This year, I took my time getting everything out. It was well after Thanksgiving before I even opened a box. The thought of yet another new house to decorate was a little daunting. But over the past 5 days, I've taken the things I LOVE out of their boxes one at a time and just looked at them, until I was inspired to put them in the perfect place.
I'm one of those people who can tell you the exact date and the exact person who gave me every single thing I own. I'm not sure what that says about me...that I'm materialistic?...that I really really like PRESENTS? Anyway, I have a story about everything in those Christmas boxes, but these are a few of my favorite ones.
My neighbor, Karen, gave this to me when we lived in Utah. I love her and I love thinking of her every time I bring this cute Santa out of the box. In our Utah house, he sat on top of a big bowl of pinecones in the dining room. I put him in a few places here before I finally settled on his "book end" position. He's not actually holding the books up...just sitting next to them.
My mom loved Santas. We acquired these three, a handful of Santa ornaments, and a stuffed Santa that hangs on the back door, last year when we cleaned out my parents' house after my dad passed away. These three don't go in the Christmas buckets in the garage at the end of the season. They live in individual boxes on a top shelf of the hall closet. I didn't love Santas before my mom passed away, but she loved these and I loved her...so therefore I have come to love them, too. I love that they have had a place of prominence in our home for the last two years.
I LOVE decorating the mantel. That's where I always start...not the tree, not the garland on the stairs...the mantel. This year, I put my jars of floating cranberries on the mantel instead of on the dining room table. I got the stockings on a trip to Utah one year when ZCMI was going out of business. (I have always been a HUGE fan of after Christmas sales! I'm pretty sure I got them for 90% off.) At the time we only had the three girls and we were content that our child bearing years were behind us, so I only got 5 stockings...even though there were plenty of others there. Three years later, when Mack was born, I had to scramble to find another one. For two years, I looked everywhere for a stocking from the same company as the other five, but apparently they became extinct at the same time ZCMI did. In 2005 when he was old enough to notice that he needed a stocking, I finally settled on this fire truck one from Pottery Barn Kids. It's not perfect, but it works and he still loves that it has a fire truck on it, and that it's different than the others.
I have 7 sets of these sprinkled around the house, some of them stay up all year because I can't bear to pack them away. I love seeing all the different interpretations of the birth of the Savior. I wish I had more surfaces to put them on in my house. They are beautiful and reverent. Even the little Fisher Price set has its own reverence. I bought this set in 2000 when we lived in Atlanta because I didn't want my kids to grow up thinking that all nativities were untouchable. They loved taking this out of the box every year and setting it up. Often, they would set the pieces up in unconventional ways...with the donkey on top of the stable or the wise men out in the back with the cows. Sometimes their other Little People would be mingled in with the nativity pieces. One year they played with the pieces so much and carried them away from their stable so often that we lost the camel for several days. I looked under every couch cushion and behind every book on the shelves, but on Christmas Eve, he was still lost. In one last desperate effort to find him before Christmas, I offered a .50 cent reward to the first person who could locate him. (The kids were little, so 50 cents was a BIG deal!) In about 30 minutes, three little girls turned over everything in our little basement living room until TCD finally found him squished FAR underneath one of the hide-a-bed cushions. Every time I take those pieces out of the box, I think about the camel hunt we had that year, and how TCD squealed with delight and gloated for several days that she was the winner of the .50 cents!!
I have seen some beautiful homes with amazing Christmas decorations in my life. There are some that look like showrooms or magazine covers. I always think I should aspire to that and that someday I'm going to get rid of all this old stuff and get new, beautiful, more sophisticated decorations. But I know I'll never actually do that. I love the remembering part of Christmas the best...taking each thing out of the box and remembering the significance it has had in past years. I love that my children are making their own memories of these things and will someday have the opportunity to decorate their own homes with memories.
I'm so excited for the beginning of this Christmas season, for the opportunity to give and to share, to remember the birth of the Savior, and to testify of his divine mission.