J’adore Holiday Decor

I was glad to have a house to decorate this year for Christmas.  The only thing is that I forgot how much work is involved.  Not that I’m complaining! There is nothing that warms my heart more than a house adorned with greenery, poinsettias, candles and shiny things.  Top it off with a Frasier Fir or Holiday Bayberry candle, and I might just explode with joy!

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I took advantage of having family in town the weekend after Thanksgiving to get the tree put up.  We selected a mighty fine-looking (and smelling) Frasier Fir.  Thank goodness my dear sister Eugene has herculean strength and could lift the tree to an upright position as my dad secured it in the stand.

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The tree had a beautiful shape with impressive uniformity…

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…except for this one little branch here in the back that stuck out like a tail.  It cracked me up so I left it there.  Who wants a tree without a little bit of character?  If I had it my way (and by my way, I mean if I won the lottery and could justify spending 4 figures on live greenery), I would have one of those miniature, spindly, misshapen Charlie Brown trees in every room because I think they are hysterical and precious. Fortunately for anyone who comes to my house, my holiday decor fund has a limit.

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AFTER my dad and I had strung the lights on the tree, I realized that my transition from the LED lights purchased last year for my tree that was half the size of this one to the new incandescent lights that I purchased this year to bridge the gap was not so smooth.

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See the annoying blur of the white LED lights against the soft, warm glow of the smaller incandescent lights? I could not stand the sight of it so yours truly went out the next day to get some more of the 200 light strands of acceptable Christmas tree lights.  When I got to Walgreens, where they were running a 2 for 1 special, I noticed that this location had 300 light strands for the same price as the 200 light strands.  So instead of buying 2 more 200 lights strands, I bought 2 300 light strands, thinking I could get away with adding just 1 300 light strand to my existing 200 and then keep the “free” 300 light strand for another purpose.  Perhaps for an unsuspecting shrub.

I got home and took the wretched LEDs off the top 2/3 of the tree and began stringing the regular, lovely, perfect, warm lights from the top.  All was going swimmingly until I reached the point where I needed to connect the 300 light strand to the 200 light strand.  I would like to tell you that these are the EXACT SAME LIGHTS FROM THE EXACT SAME MANUFACTURER.  I held up the 3 prong connector of the 300 light strand ready to plug it into the receptacle of the 200 light strand only to discover that the 200 light strand’s receptacle had only 2 holes.  JOY TO THE WORLD!

After contemplating poking my eyes out with the 3 prong connector so I couldn’t see the darn lights on the tree anyway, I collected myself and began taking the 200 light strand off the BOTTOM 1/3 of the tree so that I could make unexpected use of that additional “free” 300 light strand.  I was concerned that my math wouldn’t work out and the lights would be too dense at the bottom of the tree, but the result was passable for my OCD self.

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I was pleased with the end result, even though my camera doesn’t pick up the delicate glow of the lights very well in low-lighting.

As if that wasn’t enough light-enduced drama for one year, I decided to put electric candles in the windows.  All 44 of them.  I thought I might get crafty and use the battery operated LED lights (did I learn nothing from the tree episode?) to save (cause) myself some trouble.  I put one in the window and didn’t really like the looks of it.  It was too white and kind of dull.  To see if I was imagining this, I put a plug-in incandescent candle next to it in the window and went out in the yard to compare the two from a distance.  NO COMPARISON.  I really wanted to like the LEDs for their energy savings and convenience; however, there might as well have been no candle in the window if I had opted for this route.  It was pitiful, really, next to the arc of warm light radiating from the incandescent.  More work for me, but I knew it would be worth it.  4 hours, 2 trips to the hardware store, and 16 extension cords later, it was totally worth it.  I promise.  It’s really a crime that I couldn’t get a good picture of it for you.  I haven’t mastered night photography yet.  Or day photography.

After all of that electrical excitement, I moved on to a few more basic decorating assignments: the front hall, the front door, the porch, the mantle, and the kitchen island.

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The nice man at the farmers’ market gave us a good deal on this Frasier Fur wreath.  I found some of that wide, mesh-like ribbon at Hobby Lobby and finished it off with a big ol’ bow.

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I also stumbled upon some large faux wreaths at 50% off so I got 2 of those for the large windows on the porch.  They got bows, too.  Please disregard the expired mums that I had yet to remove as of the date this photo was taken.  Please do note the snow on the roof!  Too bad this wasn’t Christmas Day.

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My dad had to trim a low-hanging branch off the tree to fit it into the tree stand, so I used that to fill out the mantle.  My gold pears from Pier 1 a few years back gave the mantle a nice, rhythmic touch.  First, I prepped the mantle with some saran wrap to keep the sap from creating a hot mess on the woodwork.

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The final step was the stockings, which took a little bit of time and imagination.  You see, I had found the most perfect faux fur tree skirt and pair of stockings at Homegoods.  The only problem is that there are 4 people in my family, not 2.  I called all of the surrounding TJ Maxx/Homegoods locations and non of them had more of these treasures.  I had to get creative and settle on an eclectic look with the addition of another type of fur stocking and a fabulous sequined one, which I made my dad’s.  He was confused and probably a little disturbed by this.  It made me laugh.

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On the topic of confused and disturbed, for my holiday arrangements in the kitchen and foyer, I spray-painted some branches gold.  But not just any branches.  Branches that came from 12 foot tree limbs that fell during an intense wind storm we had here in Nashville on Halloween. I drug these branches out of the yard and into my garage.  I’m sure my neighbors thought I was crazy.  You’d be amazed by what a little metallic gold spray paint and a small hand saw can do.

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When it comes to holiday decorations, I think simple and natural is best…

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…until I have to take it all down.

Covered in pine needles,

Sugarlump

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60th Anniversary Party

This year marks my Granny and Papa’s 80th birthdays and 60th wedding anniversary.  A celebration was most definitely in order.  We put together an “open house” type party at their church and served cake and punch.

The happy couple in front of the treats.

Aunt Vickie had the cake and cupcakes made.  They were beautiful and delicious.

As we were setting up for the party, we had a bit of an incident.  I was in the kitchen with Lauren and Aunt Vickie and I was looking for a lighter to light candles in the function hall.  I opened the drawer on the left to find a lighter for the candles.  As I opened the drawer, a mouse popped out and ran into the back of the cabinet.  Cousin Lauren, Aunt Vickie and I shrieked as I nearly jumped out of my skin and back about 5 feet.  I don’t remember how it happened in my state of shock, but the drawer was then somehow closed.   Aunt Vickie, Cousin Lauren and I agreed that we had not hallucinated, that the tissue paper in the drawer had been shredded by the little creature, and that we would pull it together and carry on with the festivities after this traumatic event.  That is all I would like to say about that.

All we could find to light the candles was a box of small matches.  I wasn’t about to open any more drawers in the kitchen.   I already said enough about that.

We nominated Uncle Brian to light the candles since he seemed to have more of a handle on how not to burn himself instead of the candle.

Caramelized mums.   Approximately 9 minutes after poor Uncle Brian lit all 24 candles, we had to blow them out so we didn’t burn the place down.  So much for the ambiance.

Aunt Vickie had a beautiful throw made with pictures of Granny and Papa when they were first “courting” and married.  I know they will treasure it.

Nobody wanted to sit at the tables until cake was served.  We had a full perimeter.

Before we served the cake, my dad thanked everyone for coming and decided to ask Granny and Papa a few questions about getting married.  My Mom had been asking them about it before everyone arrived and we all thought the stories were worth sharing because my grandparents actually eloped.

The Wedding/Elopement:

The story goes that Granny and Papa were out and about in Burkesville on a Saturday night as was typical.  Granny’s parents had even seen them around town and were pleased to see that they were having a good time (little did they know what was cooking…).  Granny and Papa knew of a minister in the county who would marry them so they took two of their friends as witnesses and had the minister marry them that evening.

My dad asked Granny to talk about what the minister said at the wedding and Granny said she can’t remember because she was just focused on saying “I do.”

My dad then asked how much the wedding cost, to which Papa replied that it was “very expensive.”  The minister didn’t officially charge anything to marry them but apparently would take $10.  Papa has decided that that $10 was “money well spent.”

Given that my Papa was such an obedient son and respectful person, it’s still hard for all of us to believe that they eloped.  When asked whose idea it was to elope, Papa pointed at Granny and everybody just laughed. 

The story gets even more interesting because they kept their marriage a secret for 6 weeks.  One day my Papa walked into Granny’s parent’s house to see Granny and Mammie, Granny’s mother, confronted him, saying she knew he would put off telling them as long as he could (evidently, Granny had spilled the beans but neglected to let Papa know that the secret was out).  Papa said he didn’t know if he should “faint or go blind.”

It was great to hear them tell those stories.  I hadn’t even heard some of the details before. 

And then it was time to eat and visit!

Quite a turnout as you can tell by the cake.  And Granny was worried no one would come.

I was in charge of cutting this cake.  Didn’t I do a beautiful job?

(Not.)

Granny and Papa and their boys, Uncle Brian and my dad.

Granny and Papa and the full squad: sons, daughters-in-law, and grandbabies (3 out of 4).

Only 3 of the 4 grandchildren have been at each their 40th, 50th and 60th anniversaries.  At the 40th, Kristen wasn’t born yet, at the 50th, I had just started high school and couldn’t miss that much school to travel from Boston to Kentucky.  And during the 60th, my sister, Eugene, was missing because she is currently studying abroad. Let the record show that cousin Lauren has perfect attendance.

Apparently, we were in need of some bossing.  It was her party after all.

She realized I had caught her in the act.

This is so adorable, I can’t stand it.

This is equally adorable.  Clearly, if there’s one thing my family knows how to do, it’s how to laugh.

The party was full of reunion of old friends and extended family, storytelling, and laughter.   Granny and Papa seemed to have a great time and really enjoyed seeing everybody who came. 

Congratulations on 80 years of life and 60 years of life together, Granny and Papa!  We all love you very much.

Y’all give each other some sugar,

Sugarlump