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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Still Celebrating!

Around here, we squeeze every last bit of
Christmas out of Christmas.

So until January 6th, Ephiphany,
it is still Christmas at That Old House.
Which means there are no calories here,
and precious few chores.

Have you seen this image from the Hubble Telescope?
It's the captured image of a star being formed from gas and dust --
but it's caught the world's attention because it looks so very much like an angel.

If you don't hear some sort of soaring Christmas music, or a bit of Scripture,
in your head when you see this picture, well, I don't know what to tell you.

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

And Merry Christmas to all -- Cass

Friday, December 23, 2011

More Trees And A Lille Juleaften Greeting

Today's post is really two posts in one.
The first -- a "fresh" post, continuing a little
showcase of some of the trees at That Old House.
The second -- a revised post from one year ago,
about this special day and its significance.
(Sorry, no recipes today as promised -- too much else to write about!)
So . . . some trees!
In the Conservatory, the fresh Fraser Fir.
A little smaller than previous years' models, but we love it nonetheless!

Like all Christmas trees, an absolute bear to photograph.  Especially in daylight.

 So -- here is one somebody took Saturday night, at our party.
Yes, Christmas trees do look better at night!

The Feather Tree, always one of my favorites.
 Love those teeny ornaments.
I did buy more this year.  Don't rat me out.

By the kitchen sink, a little wiry brass tree
from daughter Anne brightens the backsplash.

In the powder room, a little tree in a Santa Boot
sports glass Santas and other tiny glass ornaments.  

In the dining room, a spiral tree awaits a few special ornaments.
(They're coming!  Be patient!)

Upstairs, on the second floor landing, a topiary tree.
No ornaments, just the lights; it's enough.

And in the Study, the Girls' Tree, with ornaments collected over the years.
This year, when Alida returns to California, she'll take her ornaments with her.

So if you think I go a little bonkers with trees and Christmas bling,
I come by it honestly.  I am of Norwegian descent,
and we Norwegians love us a good, long, celebratory Christmastime.
Ja, you betcha!
(From December 23, 2010, with revisions for 2011.)
Norwegians, living as they do
in some pretty grim, dark and cold December weather in Norway, make the most of Christmas.

They even have a name for this day, the day
before Christmas Eve:  Lille Julaften.

Translation:  Little Christmas Eve.

My mother and I always called one another on Lille Julaften.
We'd compare our Julekake, or Christmas bread,
and just spend some time away from the pre-Christmas-Eve whirlwind.
Reminiscing.  Catching up.  Making plans.  Comparing menus.

My mother believed it was okay to still be baking or cleaning on Lille Julaften;
by the next day, Christmas Eve, chores were to be finished so you would be in a
calm and serene state of mind, ready for that night's church services,
and ready to settle your children down with gentle words and quiet stories.

I miss my mother very much today,
this second Christmas without her.

Last year, I visited my Dad on the afternoon of Lille Juleaften.
But now he, too, is among the people I miss at Christmas.

Family.  Not something to be taken lightly, or for granted.
We don't have one another forever, not on this Earth.

Now I've got some baking to do; there are only a few cookies left from last week,
and one mustn't greet Santa with stale cookies!
As you prepare your home, your family, yourself for the coming of the Christ Child,
I wish you peace and serenity, despite any last minute rushing that might be part of your holiday
this year (as it is part of mine!).  Wrap those last few gifts, bake those last few batches of cookies,
settle down to read a cozy Christmas book with your children or grandchildren,
and know that whatever gets done, or does not get done, the Greatest Gift of all is yours.
And that is forever.

I wish you a
Glaedelig Lille Julaften!
-- Cass

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tarting Up The Old Gal For Christmas

(No, not me . . . it's That Old House we're tarting up for Christmas!)

Santa brought me a new camera this year.  Early.
In fact, he brought it on the first night of Chanukah.
He's an ecumenical kind of guy, that Mr. Claus.
Now I haven't watched the entire CD of instructions that came with the camera.
Or, any of it.
But I did read the "Quick Start Guide" and quickly got started, taking some test pictures.

Above is a beautiful Christmas centerpiece Howard's sister and husband sent us.

Below, gorgeous flowers from Josh's parents.
 Ask me why I didn't use the Macro setting to take these.  Well, I don't know.  Oops.
But they still look beautiful!

My Christmas Cactii are all merrily bursting with bloom, right on time.  They usually bloom for Thanksgiving
or Easter or Groundhog Day, so I'm pretty pleased by their first-ever on-time performance.

I wandered around our creaky old house, taking some random shots.
(Creaky is right; you can't sneak anywhere in this place.)
Come into the front hall with me.  The girls and I decorated the stairs.
 The greenery is a mix of white pine and cedar.
I wish it could smell fresh all through the season!

This shot makes me dizzy.

Just off the front hall, the Parlor sports twin trees.

No stars on their tops, but bunches of gilt feathers,
twisted into swoopy, fantastic shapes by daughter Anne.

On the tea table, the big blue and white bowl from Martha, with red berry garland.
I'll add some bling to this bowl . . . hopefully by Saturday.
 The mantel is just simple cedar roping, with white lights, and one poinsettia at the end.
I think there's enough going on in this room, without too much around the fireplace.

Basically the same picture as above, but a different camera setting.  Which do you like better?

Through the parlor, into the dining room, where . . . 

. . . the chandelier sports three tiers of poinsettia bracts for color.

 Mr. Dion DiPoochy wants to know
what is going on in his house.

"Hey Mom, is that my crate under this stupid tablecloth?"

Sigh.  "I guess I'm just going to have to sleep behind that tree,
where no one will find me.  Go away!  I'm hiding."

And through all the holiday hubbub, the Cinderella pumpkin from October is still holding court.
I haven't the heart to toss her outside to the chipmunks and squirrels.
Not yet, anyway.
Tomorrow . . . more of the trees and decorations here at
That Old House, and a couple of recipes for Christmas gatherings.
Is there anything harder to photograph than a Christmas tree?  Sheesh!!!
Merry Christmas! -- Cass
 At French Country Cottage, it is Feathered Nest Friday.  Click here!
At Common Ground, it's Vintage Inspiration Friday.  Click here! 
At No Minimalist Here, it's Open House Thursday.  Click here!
At Ivy and Elephants, it is Whatsit Wednesday!   Click here!