Tuesday, December 10, 2013

decorating for Christmas and other holiday musings

We pulled out our Christmas tree and all the trimmings the day after Thanksgiving.  Justin took the day off to make it an extra long weekend and the girls were bubbling over with excitement.  I, on the other hand was deep in the throws of the nastiest flu bug this side of the Nile.  But I was still in the sore throat achy phase of the virus at that point, so I made a cup of hot tea and joined in the festivities of decorating.

Felt mistletoe!  So we will always have a smooching doorway!

Every year, I am amazed at how many Christmas decorations we've accumulated over the years. Most of them being special heirlooms or homemade items like the gorgeous stockings my mother-in-law painstakingly spends half a year creating for each member of the family.  They are the items that I panic over misplacing every year.  Then we pull them out of their special bag and count them (4 right now, as Ashlynn's is still a work in progress) and breath a sigh of relief that they hadn't gotten lost over the year.

I've realized since living in this huge African concrete mansion, that having a fireplace with a grand mantel is a must for me now.  It's the perfect place to arrange spring flowers, picture frames, pumpkins or in the case of this time of year; stockings, Santa's sleigh, a little forest of trees and my snowman collection.

Okay, so I may overdo it a bit in the Christmas decoration department, maybe in the Christmas baking, party planning and caroling departments too.  Alright, I overdo Christmas entirely.  But really, what's overdone?  Overdone to me is all the holiday displays at the supermarkets in the US or the shopping events at the malls.  It's the Christmas print paper towels and all the commercialism that the holiday has turned into.  Christmas for us is what we make of it, IN. OUR. HOME.  There is no outside Christmas here in Ethiopia.  So really, I don't think of it as overdone in our family.  I think of it as being done right.

Santa's sleigh was my mother's and it housed her Santa collection when I was little.  Proud to have it in our collection now.
Justin brought his little German gem home after a business trip last year.  It's my new favorite!

Entrenching my children in family traditions is my job as their mother.  My own Christmas memories are grounded in the anticipation of doing the same things every year with my family.  Trekking to a farm to cut down the family tree, baking Christmas cookies with my mom and my sisters, picking out gifts for one another at the local craft bazaars or markets and celebrating with our extended family. Those memories are precious to me and helped me want to establish our own family traditions for our children.  Being overseas, has helped force us to create those memories at home and I know our girls can sense the excitement every year when we get out the butter to soften and pick our gingerbread house template.  They gaze at the tree and sing right along with Justin and I as we play our Christmas music.

Building our own amazing Christmas also helps Justin and I feel a little less homesick during the holidays.  Knowing that we can give our children and ourselves a merry Christmas makes being away just a tiny bit easier.
The wreath I picked up in Manila at a manufacturers that produced Christmas decorations for William Sonoma.


Melinda Renee said...

I wish so much of Christmas in America could be more like your Christmas in Ethiopia! I think my parents' families did a good job of balancing the traditions with "consumerism", but I wouldn't mind stepping it back a few notches for future generations. As always, beautiful photos, wonderful expression in words, and I miss you guys! xoxo

Nomads By Nature said...

Celebrating Christmas overseas has been a wonderful break from the overhyped consumer-focussed craziness of the US, and yes, it feels so authentic and personal. We love to decorate with heirlooms and memory pieces that we haul from place to place - it really kicks off the holiday for us when outside the door doesn't quite match. We don't have a fireplace in our apartment, but our stockings are hung off the radiators with the 'S' meet hooks and it is an endearing alternative.

Sara said...

I think the challenge for us will be maintaining our family focused Christmas when we return to the US. I do think bringing our special items with us from country to country makes them feel that much more precious (like they are world travelers as well). I love the improvising with the radiator.

Melinda-I can't imagine your parents doing anything but instilling wonderful family traditions in your holiday memories!

The only solution in the States, is to turn off the TV, get away from the malls and just BE with the ones you love! I need to remember this when we get home.

Alegria Art said...

Hi, I was reading your nice blog and I was wondering if you could give me the name of the manufacturer of the wreath (William Sonoma) in Manilla because my husband is working in Manilla and I love the wreath.
Thank you in advance for your help and best regards,

C. van Es