Our decorations have been up for ten days now and I still feel a thrill of delight every time I come downstairs in the morning and see them. We always used to put our decorations up just before Christmas, but last year we decided that we'd put them up earlier and we loved it so much that we've done the same thing this year. It still has to be December - November is just a little too early for us - but the very beginning of December means that we get to enjoy them for longer.
So, indulge me whilst I take you on a tour of our Christmas festiveness - I love our Christmas house so much that I can't resist showing it to you! We'll start at the front door where our home-made wreath hangs. I had wanted to make my own wreath for a few years instead of just renovating a shop-bought one, so a couple of years ago I finally decided to give it a go. The base is made from some bendy branches of forsythia which I simply wrapped into a circle and secured with some wire. The ivy comes from the bottom of the garden and voila, that's it done. Some people might think there's not much to it, but I like the simplicity of it and the fact that I can keep the base and replace the ivy every year with whatever I want.
Come on in, I'll show you some more. This is an indoor wreath that I made last year. I bought the base but knitted the Santa, holly and gingerbread man from Simply Knitting patterns. I love the crocheted 'more is more' wreaths on Lucy's Attic 24 blog, but I wanted to keep this one simple just like the one on the front door. Small daughter has to stroke Santa's beard every time she walks past, and it's so soft and fluffy it's not hard to see why. I chose the gingerbread man to go with him because both my girls love gingerbread men and that's a good enough reason for me.
This is our bannister garland. When I bought it, I had hoped that it would be big enough to wrap right round the bannister, but it doesn't so I'm starting to think that I need to make one that does what I want it to do. We've had this one for about ten years now and whilst it's not quite ready to go into retirement, it could probably do with a bit of help. I love the tiny clothes on the washing line which I bought last year - I couldn't resist!
Here's another knitted decoration - Father Christmas! Small daughter has been asking me when I'm going to make Rudolph to go with him and I know that I probably should (the yarn is sitting in my stash, waiting) but knitted toys aren't my favourite thing to do. I'm quite happy to do the knitting but the sewing up is so time-consuming and of course I always leave knitting Christmas decorations until far too late in the year (there's something odd about knitting for Christmas in the summer, I think) so it becomes more of a chore than I want it to be. So, for the time being, Father Christmas sits by himself but I don't think he really minds.
Big daughter saw these little hats when we were in Liverpool one year and insisted that we bought them for our family of wooden ducks. I'm sure they enjoy being part of the festivities!
We've been lucky enough to be able to take the girls to Lapland to meet Father Christmas. It's such a special moment when you watch your child meet him, one of those catch-your-breath-brings-tears-to-your-eyes moments that you know they (and you) will never forget. Small daughter was quite overwhelmed and for the first time in her life was completely speechless, although she had plenty to say about it all afterwards! If you ever get the chance to go to Lapland, then go. It's so beautiful, so quiet, so snowy and if you're really really lucky you get to see the Northern Lights. These decorations are our reminders of the fabulous time that we had, and it's always a joy to bring them out of their wrappings to put on the mantelpiece.
We have so many decorations that are just part of our family tradition, and you don't need to see them all. This one, though, is one of my favourites and I hope you won't mind looking at just one more. My Mum painted this tree for me; it has a bulb inside and little lights at the ends of the branches so when it's lit it looks beautiful. Because my Mum's not here any more, being able to put the tree out makes me feel a bit closer to her at Christmas time. All of our decorations have memories; we've collected them over the years - some are from when I was small, we've even got one or two that are from when my Mum was small, some were made by the girls, some have been made by me, some have come from special holidays - they're moments in our family history and bringing them out each year is like greeting old friends.
I think that the year flies past so quickly that it's nice to be able to take the time to enjoy the run up to Christmas. I'm hoping to have everything done by the end of the this week so that I can sit back and relax rather than chase about like a mad thing. I've done the wrapping presents on Christmas Eve thing and it's not fun. For the last two years I've been following Flylady's Cruising Through the Holidays plan and it's made a huge difference to how calm the days before Christmas are - I'd recommend it to anyone! It means that I've got time to spend baking Christmas biscuits with the girls, building and decorating our IKEA gingerbread house kit (always a fun morning!) and for one of our very favourite traditions - going to see The Polar Express at a 3D showing on Christmas Eve. It's a magical film - readily available now on video or to read as the original story book - about a little boy who isn't sure whether he believes in Christmas or not. We've seen it so many times now but every year is a treat and part of the Christmas magic - we wouldn't dream of missing it!
I have every intention of writing more before Christmas but I know that the way that time disappears like sand running through your fingers will probably mean that it's January before I actually manage to - so I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year just in case I don't get chance to later.
Thanks for reading this year xx