Remnants of Grace

The magazines at the grocery store are glowing. The overhead industrial lights create a spotlight on those rectangular temptations. Their shiny covers with pictures of holiday decorations make you wistful. You want to bask in their presence, channel your inner Joanna Gaines, and memorize every detail to be replicated at home. Eventually, the conveyor belt pulls you away.

When we were first married, decorating for the holidays was a disaster. I knew my husband didn’t like the holidays, but I didn’t really know how much he actually disliked them. My surprise decoration of the house with what I felt was a festive look, turned into our first serious argument. He wanted nothing to do with holiday decorations. I wanted him to help me make the house pretty. We fought. It was years before we discovered a happy middle ground.

During those years I just avoided asking about holiday decorations. I recall feeling a little sad when our children entered elementary school and our own home wasn’t decorated for the holidays. It happened to be I was dusting the house and cleaning out a cupboard. Before I knew it the top of our piano was “decorated” for the holidays. It was not extreme, just some art projects from the kids and some pinecones from the yard. I was a little nervous when my husband got home from work because he was sure to notice. He said it looked nice and he really like the use of the pinecones.

This is how I discovered using still lifes to decorate for the holidays. Our children would make a Thanksgiving or Christmas ornament in art class. We would go on walks to find leaves, branches, and other things from nature to create a complete scene around the ornament. Those timid efforts to find a way to decorate soon became my decoring style.

Now, as Thanksgiving approaches, I look forward to decorating my home. Because this is my family’s favorite holiday, it is extra fun and sentimental. It is the one holiday that even my “anti-holiday” husband turns into a little kid and helps me make the house pretty.

Fast-forward to our children being grown and far away. I continue to decorate this way. I have saved all sorts of stuff from my children. Artwork from my daughter, the poem from my son in which he compared me to a golf ball, cards, stuffed animals, clothes. All of this memorabilia are tucked away in my hope chest. There is nothing like opening my hope chest and deciding on what to use for this year’s holiday decorations. There is a feeking of nostalgia when those chosen items are placed all over the house. It is nice to recall the good times. Seeing those memories on display makes my heart warm.

It may appear a little stark, but there are only two bins for all my holiday decorations. In my downsizing, I remembered things I enjoyed from those magazines at the grocery store. As I considered each item, I asked if it was personal, held special memories, or added to a look that I liked. When I decorate today, even with just my two bins, I create a warm, natural, and very personal feel in our holiday decorations.

I could just go out and buy store-bought decorations. My husband and I have come a long way since our first serious argument. I have found the simplicity of using natural items suits me. Leaves from live oaks, magnolias, and palm trees, allow me to use my imagination. There is nothing like making something from scratch.

The best part of decorating for the holidays is when I can sit back with a cup of hot tea, my husband sitting next to me, and enjoy the creative way I decorated my home. It is a true reflection of us.

What are some of your favorite ways to decorate for the holidays? Is there an item you wish would use to decorate with, but are not sure how?


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