Saturday, December 27, 2008

Faith & Family Live! Christmas Home Tour

Lisa Hendey over at Faith & Family Live! had a wonderful idea-- to share our Christmas decorations.  David and I waited until the fourth weekend of Advent to put up our tree, and I'd only put up the rest of the decorations the week before, so I'm happily enjoying the Christmas cheer now and at least through Epiphany.  

I'd always been in the early-decorating camp, but I must concede that postponing the Christmas decor really did help our Advent observance.  For much of December, we only had two decorations in our house:  the Advent calendar and the Advent wreath.  

The Advent calendar today, with all the days opened!  Strangely enough, we didn't even eat most of the candy I'd placed behind each door.  Almond Hershey's kiss, anyone?

Our Advent wreath on the fourth Sunday of Advent, lit as we decorated our tree.

On the last Saturday before Christmas, we set out at long last to procure the perfect tree.  Sadly, this turned out to be much more challenging than we had anticipated.

We'd heard that Saint Mary's school in Old Town, Alexandria, was selling trees, so we figured we'd help support the school by buying our tree there.  We called over to the parish around 4:00 to confirm that the tree sale was still going on, and they told us that they'd be at the school until at least 6:30.  We piled into my little SUV and headed over, but there were no trees to be found.  Anywhere.  It was as if there had perhaps been a Christmas tree mirage or something, because if there were ever any trees there, they'd completely vanished by the time we arrived.  There wasn't even a scrawny Charlie Brown-type tree or a smattering of pine needles in the parking lot.  

No matter, we thought.  We tried next at an Episcopal church near the seminary here in town, but once again-- no luck.  

We were a little disappointed by this time, but we figured we'd just rely on our old tree standby:  Home Depot.  Not as much fun as a real Christmas tree lot (and certainly not as much fun as cutting one down ourselves at the farm), but we were ready at this point to just get a tree into the car and get it home.

It was here that I began to believe that perhaps no good deed goes unpunished, and that we had postponed decorating for so long that we were going to end up tree-less.  Home Depot had no Christmas trees.  The entire garden center was chained shut, with the lights out and not a single spruce to be found.  Even though I feel a little silly saying this, I'd be lying if I didn't admit I almost cried at the thought of having no Christmas tree.  David and I love decorating the tree together, pulling out each ornament and remembering where we got it or who gave it to us.  We both have ornaments that our parents bought for us every year, dating back to the 1970s.  We've bought ornaments together on our vacations-- our honeymoon in Hawaii, a Caribbean cruise.  I have ornaments hand-sewn by my grandmother, who died this year, and our family friend Loretta has given David (and now gives us) a beautiful hand-painted porcelain ornament every year.  We love the smell of a real tree, we love sitting in the glow of the twinkle lights-- it just doesn't feel like Christmas without a tree.

Just as we were about to head over to another town to continue our search, I remembered the cute garden center near Old Town.  I suggested that we try there, not sure what we'd find.

Thankfully, what we found was a complete winter wonderland.  Trees everywhere, wreaths, garlands, Christmas music piped over the speakers, and even a roaring fire in a freestanding iron fireplace.  It was beautiful.  And apparently it was meant to be, because almost immediately, we spotted The Best Tree Ever(tm).  It was tall, perfectly shaped, and smelled great.

David may be smiling, but inside he's wondering whether The Best Tree Ever(tm) will fit into our tiny townhouse.

We loaded up the tree and headed home, thrilled at how things had (finally) turned out.  Turns out The Best Tree Ever(tm) was indeed a little, um, large.

But at least Sadie enjoyed helping us with the decorating.

We got the tree strung with white lights-- for the first time-- that night.  But then, as we sat enjoying the soft glow of the lights, the glow . . . stopped.  Completely and all at once.  All of the lights went out, top to bottom.  The tree, our biggest one ever, had required twelve strands of twinkle lights, which we mistakenly strung end to end.  We just hadn't thought about it, and we blew a fuse in the first strand.


We re-strung the lights the next day (and by "we," I mean David), and finally got to decorate.  Thankfully, after all that trouble, the tree turned out to be beautiful.

All decorated.

And without a flash to show off the glowy lights.

Our house is small, so we can't go too crazy with our decorating, but we do try to make things look festive.  This year, I went a little nuts with the glass ball ornaments.  I piled them into a wire basket on our dining room table, along with red and gold velvet placemats and red and gold glittery candles.  

My little brother's Boy Scout troop was selling evergreen centerpieces this year, and so he sent me one.  Right now, we have it on top of the bar, along with David's new snowman cocktail shaker (a gift from his parents and the most recent addition to his extensive shaker collection) and a tiered stand of homemade candy (peanut brittle and peppermint bark-- both recipes via Faith & Family Live!).  

We have three creches.  This one was a gift from my dad and Beth.

I bought this one for us just a few weeks ago at a local gift shop.  I just loved the beautiful shape to our Blessed Mother.  

Only two stockings hung by the chimney with care-- sigh.  Still praying that we'll add another one sometime soon!  We finished our 27-day Christmas novena and have lots of friends storming Heaven's gates for us!

Did I mention that I was a tad obsessed with glass ball ornaments?  Red, green, and gold in crystal bowls on the coffee table.

We topped the television armoire with red candles and berries.  The glass dish (made by a local artist) is always there, but coordinates nicely with the other red items for Christmastime!

Candy-cane striped candles and Santa Claus on the bookshelves by the fireplace.

The front entryway, with red candles, an angel, and the third creche.  

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!


handmaiden of the Lord said...

Your home is decorated just lovely! Your tree is beautiful~thanks for sharing!

Maria said...

Your home looks lovely!

You commented on my blog a few weeks ago when I wrote on embroyo adoption; I've been praying for you since. Anyway, I was so surprised to see you were from Alexandria! I used to live in Old Town, but moved about five minutes away into Arlington. We are parishioners at Blessed Sacrament. Small world, huh?

P.S. We went out looking for our tree and went to several places that were sold out until we finally found Home Depot! Too funny!