It's finally beginning to look like Christmas at The Box House, with decorations ranging from classic to kitsch, but all of it beloved and infused with special meanings to our family. So let me get you a mug of Ted's famous hot buttered rum and I'll give you a quick tour.
Ted and I drove over to The Home Depot in heavy snow showers last week to pick up this year's tree. There's nothing like trying to determine the quality of a particular specimen when everything is covered under an inch of snow, but the snow lent a festive atmosphere. We even upgraded to the $24.95 tree, still way cheaper than the traditional Chicago Christmas tree lots. So what if they spray painted parts of it green, and who cares if they might have dabbed a little extra pine fragrance on it (I'm convinced they did, but can't confirm it)
After the branches relaxed, it ended up a bit unbalanced. Oh well, I still love it. For me, a real tree is necessary. I know that for many people a fake tree is easier to put up and take down and you won't end up with needles everywhere. But I like that people have been decorating their homes with live greenery for thousands of years, brightening the winter darkness with symbols of life and fertility.
The top of the tree is a mixture of old and new. The star is from my first Christmas with Ted; the elf climbing it is one of several from my childhood.
Mom added the Santa. He's a bit bedraggled, and the tree we got this year is a bit small for him, but he is older than I am and has been on every one of her trees. It wouldn't be a proper Christmas tree without him.
The wooden elf ornament next to Santa is one my mom painted when I was little. We still have the entire set that she picked up at a craft store. Turns out, Ted's mom had painted the same set when he was a kid!
Other favorite ornaments include my first stocking, a bootie knit by my grandma:
And this "new favorite," which my Mom found on etsy.com:
There is a smaller tree in the dining room, our "Candy Tree," decorated with gold foil chocolate coins, truffles and more. Angie the Angel sits at the top of the tree; mom's had her out every Christmas since she was a little girl.
Even the spirit house Ted and I picked up in Thailand a few years ago gets the holiday treatment.
Look inside, and you'll see a tiny Christmas tree and presents. My mom made these when I was eight or so for our doll house Christmas rooms.
Our fireplace is a big ol' fake one. We have arguments about whether we should just take it out, as it would expand our decorating possibilities, or leave it because it's an original house feature. The cast iron electric fireplace dates to the 1920s and produces light, but no heat. Seamus has decided its one of his favorite new perches, but he's getting heavy, and I'm afraid he may break the "realistic" plastic logs."
We took down the usual odds and ends that seem to find their way up on the mantle and put up my Fontanini navity and a small selection of Mom's nutcracker collection.
But the most over-the-top thing we have is the Leg Lamp, which sits proudly in our living room window:
If you haven't seen A Christmas Story with Peter Billingsley, you'll think we're crazy. But it's one of my favorite Christmas movies, and a leg lamp just like this one features prominently, as does a Red Ryder BB rifle. (We were ecstatic, by the way, when we found a Red Ryder BB rifle in the basement earlier this year.)
I think that's going to be it for the decorations this year, but I do have a pot of wassail simmering upstairs, and we'll greet the fruit trees in the backyard with it later tonight for the Winter Solstice. I'll post the recipe for that tomorrow--cider, wine, and brandy! What could be yummier?