No one has ever become poor by giving. - Ann Frank
CAUTION: There’s alot of Christmas spirit in this post! Take a few moments to yourself away from all the hustle and bustle, settle into your favourite armchair with a cuppa, put up your feet, and just breathe…
Welcome Kindred Christmas Spirits,
It is such a pleasure to relate to you something wonderful that happened just over a week ago! Last Sunday afternoon (December 11th), my husband and I hosted the most beautiful Holiday Tea that we have ever held in our home. It was an open house: a buffet tea and tour of our home decked out in all the season’s finery. The event was actually a fundraiser named: “A Christmas Tea for Lucas”…
THE SEASON OF GIVING Over 60 persons (50 adults plus children) gathered at our home over a few joyous hours for the sound of jingling bells, twinkling lights, a rejuvenating cuppa, home-baked treats and heartwarming friendship - a time to celebrate all that is good about this time of year. Together, feeling inspired by the beauty and giving spirit of the season, we raised a grand total $1,475.00! Isn’t that AMAZING in just a few hours over tea and dessert?! A Christmas miracle, indeed!
OVER TEA AND BLOGGING I had been planning “A Christmas Tea for Lucas” for months – since late summer when we visited Prince Edward Island solely to meet my new friend through blogging Carolyn Aiken (you can read about it here) of the popular blog Aiken Home and Gardens. Undoubtedly, many of you already know Carolyn and are long-time fans of her gentle blog about her romantic life on glorious Prince Edward Island.
On the final day of our visit with Carolyn and her husband Andrew back in August, and before leaving the Island, Carolyn and I sat together at her table in her welcoming kitchen and shared a cup of friendship. She relayed to me that she and Andrew are blessed with 7 children and 9 grandchildren. One dear grandson, 6-year old little Lucas, had been diagnosed at the young age of just 2 years with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). It affects only boys – as many as 1 in 3,000. I never knew that. In fact, I knew very little about DMD at all before then.
Lucas and his mom, Jen (Carolyn and Andrew’s daughter), were about to embark on a journey that would cause them to travel from their home on Prince Edward Island to a Montreal hospital each week for 52 weeks for Lucas’ participation in drug trials there. It is hoped that these drugs will slow the progression of the disease. We are all wishing the best for sweet Lucas and his family.
As Carolyn and I were chatting on for hours, the time seemed to just fly by! We shared our common interests, pursuits, dreams, AND worries while sipping soothing peppermint tea and eating Carolyn’s tasty home-baked scones and pie. I promised my new friend then and there that come the holidays, I would host “A Christmas Tea for Lucas”. It would be a way to embrace dear Lucas and his family on their journey, to let them know that someone was thinking of them, sending them positive energy; and to demonstrate, in some small measure, financial support for Carolyn’s daughter and her family during a most challenging time in their young lives. Christmas, after all, IS a time for family. And, aren’t we ALL family? Every one of us needs a shoulder sometimes and a helping hand. The kindness of others helps to make our load a little lighter at times. People, even strangers, were so kind to me when I was going through treatments for breast cancer not so long ago; I just wanted to pay that forward somehow. And, thus the seed was planted there on verdant Prince Edward Island at Carolyn’s hospitable kitchen table…
FOUR MONTHS LATER, ON ANOTHER ISLAND… Christmas carollers with the voices of angels spreading the good news of the season greeted guests as they came up the walkway to our front door on that festive afternoon, immediately elevating everyone’s mood!
Smiling, happy faces. Cheery greetings. Big hugs. Waves of gratitude and giving.
All were met with a fresh pineapple welcome (notice the door crown fashioned from a whole pineapple and bunches of shiny red apples), Colonial Williamsburg style.
Hand-and-tummy warming apple cider on the stove top. Frothy vanilla egg nog served in a vintage amber glass bowl and cups. Steaming flavourful teas poured from beautiful teapots. Fresh-from-the-oven desserts and special sweets of the season in abundance to tempt the taste buds.
The merry sound of jingle bells with each opening of the door. The warmth of twinkling white faerie lights all through the house. A holiday home tour. Prizes to be won and surprises, too!
Even an astonishing pop-in visit from jolly old Saint Nick himself in the finest cherry-red suit that I have ever laid eyes upon! (How on earth did you get word to Santa, good neighbour George, that we were having a special party that day?! And, how did Santa ever find time at this busiest time of year?! Muuuaahhh!). Children and adults alike were wide-eyed with wonder at the sight of the jolly gent. And, oh, the laughter!!! What holiday fun!
Handmade season wreaths plentifully fashioned from natural pine, fir, cedar and LOVE were for sale, contributed by a dear young friend with all proceeds going to the cause. Thank you, Brittany, for your generous heart! Every wreath sold and for a pretty price! People gave way more than we were suggesting – and, in one instance nearly ten time more! WOW!
THE BEST GIFT Kindness. Caring. Generosity. Sharing. Wide-open hearts. There was a real camaraderie, a connection of some kind in the air that is hard to describe with mere words. The sheer excitement was almost palpable. It was true Christmas spirit like I’ve never experienced! And, to top it all off, snow started falling softly outside the windows, as if we were inside a ‘living’ Christmas card…What a perfectly lovely day!
It was an oh-so special Tea Party in celebration of this magical time of beauty and wonder, and giving from the heart. One and all opened their hearts and their wallets in good old-fashioned Christmas spirit and rejoiced in the gift of giving. A THOUSAND THANK YOU’s EVERYONE! It means the world that you gave so freely and in so many ways. I was able to send the gift of a Moneygram and all your best wishes off to Lucas and his family soon after the Tea. The much-appreciated gift will be used to purchase a special new bed and mattress for Lucas. Doesn’t it feel good knowing that you were able to help in this way?!
The best gift of the season for me was knowing that everyone who came enjoyed themselves to the fullest, and that we were able to join together in sharing a little goodwill at this magical time of the year in effort to help our fellow man.
On that day, our home was filled to the rafters with the love that is the very essence of this beautiful season…It is something we will never forget.
A handsome guest remarked, “NOW it feels like Christmas…” It was the first time he had been to our home, and he had brought with him his lovely family in support of little Lucas and his dear family. It was such a beautiful compliment that they, and all who came to be with us that day, had taken precious time out of their own hectic Christmas preparations – the shopping, baking, decorating, stringing outdoor lights and getting the tree – to join in offering their friendship and strength of support to strangers. Lucas and his family are truly, truly appreciative and can’t thank you every one enough. YOU left a smile on their hearts, as well as ours, and we will always be grateful for your kindness and generous, caring collective spirit…TRUE Christmas spirit!
Perhaps a NEW Christmas tradition has already begun in our home, one to anchor the coming holiday seasons. Hmm, next year, maybe I’ll host “The True Spirit of Christmas” Tea…
LOVE IS IN THE DETAILS Those of you who have ever hosted a large at-home party and enjoy entertaining can probably relate that in the weeks leading up to the Tea, I spent many blissful hours immersed in my favourite Christmas books and hundreds of magazine clippings from past years, still kept in a special holiday file, making endless notes that I would later tuck into my purse to have with me when running errands.
While perusing my favourite holiday recipes collected, too, over time and planning the once-a-year and first-time-ever fancy desserts I would make, I compiled ingredients lists and contemplated the special serving dishes to be brought out of the cupboards.
Pouring over seasonal decorating magazine issues both current and saved from Christmases past, while sipping spiced tea and daydreaming about how the house would look all decked out, and the holiday trims I would attempt to make; I spent days and days (time here and there) cleaning and readying the rooms, imparting little inspirational touches of the season into each one, creating Christmas all through the house…
My husband did a wonderful job of orchestrating the adornments on our home’s exterior. The walkway, front door, garden gate and benches, planters and window boxes, statuary and obelisks, and, yes, even the shed and deck were festooned with fresh greens of all kinds in a spur-of-the-moment – yet surprisingly artful – arrangements! In contrast, he did not spend a goodly portion of his time thinking all these things through. He just went for it and all turned out beautifully! There is something to be said for that! But then, the anticipation is part of the pure enjoyment of the entire process for me….:-)
Won’t you come with me and have a little look around?! I promise you’ll find some ideas to dress up every room in your home during the holidays: draping greens over the beds, hanging stockings of every kind from everywhere imaginable (I’ve hung them from knobs on dressers, chairbacks, doorknobs, cupboards, bed posts, footboards, headboards…I looove Christmas stockings), creating lighting ambience with candles and chandeliers, pretty paper wrappings, ways with ribbons, even gift ideas and more…
I don’t think you ever stop giving. I really don’t. I think it’s an on-going process. And it’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life. – Oprah Winfrey
First, before we begin our home tour, please bear with me while I’ll announce the winners of the many lovely Christmas-themed prizes. All the gifts have been delivered, but some of you have been curious, so here goes:
TICKET PRIZE:Gina Reid won the “Christmastime” package (I wish I had gotten a pic so you could see this beautiful haul):
- Costco 9-piece set hand decorated red glass Christmas ornaments
- Punch Studio Victorian gift wrap (Winners/HomeSense has gorgeous papers, tags etc.)
- Victorian gift bags
- Red foil gift wrap
- Victorian christmas tags
- 2 rolls of sparkly gold ribbon
- 1 roll of cording in red/green/gold/blue
- Multi-colour tissue paper
- Box of Christmas greeting cards
- Red mercury globe/pedestal candle holder (Thank you O’Neills Gardenland)
- Coordinating red mercury glass votive holders, candles…
- Lauren Hayward: McStevens hot chocolate, Punch Studio dinner and beverage napkins
- Courtney Woodford: Red mercury glass filled candle, sweets
- Joanne Bennett, Lauren Hayward, Courtney Woodford: Swarovski crystal dangling hearts earrings created by Gail Perry, Beadazzler. Thanks, Gail!
Special Thank You’s:Alderberry Blum, Brittany Brinston, Gail Perry, George Dunne, Joanne Bennett, O’Neills Gardenland, Memorial University School of Music carollers Teri Slade, Courtney Woodford, Chris Davis and Steven Griffin, Pat Puddester, Ruth Wheeler’s card class, Signature Salon, Sugar Mama’s, Eric White, Connie Hayward, Marie and Brendan Hunt. And, Thank You to Carolyn’s friend Heather who sent an original artwork of hers – Heather painted Carolyn skating with her grandchildren on the duck pond at the back of her house while Andrew builds a fire nearby. It is so beautiful that my husband and I bought the painting. I’ll show it to you soon in another post…
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO JOINED US FOR ”A Christmas Tea for Lucas”! And, THANK YOU to those who could not be here but sent along contributions. And, too, to those who heard about our Tea for Lucas and sent along donations with friends – it was very kind of you!!! Now, on with the tour…
CHRISTMAS ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE…
The Front Entryway…
In The Kitchen…
In The Living Room…
In The TV Room/Study
In The Bath…
In The Bedroom…A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY AND HEALTH NEW YEAR!
I am joining A Delightsome Life for A Return to Loveliness and Lily-Rose Cottage for Simply Sweet (January 15, 2012) and Jennifer at Traditions and Magpie Cottage (December 2012). I hope you will visit these beautiful blogs.
I am thrilled to be joining in the fun and sharing this “Christmas Past” post today (December 1, 2013) at The Tablescaper!
Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~Norman Vincent Peale
The teapot’s at the ready offering a brew of orange spiced tea. Hmmm…I do hope that you will join me in a cuppa. Let’s share a little of heart and hearth, shall we?
Since Christmas is the season for giving, is it any wonder that I chose to trim our mantle in the TV room in tribute to the most merry and generous gift giver of all – Santa himself?! I thought I’d indulge in a little holiday bliss and share with you some photos of the end result.
He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith
As some of you may know, I will be hosting “A Christmas Tea for Lucas” on December 11th, so there are some treasured teapots in honour of the occasion among my collection of merry men.
As promised in an earlier post, I thought I’d show you the new addition to this legion of charming fellows. He is called a ‘Possible Dreams’ Santa. Riding in his magic sleigh, he has been christened ‘World Traveller’ and is made of something called ‘clothtique’ and is a mixture of cloth and resin.
Aren’t these fun and festive fellows so handsome all dressed up in their holiday best?! It’s no wonder that Santa’s robes are brilliant red – it is the most glamorous colour against the white snows of December. His cheery red robes just seem to evoke instant grins…
Do you have a treasured collection of festive fellows that conjure up childhood memories of laying awake, wide-eyed well into the wee hours of the night before Christmas, excitedly anticipating the arrival of Santa?! I was once convinced that I could hear the reindeer on the roof and would keep jumping out of bed and running to the window to have a look…
Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder
Twinkling white lights, loops of exquisite sparkly ribbons (I tend to use those that are sheer to let the light shine through), shiny ornaments, and strings of shimmering beads evoke the magic of the Yuletide season and capture the imagination…Varying heights add interest – I use a wooden box wrapped in a taffeta runner that serves as a perch for this season’s focal Santa – the World Traveller. He travels with his map, compass and blanket on his lap while he navigates through the skies using his magical telescope.
The gift giver in all his forms, dressed in rich ruby robes, lend lush texture to the manteltop.
I am enjoying the mantel this evening. Its happy colour energizes the room and lends a cozy feeling throughout - some real comfort and joy…
Wishing you a little holiday cheer and happy decorating! Thanks so much for dropping in and I hope to see you again very soon…
I’m joining The Shabby Creek Cottage for Transformation Thursday where there is lots of inspiration!
Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. ~Peg Bracken
I am joining these wonderful blog parties for the very first time
French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday
A Thoughtful Place for Christmas Cheer Link Party
Sally Lee by the Sea for 24 Days of a Coastal Christmas
No Minimalist Here for Open House Linky Party
Sue Loves Cherries for Rednesday
Shabby Art Boutique for Simply Christmas Inspiration Party
Very Merry Vintage Style for Share The Love Wednesday
Tiaras and Bowties for 25 Days of Christmas
I hope you will visit there and join the holiday fun.
“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” ~Henry Drummond~
For families working hard just to meet the basic needs, Christmas can be a time of great struggle and loneliness. With money being so tight, they simply cannot afford to buy their children that special present to place under the tree. Do you, your workplace, social or church group sponsor a family in need at Christmastime?
At my office, we start getting underway about this time of year, dreaming up ways of raising monies to purchase household items and gifts for our Christmas Families. Fundraising events may include everything from a Halloween chili luncheon and Jeans Days to gift-wrapping services and Give-It-Up Days (where people choose to go without a coffee, chocolate bar, or maybe even lunch or dinner and instead donate the money they would have spent on these things to the Christmas Families fund).
We are matched with our Christmas Families through our local women’s centre or single parent association. Our Families are asked to write their Wish Lists for Santa. Items they often include are things that we usually take for granted like new bed linens for a child’s bedroom, bath towels and soaps, a pair of jogging pants, a new pair of winter boots, baby clothes or just a few modest toys and books.
The verses below were written as inspiration for our Santa Cause project one year. Thanks to the kind-heartedness and generosity of so many of my co-workers, we were able to raise enough funds that Christmas to help several Families get everything on their holiday wish lists and then some. What a great feeling!
I’d love to hear how you share the love at Christmastime. I hope you enjoy my little poem that follows, as well as the photos of our kitchen last year ready for the holidays. The Santas were gifts from my husband through the years. These jolly men were manufactured by Roman Inc. years ago. Each merry gent stands on a brightly painted message box with a scroll that tells the figure’s legend. They impart a lovely touch of Christmas spirit throughout the house!
Wishing you a beautiful day!
He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith
“A friendly look, a kindly smile, one good act, and life’s worthwhile!”‘
“The earth has grown old with its burden of care
But at Christmas it always is young,
The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair
And its soul full of music breaks the air,
When the song of angels is sung.” Phillip Brookes
That love weighs more than gold!
~Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon
Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. ~Peg Bracken
Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love! ~Hamilton Wright Mabie
Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. ~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby
I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month. ~Harlan Miller
Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts. ~Janice Maeditere
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening…Oh, What Fun It Is! Gingerbread and jingle bells, sledding fun and cinnamon smells. Wreaths upon doors and blinking lights, church bells ring on quiet nights. All over the world, hearts rejoice in prayers for peace and hope for life. Oh, What Fun It Is! Glistening snow and carol voices, eggnog, smiles and sweet surprises! Evergreen trees in reds and golds, nativity scenes and Santa robes. Packages wrapped in secret places, hidden away from curious faces. Oh, What Fun It Is! School plays and cookie swaps, last-minute cleaning with brooms and mops. Turkey, stuffing, and plump raisin pudding Watching holiday movies without even moving! Gift returns and budgets blown, homes undressed and families flown. Thoughts of those with no riches or friends, would YOU be able to do this again - without giving your heart and outstretching your hand, to someone in need – whether creature or man? For the magic of Christmas cannot be bought, it comes deep from within us, in what we are taught. It’s never too early to learn or to teach, or to help others discover – although never to preach. For the lessons in life that are learned the best, come from realizing ourselves just how much we are blessed!
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening…Thanks one and all for coming to visit! I am delighted to be sharing this post on Michelle Raven Designs for Primp Your Stuff.
Beautiful Quote: To Dream…
Christmas Wreaths for the Cure!
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