Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I say to myself that I shall try to make my life like an open fireplace, so that people may be warmed and cheered by it and so go out themselves to warm and cheer. ~ George Matthew Adams

Christmas Eve!  My favorite day of the whole year.    It's our first Christmas with the mantel, and while the new-old (vintage, from eBay a couple months ago) tree turned out a bit busier-looking than the one I'd had in mind--I'd wanted just a string of little clip-on candle lights, gingerbread men, and pink hearts, simple and pink and sweet--it all came together.  I took some time a few weeks ago to re-sew my pink gingham stocking since it had never been really stocking-shaped and its size hadn't matched Mike's Yankees one.  'Better now.  'Had to boost the supposed-to-be-five-feet-tall tree up onto a tray table to make it taller than the mantel.  Then had to secure the tree to the table with a ten-pound weight so it would stop pitching forward.  And most of the time, the lowest branches are covered with grocery store bags because a certain four-legged someone keeps trying to chew them.  It's always something with our Christmas trees--the last two years saw our old one tethered to the wall with a bungee cord--but again, it came together. 
That's the still-unfinished wing chair in the foreground.  I stopped working on it this fall so my money would go toward Christmas and not toward fabric and upholstery trims for awhile, but soon, I'll start it again.  When it's done, it will be sitting where the tree is now.    When I first decorated the tree and mantel, I added the little wreath (below) between our stockings, but I took it down last night.  It seems too busy with it up.  A string of heart-shaped lights is still on my list for the mantel, but that didn't happen in time for Christmas.  And now that I look at these pictures, I see that the little "love" sign inside the wreath would likely be perfect on its own between the stockings. The little Garfield under the tree is actually Stuffed's stocking.  Garfield is holding a tiny stocking labeled "Stuff it!" and we fill it with cat treats and/or a toy.  This year, a toy.  (My mom sent him a little pouch of treats.)   
And the faux fire is one I painted a few weeks ago.  I had been meaning to do this for awhile, and finally, on a day off, I set up bowls of acrylic paints, gold glitter nail polish left over from a Pirates game, brushes, and a big square of oilcloth cut from the roll I'd used for the cupboards, turned on About a Boy to play in the background while I painted, and began building a fire. 
I used two thumbtacks to hang it inside the mantel.  I might prefer the way the painting looked about six photos into the project--a much simpler log fire at that point--but I'm not sure.  It will do for this year. 
The angel that serves as our tree-topper was a gift from my best friend Sommer's mom eighteen years ago toward the end of my first semester of college.  The flowers that had been in its arms were getting droopy, so this Christmas, it's holding a big heart instead. This angel touches me even more now than when I first received it.  Betty had sent it to my dorm address along with a note and another little gift in a prettily-decorated shoebox.  That was around/right before Christmas 1995, about nine months after Sommer had died.  The Christmas before that, Christmas 1994, Sommer was alive and well--she would die in a car accident a few months later--and it was actually a joke between us that everyone was giving me angel-related gifts that year.  That Christmas, I received a cassette tape of "music of the angels" from my aunt Laurie, an angel poster from my parents, angel ornaments, angel figurines, etc. and Sommer and I laughed between ourselves about it because angels actually scared me--or at least, they kind of freaked me out a bit.  They always look like they're standing (or floating) stock-still, they usually appear expressionless and neither male nor female,  something about their wings. . . .They just creeped me out.  No one else knew that, I guess, so it was angel-after-angel that Christmas, but it was strange to receive sooooooo many and from soooooo many different people all during one holiday.  Over Christmas vacation from high school that year, surrounded in my bedroom by all these angel gifts, I made myself a mix tape.  For reasons I didn't even understand, I labeled one side of the tape "Songs to Comfort Me" and made an instrumental piece from my new "music of the angels" gift the first song on it.  Nine weeks later, Sommer died--and that tape was the only music I listened to those first couple months, and the angels all suddenly made sense, like they were part of a small army that had been sent ahead of time to help lift me up.  (In a way, of course, that only made all these angels even stranger and more mysterious to me, but a good-strange and a comforting-mysterious now, at least.)  Betty didn't know any of that when she made me my "Sommer angel" later that year, though, which made it all the more meaningful.   
 Mike's Spider-Man holds the tiny sign my friend Madai sent years ago.  Love is all around. 
'Now off to bake sugar cookies for today, peanut butter fudge for tonight, cinnamon rolls for tomorrow, and to re-do my to-do list one last time pre-holiday.  And to call my parents.    I love imagining what everyone's up to today, and images of you guys and my other loved ones keep coming to mind.  Merry Christmas to you all. 


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

I love your Christmas decorated home and totally love the fire in the fireplace.

Thank you for sharing and I wish you and Mike a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic 2014.


Lisa said...

That is a very sweet-looking angel, Val. Your place couldn't look more cheerful - a very warm and happy Christmas to you and Mike. (I have something for you, but I'll have to get it to the post office)

daiseedeb said...

Oh what a beautiful, cozy little heaven you have created! And….love that quote!!!! Thanks for bringing me such joy today!

daiseedeb said...

Oh yes…a Merry Christmas to you!!!

Carol said...

We are making cookies, wrapping presents, and enjoying the snowy day. Tonight is the Christmas Eve service, then afterwards we read the Christmas story in Luke followed by Twas The Night Before Christmas.

The kids, even though they are grown up 20-somethings now, will line up at the door in their jammies. I pour glitter in their hands and they run out, barefoot, to throw the glitter in the snow. That's so Santa knows where to deliver their presents.

I love Christmas Eve too; the stillness of the night, the lights, the carols, and the world holding its breath waiting for the Babe to be born.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Merry Christmas Val and Mike; it's cold here, snowing earlier and now furry one's are cuddled on sofas; far be it from these animals to lower themselves to sleep on a DOG BED! Loved looking at your Christmas pictures...far more than all the "grand" decorations people seem to post so they can brag about. Yours is Christmas to me, although I must admit I do love my gas fireplace! Since I pluged the holes in the foundation, this old house has been amazingly warm...should have done that years ago. O Well.
Merry Christmas, God's blessings on you both and the work of your hands and heart.

Amy said...

You are so adorable, I just want to squeeze you! (I know that sounds insane, but there I am...hee hee...)

Marie said...

Love, LOVE your tree Val! How very festive! Love the pink stocking also and the spiderman! You are such a smile maker! Love it all! xxoo

Val said...

Thank you all so very much. ♥ What sweet and fun comments to read. I read them aloud to Mike yesterday and today. :) ♥