Okay, tour is probably a bit of a high bar which I will not scale, but I did want to redeem myself after the year(s) without a Christmas tree, and Boomama calls it a tour, so a tour it is. I'm sure that there will be many others that are more beautiful, better photographed, and better described, so if that's what you're looking for, go to the main post.
First, we chopped down the tree. We all tramped all over the hill. Amanda would shout out, "How about this one?" and Kyle would yell, "I found one!" and Terry would say, "This one looks nice." Finally we decided and brought one home. As usual once we got it up, it appeared to be a bit crooked, but that's okay with us.
Then we put on the decorations, and I have to admit that hearing the kids' excitement did make me feel a little badly about not putting one up last year. In fact, for about a week, I'd often find Kyle (4) sitting right at the foot of the tree and staring at the various ornaments. The style is more "early parenting" than "house beautiful" and I like it that way. Amanda (10) and Kyle pretty much decorated it, so Amanda favored the macaroni/paper plate wreaths and thumbprint Christmas tree ornaments that she made throughout her preschool years at church and preschool.
I did take charge of some very special ornaments. We love to travel and back on our honeymoon (almost sixteen years ago), we bought an ornament of New Orleans, and a tradition began. We now buy ornaments on most of our trips, and each year it's fun to remember those trips as I put on on the snow shoes from Colorado, or the streetcar from San Francisco, or the Santa on the Gondola out of blown Venice glass, or the Lighthouse from Chatham (Cape Cod).
The other ornaments that are precious to hang each year are those that my grandmother made. Throughout the year (I think -- but certainly in the fall), Mammaw always had a project going. She bought those Christmas kits and made those hard plastic ornaments (like the bell you can see there at the bottom right), or the ones made of sequins and felt. I inherited some of my favorites: the stained glass felt ones (you can see the angel at the very top right of the picture), and the Wizard of Oz characters (Dorothy is on the edge sort of below the angel). She worked on these for many years, gradually replacing the balls on her white-flocked artificial tree with homemade ornaments. (If you click the picture you can see the vacation ornaments as well as those of Mammaw's in more detail).
While they did that, I put up the nativity scene. The small bookshelf where it used to sit got moved, so I wasn't sure where I would put it this year. I finally decided on top of the microwave (which is right at the edge of the kitchen/living room). Why not? My phone is above it, so I look at it frequently, and I like that.
The mantle is probably my favorite. I bought the lighted garland years ago, and I love the sparkle it brings. One unique thing is that we don't necessarily use the same stockings each year. I think that the snowflake is always mine, but the reindeer, bear, and Santa rotate -- with Amanda and Kyle calling dibs, and Terry taking what's left. Another fun fact is that I bought those stockings about eight or nine years ago, when Kyle wasn't even a twinkle in his Daddy's eye. In fact, there was no twinkle -- we weren't sure that we would have a second child, but knowing that we might change our minds, I bought four, because I wanted us to all match. So four years ago when we got to use all four, I was reminded of my faith and my hope, and they still remind of that time in our lives.
We don't do outside decorations, other than the penguins (which are right at the top of our driveway this year), but fortunately living here in New England, Mother Nature usually takes care of that for us.
Thanks for coming! Merry Christmas!