Tuesday, December 11, 2018


The Victorians made Christmas
 the time when friends and families
 drew together around the blazing hearth -
 that, above all, 
symbolized their Christmas. 

 If Victorians 
could not be said 
to have invented Christmas itself, 
they certainly invented 
many of its most 
popular aspects.

With that statement,
 I will try to show you 
what the Garland House parlor 
may have looked like at Christmas time 
back in her younger days.

"Happy, happy Christmas,
 that can win us back 
to the delusions of our 
childish days;
 that can recall to 
the old man 
the pleasure of his youth;
 and transport the 
sailor and the traveler,
 thousands of miles away,
 back to his own fire-side
 and his 
quiet home!"

Charles Dickens,
The Pickwick Papers, 1836

The Garlands 
were not rich people.  
Mr. Garland was a mine superintendent,
 a reputable profession to be sure,
 but not one that 
would have lined his pockets with gold. 
 His wife, Jennie, 
kept a neat and tidy home for 
their three children 
but, after expenses,
 I don't imagine there was much 
left over for fancy what-naughts.

These are not members of the Garland family. The larger photo is of 
my aunt and my dad, probably around 1916. The small photo is of the Captain when he was about 5 years old.

  The Victorians were well known
for their love of embellishments
 and I, for one, 
while only being Victorian in spirit, 
can speak with authority
 on the subject of how
 one can accomplish that love
 without the benefit of 
great wealth.

Prince Albert 
brought the Christmas tree to England 
from his native Germany.

  It was due to a picture showing 
the royal family 
gathered around it in wonder,
 that the Christmas tree became 
the centerpiece of the 
English Christmas...

These are not members of the Garland family or the royal family either. Just a collection of well loved stuffed animals that, if asked, could tell a good story with the best of them.

...and when those gatherings took place 
there would be
 singing, dancing, plays,
 charades, poetry readings 
and story telling...

...the Victorians
 adored anything with 
fairies, ghosts, goblins and mysteries.

Long before Prince Albert 
presented the Christmas tree,
the English homes were decorated 
for the festive season. 
 The main decorations were 
woodland greenery, 
holly, ivy and mistletoe.

The townspeople 
would hang the mistletoe 
above their doors and 
each time one was caught under the doorway, 
a kiss was taken and a berry was plucked 
from the mistletoe.
  When there were no more berries, 
there was no more kissing.

Holly was believed to be 
a protection against witchcraft,
 while ivy was a 
symbol of immortality.

Greetings by post
 were quite popular, 
conveying warm and simple wishes 
for the season.

Christmas decorations 
were not put up until Christmas Eve,
 as it was considered bad luck
 to do it
 any earlier.

Fast forward a 100+ years...


Thank heavens 
those earlier superstitions
 have been put to rest.

 I can't imagine
 just having one or two days 
to enjoy this 
wonderful time of the year.

Time stands still in this Cottage.

I am still not
 a fan of the 
LED lights...

...I actually think 
the tree looks prettier 
without any lights on..at least in a photo.

 What if those candles were the 
only lights on the tree? (I was tempted!)

That would be a sight to see
on Christmas morning.

For the blue ribbons, 
I cut strips of the light blue velvet fabric
 and tied them each by hand.
 I think they look much softer
 than actual velvet ribbon.
 They have a soft drape 
and just easily lay on the tips
 of the branches.

I imagine tea 
would be a wonderful addition 
to a Victorian celebration...

...and crystal
 would cast a
 soft light over all.

I hope you enjoyed 
my version of a Victorian Christmas.

  Right or wrong,
 I hope I have conveyed the 
spirit of the season.
  In all that we have read and learned,
 that is what has been carried 
down through time 
and has been, and will always remain, consistent.

"As long as we know,
 in our hearts, 
what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is."

Eric Sevaried

A little after thought...

I have had in my head 
all that I wanted to do 
for Christmas this year. 
 It started way back 
while I was taking the decorations down 
from last year. 

 I have always loved Christmas 
and all that it entails,
 but this year, however, was a 
little (maybe a lot) different for me.

 Some friends have been ill,
 one close neighbor is going through 
tough times 
and, I suppose,
 age has something to do with it also.
  All of those things combined 
has put me in a different mood than usual.

  The sheer number of boxes
 that we hauled out of storage 
was so overwhelming to me this year.
  I have hauled them out 
for many years 
and never has it affected me this way.
  Everything that I thought
 I would use
 just looked tacky when it was put up
 and I couldn't seem to 
step over and around the boxes, 
I was, literally, 
tripping on each one.

 Long story short,
 I finally got the decorating done
 but I guess my longings
 (in my head, at least)
 for quieter and more manageable times 
is finally catching up.  
I have said it for a few years now
 and it must be time for it to happen.

  I feel actually horrible 
for the way I have felt and conveyed 
to the only person (and his dog), 
that I feel safe in saying such things to -
 and I apologize to them profusely.

 I know, also, 
I have let my feelings spill over 
to some of you and
 for that I apologize.

 To me, 
Christmas has always been magical,
 and magic should be honored.

 I think I am apologizing to myself
 as much as to anyone else.

 In the words of Tasha Tudor,
"Take Joy!", 
and in a personal note from a dear friend,
 "This is the fun part, 
to discover and create."

 I think 
I have learned 
these valuable lessons well
 this year.



Return next week for more of our Christmas Cottage

Our first and most precious present.

  Kai placed himself under the tree.

 He must know that
he is a special gift
to us.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018


All my dwellers 
had a wonderful Thanksgiving 
and have given me their permission 
to say...

"Hope you all had the same."

The excitement is building around here.

 Even though I am a mess 
with a mixture of fall and Christmas
 decorations strung all over the place.

  I am trying not to complain,
 as I know the Mistress is
 trying hard to make me put
 my best foot forward.

It is always
one step forward and two steps back
 around here every time there is 
a seasonal decor change. 

 I am the oldest
 soul in this family
 so I try to keep the worries down 
to only a few creaks and groans,
 but it is not easy 
when you are 
139 years old.

The Mistress 
has no idea 
how we handled things in the past, 
only that we
 Victorians do Christmas up right! 

 I would so love to tell her 
exactly how it was
 but no one kept any records or pictures,
 that we know of, back then.

  She has read newspaper clippings
 about the people
 surrounded by my walls 
but only a very little 
about me, personally.

 That is why 
this blog she writes 
is so important to her. 
 Now, there will be a record
 of the memories
 that have been made here.

A few pretties 
get unpacked and put in their place of honor,
 only to be removed again
 as shining, dusting and ironing 
need to take place 
before they are 
really presentable.

The Mistress 
just can't seem to keep her head about her 
at this time of year.

 I know she has planned it all out,
 to the last detail,
 since the tree was taken down last year, 
but when it comes time,
 things just don't look like she thought,
 so she is off on another tangent.

  This time of year 
is the worst, however, 
and I think there is 
something about Christmas
 that is more important
 than any other 
decorating holiday...

...I can't fault her for that though, 
as I feel the same way.

 Always one to offer my best side,
 I know I can shine 
at Christmas 
if I'm allowed.

Right now,
 the Mistress is just trying to figure out
 what will go where 
when she finds some treasure 
that has been hidden away
 in the corners of my cupboards 
and when that search is exhausted,
 the 1-2-3-4, 
"Oh, I've lost count of the many boxes
 that come in from storage." 

 I find that I just can't help
 groaning a little 
as I feel like a small child,
 once again, 
being asked to wait for
 Christmas morning.

In order to give my Mistress her due, 
I think we will draw the curtains 
for the coming week
 so that wonderful and glorious things
 can happen here 
and then I can share with you all,
 that you really can teach
 an old dog new tricks
 put lipstick on a piggy.

  After all that,
 I promise,
 I will be ready to shine. 

 See you week after next.

...Respectfully, The Cottage...

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