Merry Christmas, Dear Reader! It’s time for another installment of our annual Christmas post. Welcome to Christmas at Byron & John’s – 2018!
Another Christmas Day has come and gone! I always find Christmas to be such a roller coaster of emotions. I plan excessively for Christmas Day – everyone close to me knows just how much emphasis and effort I put into each and every Christmas. It’s my drug!
I get an emotional high off of baking, decorating, buying, wrapping, planning, etc. Every little detail is important to me and as long as I have my health and my strength, I’ll continue to keep our family traditions alive and well.
My high hits its peak just before bed on Christmas Eve and then I start the process of withdrawal. (I’m really not trying to write this post using drug user terminology. I’ve never tried a drug stronger than Advil in my whole life! But, the terms seem to fit the context well in this case!)
When I go to bed on Christmas Eve, I know that there’s not one more thing I can squeeze in. There’s not one more recipe to make. There are no more presents to wrap. I have to come to terms with the fact that I cannot find an excuse to re-decorate the Christmas tree one more time until November comes once again. And, I know that in a few hours, McKenna will be awake, she’ll open all of her presents, and then it’s officially over.
The days that follow will find me starting to grow a little impatient, a little resentful, and a little bored. I’ll try my best to push myself through the funk, but the only way I can fight it is to start new. That means packing away everything to do with Christmas, giving our home a good clean, and starting the New Year off with a fresh, clean slate.
Is there anyone else like that? My mom used to keep our tree up until January 9th, I think. If memory serves me correctly, she referred to that day as Old Christmas Day. For the past few years, our tree is lucky to be still standing by January 1st. I see no point in leaving it standing if there’s no high or rush associated with it.
While it lasts though, I love every single second of it! And, that’s one of the reasons I like to write up these annual Christmas posts. Not only does it document another year of prosperity and happiness for me and my little family, but it allows me to revisit the memories and the photos whenever I feel a little down or nostalgic.
And, staying in line with full disclosure, it allows me to see everything in full colour in August or September, which is when I officially start to plan that year’s Christmas. Oftentimes, we will start buying decor in late summer. I’ll most certainly start planning recipes for Lord Byron’s Kitchen. And, I’ll start to plan the look of the main tree. Looking back on previous annual Christmas posts helps to prevent main tree duplication.
So, initially, this year’s theme was supposed to be 70s/80s, but we were not able to source enough decorations. Just two weeks ago, we scored a large selection of old-fashioned ornaments at 50% off, so we purchased over 100 ornaments and have stored them for next year.
This year, we opted for a White and Wood theme. Everything on the tree is either white or wooden. John.e spent hours and hours making wooden ornaments using sliced birch. Some were burnt with his wood burner and others were cut with one of his saws. Others were hand painted. He also made these ornaments out of of old mason jar lids and birch bark he harvested from fallen trees in the woods!
Speaking of wooden slices, we found a large package at Hobby Lobby, so John.e painted them black and placed the hooks on them. McKenna was responsible for the text. John.e then painted pine cones and placed a screw eye-hook in them.
My only contribution in terms of homemade decorations were my crocheted ornaments. Now, I know these are glass balls (not white or wooden) and the crochet thread is “antique white,” not pure white, but I was too proud of them not to place them on the tree. If you’ve ever tried to crochet around a glass ball, you’ll understand my pride!
Most of the white ornaments were once again purchased at Canadian Tire. They came from their Canvas line, which I absolutely adore and purchase from each and every Christmas season!
We opted for no tree top this year. I have been toying with it in my head for a few years now, but finally saved up enough courage to do it. And, I couldn’t be happier! I once had this beautiful star topper that I lost in my divorce (right, Tanya!?) and ever since then, I’ve not been able to find a star that I loved. So, this year we went topless! 🙂
Okay, let’s talk about special ornaments. There are two favourites this year. The first was the red farm truck that John.e carved for me. I’ve been wanting a red farm truck for so long and could never find one. He decided to carve one. A few weeks later, I found a big metal red farm truck at Hobby Lobby. I used that one as a center piece for our coffee table and placed the red truck that John.e carved on my own personal tree.
He also carved a green truck for Natasha and Alan. They are McKenna’s Aunt and Uncle from her mom’s side. They drive a lime green Dodge Ram 1500, so he made a Christmas ornament to mimic their truck.
The second was purchased by McKenna at the ballet this year. I think this might be her third or fourth time watching the Nutcracker here in Toronto. This little mouse ornament fit into the white theme for the main tree, so he was a late addition.
Speaking of personal trees, as you know, John.e and I both have our own. McKenna had her own for the past two years, but this year she opted out. On my personal tree, I have placed a few ornaments I purchased over the past year. Gotta love that “Ornament Addict” one from Hobby Lobby – so much truth to it – especially in my case!
Here are a few others, including this year’s Lego additions:
John.e’s personal tree also got some new ornaments. Take a look at that broccoli ornament. If you’ve been reading Lord Byron’s Kitchen for any length of time, you’ll get the significance of the broccoli ornament!
There’s just one more – this is a rolling pin ornament that John.e made for my personal tree.
Speaking of rolling pins, John.e also made this one for me this year. It’s a miniature wooden rolling pin, and I’d love to explain the process of how he transferred the text onto it, but I wouldn’t know where to begin. But, now that I know he can do this, there might be a few projects for him in the near future!
Let’s see, what else is there? Oh, there’s our tradition of matching pajamas on Christmas Eve and the obligatory selfies – again! This year, dad joined us for Christmas, so he’s in there with us too! Now, we are a family that is certainly not shy of a selfie – take a look!
I previously mentioned the red truck that I picked up from Hobby Lobby. I placed it on a wooden serving tray that I picked up at the Arthur Cash & Carry in Arthur, Ontario; then, I lined it with Evergreen branches from Michael’s, and simply placed the truck on top of it. The sticks in the back, make it look like a load of firewood. I got those at Hobby Lobby too.
The tall red stand, which I used earlier for a donut recipe, was used again as a part of the coffee table centerpiece. I filled it with small cuts of birch, from Birch Bark in Bala, Ontario. I added some fake Evergreen branches, and placed it in a metal tray that we picked up a few weeks ago at the Mercantile at the Crossroads in Elmira, Ontario. The red bowl with the candies came from Arthur Cash & Carry as well.
In previous posts, you will have seen the China cabinet and the other wall and table decor, but I did try to change it up a bit this year. Since we’ve already purchased most of the decor for next year in advance, next year, my goal will be to replace the Christmas dishes in that cabinet. I love them, but change is always good!
Okay, let’s talk Lego. As you know, John.e has always been a fan and builder of Lego. A few years ago, John.e was a little sneaky and turned me onto the Lego craze by purchasing our first Christmas Lego set. (He knows I can’t say no to anything Christmasy!) Over the past few years, our Lego village has started to come together. Here are a few pictures of the sets way up high – away from Jake. (He still got up there a few times. Maggie is too much of a lady to be bothered with it.)
We didn’t do too much in the way of getting out and about this year. You can blame me for that. The Lord Byron’s 24 Cookies of Christmas was a huge undertaking and took up a lot of my time. Next year, I will not be posting 24 cookie recipes back to back. Maybe 12? 🙂
We did get out to the Toronto Christmas Market. We’d like to make this an annual thing, but we missed last year due to a flu bug that got the best of all of us. This year, we asked Natasha and Alan, and Rose too, to join us. We had a great evening with them even though it was really cold!!!
We picked up a few little presents while we were there. We ate a lot of food! Look at us all sharing those larger than life pretzels!
The one thing I managed to find was a Christmas-themed wooden nesting doll. Except, these were not dolls. It’s a large Christmas tree with a Santa, a snowman, a penguin, and a Christmas tree. It wasn’t cheap, but I’ve wanted one for so long. It’s hand-carved and so beautiful, so it was well worth the money spent!
The day before Christmas Eve, I felt the need to bake – AGAIN! So, we baked off a bunch of regular gingerbread cookies and a bunch of chocolate gingerbread cookies to give to our neighbours. My job was to bake them:
John.e helped so much with the decorating; in fact, I think he did most of them!
I packaged them up and delivered them on Christmas Eve.
I think this brings us right up to the main event – Christmas morning! I think the one thing I miss the most about Christmas morning is that I have to now wake McKenna up to open her presents. This year, I waited until 8am to get her out of bed. That gave me time to get the turkey stuffed and in the oven.
We started off this Christmas season with the promise that we would only prepare a stocking for each of us rather than piling the bottom of the tree with presents. Well, the stockings got a little too full, so we had to get these large bags instead. Next year, just stockings for sure!
While John.e, McKenna, and Dad cleaned up all of the paper and bows, I set out to make Christmas dinner. Anyone who has every prepared Christmas dinner for four or for forty, knows how much work it takes. But, we love it all the same! The pictures that follow are the end result – simple, rustic, and perfect for the four of us!
Oh, and since we are talking table top, I want to show you the centerpiece we used this year. The tray came from Arthur Cash & Carry; the three black candle holders came from Twig in Bala; the tree came from Michael’s, as did the evergreen; and lastly, the crown nativity candy dish came from Hobby Lobby.
Do you know who didn’t enjoy Christmas this year? Our kitties! My dad brought his little dog with him, who was afraid of the cats. But, the cats were also afraid of him, and spent all of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in our bedroom. I did manage to capture a few photos though!
What else is there? I think I’ve covered everything. Overall, 2018 was a wonderful year, but we are looking forward to bigger and better things in 2019! On behalf of John.e, McKenna, Jake, and Maggie, I’d like to wish you all a very safe, prosperous, and happy New Year!!