Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year, Dear Reader! It’s the fourth annual Christmas at Byron & John’s blog post!
Once again, it’s time for my annual Christmas post. I have a love/hate relationship with these posts. This is my fourth Christmas post. Every year, I love to write up a re-cap and share our little family Christmas with you, but each year, writing this post makes me a little sad, because I have to face the fact that Christmas is over and I have another twelve long months to go before I get to do it again. I know there’s some of you out there who feel the same way!
This year, for me, Christmas was just not as exciting as it tends to be normally. It goes without saying that Christmas will never be the same once you lose a parent. This was the second Christmas without mom, and it seemed to be worse than the first. It was supposed to get easier, but it didn’t. It doesn’t help that mom was a fanatic about Christmas, just like me, and not having her around to get excited about new decorations or new recipes was rather difficult.
My mom was a huge lover of Christmas; there’s no doubt about that! I wish I had a few pictures of her home at Christmastime to share with you. In the mess and the chaos of moving my mom out of her home during her last few weeks, many of her personal items were left behind. I did manage to get my hands on these two candle holders. I love them and cherish them. I keep them high and away from the cats, and have used them the past two Christmases on our table for dinner. This is a tradition I will continue.
The second reason that Christmas was less exciting was because of the cold and the flu and everything that comes with it. I developed a cold in early November, which turned to bronchitis and then pneumonia. Just as I was getting over that, I got hit with a stomach flu that was passed on to John.e and McKenna. So, basically from early November to mid-December, our home was out of whack. We did what we could in terms of baking and decorating, but not to our full potential like in previous years.
Intially, I had plans to change the Christmas tree decorations this year to a buffalo check with burlap accents, but I just could not muster up the energy or the focus. Instead, I left the main Christmas tree the same as last year – with the exception of a few new ornaments – and opted to use buffalo check decor wherever else I could. We already had buffalo check cushions for the couch, so it was a start! Ha!
I found this beautiful table cloth and napkin set at Simons in Montreal. It certainly helped to pull the buffalo check theme into the dining room corner of our apartment. I really should have purchased two of the table cloths, because I tend to keep a table cloth on our table at all times – even when we are not using it for mealtimes. A table that’s void of a table cloth just looks unnatural to me. I have quite a large collection of table cloths and use them pretty much every single day of the year. (You can blame my mother for that. That was her influence.)
This past summer, we took a road trip from Toronto to Washington. We love road trips and have taken a road trip every summer for the last few years. This year, it was a toss up between Washington or Chicago. Washington won due to McKenna’s love of American history. Each and every time we go, we collect new Christmas ornaments (and fridge magnets too) for one of our smaller trees. This year, we couldn’t agree on which museum ornament to get, so we got more than one!
On the way back, we stopped to do some outlet shopping in Niagara Falls on the United States side. Right next to the outlets is a Hobby Lobby – which I adore! I found this one buffalo check bear ornament there, and then a month or so later, we went cross-border shopping again and I picked up this crown.
Speaking of crowns, you must know, Dear Reader, how much I love them. A crown is a major component of my blog’s logo. There must be some royalty in my blood somewhere, because I truly believe I was meant to wear a crown, or at least own one! Laugh if you must. But, let’s face it, the only crown(s) I’ll ever own are these new ornaments that John.e found for me.
I really didn’t spend too much time on sourcing new ornaments this year, but here are two more that we picked up. The first is a glass ornament with a metal decorative top to it. John.e found it at Winners. The second is a rocking horse that we found in a little antique/giftware shop on our way to the cottage this summer.
If you’ve read last year’s annual Christmas post, you will have been introduced to our Lego Christmas village. This year, we added the following ornament, (did you know Lego releases an ornament or two every year?) and also we added the train station set to accompany last year’s train. There’s a series of Lego village pics here:
I guess now is a good time to show you John.e’s annual old-timer tree, and McKenna’s personal tree as well. Like in previous years, John.e decorates a smaller tree with some of his old family heirloom ornaments, because let’s face it, he’s not allowed anywhere near the main tree! And, this is the second year in a row that McKenna has had a small tree in her room. She’s a teenager, so she gets what I thought was an indestructible metal tree. But, I was wrong. She managed to break a curly stem off somehow!
Every year, I tend to re-create the same centerpiece for our coffee table. This year, I wanted (needed?) something different. We opted for something a little smaller and simpler this year, because a few months previous, we downsized our coffee table to a smaller version. Actually, it was the original coffee table we had about four or five years ago!
Now, everyone has seen our china cabinet at Christmastime in previous posts, but this year, I got to add a few new things. We celebrated Christmas early with my dad this year, because he was going on a Christmas vacation with my sister and her family. He knows how much I love anything Christmas and anything decorative. He found these lovely Santa pieces that I was able to add to our cabinet. I love the pop of red from these! (They are the cream and sugar set, the teapot, the salt and pepper set, and the napkin holder you see on the bottom shelf.)
I also found some new stockings this year at Hobby Lobby, along with the initials. I like to place these letter initials on each of our stockings rather than a name tag. I was never a big fan of mismatched stockings at Christmastime, so this is a great way of differentiating between each one. Now, unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the stockings, but I did get a picture of our initials on the stocking bags. (The hanging stockings are rarely used, because we tend to buy too many stocking stuffers and usually end up using a cloth bag like these!)
This was my one home-made project this year. Actually, I started on this one back in August, because, you know, who doesn’t crochet mini stockings in the heat of summer? We’ve had the old window sill for quite some time, so we decided to dress it up with the crocheted stockings, some thin red and white string, and numbered mini clothes pins. You can’t really see the numbers in the photos though. Next time, I’ll zoom in a bit.
Every year, on Christmas Eve, we all get to open our matching Christmas pajamas. We do this just before we start to watch movies and pig out on snack foods. Oh, and we can watch as many movies as we want, but Elf is a must! There’s also the mandatory Christmas family photo in front of the tree and, of course, more selfies!
Not to be forgotten in our family are our two adorable babies – Jake and Maggie! Every year they are just as important to our Christmas fun and jolly as the rest of us. They are the subject of Christmas photos and matching clothing as well. This year, they opted for matching red bow ties.
And just before the movie starts, we play our annual Find the Dill Pickle game. If you’ve never heard the tale of hanging a dill pickle ornament on your tree, then it’s something you simply must do – especially if you have kids! Hanging a pickle ornament on the Christmas tree is said to be an old German tradition; the lucky person who first spots the green ornament hidden deep within the branches of the tree can open a present on Christmas Eve. However, plenty of doubters, many of them German, say there is no basis for this legend, and at least two additional Christmas pickle ornament stories are floating in the brine of myth and speculation. One tells the story of a Bavarian soldier whose dying wish is for a pickle, which saves his life. The other recounts a tale of two boys trapped in a pickle barrel. Either way, this year, John.e was the excited winner. He got to open the first present, which happened to be a box full of wacky socks.
During Christmastime, we always try our best to get out and enjoy Christmas-related things around the city. This year, due to illness, we didn’t get to do much. We did make it to Elf the Musical and Grease the Musical though! Sadly, because I was so drugged on cold medication, I didn’t get any photos of us at the Elf Musical. But, I did manage to capture a few selfies at Grease!
Remember that trip to Hobby Lobby that I mentioned? I found this awesome shelf there that I just had to have! Since we were not using any of our red Christmas decorations from previous years, I thought it would be a good idea to place the larger red ornaments in the cubes. I lined each cube with a little fake snow, placed the ornament in, and topped the shelf with some greenery.
To go next to it, John.e found this metal mailbox that was just prefect! He made the letters to put in the mail slot. I think it looks great!
Also, during that expensive Hobby Lobby shop-a-thon, I found these two matching shelves, which accent our green walls quite well. I added a few decorative items, including the pine cones, the horse, and of course, the tin. I’m addicted to tins, I swear!
I have to say, Dear Reader, John.e is quite good at eyeing little Christmas treasures. It still surprises me a little, because when we first met, he wasn’t exactly a lover of Christmas. Can you believe he didn’t even decorate a tree? And, just look at him now – he even has his own tree! He found this little wooden sleigh, that I think is so cute.
And, since this year, it seemed that every Christmas decoration on Instagram involved a bright red truck and a Christmas tree in the back, we were on a mission to find some of these for ourselves. After looking everywhere we could think of, John’e found this cute little red car and we decided to settle on that. Maybe we’ll find red truck decor next year.
Next, I’ll show you around our little apartment. Again, this year, our decorations were limited only to the dining room and living room (although there is a small Christmas tree in our bathroom!) Unlike previous years, time ran out before we could get to decorate our bedrooms with Christmas bedding. Maybe next year!
Oh, and before I forget, here’s the obligatory photos of the gifts under the tree. Once again, we were extremely fortunate and blessed.
There you have it! Another Christmas post for the books. And now, Dear Reader, I must go. I have only a year to get ready for Christmas 2018! And we are planning a complete overhaul; we’re going retro!
Happy New Year!!