Monday, December 11, 2017

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Please note that if you visited while this was still in draft and accidentally published, it's been updated with more pix and music!

 Maybe it's because I've been doing so much family history research. Maybe it's because my dad died in December and I've been thinking of him. Maybe it's because I've felt a little more fragile and vulnerable than usual lately. Maybe it's just because it's Christmas. (Cue the Music)

But I've been thinking of many Christmases from the past. Mostly good ones. And those ghosts of Christmas past.

I don't remember the photo below being taken. I was (obviously) too young! But this was how I spent a lot of Christmas days in my childhood -- with my grandparents, their siblings and my dad's cousins. They all look like a barrel of laughs, don't they? It didn't get better as I got older, either. As everyone got older!

(Christmas Eve with my mom's family full of cousins my age was much more fun!)

I think of the joy of being a little kid and that first Christmas. I think I was about a year and a half in this photo. I wish I still had that little piano. But I still have chubby legs, curly hair and that double chin! Some things never change.

I remember my sweet collie, Major, the most patient dog in the world.

And, I remember the magic of our cardboard nativity scene. I found one like it at an estate sale once -- I still have to put it up. It's harder to find a spot than it used to be!

There were a few Christmases spent at the lake. (Not my favorite. As much as I love the lake, it smiles most at me during the summer!) But it sure was pretty. And look carefully -- those are my turkey plates on the sideboard and that Santa is on my tree today! I just noticed that!

Let's do the time warp and flash forward a few years! There were the Christmases with the cousins, my aunts and uncles. We'd have a contest as to who could create the most original wrapping for a gift. Yes, this was once the "container" for a pair of earrings for my mom from Dad. He won more than once!

And we'd get all dressed up!

Mom just loved this skirt. I still have it. I don't think it would fit, but I should give it a try!

And then, that last Christmas before the Moms (my mom and her younger sister, Grace) died. No family Christmas that year.

Just the three of us for the last time.

The year after was a tough one. But the Cleveland cousins came to Michigan, like usual, and we did our best. Champagne at midnight. Carols at the piano. And I suspect there were more than a few tears in the pillows.

We took all the same family photos. Almost. But there was no photo of the Moms. Just the menfolk.

We did our best. Because it was Christmas.

Flash forward to Christmases with just Dad and me, after travel became more complicated with expanding families. We'd invite friends to fill out the dinner table, do Christmas Eve church, quiet Christmas morning. As I look at the photo below, I recognize so many ornaments now on my tree --and I'm also wondering whatever happened to a few of them.

And then he was gone, too. That was the year my friend Bonnie invited those of us closest to my dad over for dinner. Yet another tough year.

It would be a few years before my Christmas celebrations would feature a new cast of characters, but they were good ones.

And when I say characters, I do mean, "Characters." Please note that in the photo below, Kevin really did have teeth. He just liked blacking them out with that awful Blackjack gum!

With them came a new family member -- Miss Molly -- and new traditions, like decorating Santa's cookies on Christmas Eve. (And yes, we still do.)

Dad never knew the Marmelade Gypsy, namesake of this blog, either. And he's yet another of the ghosts of Christmas past and I miss him every day.

This year,  this little boy will walk into the house with a new little boy, a new member of the family who hasn't yet known his first Christmas, and (like me in that photo at the top of this post) won't remember in the years to come.

But we'll remember. Just as I wrap my heart around all my ghosts of Christmas past.

Oh, I wish they could all be here for Christmas present.

And maybe, just maybe, they are.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Juniper Berry Wreath at Southern Exposure

Earlier this week we enjoyed our final workshop of the season at Southern Exposure -- making a juniper berry wreath with real spruce greens and a permanent botanical wreath of juniper berries. This was our project. (Cue the Music!)

But first, a lovely dinner. This time we dined in the Hog House, beautifully decorated for the season.

I showed a few pics of this room in the Christmas Decorating on a Shoestring post, but here are some better views. (I have already bought the chair covers for a whopping dollar each at Dollar Tree!)

This fireplace mantle was a favorite of mine.

I especially loved the Dutch shoes filled with faux candy. (I have smaller Dutch shoes at home. I love them!)

I thought it was fun, filling the baby pram with presents and greens.

And this corner just seemed to peaceful to me.

Then it was on to the craft tent. Scott explained that blue is considered a Christmas color, more so in Europe than the States, in part because of the blue that Virgin Mary is seen wearing in much of the art of the period. Our supplies included the greens and juniper wreath, red twig dogwood, clippers, gloves and long green pipe cleaners. That was my take away of the day -- they work well to wire the individual branches onto the wire wreath form and are visible only from the back of the wreath. It was lots easier to tighten them than it is florist wire.

Let's just say that I am a lot better working with wreaths that are already formed than I am trying to wire live greens to a wire wreath form.

This was my expression during much of the construction. I'll share the finished wreath after I do a little cosmetic enhancement. Like, possibly redoing it to get the greens better spaced!

Still, glorious fun! And chickens! What's not to love?

Linking to: Share Your Style  Pink Saturday  /

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Merry and Bright

We're getting our holiday jingle in gear! (Cue the music and Bruce!)

It may not look like Christmas outside (I know, that's relative depending on where you live but here it means "White Christmas") but that's OK with me. It makes all the getting about easier!

My shopping is almost done (apart from Rick and the kids and a few mini-things) and much has been posted, along with some Gypsy Caravan orders. Thank you all so much! I need to restock soon and that's a treat!

Rick is at a trade show in Nashville but I'm sticking to home and looking forward to a Southern Exposure wreath workshop, lunch with the remarkable blogger and author Becca Rowan and a visit from my Canadian friend Suzanne!

Meanwhile, we haven't been sitting around! Last weekend, after a couple of funeral visitations, we headed to a small town nearby to meet our Cork Poppers for a celebratory dinner. (And yes, that is why I made the super-simple DIY clips in the last post -- to clip together the treat bags I was taking!)

We got there early and walked around. It was the evening of the Christmas parade and this is the closest I will ever get to being on a float!

I also noticed this shop window. Now, call me crazy, but I just don't see any mother of the bride wearing this dress -- at least not to the wedding! Maybe in Vegas... The window designer either had a bizarre sense of humour or could use a little assistance.

After our dinner, we headed back to Barb and Mike's house for dessert and fun. But first, I had to check out the parade.

Loads of lights. I think a lot of these might have been in Lansing's Silver Bells light parade a few weeks ago and just kept decorated. The one below had something for everyone -- St. Nicholas and the Holy Family.

Several of us brought desserts to Barb's and we had a wine-and-chocolate exchange.

Of course, the glass clinking reminded us of little bells!

Barb is such a talented floral designer. She did her annual "girl tree" for her porch.

Unfortunately, even with the porch light, it was a little dark, but you get the idea!

Of course we had the obligatory portraits...

...and the Funny Face one. Some played along better than others!

The next day I went to a Christmas Card watercolor class!

We did several cards and I was pleased with most of them, learning new techniques.

None were perfect but a few were close and I'll be working on these some more this season!


Wow! No wonder I'm tired! Gotta fly!

Happy Week!

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