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The Snow Tree

Hello Friends,

I am so glad that you’ve come to visit.  The teapot’s on and it won’t be but a minute brewing.  While we’re waiting for a cuppa, tell me, how did you enjoy your Christmas?

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Do you happen to have a favourite holiday decoration? For me, the Christmas tree is perhaps my most favourite thing of the holidays.  I can go without wreaths and garlands, sweets, presents, even turkey – but not without a tree!  I just love to sit and gaze (or maybe I should say, “glaze”)  at it, sometimes for hours, and soak up the beautiful light that it gives!  With a glass of bubbly by the fireside, it’s a slice of heaven on earth…  I hope that when I am too old and feeble to set up my own tree with a star on top that some kind Samaritan will do it for me, so I can still be surrounded by a little beauty during the Yuletide. It’s  just one of those things that makes my heart sing and keeps me going!

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I love our snowy tree, a romantic, glistening wintry wonderland.   Shiny ornaments and sheer, luxe twirling ribbons. Glass birds and feathered birds.  Crystal garlands and reflective prisms.  Glittery branches, sparkly twigs and ivies.  Velvety fantasy flowers and twinkling fairy lights. Teeny mirrors and miniature framed photos of my dad and my husband’s parents who are no longer with us…There’s alot of bling on our tree, out of necessity, you’ll soon see! Lol

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On a crisp, clear evening, my husband and I purchased our tree from a holiday window display in a downtown shop at the last-minute before closing on 23rd December 25 years ago.  It wasn’t on sale and it was an expensive tree, and still would be in today’s currency.  It was a major purchase for us back then.  We thought about it as an investment in our future together…Lol  I remember squealing with excitement on the drive home with our new treasure tucked into the trunk.  I could hardly stand to wait until we brought it inside and set it up in our tiny apartment.  We had only been married a few years, and our Christmas was full of anticipation that year as we were hosting family and friends for our first-ever holiday buffet.  The tree was the star! Someone even asked, “How do you keep the snow from melting off the tree!”  None of us had never seen anything like it before!  Lots of photos of young and old alike were taken in front of the tree that year, and there have been lots in the years since.  We  have continued the tradition of gathering friends and relatives at our home during the season; and although I’ve gotten somewhat lazy in recent years, I still manage to host an open house or a tea, just not necessarily on New Year’s Day.  And, people to this day, even though the tree is starting to show its age, still remark about  ‘The Snow Tree’ in our living room!

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In its heyday, this tree was a natural beauty, even more beautiful without a stick of bling,  just the fairy lights peeping out from underneath the snow-laden boughs.  A dreamy, welcoming sight on a winter’s eve…The tree’s flocking is nearly all worn off now. Every year there is a bigger pile of snow at its feet and mine! Some of its limbs are bent and broken, tied up with wire to keep them from flopping to the floor.  Nowadays, it drips in a frosting of shimmery trims, piled on thick and deep and sweet, a camouflage to keep from seeing through to its bare arms and spindly core.  And, every year we add more bling as the holes in the tree grow bigger and bigger…

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I have been hanging on to this old tree for many years, more than I care to admit, hesitant to let it go because it has been a large part of our Christmas tradition for such a long time. It is only a ‘thing’ after all, but things are what stir memories inside us and help us to remember places we’ve been, our experiences together, the people we love…  I look at our tree every day and see cherubs created by my friend Jean in her basement workshop, passionately painting into the wee hours of the morning; wooden hearts custom painted by my friend’s sister Joan, frosted roses plucked from my mother-in-law, Ethel’s, tree; and authentic Venetian masks brought from a European holiday with my childhood friend Gail (the ones she brought me from her Christmas in New Orleans one year are there, too); and bells and balls that are treasures gifted to me by co-workers and family through the years.  A Christmas tree can evoke a multitude of feelings and memories of  times past.  Is yours like that, too?

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On the practical side, I haven’t been able to find a single specimen to replace our tree that even comes close to its quality, or at least that suits me.  They just don’t make things like they used to, even flocked trees!  Sadly, when our tree comes down this year,  it will be final, a time to say ‘goodbye’ to ‘The Snow Tree’.  Sigh.  I will be forced to get a new tree next season.  I will view our parting as an opportunity for change and a chance to create a new and even more beautiful tradition.  Maybe I’ll try a real one.  I love all the images of natural Christmas trees on Pinterest, don’t you… I don’t know what form our tree will take next Yuletide, or where all the pinky ornaments will find a new home…Decidedly, I will look forward to a new tree.  One thing is for certain,  like so many of your own trees, there will be an angel and a star at the top to represent the host of angels and Bethlehem star over the nativity, yet it will be a tree that is one-of-a-kind rich with our own memories.

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Oh, my! Where has the time gone?  It’s dark outside already.  Time to turn on the tree lights inside.  I hope you are enjoying seeing all the details of the tree in the slideshow at the bottom of this post.  Thanks for keeping me company tonight!  I always love spending time with you, dear ones.

Wishing you all a beautiful New Year filled with beautiful new traditions and wonderful memories!

“Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree.  In the eyes of children, they are all 30-feet tall.”  Lary Wilde

Linda

Ornaments of Wonder…

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:  the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.  ~Burton Hillis

Dear Kindred Spirits!

I have some lovely NOEL tea steeping in my Portmeiron Holly and Ivy teapot. Every cuppa just tastes so wonderful when poured from a beautiful teapot, doesn’t it?!  Would you like some?!

It’s romantic December, time to unwrap a trove of  Christmas treasures.  Decorations are just one of the ways to bring the beauty and wonder of  the Christmas season into our homes.  And, when it comes to the time-honoured tradition of trimming the tree, I permit myself to indulge – it is one of this season’s greatest pleasures.

Collecting beautiful Christmas ornaments and treasures is a year-round pursuit. In our travels over the years, my husband and I try and visit antiques malls and Christmas shoppes. I’m continuously on the hunt for beautiful ornaments to adorn the boughs of our magical Christmas tree. My tree ornaments are among the most personal things I own.  They remind me of travel holidays, tradition and past Christmases together. Sandwiched between layers upon layers of white tissue paper, they rest in special boxes. And, it seems, the unpacking and re-packing of the decorations has become an inherent ritual of this season of comfort and joy.

Many of us have special decorations and treasures, saved from one year to the next, and passed down through the years from one generation to the next.

I have a preference for trims of glitter and frost and sparkle. We have often found glamourous ornaments to add to our collection and bring meaning to our tree.
There are perhaps no ornaments today, though, that can rival those made in the first half of the 20th Century by talented German glassblowers.  All kinds of shapes (including animals and figurines) were produced in large quantities for export to North American markets.


DID YOU KNOW?! The ornaments were first sold by Woolworth’s around 1880?

Often entire German families were involved in preparing the special Christmas ornaments for sale. The father and oldest son often did the glassblowing. The mother and younger children would decorate and laquer each glass figure before adding the hangers. The mother would carefully pack the family’s week’s work – perhaps as many as a thousand or more glass figures – and deliver them to the wholesaler.

Because the ornaments were so fragile, few survive today. A rare treasure can sometimes be found at antiques markets or on e-bay and sell for $200 plus.

Queen Victoria and her beloved German Prince Albert introduced Christmas trees with the intricate ornaments to England in 1840. Glass ornaments, decorative beads, paper baskets with sugared almonds and hot air balloons adorned the trees.

Germany dominated glass ornament production until 1939. The Second World War caused the closure of glassblowing factories around the country.  By the time Europe finally recovered from the war, American manufacturers had already captured the domestic market with the production of cheaper ornaments with new technologies.

Post-war America demonstrated a preference for uniform, single-colour balls over the unique and more interesting, and often irregular hand-blown German-made ornaments.

In recent years, demand seems to be again growing for many of the molds and the old  techniques once used by German glassblowers as collectors long for historically accurate Christmas ornaments.

DID YOU KNOW?  Early Christmas trees were typically trimmed with real candles, wafers, gingerbread cookies, fruit, candy, as well as paper flowers and tinsels fashioned from tin and silver.

A glassblower in Lauscha decided to create a unique collection of small glass balls to hang on his family’s tree. And, within only a matter of years, glassblowers in Lauscha (a district long recognized for the quality of its glass) became a hub for making tree ornaments, and they were filling orders for glass balls by the thousands, and also for hollow glass ornaments either molded or free-blown into the shapes of pinecones, fruit, flowers, animals and birds.

I hope you enjoy the photos of some of the ornaments that hang from our  tree in our living room. It looks a little different this season.  In a previous post, photos showed the room painted a cozy shade of brown. It’s now a warm winter white…

I’ve decorated four trees this year (two full size and two about 4 1/2 feet high  in urns on tabletops).  The photos below are of the tree in our living room glammed up with pink, gold and silver themed ornaments…

Thanks for dropping in.  I know you’re all busy  as bees with your Christmas preparations.  I hope, though, you will manage to find a moment to come back later this week when I will be sharing some photos of the house tour and tea that we hosted yesterday.  Until then…

Merry wishes,

Linda

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”~ Bob Hope, American film actor and comedian.

The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!”
~ Charles N. Barnard, American author, travel writer

Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age. ~Carrie Latet

I love my pink-themed tree.  Hmmm…I just may leave it up until Valentine’s Day!

I am joining 504 Main for Tickled Pink and How Sweet the Sound for Pink Saturday! Brew yourself a cuppa cause you’re going to be browsing awhile…

Angels Among Us…

Ever felt an angel’s breath in the gentle breeze?  A teardrop in the falling rain?  Hear a whisper amongst the rustle of leaves?  Or been kissed by a lone snowflake?  Nature is an angel’s favorite hiding place.  ~Terri Guillemets

Dear Friends, Welcome!

I haven’t posted in awhile – I was away last week on a special mission but I’ll tell you a bit about that in my next post. And, I’ll announce the winner of my give-away then, too!

I am thankful that you are here now to share some tea with me and pre-Christmas spirit.  It’s nice to be together.  The holiday season is, after all, just around the corner, and I thought you might enjoy seeing these ‘heavenly’ photos of our living room mantel and tree.  These photos are from a Christmas past, so when you see the room next time, it will look a little different as I’ve been making some changes…

How do you like to decorate for the holidays?  Do you generally pick a theme and stick with it throughout the entire house? Or, do you like to mix it up from room to room?  There are so many beautiful things to choose from nowadays! I enjoy romantic decorating at Christmastime.  In these photos, our living room was decorated in warm hues: pinks, greys, browns, taupes, and gold and silver in celebration of the holidays!  I think it’s important to not pay too much attention to the ‘rules’ and just to do whatever it is that you love.  Then you are sure to be happy with whatever you create.  Wouldn’t you agree?!

These  pics were taken late at night by the glow of the Christmas lights.  The  result is equivalent to the “squint test”, a soft look that is almost magical.  I hope you can experience at least a little of the feel of the room’s ambience through them…

You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them if you’d like to see more detail…

Specially treasured ornaments that might otherwise be lost among those on the tree are given a place of honour high up on the mantel.  I like to sit them snugly in old-fashioned crystal wine goblets.  They fit perfectly for my purposes! And, I love how the twinkling faerie lights woven through the flocked garlands beneath are refracted in the crystal facets and cast dancing patterns all along the walls…so pretty in the quiet evening hours.  Glass candlesticks do duty as pedestals to also support precious ornaments.

These glorious angels were made for me many years ago by my friend Jean, whom you might remember from a previous post The Santa Lady of Farm Road. The figurines and Grecian columns that grace our mantle are ceramic, as well as the sweet cherubs that adorn our tree every year.  I think they add a certain magic to our holiday decor, and I love how the room looks when they are perched high up in the snowy branches.  I look forward to unwrapping them year after year and sharing them with family and friends through my holiday decorating. Jean doesn’t make these anymore, so I feel lucky to have them.  Sheer ribbons, glittering twigs, and sparkly stars, berries and pinecones are delicately woven through the flocked garland beneath the angels’ feet and act as fillers, offering  lots of fascinating texture. Strands of chandelier prisms strung across the front of the garland create a luxe look. Won’t you come on in for a closer look?

In the photo below, a small, inexpensive department store angel chosen solely for her sweet face is made splendid with a new skirt of glistening rose taffeta. A gilded twig star hangs directly overhead, illuminated with twinkling faerie lights and adorned with roses of frosted velvet, together with the most beautiful wired ribbons that twirl all the way down to the tree below.  A teeny wooden heart (one of more than a half dozen made by my friend Joan) rests on the face of the star shape and  is handpainted in custom colours to herald the season of  Peace. Its fellows can be found scattered here and there throughout the tree branches – they bring messages of Faith, Hope, Charity, Love, Joy and Eternity.  There are many objects on my tree collected through the the years and are cherished, which make it all the more meaningful at Christmas…

Friends are kisses blown to us by angels.  ~Author Unknown

Anyone can be an angel.  ~Author Unknown


Authentic Venetian masks are clustered near the flocked treetop.  I brought them home with me all the way from Italy especially for our tree!  Whenever I travel I am thinking of something that I can bring home with me to use at Christmastime. My friend Gail also brought me masks from New Orleans when she visited there during Christmas several years ago.  I also like to incorporate a mask or two in a companion garland that is normally draped overheard from the ceiling near the treetop!

This spectacular feline mask seems to glow with Swarovski crystals.  It was in a shop window in Venice and I knew it had to come home with me for my tree…

Angels have no philosophy but love.  ~ Terri Guillemets

A series of favourite teacup prints are trimmed with velvet flowers, sparkly twigs and glittery glass ornaments.  Cherub faces, handpainted by the same dear friend who created the trio of musical angels on the mantle, hang from the teapot print at the top of the wall arrangement. The Christmas tree stands adjacent to the wall of teacups, and ribbons twine and twirl from the tree though the art prints and onto an overhead garland that is nearby! The ribbons seem as if they have a life of their own, reaching out and up to touch whatever is near! If teacups could talk…

Fantasy Santa, companion figurine to the angels on the mantle and cherubs that trim the tree, were all made by my friend Jean.  See the post below for a story about her work:
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little trip down Memory Lane with me today.  Thanks for coming by, and please leave a comment to let me know you were here.  I’d love to hear about how you decorate for the season. There’ll be lots more Christmas to see in the weeks ahead, so I hope you’ll drop by again one day soon…
Wishing you a beautiful weekend,
Linda
I am  happy to be joining Lily-Rose Cottage for Simply Sweet (January 15, 2012).
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