when decorating for the holidays, I've always liked the idea of a little Christmas in every room. nothing over the top, but at the very least, a touch of warmth. I like to think my home is warm year-round. so, this is a different kind of warmth—seasonal and perhaps a little brighter and more intentional.
before I share a small tour of our home at Christmastime, I've got to tell you about my heart leading up to the most wonderful time of the year. brace yourselves.
almost every year, usually in October or November, I have to take a moment and mentally prepare myself for Christmas. I have to get still and take a deep breath and realize just how soon Christmas will be here, whether I'm ready or not. I have the choice to prepare for this beautiful holiday or simply wing it, to stress myself out over it or relax and enjoy it in all its madness. maybe I'm not alone in the overthinking of this, or maybe I am. I like to do this and have to do this because, much like life, December 25 comes and goes so quickly. it almost seems as if you blink, you'll miss it.
this year was different. I remember having my "moment" in the last month or two. I was excited. I was ready. I'd already begun my Christmas shopping in October and I was going to be ahead of the game. it was our first year to celebrate the holidays in our new home and I was ecstatic about that. then things got busy, and I began to lose focus. I made two trips to the store for tree lights and it still wasn't enough to dress the entire tree. I kept thinking of all the things we didn't have that I needed for decorating. like the majority of our household possessions, all the Christmas decor we had collected was lost in the flood, so we were sort of starting from scratch.
so, I got angry and frustrated and ungrateful and maybe even a little apathetic. one Sunday after church, we went to pick out our Christmas tree. at this point, I was feeling hopeful again. I grew up in a family that always had a live tree at Christmastime and am happy to carry on this tradition with my own little family. we got home, ate lunch, took naps; and I don't know what happened during that nap, but I woke up and wasn't my usual self. my husband, on the other hand, would have won the holiday cheer meister award. and the following dialogue ensued...
"let's decorate the tree!" he exclaims.
"we don't even have ornaments." I reply in a voice reminiscent of Eeyore's.
"who cares? let's put on the lights. do you want Christmas cookies? I'll make some!"
"we don't have any."
"we've got chocolate chip!"
"those aren't Christmas cookies," I mutter. I mean, what even? what kind of person turns down cookies that they don't have to bake? while I'm unboxing the new lights I purchased, I turn around to see my husband in his "Christmas" sweater... a terrible purple sweatshirt with cats and snowflakes with the words "meow meow pur pur" plastered across it in white vinyl appearing like a knit sweater type. for the record, it was a white elephant gift. this is not the gay apparel he typically dons. "WHAT are you wearing?"
"my Christmas sweater. duh!" he replies cheerfully, as he searches for Christmas music on television.
"that's not a Christmas sweater." I wrap lights around the tree, huffing and puffing and hating life and Christmas.
"do you want me to do that?" he offers.
"NO!" I fire back, like the monster I am.
it seems as if I vaguely remember my mother also despising putting lights on the tree. when I text her about this particular Christmas task later, she responds with words that struck me to my core—sort of kidding, but sort of not. "That is the absolute worst part of decorating. For real. But - after it's done, you'll love it. Kinda like childbirth." truer words have never been spoken.
I'm sure I didn't take notice of this the same night; but while I was grumbling and complaining, my husband was full of joy and cheer. and to all my complaining, he responded with love and grace. I've always said he's the nice one. he's obviously a better person than me, as well. all I could see was a halfway lit tree with zero ornaments, an empty mantle with no garland or stockings or Christmas decor in sight, family members who are no longer here and won't be able to spend the holidays with us, and the babies crying and holding onto my legs as I wrestled lights onto the tree. I was focused on all the things we didn't have. my husband saw the first tree we ever picked out with our children in tow. he saw the beautiful house the Lord provided us with that we got to celebrate the holidays in. he saw our babies that are here with us and healthy.
"someone is happy with less than [what] you [have]." have you ever heard that before? those are some powerful, convicting words. looking back on that night a few weeks ago, I can hear this phrase in my mind and clearly see it to be true. it was a memorable night kicking off the holidays and a lesson that I hope I never forget.
I still haven't finished my Christmas shopping, besides the matching $2 swim trunks for the boys I found at a Gap outlet that I know neither child will care about. and I still need to wrap a few more gifts. and the five beautiful, live wreaths I hung on my front door + windows are all dead. BUT I'm choosing to get over myself and the imperfections and embrace this season in all its beauty and madness. not having all the ornaments and lights and decor I'd like is trivial in the grand scheme of things. because whether I am ready for it or not, Christmas is here and I don't want to miss it.
and now, time for a Christmas tour of the tiny white house...
I have always loved garlands draped over banisters. that was one thing I couldn't wait to decorate for the holidays! I wish I could leave this up year-round, but it will probably have to come down eventually. although, I certainly plan on leaving it up through the winter months.
this garland came from Hobby Lobby. it was $49.99 for a 6' strand. being the bargain shopper that I am, I snagged it during a 50% off sale. I bought two garlands as the length of our hand rail is approximately 8ish feet and I knew I wanted to loosely drape the garland.
I made a bow using this pretty off-white Offray ribbon I found at Walmart. I followed a wonderful tutorial by Ann Drake of On Sutton Place and made three bows for the garlands and five bows to put on the wreaths on the front door + windows.
my taste in Christmas stockings has varied over the years. I purchased two our first year of marriage; and by the next Christmas, I wanted something different. those were destroyed with our other holiday decor when our home flooded. last year, we were with my parents for Christmas so we didn't have or need stockings of our own. so this year, I really wanted us to have four matching stockings. believe it or not, if you're buying these from a store in the middle of the holiday season, it's hard to find four matching stockings. I ended up seeing an ad from a sweet friend of mine's monogram business and ordered from her. the neutral stockings were advertised with red or green thread monogram, but I really wanted something simple and classic—shocking, I know. the tone on tone stitching in a traditional typeface make for a gorgeous monogram. she brought my vision to life and I could not love these stockings more! I can't wait to use them for all the Christmases to come.
our dining room is currently in transition. we moved my grandmother's piano in about a month ago. we first had this precious family heirloom in the original tiny white house. somehow, it miraculously survived the flood. then it lived at my parents for almost two years, and is now back home with us. I'm happy about this because it means music fills our home again. I say that as if there wasn't any music until nana's piano arrived... there was music. where Drew Willis is, there is always music. however, it was mostly guitars—acoustic and electric. so, it is refreshing to have something a little more classical + romantic as background noise.
but back to the dining room... the already-tight room is in transition after or because of moving the piano in. I love the little green table we've used for years. it once belonged to Drew's great grandparents. Louisiana Power + Light Co. was planning to throw it out, so my husband's great grandfather brought it home. his wife refinished it with a green antique kit, then leaves were added to accommodate her needs as a seamstress. I love a good story, especially a telling one of the history behind a piece of furniture. the friends who gave us the dresser-turned-vanity for our master bath, also gave us this beautiful round dining table. it just made sense to switch out the large rectangular table for the smaller round table with the piano in the room. I'd love to strip it and stain it eventually. someday...
in September, I gave my little sister our old white chairs because she needed some for her apartment. I have four beautiful cane back dining chairs sitting in the garage waiting to be redone. here we are nearly four months later and that still hasn't happened, so we're using a mix of chairs. I set the table using the dishes from our wedding registry, our mismatched collection of flatware, and antique scalloped cloth napkins. I threw some branches from our Christmas tree into a silver pitcher five minutes before we had guests over for dinner one evening. we ended up sitting on the living room floor to eat dinner and keep up with the babies. I'm sure Emily Post would have something to say about that, but aren't those the best kind of friends?
later on, I added some mixed nuts in a little silver bowl and a cloche with sheet music rolled + tied. I really like how this turned out.
in the boys room, I hung this cute little plaid banner I found in the Target dollar spot. I found a couple miniature trees at TJ Maxx. they came wrapped in burlap, but I put them in some planters I found at Goodwill. there's one in the nursery and one in the upstairs bath. I decorated them with a thin, red gingham ribbon. it's certainly on the simpler side, but I like it.
and there you have it! the most wonderful time of the year at the tiny white house. I've really enjoyed the house feeling so cozy and I'll be sad to see Christmas go, but I plan to soak it all up while I can.
merry Christmas to you + yours!
but the angel said to them, "do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people. for this day in the city of David, there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord. and this will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
garland on banister | Hobby Lobby
ribbon for cream bows | Offray via Walmart
garland on mantle | Michaels
magnolia wreath | Hobby Lobby
white candles on mantle | Walmart + Dollar Tree
stockings | Monogram Central
ribbon for red bows | Wellesley Manor via HomeGoods
miniature trees | TJ Maxx
plaid bunting | Target dollar spot