A Holiday House Tour
Leave the Humbugs At the Door, Please
"The Holidays" (inclusive of all religious and secular celebrations) is a subjective block of time that each of us defines in his/her own way. For some people, the term refers to Christmas week. Others see it as just the days they don’t have to go to work. For many, myself included, The Holidays begin at Thanksgiving and continue on to New Year’s Day. As far as I’m concerned, there can’t be too much Holiday Spirit. It seems that people are a bit kinder, more thoughtful, more human when imbued with the Holiday Spirit (and I don’t mean the kind in which you imbibe). That’s the main reason I choose to celebrate the Holiday season with all its inherent "comfort and joy" as long as I possibly can, first by by setting the scene in my own home.
Music Boxes Galore
For us, Holiday decorating begins on Thanksgiving Day, when I hang wreaths from the windows and place electric and battery-operated candles on the sills. Usually on Thanksgiving weekend, my husband arranges the blinking reindeer on the lawn and hangs the colored lights around the porch. From that point on, various Vast Holiday Collections appear almost daily from wherever nook or cranny they’ve been stored throughout the house.
These collections include a number of music boxes, arranged atop a red or green cloth (what else?!) in the living room bay window.. Sparkly snowflakes complemented by a string of (artificial) holly hang from the top window frame. There's also a collection of Santas of every size, shape, and description, from Shopper Santa loaded with bags from the local despartment store to Teacher Santa, who brings back (mostly) fond memories of my teaching career. At last count, there were 36 Santas, including a few Mrs. Clauses. It’s become a challenge as to how to display them in our small Cape Cod-style house and still have room for a sofa and a few chairs let alone people and pups. Currently, the Santas are displayed atop the piano, inside a lighted curio cabinet in the living room, and strategically placed (i.e., wherever there are a few unoccupied inches) throughout the house.
Just a Few of the Santas
Then there’s the Christmas Carol collection, which complement my eighth grade English classes’ December reading of the Dickens classic. A nigthshirt-clad, candle-holding Ebenezer Scrooge was, appropriately, the first member of this collection. He eventually was joined by the ghost of Jacob Marley, entagled in the chains of greed he forged while alive; the strikiing ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future (that one’s downright unsettling); Tiny Tim and his dad, et. al. As each character appeared in the novel, I would pull him or her from beneath my desk and ceremoniously place him (most of them were “him’s”) on the long lab table at the front of the room. (Yup. I taught English in a room that in it’s first life was used to teach science.) Anyway, the students loved this “character introduction” method and eagerly awaited the appearance of each character. (One student even made me a gift of her own collection of mini-Christmas Carol characters, which now has found a Holiday Home in our den.) This Cast of Characters, along with an 8 x 10 “ copy of the book from which they stepped, is proudly displayed atop a china closet in our dining room.
A Christmas Carol: The Cast
As we leave the dining room with its trio of small, lighted trees and move down a few steps into the den, the first thing you see is the collection of nutcrackers adorning the mantel, several of which were given to us by our daughter and my sister after their visits to Germany. (When she was a high school student, our daughter actually stayed for a short time with a German family who lived in Rotenburg, the village from which many “authentic” Christmas ornaments originate.) Like the Santas, our nutcrackers come in every shape, size, and occupation, from a tall, Salvation army fellow complete with kettle to a Desutsche street vendor with beverages and pretzels to a short, older gent walking his pet dachshund.
A Number of Nutcrackers
There are, of course, a couple more decorated artificial Christmas trees in the den. (The Real Tannenbaum, adorned with ornaments collected through the ages, holds court in the living room.) The den is also the place where we display the cards we’ve received from friends and relatives. This year, I’ve hung them with double-sided tape from the edges of each shelf of the bookcase built into one wall.
Now we'll head back to the living room for a glimpse of what probably was our first collection: the Dickens Village. (Yes, we do have a soft spot for anything Dickens.) My husband's in charge of the monumental task of setting up the village, complete with trees and other scenic pieces, people, animals, and, of course, the assortment of lighted buildings. The village has grown so much over time that we have to be selective about which parts we display each year. (This year, there was no room for either the automated skating pond or the ski slope.) Fortunately, we were able to find a coffee table with two shelves which serves as backdrop for the village.
Top Level Of The Village
Our tour included just the Holiday Collections, whose value can only be measured in memories. There are many other touches of Holiday Spirit throughout the house, too. Let's just say that "Decking the Halls" is an understatement here. If you were planning on having a Ho Hum Holiday, this isn't the place for you.