Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Merry Christmas! Won't You Join Me For A Cup Of Coffee & Stay A While? The Decorations Are Sparce But The Joy Is Plentiful!


[Step through our front door and come in for a bit, won't you? The French enamel sign says "Tout Va Bien" which means "All Is Well" -- never a more perfect message as you enter...]

Its FINALLY begun to 'look a lot like Christmas' around my own home. For weeks I've enjoyed the sights and decor of your homes via your blogs and each one has been a true feast for the eyes!
[Above and below are photos of the table in our living room next to the tree...the vintage ornaments in the silver tray are very dear to me...I remember putting them on our tree as a child each year and even then they were so fragile and to be handled very carefully. They originally belonged to my father's parents and somehow then we began using them on our tree when I was growing up (that's my dad in the photo under the glass on the table in the picture below). Now they are here at my house and I place them all together in a tray or bowl each year since there are so few of them left now. This is the one time when color, style or flashy flair don't mean a thing -- the main thing these ornaments bring is memories, love and a very warm feeling whenever they are brought out each year. ]

I've enjoyed your pretty snowy "villages" set up on window sills, glittery baubles and garlands hung from every nook and cranny, treasured mementos from years (sometimes generations) past lovingly displayed...It has been just delightful being able to "peek" into your homes and feel as though I'd actually stepped through your front door out of the wintry cold and come for an afternoon visit. Thank you so much for the time you've taken to not only do all the beautiful decorating, but to also capture it all in pictures and put it out there for us to enjoy!
[Below is the first thing you'd see walking into our front door, on the hallway cabinet...most of what's there is there all year, I just quickly grabbed a pillar from another room and added wired mini-garland and a brooch that belonged to my husband's grandmother. I nestled it among some pine garland and arranged a bird's nest with things that were already right there on the cabinet all year long. Done!]

I wish I could have each and every one of you into my home for an afternoon -- complete with hot coffee, tea, cider, cocoa, chocolate (lots of it!), Christmas cookies and candies of course -- and just visit with you.
[Above is a favorite Christmas kitchen towel with the entire song "The First Noel" printed on it. The two little faux Christmas petite fours are some that I've had for probably almost 20 years! I simply placed this on our kitchen table this year with all the things that are always there anyway, and that was that! ]
I'd treasure hearing your stories, hearing the room filled with laughter and then even (as we women can be prone to do) share a tear or two. We each have a unique position in life and no matter how each of us goes about our lives on a daily basis, I truly believe if we could bring all of it together in a room at once, we'd be utterly amazed at what we truly possess as women and how truly influencial we are in the lives of those with whom we live.

[Above and below is the dress form project I did over the summer -- "she" started out as a brand new, not-so-special form (white fabric body) and following the directions many of you have seen online, I painted her, aged her with antiquing glaze and voila - she is now known as Joelle and she stands in our front hallway just inside the front door all year long. Her accessories change throughout the year depending on my (her) mood, but for now she's wearing whatever I found in the few boxes I brought in from storage... And she wears them well, don't you think? (Oh those French women -- they can look good in ANYTHING they just 'throw on', can't they?) ]

This past year may have seen many changes for you -- good and/or not so good -- but no matter how bleak things may appear from time to time (or for you, perhaps for a very long time), there is always, always hope. Hope embodied in the celebration of Christmas truly does endure for the rest of the year -- as it is a hope that is not affected by economics, politics, or crisis of any sort. This hope is the one and only truly unwaivering constant that can be counted on.
The more this is focused on, particularly this time of year, the less all the "fluff" and "stuff" of this season matters.

[Below is one of our Christmas cards that I love so much, I framed it in an otherwise unused mirrored frame. At the last minute, I placed it in the tree...immediately I knew it was right. The tree symbolizes Christmas, but a tree also enters into why He was born...thinking toward Easter and the cross... Amazing. Actually, its amazing love.

This truth has been "brought home" to me this year more than ever. It had really bothered me that I was almost three weeks "late" getting my house decorated and even now it is done very sparingly. (Last year almost 10 trees, this year one small one!) I began to think that at this point, "what's the point"? Since in just a couple of weeks it would all have to come right back down. Then I realized, who cares if it isn't done to a caliber of Macy's or Saks? Even the smallest effort (and this year I do mean small!) imparts that beauty, that feeling of warmth and meaning that the season is all about.

[Above you'll notice the clock faces in the tree -- guess where those came from?? Remember Fabulous Fifi's recent garage sale?? Well I went since I'm only an hour away and she GAVE these to me! I had admired them in the pictures of her home on her blog and there they were in her garage sale -- I knew that if Ididn't leave with anything but those, I'd be happy. And she ended up just giving them to me. Thank you, Fifi. I just love them. And I love them in the tree! I'll always think of Fifi when I see them. How fun! ]
It's been kind of like one of those life-challenge questions you hear, that are supposed to get you thinking about what's important: "If your house was on fire and you could only grab an arm-load of things, what would they be?" Well, this year, decorating-wise, it was the same thing: "If you have only a few hours to decorate and that's it, what will you bring in from storage and what stays packed up this year?" The resulting "finished product" has been interesting...not over-done, and only the things I really, really love and love to look at. And the funny thing is, compared to all the effort that went into the display here at home last year, I'm telling you -- I'm sold on "simple"! :)

[The tin winged box in the photo above has a paper stamped tag in it (because I couldn't find anything else small enough to fit!) and it usually hangs all year long on one of the knobs on our victrola player. While I was decorating the tree, I turned around and there it was, hanging on the victrola so I snagged it and placed it on a branch. I do love this box, though. Its so unusual and I often think of all kinds of dreamy little mini-scenes I could create inside it....]

[Reading through antique journals and dairies gives you a real sense of how complicated our lives today have actually become! Maybe we really haven't "come a long way, baby" after all!]

[The photos above show antique, very time-worn day books (old versions of Day-Timers) and ledgers. Oh my, how I love these books...they are sooo old and sooo worn that the pages literally disintegrate and crumble in your hands. Their aged, brown good-looks are perfect, stunning in fact, with the sage green irridescent taffeta fabric used as a tree skirt (a fabric remnant purchased at least 15 years ago for next to nothing!).
I noticed the books just lying in another room while I was putting the Christmas decor around the house and I snapped them up and headed straight for the tree...I love them there!
To some these old, broken down books may look like garbage --something that you couldn't even imagine paying good money for -- but to me they are beauty in its highest form. They have been used by someone so long ago I'll never know them, but that person's writing endures on those pages and is there for me to peruse and enjoy, dreaming of what it must have been like in his/her day...You can't "buy" that kind of dreaming. Yes, I paid for the books, but the dreaming and wondering...priceless.]

So, for every extra tree that doesn't get put up (usually in a room no one even goes in), there is that much more time for sitting with a loved one over coffee or tea. For every garland I choose to LEAVE IN STORAGE, I exchange that for a few more moments to just sit and breathe...
[The photo above is a shot of part of my dining room table...nothing except the glittery grapes and the candle holder with silver candles was added for Christmas...not exactly your traditional Christmas looks or colors, but then, not much around the house is. ]
So, as you may have guessed, I'm taking in the beauty of my "Charlie Brown Christmas" this year with new eyes and you know what? I think our buddy Charlie knew what was up all the time... Simple is better. Way better.
[Above are view from two rooms -- on the left is the tree as seen from the dining room looking into the living room at the front of the house...our one and only tree and a pretty thing she is, huh? The picture on the right is looking through the dining room back toward the family room -- where we do most of our living. In fact, its funny that I didn't even consider it when taking these pictures so quickly, but I now can see the yellow throw we use on chilly nights piled/bunched up in a heap right in the middle of the couch... (you probably would never have noticed it, but I sure did when I was uploading these pics!) Yep...we really do live in this old house, and the camera caught a perfect example of daily life here -- a throw casually pitched on the couch after a long stay in front of the tv... perfect. ]
Who knows...perhpas next year I'll be totally ready for the gazillion trees and garlands again.... maybe next year we'll go away for Christmas and I won't decorate at all! (NOT!) But all I know right now, today, is this: I wish you all -- each of you -- the best, best Christmas ever. Your circumstances being whatever they are, may you stop for a moment or two, take a deep breath, and look around you....when you boil it all down, it truly is 'A Wonderful Life', isn't it? And there isn't anyone on earth who really, truly has it "better" than you....
Merry Christmas!!

You are loved,


Molly said...

I would love to join you for a nice hot cup of coffee and lots of chocolate! You're house begs to be filled with women talking stories and sharing our triumphs. Could you imagine? Lovely Christmas details - thanks so much for sharing. May your holidays bring you peace and abundance. XOXOO

cheryls fascinatingfinds said...

Ruth your home looks amazing and oh my gosh your dress form, What a great idea, I am going to dress mine up now, it stands right next to my xmas tree and is only wearing a silver belt and mink neck collar. I wouldn't say your decororations are sparce. Just perfect!

Kasey said...

everything looks wonderful!

Susan S. said...

I love your taste. The old things mixed with current things. Your dad's photo and the brooches....VERY Nice! I'm enjoying your blog immensely! Thanks and Merry CHRISTmas!

The World According to Libby said...

Thanks for the memories with those ornaments you have displayed. I'd forgotten about them. Very special how you put them with the old photo of Dad.
Merry Christmas Ruth! I love you sis.

dlh said...

I think you have the perfect amount of decorations. Your house is beautiful and doesn't need much to embellish it.

molly said...

Holiday Wishes from Molly of

I love your tree and beautiful home. Wishing you and your family a spectacular Christmas and exciting year to come. Bring on 2009...I am ready! Molly

Trisha Evans said...

Your holiday decorations are blissful! Thanks for sharing.

Trisha Evans
a vintage white

Sue said...

lovely---wish i had a cup of your coffee.


Joy Zaczyk said...

Hi Ruth!

It's been a whirlwind here... Just wanted to stop by and wish you and yours a very blessed Christmas and all the best for 2009!

Follow your dreams! :)


Jeanneoli said...

Your home looks so beautiful. Thanks for sharing! I would love to come for coffee...and I might not leave.

arootdigger2 said...

I absolutely love your blog. It is new to me. I found it at another blog. My discovery is like a gift.

I have to ask a question. Am I seeing things or not. Is that rug behind the tree see through. I swear I see the stripes of floor boards through the rug. Or does the rug have light stripes. I am puzzled. Can you solve the mystery for me.

*The Beautiful Life* said...

Hi "Arootdigger" --

I'd be HAPPYY to solve the see-through rug "mystery" for you! :)

Those are floorboards you're seeing -- the design is painted on the floor and its an all-over design, giving the appearance of a very large rug. Oh my, though -- if you could see the floors in person, the secret would be out. Those floors have definitely seen their better day, but all in all I love them because of the wear and tear they show, but they're still probably stronger than most new wood today. Amazing how that works -- a trade of sorts: scars for strength. Kinda like life...

Thanks so much for your comment!! :)

arootdigger2 said...

Thanks for the explanation about the floors.
Love your tree by the way. [I had been looking for ideas about tree stand treatments.]jo

Then and Now at Collected Treasures said...

Just found your amazing blog. I am so excited and will be stopping by often. I love your home.
Blessed Holiday Season,

Loie said...

I just found your blog. What a treat! So, here I am posting a comment. Thank you for identifying the Most Important part of CHRISTmas. It is soooooooo refreshing to walk around your home and hear how the Lord is giving you a sense of balance and joy and sharing it with us. I also loved your comment on your battered floor boards - "strength for scars" - And, isn't that the exchange Jesus gave us: His scars, strength and forgiveness to us! Thank you for an insightful tour.