Our Trees are Fair and Lovely

Merry Christmas! Blessings to all who journey, Stay-at-Home or otherwise.

Our choo-choo train of lights on its journey toward the North Pole and a feeding reindeer. Pictured here is one section of last year’s light display in front of our home on the hill (the one we recently sold.)

Over the years, my family and I have celebrated with Christmas trees of many shapes and sizes. When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a townhouse. There, our tree was tall and slim, a perfect fit for a narrow space topped by a cathedral ceiling. When we moved to our huge home on the hill, where we lived for twenty-three years, our trees stood big and fluffy and proud–even a height of ten feet wasn’t enough to fill our living room’s space. In those days of child-rearing abundance, we selected robust trees and adorned them with purchased ornaments and ones received as gifts, including several  special baubles tagged “Baby’s First Christmas.”

Our 2009 Christmas tree--night time view

Our 2009 Christmas tree--night view. Our tree was smaller than usual last year. It sat on a table top.

For the two Christmases we spent in England, we had smaller trees for our smaller living space, but still five to six feet tall. As we prepared for our first English Christmas day, since we hadn’t yet adjusted to transacting in Pounds Sterling instead of U.S. dollars, everything seemed terribly expensive. Though we wanted to decorate our home as usual, we hadn’t brought our Christmas things across the Pond and didn’t relish buying pricey ornaments. So, we switched into high Stay-at-Home travel gear and high-tailed it to Picadilly Circus in London to shop at a Japanese grocery store. There, we bought several packets of origami paper. That paper became our ornaments that year.

Our two English trees live long in my family’s memory. We can’t forget how sweet it felt to fold and tuck colorful paper to make our ornaments together. And, ever since we’ve been back in the U.S., we haven’t used our old ornaments. Though all our old ones are very charming, every year we go back to the homemade adornments.

After our big and exhausting move from our home on the hill, our Christmas has transformed into something different. Now we live in a Marriott Residence Inn until the remodel of our new, down-sized, house is done. Though quite comfortable, our living room here is small; there isn’t really a clear and central space where we can put a tree.

Our 2009 tree, day time view. Note origami on tree as well as on tree skirt.

So, this year, we’ve switched gears again. Instead of a rather large tree as our main attraction, we’ve decorated two tiny ones, so small that even the origami ornaments we made in England dwarf their branches. So, we  made origami ornaments again–this time of very small paper.

Tiny origami cranes

Tiny origami cranes we made for this Christmas

One tree is decked with tiny cranes. The other is decked with handmade red and gold bows. Also included in our decorations are a few small things from our international travels. These little additions make our modest living room cozy and festive.

For a fun exercise in Stay-at-Home-Travel, here’s a kind of game: look at the following picture of our little living room and see if you can identify the following items and the country they come from:

  • Origami ornaments
  • Miniature crèche
  • Royal guards (very hard to see)
  • Christmas crackers
  • Christmas carol CD‘s

Christmas 2010: Our two tiny trees and Stay-at-Home-Travel items

Did you find them all? Here are the origins.

Origami, of course, comes from Japan and is the Japanese art of paper folding. Instructions for making cranes can be found here. It’s a You Tube video, and might take some time for it to load.

Miniature crèche: When I bought this set at a little store in Assisi, I romantically fantasized that the figurines were fashioned by Geppetto. When the proprietor told me the figurines had been made in Germany, it seemed a bit less romantic. Not because there was anything wrong with them being made there–the German craftsmen did a beautiful job! I just “wanted” them to have been made there in Assisi! But in the end, I bought the set.

They sell crèches in Assisi because St. Francis of Assisi was the person who fashioned the first creche. Click here for the story.

The royal guards are, of course, from England. Whenever I set up my Christmas crèche, I fling chronological accuracy out the window. Doesn’t it make perfect sense for Buckingham Palace and Tower of London guards to keep watch over the Holy Family along with the shepherds?

Christmas carol CDs: here’s a way to extend your travels into your home after you return: buy CDs of the local music. Every year, we play Christmas carol CDs from not only the USA, but also from England and France.

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

Image via Wikipedia

In closing, allow me to give you some food for thought, for now and in the New Year: how can you, also, extend what you’ve taken from your travels into your celebrations at home?

Bon voyage,

Rita Elizabeth


About RitaElizabeth

I'm a recently widowed wife and mother who loves to use ideas and experiences from travel to enrich my family's life at home. I blog to share ideas with you and to hear your ideas and comments.
This entry was posted in Christmas, Domestic Arts, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Our Trees are Fair and Lovely

  1. Ruthann Nuzzo says:

    I always buy an ornament from every place I have ever traveled to. I may not use all the decorations every year but when I do use them, I fondly remember each place. I now explain to my grandsons where each ornament came from and where those places are on a map.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Love, Ruthann

    • Great idea, and I didn’t realize how educational it could be to talk about the ornaments with children. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, too! It would be great to see you in 2011. (One never knows.)

  2. I so enjoyed sharing in your Christmas memories. I brought back numerous ornaments from Russia when we traveled to bring home our children; something I will pass along to them when they are older. Love the origami ornaments. What a wonderful idea. My oldest son is really good at making origami, so next year we will have some on our tree for sure. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a happy, healthy and blessed New Year. Hugs, Diane

  3. How thoughtful and caring to have brought back ornaments from Russia when you traveled to bring your children home; I’m certain they will be very meaningful to them when you give them to them when they’re old enough. That was really thinking ahead, in a very caring way. This is an example of a special kind of “stay-at-home travel” that lasts and lasts! God bless you and your family.

  4. Rita, what a lovely story telling; I trust Christmas was filled with love and happy moments and even more warm stories to share next year.
    All the best to you and your family in the New Year and I wish you happy moving into your new home which is I’m sure imminent.

  5. kenny2dogs says:

    I imagine most people’s memories of their peregrinations are relived through photographs. However, they are not the only memorabilia that one holds dear. A pebble from some far of beach that caught your eye, a t/shirt etc, all hold cherished moments of our past.
    A sentimental/nostalgic post me thinks.

    Have searched for the Royal Guards, I think they are laying on the table to the left.
    But then again I may be seeing things lol
    take care Rita and all the best for the NEW YEAR !

    • Kenny, thank you for your post, so thoughtful, as always.

      Yes, a pebble can do it, too! When we lived in the U.K., we went to Cornwall and explored the (supposed) cave where Merlin the Magician made his home. Horror of horrors–I know we shouldn’t have done this–we took some pebbles with us and shared them with the children in her American school. It gave their language arts teacher a chance to talk about Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, some great English literature!

      Oh, and about the royal guards: the picture I took didn’t show them. I have to whip myself with a wet noodle. They’re clearly shown on my New Year’s Day post–on the mantle to the far right–that’s where they would have shown up, had my picture been better.

      Happy New Year, Kenny! I wish you excellent health, and happiness, this year.

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