Thursday, November 20, 2008


Our kids in front of our tree in Kansas - we lived on a farm and rented out the pastures and stables in the barn to people that had horses. The kids had so many fun adventures on that farm - this was taken in 1976.
I get so excited this time of year - I just adore Christmas and the decorating, the shopping, the hiding of gifts (bought two for Don yesterday on the way home from work), the baking, the visiting with friends, the rainy season that lets us stay indoors and feel cozy, the excitement of the kids - I just love it all.

Our main tree, when we lived in a rennovated school house in N. CA The windows were fabulous, giving us views of pastures, hillsides, mountains and a river. We had a friend (she was 72) that lived down the road who had gone to school in our "house" when she was in grade school. It had been a one-room-school until it was remodeled into a home. The stories she told us were delightful, like when the river flooded in the spring and all the students would stand at the banks of windows and watch the bridge go floating down the river. Or about when they all had colds in the winter and their cloth hankies would get soggy so the teacher would have them put their hankies on the heat registers to dry out. It is a wonder anyone survived those times. Or about the dances where everyone on the road would come to dance and flirt and meet their future husbands and wives there. Wonderful stories.
So today I am sharing Christmases past - with some of the fun stuff we have done and some of our trees. The tree is basically the same every year - just a different arrangement of ornaments.

Looking in the window - with the outdoor lights to the right side - this is what you would see if driving past our first house in WA - a fabulous house with a gigantic living room and a very spacious dining room - where I put the teddy bear tree (and didn't get a picture of it ). This was on a farm - and again we rented the pastures out - this time to a man with cattle and two horses. We love being able to see and talk to the farm animals - and yet we have none of the work of owning them.

Inside the same house - the reflections in the windows are great!!!

One year in SoCal I started collecting ornaments for a teddy bear tree. It is our secondary tree - the main tree is of ornaments we've saved over the years, some were gifts, some were made by the kids, some were made by me - and all have such special meanings. The local newspaper did a story about our teddy bear tree that first year. It was sparse then, but we have added so many more ornaments that I can barely get them all on a 6 foot tree. The strange thing is - with all my picture taking, I don't have a picture of the teddy bear tree - except the one below - which doesn't show the ornaments at all - just the white lights I use on it.

This is the teddy bear tree - viewed from outdoors, in the same farm house. Guess that was my year for outdoor views of the trees in the house.

Our main tree - in our first house in town in Bellingham - I love the way the lights look when they are a little out of focus - and with no flash. This house was a small, cozy cottage - built in 1920 from a kit ordered from Sears Roebuck - they sent all the pieces, numbered, with instruction for building your whole house. We have lived in two of these kit houses.
Again - the main tree - with the plastic popcorn strings. We used to string popcorn and cranberries every year until we came upon some realistic looking plastic popcorn and cranberries in the Sears christmas catalog, that looked so real we've had people try to snitch a piece of popcorn off the tree. Then one year our youngest daughter found more strings at a thrift store - I was so jealous because we didn't have quite enough with the strings we had bought years ago - and one year soon after that she gave us her strings, she said they just "didn't go" with her elegant christmas trees. I was so happy, as I'd never seen the same kind in all the years of looking for the strings.

This house was also on a farm - actually a horse ranch (do you see a theme of the houses we are attracted to?) and was also a Sears Roebuck kit house - built also in 1920. It was built before the area had electricity so there was no provision made for a refrigerator (they had one of those air circulating cooler cupboards that kept their food cold) and we had to put the refrigerator in my studio - just a couple steps from the kitchen, because it woudn't fit in the kitchen.

The kitchen, at first outfitted with a wood burning stove for heat and cooking, was remodelled to have an electric stove, a sink and small drainboard -and I mean small. We had only 14 inches of counter spcace - and part of that was taken up with our breadbox. I had to be very creative to cook large meals in that kitchen, fortunatley there was room for a small kitchen table - which held the canisters and microwave - but provided a little more space for food preparation.
The house was not cozy, was not insulated - we had to pile hay bales around the foundation to help keep the pipes from freezing every winter - was drafty and hard to heat - with a very noisy furnace in the dining room - just barely covered with a thin "closet" - which did nothing to soften the noise, and we had to shout to be heard when the furnace was running - or just wait to talk until it was done running. We weren't sorry when we bought our house in town and moved away - to a cozy, warm, insulated house.
Some of the trees shown today belong to our youngest daughter. She has such a flair for decorating trees and does themes. She has a seal tree - all done up with baby harp seals - and a turtle tree, featuring all kinds of sea turtles. It is fun to look for a new sea turtle ornament for her each year - or a baby harp seal ornament. Some years you can find lots of them - some years - almost none. The specialy ornament shops are the best place to find them.
Her seal tree - in her apartment three years ago. Here it is - in her house last christmas - along with some stocking she made for Jay and Jahn. With the flash - to show all the seals and the cute Santa Hat for the tree topper. The stockings are made of felt, Jay's is a "bigfoot" and Jahn's is a Hot Wheels racing car- such intricate details - she is a super artist. Sea turtle tree - taken last year.

And it wouldn't be christmas without santa

Santa on our porch of our first house in WA. He is about 5 feet tall and we call him "Giant Tacky Plastic Santa". I love these light up Santas - I have have several smaller ones that I use indoors. Unfortunately GTPS is no longer with us - at our first in town house someone walked up into our porch and took off with him. We advertised and tried very hard to find him - even wrote a letter to the editor - but nothing. How can you have fun with a christmas decoration that you have stolen?

We have seen a couple of the same Santa - he's taller than most - and Don even offered someone 50.00 to buy theirs but they declined - guess they love "Giant Tacky Plastic Santa" as much as we did. We'll find another one some day!!!! And soon I hope!


Dorothy said...

JoAnn, I love all the Christmas photos! They're making me anxious to get my own Christmas decorations up from the crawl space. I don't usually start decorating till December 1st, only one more week to go!

QuiltedSimple said...

Great trees. I cannot wait to start decorating after Thanksgiving!