Au revoir, 2011! I’d say it’s been great but…

let’s be honest, you were no 2010. And I had such high hopes this year for so many things. But nothing seemed to work out quite the way it should have. I guess we’re all entitled to an off year now and then.

I know many people get all sappy and stupid around this time of year.  They’re filled with random emotions ranging from sadness about all the regrets they have from the year to happiness about how awesome life is in general.  They make up resolutions to stick to for the first 12 days or so of January. They spends hundreds of dollars on new planners and storage containers to “get organized.” They reconnect with old friends and family for whatever reasons they have. They drink champagne and get silly and sing the UVA fight song…. (ok, maybe not that one.)

I trust you, this is not one of those posts.

This is simply an acknowledgement of the year that was.  There were highs and lows for all of us.  So I will not be dwelling on the negatives of 2011 nor will I spend too much time remembering the few positives. If the new year is about any one thing, it’s about new beginnings, so let’s start there. Let’s ring in 2012. A new beginning for all of us.

Tomorrow, I’ll start the new year by giving you guys a list of some of the things I hope to see in 2012. Not resolutions, just some wishes for a new year.

Here’s to all of you and to a very happy and healthy NEW YEAR!

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It’s the little things at Christmas

Ever since the Christmas of ’53,

I have felt that the yuletide is a special hell for those families

who have suffered any loss

or who must admit to any imperfection;

the so-called spirit of giving

can be as greedy as receiving,

Christmas is our time be aware of what we lack, of who’s not home.

——John Irving, “A Prayer for Owen Meany”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– if you haven’t read “A Prayer for Owen Meany”, I insist that you do. Right now. It’s Christmasy… sort of. There are few books that I can read over and over again and still enjoy every time, and this is one of them.

For today’s prelude to Christmas, I’ve found a few photos of some of my favorite ornaments and village pieces. The husband and I are big holiday decorators. We decorate for almost every holiday and go all out for a few.  For Christmas we decorate three trees inside and have a lights display outside that will someday rival the Griswold’s, I’m sure. One of the reasons I love decorating for the holidays is the memories associated with all the “stuff” that we have. We are blessed to have so many ornaments and knickknacks that have been gifted to us over the years from family and friends, students and colleagues. We have pieces that are up to 60 years old, inherited from grandparents. All are cherished.

It takes me quite a while to actually decorate our trees, mostly because every ornament I unwrap from storage brings a smile to my face as I recall how it came to be in our possession. I’ve always somewhat envied those who have the themed trees, all one color and ornament type. Those trees can be quite lovely. Ours is more hodgepodge though. Each ornament has a history. Each one tells a story. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Every year we add a dated ornament to the collection. These ornaments always come from Hallmark but from a variety of different collections. This year’s is from the eskimo collection. We have several from this line and they’re all adorable. Just one of many homemade ornaments on the tree. I have handmade ornaments that date back to high school when several friends would make them at Christmas for those in our circle and they still grace our tree today. This particular ornament is from college (Metcalf, 3rd right, girls!!) It still cracks me up (in a great way) because these ornaments were accidentally made upside down by one of my hallmates. Love it.

Speaking of college– WAHOOWAH! One of many UVA ornaments on the tree- to combat all those silly orange and maroon ones!

I have a ton of baking ornaments. Lots of these came from former students and family members. This ornament is from a line at Hallmark, begun just a couple of years ago. I’ve received the last couple from my mother-in-law who continues a tradition of buying each son (and wife) a new Christmas ornament each year.

We have quite a few cardinals on the tree in memory of the husband’s grandmother. The large one on the left we purchased on our honeymoon.

Another baking ornament! I told you I have a bunch of these. On the left is an angel that was painted and given to all her favorite French V students by our beloved Madame H. The purple ball ornament was a Christmas gift from a former student. And in the very back you can see a tribute to my husband, the grillmaster.

Hockey! …. I won’t touch the fact that they are penguins tho. Believe me, that part hurts.

On the left, one of our dated snowmen gazing unto the sparkly angel, part of a set that we bought on our honeymoon. I love those angels.

A few of the ornaments on what I lovingly refer to as my “Antique Tree.”  This is our upstairs tree that gets all of the older ornaments we inherited from my grandmother (plus a few from the parents).  The following pictures are all from that tree.

Of course, in addition to all these trees, we have candles, lights, snowglobes, figurines- you name it. We also have a holiday village that we put up every year as well.

The town Christmas tree. Another inherited piece from my grandmother. I love this tree. It may just be my favorite Christmas decoration we have.

Every town should have a winery. Where else would the nuns hang out?!?

And Hot Nows. Gotta have those.

Alright– that’s a lot of pictures for tonight. And not even a tenth of what I could show you, ha! But it’s a glimpse into Christmas inside our home and what makes it special. I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday shopping, wrapping, baking, and decorating. Christmas is coming!