Every day during the busy holiday season I look forward to reading cards and catching up on the goings on of good friends and family. Thank you, thank you for all your many kindnesses. Thank you dear herbal friend Nancy Heraud, Lemon Verbena Lady, for the unexpected trove of glorious, jewel-like jellies and jams. Nothing is better than something cooked or crafted with love.
How can it already be time to unpack our family treasures from the old green blanket chest? It feels like I tucked our favorite ornaments away only a few weeks ago, but it has been a year. The first things to come out are always our old stick sheep from the beginning of the 20th century.
Our old German stick sheep line the mantel. When the horrible San Simeon earthquake hit us in 2003, the sheep were all hurled across the room and onto the floor. Many of their ears are broken and legs are wobbly, but they've been a part of my life for almost 40 years. The children expect them to watch over our family.
The handmade Edwardian hat-topper is now our tree-topper. Imagine wearing a hat big enough to support a ten inch squirrel. I found this in an antique shop I always loved. Do any of you remember Millie Fairie's fabulous store in Cambria? I'll never forget it. I think I bought this guy about 35 years ago.
This little snowman (smaller than my pinky finger) is about 100 years old, and he is one of my all time favorites.
Mary Margaret Klug stitched the Christmas hearts, my daughter in law made me over a hundred origami paper birds, my friend David Krause made the tiny walnut basket in the lower left. It has a gingham table cloth and is filled with berries. I included his walnut basket in my first book, Sunflower Houses, so this basket is over twenty four years old.
An early, clip-on glass bunny.
A tiny cotton Santa and above his left shoulder is the ferry boat that traverses the sea between Anacortes and Orcas Island where we once had a tiny cottage. Waiting for the ferry was always so exciting.
This is as close as Jeff will get to having the sailboat of his dreams!
Or maybe this is! This red canoe is in honor of the one we have in Maine. This canoe topped my 50th birthday cake and now always sits in a place of honor in our tree.
The little clip-on chicken is one of my favorites. I think it is from the early 20th century.
Corny as it is, the Santa face ranks near the top of beloved keepsake memories. This is actually a half of a mussel shell, which has been painted with Santa's face. Our friends in the Brewer family took us out for a memorable boat ride and picnic at the tiny Burnt Island Lighthouse out of Boothbay Harbor. I bought some of these from the girls who lived out there and tended the island. When I hang these on the tree, I smell the aroma of the firs, the sound of our feet scrunching through the shell-strewn pathways, and I see the play of clear Maine light across the blue, blue waters of the bay.
I'm a sucker for little holiday stockings.
An old, clip-on bird ornament was a gift from Susan Pendergast, who also made the string/garlands of old glass ornaments. Another few origami paper birds. I love their flight across the branches.
I treasure all the handmade ornaments sent to me by Suzanne, Down in the Meadow, all the way from South Africa.
Out come the old Christmas quilts and the memories of blazing sunshine over vast fields of antiques in Maine, Massachusetts, and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. And the stockings from Christmas Cove Designs, which Jeff and I will fill with small gifts for each grand.
And five little socks to be stuffed for the faerie mailboxes out in our garden. I know that the more grown-up grands are shaky about their belief in the garden faeries, but they still go out to check their mailboxes and many times find fanciful gifts tucked inside them.
So now the stockings are stuffed, the tree is finally hung with the memories of our lives, and we await the arrival of family and friends, which is really what this season is all about.
I send love across the miles, and remember, the days are already beginning to lengthen; they're loping toward spring time. Holiday blessings and the warmth of love to you all.
Believe me dear friends, one doesn't need to grow up!
LUCKY US! Timber Press sent an offer for a give-away copy of Marta McDowell's new book about Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life. This is a must read for anyone who loves Beatrix and for anyone who loves a garden. This book is amazing! Be the lucky winner, just leave a comment on this blog posting. If you're an anonymous commenter, please check back to see if you've won Marta's book.
Remember, don't grow up!