The MS Women Bloggers’ site is hosting a “Christmas Tour of Homes” today so I thought I’d invite you in and share with you how we celebrate in our home…or at least how we decorate! So, grab a cup of coffee (if you were here, I’d brew you a good one!) and let me show you around.
To be honest, this year I was tempted to do as little as possible for Christmas decorations. In fact, I had decided not to put a tree in our family room because I really didn’t want the added holiday stress of keeping TWO pairs of toddler hands off of it. My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I told him, and my mind was changed for me.
Really, I’m glad because I love our simple Christmas decorations. We haven’t hung the garland and lights outside the front door yet, and we might just skip that this year because when my husband brought down the boxes, he didn’t bring that one.
Inside, we have our usual two trees, one in the den and the other in our formal living room. The one in the living room has more of my special (read “breakable”) ornaments on it, and this one in the den has an eclectic mix of just about everything.
What I love most about our trees are the ornaments. I’ve been collecting ornaments all my life, though my mom has most of the ones I’ve had the longest. On our trees, this is probably the oldest:
On the back is written “Christmas at the Zoo – 1992.” I remember that night like it was yesterday, and I always think of my best friend when I see this little elephant on my tree.
That’s what our ornaments are about: memories. Wherever we travel, we try to find an ornament for our tree. For instance:
Paris. Or, rather, the airport in Paris. That’s a memory…and story enough for a post of its own.
Amsterdam. The top one is from our honeymoon trip to Kenya, and the little shoes are from my first trip home from Africa. Or is it the other way around? Well, they’re both definitely Dutch.
We even have them from places much closer to home and every bit as memorable.
Some of our ornaments remind me of places; others remind me of people. Like:
This ornament I bought for our first baby’s first Christmas.
And the one my husband gave me when our second was born.
And, of course, this one that a friend found for us when we had the girls.
My husband always gives me a special ornament, and this was one of the first. The saleslady (and the little card attached to the ornament) told him that it was a tradition to give a bride a carrot for her tree so he did….our first Christmas together.
He also usually surprises me with something else I collect: nativity scenes. Y’all, I love nativity scenes. In addition to our trees, our nativity scenes are the center of our decorations each year. The kids watch as I carefully unwrap each one. They ask, “Where did this one come from?” “Where did you get that one?” Even though they already know most of the answers, I tell them the stories again. Just like with our ornaments, each nativity is full of memories and meaning.
This beautiful piece is sculpted out of clay and came from Italy as a wedding present from my Grandma.
A Chinese family we knew in Jackson gave this to us when we were first married. They had no idea that I collect nativity scenes or that snow globes have a special place in my heart, too. (That’s a long, funny and slightly embarrassing story I’ll have to share one day.) I love the way the light twinkles through the globe!
This snow globe nativity belonged to my grandmother and plays “O Holy Night.” I have always loved it, and now, every year, it reminds me of her.
No story here. I bought it for myself. Unlike these:
This one has beautiful designs on the inside and out. My husband brought it to me from Chile, with this:
This was a gift from a pastor he got to know well there. The pastor knew he was looking for a nativity scene for me and brought this to him….from his very own house. I keep this on the mantle year round.
This Willow Tree set was also a gift from my husband one year. My children especially love it.
And, this set of Matryoshka dolls was his gift to me last year. He has traveled to the Ukraine several times and wanted to give me a set like this, but he hasn’t gone back since we were married. He tried very hard to find these for me, and I was so surprised when he gave them to me.
And, of course, there are nativity scenes from Africa, but you knew that, right?
This one is made from banana bark and came home with me from Uganda many years ago.
This is one of the most detailed carved scenes I’ve ever seen in Kenya.
This set is large and features ebony faces. It sits on our dining room table.
This is one of my favorite, simple things: A small piece of ebony with the Holy Family carved out of it.
This is one of the most unique sets I found in Kenya. The pieces are so smooth and modern.
As you can see, you can find nativity scenes in almost every nook and cranny of our home this time of year.
These wise men are on our living room mantle every year.
The kids have small nativity scenes, too.
Like this one that my grandma gave my daughter for her first Christmas.
This is a vintage set that was my Grandmother’s.
She brought these wise men home from North Africa a very long time ago. The men, as well as the little camels, are made of leather.
Obviously, at this time of year, we can’t look around our home without remembering the places we’ve been and the faces that are dear to us, but most importantly, we can’t possibly forget what we’re celebrating. These nativity scenes remind us that Jesus was – and is – Emmanuel, “God with us.”