An Old Cottage Christmas

Christmas is ushered in the day after Thanksgiving at our house. That’s when we begin collecting Christmas tree cuttings from the local garden center and spend days adding greenery to everything – along the front porch, stuffing greenery into planters, window boxes, on the lamp post, and down the old iron railing by the front steps.

There’s a wreath for every window, and one for both garden sheds. Lanterns hang wherever I can find a hook.

When we downsized our home, we also downsized our Christmas decorating stuff. We had amassed a small army of Santa’s, and our collection of ornaments represent nearly forty years of life. Among them were gifts from my mother, mostly angels and dolls. A young naive me thought they were not my style. The older me can’t imagine Christmas without her angels and dolls.

The wooden horse my boss hand painted when my son was born has gone through a few repairs over the years, and sometimes we wonder if he’ll ever be old enough to be handed down to his namesake. There are beautiful etchings framed onto antique paper, blue and white ornaments I bought in Germany, and a small Santa with a camera that once flashed day and night, but has since suffered a short circuit. I can relate.

Two years ago we had reconciled that this old cottage would never have a Christmas tree. There was no room. We added a beautiful one-room addition last year, and there still was no room. Then I discovered a pencil tree, which fit perfectly in the foyer by the fireplace.

I used a sea of red and green ornaments as the background color for the tree last year. It was bright and festive. This year I used the alternative black ornaments, and I’ve made a note to myself that if ever again the word of the year is pandemic, do not use black ornaments. On the bright side, however, that sea of black makes our collection of memorable ornaments stand out all the more.

A little reindeer ‘doll’ from my Mom.
Another of Mother’s angel ornaments

I could decorate for Christmas day after day after day until there’s not a bare spot to be found, but all this extra stuff will be here for another 30 days. We’ll be removing this dried out greenery in January when the wind chill may be something below zero. And that’s when my husband reminds me how decorating for Christmas is sort of like buying a boat: the two best days are the day you put the decorations up and the day you take them down.

So I’ve limited my decorating chores to just four days, and it’s still a sweet cottage Christmas indeed. At the end of a bleak year, it’s possible these memories will stand out even more. Let the holidays begin.