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‘Tis the season… December 7, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, pets, wit and wisdom.
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…to be exhausted, and exhilarated. Silence Dogood here. Today, I decorated our living room for Christmas. It took me five hours, and that’s without so much as a five-minute break. And mind you, our friend Ben had already set up the tree and hung the wreath over the mantel. Not to mention hauling 12 Xerox boxes of ornaments down from the attic. And setting up our German schwiboggen, a delightful wooden winter scene illuminated by tiny white lights.

What could have taken five hours, you’re asking? Well, first I had to decorate the fireplace. Of course the stockings—our vintage stockings and stockings for our three cats and black German shepherd, Pioneer Hawk’s Haven Shiloh von Shiloh Special—had to be hung by the chimney with care. But then I created a display that completely covered the mantel, followed by one that covered the base of the fireplace, our wood holder, and our fireplace tool stand. (Poor Santa! I’ll know he’s arrived—that, or one of the cats has jumped up on the mantel—by a cascade of crashing ornaments, and a subsequent supply of switches and ashes in all our stockings.) I just hope we don’t have another power failure and actually have to light a fire in the woodstove!

Then it was on to the tree. I like to create layers of ornaments, so that people (including us) feel that they could look at it forever and still not see everything. It’s pure magic to see all the ornaments in the flicker of tiny white lights. We have inherited, been gifted with, and bought new and vintage ornaments over the years—thus the 12 boxes—and every one has meaning for us. But let me just say that unearthing them all, while enchanting, is not for the faint of heart. And then of course I have to decide exactly where to place each one for best effect.

Finally, the tree was done, every ornament in place. It stands beside the fireplace, and the effect of the scene, with white lights ablaze on the wreath and tree, is all that I could hope. But the real scene-stealer this year is on the other side of the fireplace, and it’s all thanks to our friend Ben.

A few years ago, I’d bought a Christmas church from a place that sells vintage ornaments. I have no idea if it dates from the ’40s or ’50s, but it’s about a foot tall, covered with white “stucco” and glitter to sparkle like snow, and has a nightlight-like bulb inside to shine through the “stained-glass” windows.

I also don’t know what people originally did with these, but I bought a rectangle of white cotton batting, also dusted with glitter, and set the church on the batting under the tree to create a tableau. It came with a white picket fence (metal, of course, not plastic) for the front yard, and I’d bought a number of vintage bottle-brush trees, including two with ornaments to flank the church’s front door, to add some landscaping.

Unfortunately, last year, the box containing the church failed to materialize—we always misplace a few boxes every year, and sadly, this one is no exception—and by this morning, OFB had forgotten all about the church. But he was enchanted by it. He insisted that we give it a more prominent location so it didn’t have to compete with all the presents for attention. As it happens, we have a wooden chest on the other side of the fireplace, and he suggested that I set it up on top of the chest.

I did, and it looked nice, but given its sudden prominence, I felt that it could use  more color. Then I had what a friend’s mother immortally referred to as a rush of brains to the head.

Last year, OFB and I had been fortunate enough to find a black German shepherd Christmas ornament. Naturally, we think it looks just like Shiloh, sitting with a pink tongue hanging happily out, and adorned with a cheerful red-and-green Christmas scarf. And this year, I’d found a red sleigh ornament in a bag of vintage ornaments from Goodwill. The scale of both was perfect for the church scene. I set the sleigh near the church door and put the Shiloh ornament in the sleigh. 

Since the Shiloh ornament is dark, it tends to get lost on the tree, but now it’s front and center where we can enjoy it every time we pass by. And enjoy it we will! I can’t wait until OFB gets home and can see for himself.

Fortunately, we’ve already decorated the front of the house. Now it’s “just” a question of wrapping presents and setting them under the tree—another three hours at least—and decorating our kitchen table (we don’t have a dining room). Wrapping presents is not my favorite chore, but it does have one advantage: You’ll realize immediately if you’ve shortchanged or, gasp, forgotten someone, and mercifully, there’s still plenty of time to do something about it.

I still have one more scarf to knit, and Christmas treats to buy and make, and of course, packages to mail and Christmas cards to write. But right now, I’m relaxing in the glow of the tree and wreath, listening to Christmas music while heavenly balsam incense burns in the background, bringing the fragrance of Christmas to the whole house. Everything is perfect. Everything is magic. Everything is Christmas. It doesn’t get better than this.

               ‘Til next time,

                            Silence

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