruitcake of the internet: ( mostly good, a few nuts)

“Deck the Halls” (originally titled “Deck the Hall“) is a traditional Christmas carol. The melody is Welsh, dating back to the sixteenth century,[1]and belongs to a winter carol, “Nos Galan“, while the English lyrics, written by the Scottish musician Thomas Oliphant, date to 1862.”

I frankly love this Christmas Carol, although I find that many people have difficulty with the imagery associated with this song.

Deck the hall with boughs of holly,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
‘Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Fill the meadcup, drain the barrel,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Troul the ancient Christmas carol,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

See the flowing bowl before us,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Follow me in merry measure,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
While I sing of beauty’s treasure,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

Holly was a traditional decoration at a time when you could really only use what was available to you right outside your front door. Christmas decorations – holly, ivy, evergreen boughs, were put up at a maximum of three days before Christmas.

“Fill the mead up, drain the barrel” is fairly self evident if you are familiar with medieval literature such as Sir Howard Pyle was fond of writing. This is talking about an excess of drinking. “Making merry at Christmas.” was understood as taking the liberty of over-indulging in wine and spirits at Christmastime.

“Troul the ancient Christmas carol” is what we think we are accomplishing when we remember the lyrics to this song. We are singing the really old, ancient Christmas songs. Our modern minds now categorize old by what technology a time period had. Our ancestors had a longer view. Their ancient Christmas songs would have gone back to the 1400s or so. Troul meant to quote or repeat.

And then, yes the next stanza is an ode to drinking. We seem to think this is a Decorating song, when if we were to re- write it in the type of familiar language we use today, we would quickly understand this is not in fact about decking halls. In fact, far from decking his halls, the author is happy to see the decorations go up, merely as an indication that it is about time to start the revelry.

In fact, if someone in 2021 were to write it , they might say “Hey! They’re putting up the treeeeeeee, it’s time to start drinking for meeeeeee. “

Hardly an apt way to celebrate the birth of the Savior of all mankind.

I must admit; knowing this does not lesson my enthusiasm for the song one iota and I plan to sing it quite loudly when hanging my Christmas wreath this year.

Because , the first line of the song is the one we all know and love anyway.

Fa la la la la . La la , la la.

Christmas Decorations Sound Off

On trend this year :

*Gnomes,

*Earthy/ Natural Colors,

*Monochrome,

*Pastels,

* Mixed Metals (with silver taking the lead this time around.)

Will you be adding any of these to your already existing decor?

If you do not care to read a slightly indulgent list of what I’m thinking of Christmas Decor wise, feel free to quit reading here.

Ok, on the Decorations front, I am looking for “more style, less stuff.” ( -Myquillyn Smith)

I don’t think there is anything that I intend to purchase as far as ornaments go, other than the yearly ornaments I purchase for my children.

The past few years I have given away and donated Christmas items that I no longer use. Even though I love gingerbread houses and nut crackers – they were making my house feel cluttered and uncomfortable.

Currently, I decorate three main places for Christmas: front door, our Christmas tree, and the mantle.

Overall, I’m happy with my tree.

I would like to add something next to the front door on the porch ( maybe white antique ice skates and a coal bucket?) .

I do want to purchase some nice faux garland for my mantle. I emphasize nice because I want to be able to use it for years to come. The decision is currently between evergreen and silver dollar eucalyptus.

(Feel free to weigh in on this riveting topic. I jest. Sort of. )

I’ve had a white light and mixed metal ornament tree for a few years now.

The biggest difference is that I bought a Nice faux tree in 2019 instead of the cheap ones I had previously purchased.

This one looks like a Fir, and it’s so pretty it almost doesn’t even need ornaments .

However, I will be piling them on, as I enjoy decorating the tree with my children each year.

Yes, my teen boys still help, but mostly because I make sure we always have good snacks on decorating night. 😉

As far as the Earthy , neutral colors trend, I intend to incorporate that into my gift wrapping.

I’m not a giant fan of the gnomes, but my friend makes them and they are cute, and as such I intend to purchase a few to give as gifts.

I adore the Pastel trend, but as my living room is already a rather shocking pink, I think I will go for a contrast rather than pastels.

Alright, your turn:

What trends do you love? Hate? Do you have go-to Christmas decor themes or do you change it up every year? Comment below!