Fall nesting Week 4 – Holiday inspirations

This is the final installment of the Fall Nesting series I was inspired to participate in via www.theinspiredroom.net. I have had lots of fun so far and hope to continue sharing things that make me happy on a regular basis.

Today’s post starts with a heartbreaking story. Every year our tradition is to cut down a fresh Blue Spruce on the day after Thanksgiving, so that we can decorate it that weekend and enjoy it for a long time. Last year was no different. We went to our customary tree farm and found an appropriately sized tree. The the year before last, my eyes were bigger than my living room and our tree was a whopper, but boy was it beautiful.

Seven Springs Tree Farm in Ortanna PA

Anyway, back to last year. So we got the tree home, set it up and got out all of the decorations from the basement.

I have been collecting vintage ornaments for a while now, and both my mom and my MIL have given me ornaments from their collections of German made glass ornaments. The family heirlooms are my favorites, and I have looked in numerous antique stores for the ornaments and Christmas decorations from vintage Germany, as that is my heritage.

Vintage German ornaments – these are from Etsy

We finally get the tree dressed in all its vintage glory, lights glowing bright, real tinsel sparkling, and it looks beautiful. Pleased with our hard work, we prepare to go out to a special dinner to celebrate my Father in law’s 70th birthday down in Baltimore.

We rented a limo to suprise him, had a wonderful dinner at Chiparelli’s in Little Italy, and really enjoyed the evening with the immediate family. Coming back home, my husband entered the kitchen from the garage and immediately said “Oh…My….God”.

I rushed into the house to see what the problem was and I was confronted with the sight of our beautifully decorated tree laying face down on the hardwood floor in the living room, surrounded by thousands of sparkly, glittering shards of BROKEN vintage ornaments.

(Not our tree, but looked the same as this)

Did the dogs knock it over? Did it just fall over by itself? I’ll never know, but at that point, who cares? It happened … regardless.

Have you ever felt like you wanted to cry but were too much in shock to react any other way but to laugh? That was me. I could not believe my eyes. I felt such a sense of sadness, of history lost, and it was overwhelming inside. On the outside, I was too stunned to say much at all.

Disheartening sight

We righted the tree, salvaged any leftover ornaments and put them away for the year, and cleaned up the mess in silence. The next day I went to WalMart and bought all plastic ornaments and redecorated the tree entirely in plastic balls. I didn’t want any guests to see our tree this year because it was no longer a thing of beauty in my eyes – no longer a source of pride for me.

Overall,  Christmas last year was crappy, I gotta be honest with you. Looking back I can play devil’s advocate and say “well, you shouldn’t get so wrapped up in the loss of material things”. True, but for me this was so much more than just material ornaments lost, and it really affected my enjoyment of the season last year. Inside, I was bawling.

Fast forward to August 2012, when I actually started thinking about Christmas decorating for the coming season, and it depressed me again to remember the empty feeling I had when looking at the dustpan brimming with the sharp, shiny, brilliantly colored “potpourri” of broken heirlooms.

Not wanting to feel the same way this year, I made a trip out to our local antiques mall and went hunting for more vintage ornaments to begin to replace the broken ones. I found some, but they won’t ever be the same as the ones that were ruined. I guess I am not really at peace yet about the tree last year. I will make an effort to “get over it” and hopefully the other traditions of the season as well as the inspiration from fellow bloggers will bolster my enthusiasm.

So, what are my plans this year (besides tying the tree in an upright position and weighing down the base!) ? I did see online where someone had placed the tree stand into an old round bucket to hide the tree stand. I thought that looked good, and it would also contain any water if I overfilled the tree stand. I can sit the galvanized tub on top of the tree skirt and the will keep it nice and flat, too. Here is how the galvanized bucket will look with the tree stand:

Example of tree in galvanized bucket

We also put up a second tree each year (an artificial one) in the the dining room. We call it the Nautical tree and it is decorated with lots of glass sea/fishing/boating type ornaments and punctuated with white starfish. This is my husband’s favorite tree, and it looks very nice with the blues/greens of the ornaments playing off the soft blue dining room walls.  Here are a few of the new “nautical tree” ornaments we got on our last trip to Ocean City MD, to the “Christmas Spirit” shop:

Glass seahorse

The dogs get their own tree in the master bedroom each year as well. It is a 4 ft. pre-lit tree that we decorate with lots of Scooby Doo ornaments, black lab and yellow lab themed ornaments, and personalized ones as well. The tree has ornaments from 2 of our original dogs (brindle Great Dane and a yellow lab) as well as ornaments for our 3 current pups (harlequin Great Dane, black lab, and Rhodesian Ridgeback/Whippet mix). The Scooby Doo ornaments are for the Dane, and we keep an eye out for new ones each year. Our first Dane LOVED peppermints, so I made the top bow out of peppermint printed ribbon, and we continue to use it in his honor.

Scooby tree

We have some other traditions that are getting a slight makeover this year, in an effort to simplify things. I usually go to my friend’s house for a cookie exchange each year, but this year she has decided to only do one at work. So, I will participate in the work one, and over 25 ladies are planning to attend. What kind of goodies should I make ?? Here are some choices, depending on the final number of cookies I have to make:

Christmas fudge

P.S. The dogs knocked down the platter of cookies from last year’s cookie exchange and ate ALL of them, so I never got to share all the different cookies i collected at the party. Another sigh… but the dogs were not sick, and in the end, I saved some calories. Blessing in disguise??

Our other family tradition is to have “Dog Christmas” at our house each Christmas Eve with my in-laws, SIL and BIL and their dogs. We usually have shrimp cocktail and crab dip as appetizers as we listen to traditional Xmas music, then I make a fancy dinner for everyone, with decadent desserts, and we watch the dogs open the presents their grandparents have brought over. This year, my in-laws and husband suggested we go out to dinner and have dessert at home while watching the dogs open gifts. This takes some of the fun of entertaining away from me – I don’t consider it “work” to buy all the ingredients, make the food, and decorate the table pretty. That is how I like to show my family that they are important to me. At any rate, we will try going out to dinner this year and see how it goes. It will be less expensive and less calories, too.  Some fine-dining options for Xmas Eve in our area include:

The Carriage House in Emmitsburg (above)

The Dobbin House in Gettysburg

Dessert, however, is another story! I like to make a rich, dark chocolate something-or-other, as well as a non-chocolate dessert, so everyone has a choice, although they always have some of both 🙂 Here are some ideas for the dessert-at-home portion of the night:

Cherry Chocolate trifle

Flourless chocolate cake

Well, that’s what’s going on with me from Thanksgiving weekend to the end of the year. Thanks for reading 🙂  Hope all of your holiday wishes come true!

Until next time,



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