For me, it's the trip down memory lane that does it for me. Take for instance, this modest artificial Christmas tree I purchased the year I lived in my first apartment on my own. The cardboard tree box still says "Christmas 2003" stamped on its side, and every time I read those words I feel a warm tingle inside me. Christmas 2003? Was it really that long ago? It seems like just yesterday ...
This tree is a snap to assemble so when I'm the mother of a small infant and decorating for the holidays seems too daunting of a task (ahem, two out of the last four years), it's the main Christmas tree we put up in the house. In other years - like this one - when I'm willing to take on more burden, this is the "family" tree downstairs displaying all of our handmade and heartfelt ornaments. A few of my favorite ornaments on this tree are the glittery Eiffel Tower ornament which was a gift from my childhood best friend, Ashley. She gave it to me for Christmas the year Andi and I visited Paris (2010) and it's one of my favorite places on Earth. The little baby carriage is my "baby's first ornament" from 1981 passed down to me from my parents. One of the wheels is broken and it's super fragile, but I love hanging it on the tree every year. The salt dough handprint ornament is from Tory's first Christmas in 2011. I marvel over the size of her tiny hand every year. It's on my to-do list to make one with Aden's handprint this year, too.
Several years ago, my parents downsized to a smaller house and they split up their many Christmas decorations amongst my siblings and I. I was gifted my parent's big artificial Christmas tree with all of its ornaments. My mom tastefully decorated this tree in gold ornaments and bows, and I've never changed it. This tree is a BEAST to put together though (I remember assembling it with my dad every year, and together it didn't seem like so much work), so I only put this tree up when I'm feeling ambitious. It takes an entire nap time to put it up, and that's precious time to spare! This year, the gold Christmas tree shines in front of the windows of our main level living room. It looks a little wonky because the bottom 12 inches are bare in an effort to deter a certain little boy from playing with the ornaments.
In the window behind the gold tree is one of my newest and most favorite Christmas decorations. Last year when I wasn't willing to put together this big kahuna of an artificial Christmas tree, I added hanging glass ornaments to the window. I was looking for a way to add some Christmas charm to the upstairs living room without displaying a tree in there. This year it might be overkill to have both the tree and the ornaments in the window, but I don't care - I love them. The ornaments are absolutely beautiful up close (though it's hard to photograph them against the window) and I love gazing past them to the snow-covered outdoors.
A few other holiday decorations in the living room / dining room ...
The kids' felt Christmas tree hangs on one of the living room walls, along with their Little People Nativity Scene. Tory received this nativity play set as a baptism present from my cousin Jen and it's so great. I store it with our Christmas decorations so every December it's something new and special to play with. This year, Aden particularly loves the Little People characters. When I snapped this picture, for example, I couldn't find the Baby Jesus but later discovered him in a bucket of blocks in the kitchen. A few days ago, Baby Jesus was having a sleepover with Big Girl in Tory's dollhouse. I'm glad they love playing with this nativity set because it's been especially helpful in explaining the story of Christmas to Tory.
I received a holiday set of dishes from my in-laws for an early Christmas present this year, and I love them! It is so fun to drink coffee from a holiday mug every morning and brings a smile to my face whenever I use a Christmas plate for something like a regular ol' lunchtime sandwich. I plan to change out my everyday plates each December and use this holiday set.
Another holiday decoration I added this year are winter-themed apothecary jars. These sit on the countertop of the main bathroom and I filled them with tree ornaments and fake snow. I own several different apothecary jars so after the holidays, I'll repurpose them to display with some other decor and set them on the fireplace mantle downstairs.
Speaking of the fireplace mantle downstairs ...
The most thoughtful gift I've ever received are these Christmas stockings from Andi. He gave them to me on our second wedding anniversary (the traditional wedding present for the second year of marriage is cotton). At the time, I was eight months pregnant with Tory and the stockings adorning "Dad," "Mom," "Tory" and "Chloe" (our dog) were so special. It was really the first time someone called me "Mom." We added Aden's stocking after he was born last year. If there were ever a fire and I was only able to grab one thing, (aside from the obvious stuff ... my family was safe, etc.) it would be these Christmas stockings. LOVE.
A decoration that makes me smile every time I pass by it is this framed photograph of Andi and I. It's not a holiday picture, but one of us at Gooseberry Falls near Duluth, Minnesota shortly after we began dating. I remember Andi asking me if I owned winter boots and I responded with an "of course!" He was referencing real winter boots required for survival during Minnesota winters and I was thinking of my tall black go-to-the-bar boots. Ha! After I moved to Minnesota to be united with him for good, Andi's question suddenly made more sense. #itsfrigidhere
One final decoration that's fun this year is this Santa Claus advent calendar hanging on Tory's bedroom door. We're having fun moving the wooden candy cane to the next space each day. Bright and early every morning, she exclaims "It's a new year, Mom!" and it took me a bit to understand what she really meant. "It's a new day," I remind her, and we count how many days are left until Christmas.
I promise she's more excited about it than this.
Linking up with Sweet Turtle Soup, The Chronicles of We and Our Pretty Little Girls for a holiday home tour. Thanks for organizing, ladies!