Monday, December 15, 2014

I'll Be Home for Christmas


It's a word full of meaning.

We sing about it, we celebrate it, we long for it.

When we're away, we can't wait to get back.

When things are rough, we long to retreat to it.

When we smell gingerbread baking, we're taken back there in our memories.

For generations, when we've thought of Christmas, we've thought of home.

(Hit "play" for a little mood music!)

We've lived in many different houses over the years, from Michigan to Texas to South Dakota, and several states in between. We've learned to make each of them our home. But it isn't where the house is, or what we put in it that makes it "home." It's who is there.

And the who? Our family, our extended families, our church family.... It doesn't really matter, does it?

When we're surrounded by loved ones, we're home.

Today I decided to share our Christmas decorations. They've migrated from house to house with us, and it's always a challenge to put up decorations purchased for one house in another, completely different venue :)

We put the decorations up in layers. We've collected winter decorations over the years (especially when we lived in the south and were homesick for snow and slanted winter sun beams), so we put those in place first.

Snowmen, reindeer and pine trees dominate the winter scenes.

And then we layer the Christmas decorations over them...and around them...

Red balls, lights, the Christmas tree....

My mom's favorite - Nutcrackers from Germany.

Christmas decorations saved from our childhood trees.

These are more than sixty years old. I can't believe they've survived our moves from state to state.

Finally, the manger scene. We have several, but the one from my husband's childhood takes center stage.

And we add outdoor decorations to spread some of the cheer to the neighbors.

This was an easy decoration to make. A bushel basket, some trimmings from our Christmas tree, a few logs from our stack of firewood, some scented pine cones and a string of LED lights (LED because I didn't want any added heat to the flammable ingredients!). It glows on our front porch all evening, a bit of a Christmas Card for the neighborhood.

And inside the house while we decorated, the crowning touch - a simmering potpourri.

Simmering Potpourri


1/2 bag fresh cranberries
1 apple
1/2 orange
3 or 4 cinnamon sticks
1 Tablespoon whole cloves

Cut up the apple and orange (go ahead and eat the second half!)...

...and put everything in a pot with a couple quarts of water. I like to use my little one gallon crockpot, but you can use a pot on the stove, too.

Heat, covered, until the water gets steamy and the cranberries get soft. Then reduce the temperature, remove the lid, and let the Christmas scent make its way through your home.

We're back to Home again, aren't we?

I can't think of Home without remembering that my final Home isn't here. We're just pilgrims on a journey.

And I can't leave without sharing my family's favorite Christmas song. There are a lot of good ones to choose from, but this one really reminds us of what Christmas is all about.


  1. I love these ornaments!
    I was at our thrift store looking for vintage Christmas cards (they have them by the bundle, the joy of living in a small town where vintage isn't cool). Anyway, I found three boxes of vintage ornaments. All weird shapes, insets designs, etc. My favorite part? A whole set of 12 teal mini balls! So cute on our mini, live tree on the dining table.

    1. Teal mini balls! They must have known you were coming :) How great!

      My husband and I don't buy many new ornaments - we love the vintage ones and the homemade ones. But when we go to visit his mom and family in Michigan, we often make a stop at Bronner's Christmas store in Frankenmuth. I'm sure anyone living close to I-75 has seen their signs! My favorite department is the ornaments from all over the world. We browse through the glass ornaments from Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland.... You name a country (not only European!), they probably have ornaments that were made there.

    2. Oh, that is amazing! What a wonderful place!

    3. Hey, they're online!

    4. The best thing is to take little children there. The first time we took our oldest, he rode in a backpack. He must have been around 18 months old. He just sat there and took it all in. :)

      But this time of year you can't get a parking place! My sister-in-law and niece tried to go the week before Christmas a couple years ago, and my niece was able to get a parking place only because they followed a lady from the door out to her car.

      Parking place stalking. I think it's a sport in Michigan....

  2. Your tree makes me smile so wide!!! I love it!!!! And the fun, wintry decorations (HA, SANDRA AND TINA WITH YOUR DECORATED CACTI!!!!) to remind you of northern Christmases.... I totally understand that! And if folks in the deep south didn't hanker for a White Christmas, why on earth would so many songs and movies and books incorporate the idea? But in the end, Christmas is that Christ child in your heart, and that shines through all of this. I'm going to try a simmering potpourri.... and I love the bushel basket porch decor! Heaven knows I have all the elements of that here, but I'd have never thought of it, Jan, without seeing yours!

    1. No, we always long for a white Christmas around here! We've had a couple, and the kids were ecstatic.

    2. I can't claim the bushel basket idea as my own - I adapted an idea I saw on Pinterest.

      I have to admit - I'm falling in love with Pinterest!

      But I agree. There's just something about snow and Christmas. Maybe it's the fact that when the weather outside is frightful, we love our delightful, cozy fire and the idea of an evening at home with popcorn, stories and loved ones.

    3. I just thought, after reading Kav's comment below - I should put a pot of simmering potpourri on the woodstove. We've finally gotten cold enough for a fire, after two weeks of highs in the 50's and 60's.

      Today is snowy, blowy and cold. Perfect for a fire and simmering sweetness, right?

  3. Jan, thanks for giving us a tour of your home! I so agree that the holidays are all about loved ones and our favorite traditions.

    Some of your older glass ornaments were like those from my grandmother's collection. I think my mom and maybe my sister have most of those now. I need to make sure I get some!

    1. You'll have to try to hang on to one or two of those old ornaments. The ones we have connect us with our extended families and Christmases long past.

  4. I had a white Christmas 2 years ago when I was at my parents' - it was nice! though actually it snowed later Christmas day...still counts though!
    I don't decorate..maybe one of these years I will.

    1. Susanna! No Christmas decorations? Not even a manger scene? We may need an intervention here! :)

      And snow anytime on Christmas counts!

    2. ok technically I keep the manger scene/nativity my parents had since I was a kid - ok I keep it out year round because I love it. I also have a magnetic set that's kiddy cutesy on my refrigerator. if I could find the wreath hanger I'd hang my wreath on the door (I finally put it somewhere where I'd quit running into it and now I hid it from myself...) I'm out of town then so dont' really bother. my mom used to put some of my stuff out but I dont like taking it down and no room for a tree. this year I'm undecided if I'll be back chrsitmas eve or stay up visiting people..

    3. So you DO decorate for Christmas! It's just all year 'round. Love it :)

  5. Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas. Well, if you aren't in the mood, this will do it.

  6. Scents are powerful memory-joggers, aren't they, Jan. And I love the blend of cloves and cinnamon in the air.

    Love all of your decorations, too. Sigh. Snowy or not, I just love this time of year.

    1. They sure are! There's something about the fragrance of Christmas cookies that takes me back to making cookies with my mom every year.....

  7. Ooohhh -- love this soooo much. Do you keep your snowman stuff out longer? I've done that -- the Christmas decorations get put away by January 6 but the snowmen get to party on through to the end of February.

    And love that potpourri recipe. I've taken to simmering water on the stove to add humidity --- now I can make it smell Christmasy too.

    And why aren't the dogs under the tree? And the cat climbing it? LOL And I just finished reading a book with a dog named Wynter in it -- spelled that way too. Small world.

    1. We keep the winter stuff out until March. Clearing out and putting the decorations away is part of spring cleaning, and really brightens up the house! I love the kitschy clutter during the winter, but when it's warm enough to open windows, it's time to put the clutter back in its boxes!

      The dogs and cats aren't near the tree because we have a "no paws" policy when it comes to Christmas trees! We keep a spray bottle of water handy in case someone (usually Maggie-cat) decides to start making a meal of pine branches, or someone else (usually Thatcher) thinks one of the cloth decorations would make a good chew-toy.

      And yes - a small world with the Wynter name! Our daughter chose Wynter's name because one of the weather forecasters where we lived ten years ago had just had a baby daughter and named her Wynter. She's the only other one I had ever heard of!

      We celebrate Wynter's birthday on December 20 (she's a shelter puppy, so we had to assign an appropriate birthday to her). This week she's ten years old!

  8. Oh, this is such a lovely post. And not just because ManO and I have collected snow pictures since we were married. I can't believe someone else does the winter scenes and also leaves them up after they take the Christmas stuff down like we do. Yay!

    But what did you do during the blizzard?????

    And I always think of scents first when thinking of home. That's one reason to love Yankee Belle posts so much. All the senses get tickled!

    1. Ha, Julie! During the blizzard? It was still autumn! We had harvest and autumn decor all over the house, leaves still on the trees, etc. Outside it was winter, but inside was all orange, red, yellow and brown :)