December 14, 2010

The Walls are Closing In - In a Good Way

This is the time of year for clutter in our house.  We move the furniture closer together in the living room to accommodate the seven foot tall Christmas tree, we unearth the lights and decorations and the manger scene from the basement storage, fill the table with the Advent wreath as well as piles of odds and ends from various projects on the go, and make list after to-do list that we stick on the fridge next to the calendar and check more than twice.  My house is starting to feel very crowded and I am okay with this because I know it's temporary.  And besides, all this bright and happy clutter in the house is very cheering on a gloomy, Wet Coast day like today.

My girls were really eager to get going on the decorating last week.  My older daughter, Emma had spent hours in November making a Christmas village for the mantle, so she was eager to display it:

She placed a village tree in the middle of her display and grouped around it a merry little band of nuns I inherited from my Granny.  The paper snowflakes were made by my younger daughter.  One of the houses is a mini replica of ours.  Can you guess which one?

Emma made a wreath from cedar boughs she snipped off our hedge and decorated it with walnuts and hazelnuts from local trees.  I tried to convince her to add some red berries, but she preferred it as it was and hung it from a festive red hanger on the front door:

I used to do the decorating, with a little help from the kids when they were small.  Now it seems I have handed that torch to my willing Emma and her assistant.  My girls share a room and have a string of lights and their own little tree set up on a dresser.  When I go into their room to get them up in the morning I plug in the lights at their request so they can wake up to warm little orbs of colour. 

I am glad the girls want to take over some of the Christmas preparations.  I'm busy keeping track of when next to pour rum on the Christmas cakes, baking for all the events, and putting cards, letters, and packages together.  It's a lovely way to spread the workload and the joy, so I give them free reign to do what they like, as long as it doesn't involve a stuffed dog that woofs 'Jingle Bells' (a present we once received from a relative) or is liable to catch on fire.

And what about the boys?  They are more than happy to sit back and let the girls do their thing, with the thought that 'too many cooks spoil the broth' or something like that.  They used to be more involved in the preparations, in fact, one year, our eldest made coloured icebox cookies as gifts for everyone he knew.  They have different ways of contributing now that they are growing up.  Our younger son, the violinist recently accompanied his two sisters at a Christmas recital, and will play at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. We will play carols together, I am sure, over the holidays, and he will join in the decorating of the gingerbread cookies we will make next week.  He's also very good for games. Our eldest son will enthuse over all the food, repeatedly, and offer to do extra dishes to help out.  He will also rent movies he thinks everyone will enjoy watching together and buy snacks to share with his own money. 

On Friday afternoon, my kids will be let out of school for the two week Christmas holidays.  My husband is back at work today after a week off before the busy Holiday Season at the hotel where he works, so I am revelling in the peace and quiet of these next few days.  Along with the aforementioned displays of good will between my four children will also come the usual measure of squabbles, cries of  "Who ate the last piece of chocolate cranberry almond bark?!?" and "When's is it my turn on the computer? She's been on there for AGES."  We'll have a house full of their friends some days, musical instruments, and constant mess and confusion, and as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas said:  "Oh the noise, noise, noise, NOISE!"  But, as my husband always says, we signed up for all of this when we had the kids, and we wouldn't have it any other way.  (Until January, that is.)

People look East the time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make yourself fair as you are able
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People look East and sing today
Love the Guest is on the way.

Eleanor Farjeon


  1. You certainly bred an artistic clutch. Well done.

  2. What a warm portrait of your household this anticipatory time of year. Some collisions are inevitable but the thread is love. (Your house must be the one on the right- so much vivid detail.)

  3. blessed are you to have such a talented family!

  4. I had a comment all planned, but it left my head somewhere near the end, and now all I can think to say is, "Where is MY chocolate cranberry almond bark?"

  5. Vince: Thank-you :)

    Paul: You are right about the house on the right (and about the thread of love, too).

    E.P.: Yes, I am!

    Tracey: It's easy to make, really easy:)

  6. Happy and chaotic are the words that first entered my mind. :)

    And then my thoughts went back to the rum being poured on the cakes!

  7. What a WONDERFUL village and wreath! Your girls did a spectacular job!
    Our kids began their two week break yesterday as well and I am eager to forego the school "crazies" for a bit!

    I prefer to call it all "controlled chaos!" ;)


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!