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.

Sharing today with:



  1. Oh this was fun to read about the Christmas being brought by Prince Albert from Germany to England etc
    How I enjoyed the series about Queen Victoria
    My friend Gina from blog Wanna Be Victorian will love this post.
    I am with you on it's just to much to get it all out and organized and then put away.
    It took me last year a month to get it all put away , of course I work full time and am old and tired LOL
    Your house is perfect for a tea party wish we were closer in miles


  2. What a lovely step back in time.

    I have pared back on the decorating, just don't have it in me to do all that I used to do. But, there is still JOY in my heart. It feels good to have done less.

    Happy Christmas holidays ~ FlowerLady

  3. Oh Judy, I had such a wonderful time viewing each and every little joyful piece that you have placed out in your home! to me, it does look like you went "all out" as usual! It seems like every nook and crany is blessed with bits of cedar or fir or holly or ivy... along with the darling angels, teddys and their friends. It's just wonderful and really took me back to those olden days in Victorian times. Your cottage seems to epitomize the Victorian times and it's so neat that you know the family history. This feeling you've had this year is not new to me... I started feeling the same way a few years ago and it just seemed ridiculous to put everything out that I had accummulated over the years... I must have had 8 tubs of decorations and sentimental trinkets. Of course we gather and collect so much over the years. I still have ornaments and decorations from when I was very young (and THAT was a long time ago!). I also have some of my mom's things and ornaments. That being said, I've only been using maybe 2 tubs of decorations for the last few years. I have one tub labeled "Main Tub" and that is what I'm getting out this year and only using that for my decorating. I feel bad in a way, but it is what is is I guess. As we get older and the kids are grown, I think we maybe aren't as motivated to go all out. Even a few things put out brings me joy, so I will be content with that. Don't feel bad or guilty... just do what brings you joy. Blessings to you... Marilyn

  4. Judy, your place looks just lovely. Your home is beautiful all year long, but dressed for the holidays it really shines. I adore the whole post...your decor is gorgeous, your traditional tree with its bows and candles is a breath of fresh {Christmas} air and while I knew some of what you shared, there are bits of history here that are brand new to me. And I'm a huge history buff, so interesting. I was also taken with the way your photos went from black and white to color as we moved to modern times...how fun!! And your aunts bow is darling!!

    As I read your after thought, I found myself nodding along in understanding. As you know my mom passed this year and it's put so many things into perspective. I have been simplifying my decor in general for the last several years, but this year, Christmas was on the chopping block. I had so much stuff that I felt looked tacky once up, too. I mercilessly went through the bins and condensed down to two. If it wasn't super sentimental or cherished, it went. I made boxes of stuff for the kids...which I know they won't really want when the time comes...but it organized. Trust me, I still have a lot, but there's less and I'm so much happier. I understand what you mean about feeling melancholy about it, sometimes, I do, too, but I just don't have the energy or the desire to put it all out anymore. I guess even at Christmas sometimes less is more! xoxo Blessings for a wonderful holiday season!

  5. I feel the same way you do this year....it is different and just too much to do again. All of my boxes are left in the basement unopened. I only put a table top tree up and a few of my favorite decorations. I only made 3 of the 12 kinds of cookies I usually make. I am hoping to feel more in the Spirit as the day draws nearer. I kinda like the Victorians idea of putting the tree and decorations up on Christmas Eve. I would love that! Your tree and decorations are beautiful! Your blue ribbons are perfect :-)

  6. I did know that Prince Albert brought the tradition of the Christmas tree to England and it was the Germans who also brought the tree to America. Your tree is just so beautiful. Love love the blue veler bows! A magical season for sure and am so glad we can put up our decor way before Christmas Eve. It takes me a month to do mine. :-) Janice

  7. How lovely this all is. Your house and decorations are a perfect example of a Victorian Christmas. Everything is full of warmth and charm. You have done a wonderful job. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  8. Everything looks so Christmas~y, and very joyful!
    You've done a beautiful job in decorating, as always.

    My word for this past year was 'Joyful'.
    I decided to embrace that word in its entirety and be happy in heart and seek joy in the simple things.
    We have decluttered and with each box that is donated to a charity, my joy is increased. Not only will our collected things find a new happy home, but our home feels more organized and that brings us joy as well :)

    You are so talented and I enjoy your decor, and poems; it's always a joy to read your post!

    Merry Christmas, dear friend.

  9. Oh, Judy. Your home is beautifully decorated. I'm in love with your tree and the soft blue bows. Your tea service is lovely. Tea is my drink of choice throughout the day and it has to be herbal. Your crystal chandelier is beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing a bit of history that I didn't know about. Will share this with my daughter. She's into history at the age of 42. She said she doesn't remember anything about history from her school days.
    When I was little and even after my son was born, the Christmas tree didn't go up until Christmas Eve and it was a "real" tree.
    I have sold almost $700 worth of decorations at the consignment shop and I don't miss one thing that I took there. Am already thinking about what I want to do next Christmas.........less is more.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Christmas and pictures of your lovely home. I wish I was small enough to lay under the tree like Kai. My kitties haven't done that yet this season.
    Will look forward to next weeks pretties.
    Hugs from Va.

  10. Judy, thanks for this history lesson. You house looks so festive. No need to apologize even to yourself.
    The tea party vignettes looks lovely. We need to get together and meet in person, since we live rather close. Merry Christmas Judy.

  11. Hi Judy! You know how much I love your Victorian Parlor! I enjoyed this post down to every little detail! So glad you showed it in color at the end too! Your blue bows are so sweet! My little pooch did just as yours did, how cute! Beautiful mantel lusters! I enjoyed hearing about the history of the Victorian Christmas. You mentioned them only having the tree up for a couple of days so I wanted to share what I have read in the past to maybe better your understanding of that. The Victorian's actually left their tree up for the 12 days of Christmas, ending Jan. 6. And according to Victorian Family Traditions by Sarah Van Breathnach February 2, Candlemas Day, was the traditional ending of the holiday season, calling for the removal of every last trace of Christmas decorations. This day was also a day to make candles to last through the Winter months. You probably already know that, I thought it was interesting. :)
    Wishing you and the Captain, and Kai, a blessed Christmas!

  12. This is really beautiful, Judy, and a lot of work. And I'm with you -- I don't see how anyone could only want this for just a few days! And not just because it's a lot of work but so beautiful, too. Very clever, shooting it half in b/w and the rest in color. I'm glad to see your colorful lights, too. They are still my favorites! I love every single photo here and I know you'll enjoy many happy hours in this beautiful room this season!

  13. So very pretty, Judy! I felt like I was actually living in Victorian times with your gorgeous photos and interesting information. I especially love the vintage photos and the grouping of silver on the mantel xo. I have watched the PBS series, Victoria, and am so excited to have a new season start this January. Victoria and Albert started such wonderful traditions and their love story is so romantic. I can relate to the whole feeling of tripping over all the boxes and wondering why I keep all that stuff, but then I sort through it all and there are so many memories.......I have done some purging, though. I justify it all by doing a different theme every year. Some things just don't get to come out some years.....haha! Your home is so amazingly beautiful all on its own, so at Christmas it is just gorgeous. Little Kai looks very comfy under his velvet bows. xo Karen

  14. Judy your parlor is gorgeous. Your tree is so pretty. Love Kai under the tree waiting for Santa to come. All the pictures and all your sweet little vignettes make this room very Victorian Christmas for sure. I did not know about Prince Albert and the Christmas Tree. Thanks for sharing that.
    Happy Friday and Have a great Weekend.

  15. I was at first going to say that if I could go back in time for the Christmas season, it would be a Grand Victorian Home at Christmas. Well you made it all possible with your post. A step back in time to a most beautiful and wonderful time of the year!
    Happy Christmas Wishes.

  16. You have done such a beautiful job! SO pretty. I love everything about a traditional English Christmas. Reading about it is so much easier! Haha! But I really do get so much from seeing films and books with the wonderful decorating and traditions. I think you are right. It didn't cost much, and it was more about sharing with people. Not so much shopping. Your comment on my post really touched me Judy. Thank you so much. Merry Christmas!

  17. Judy,
    I deleted this comment the first time I wrote it as I realized that i needed to correct a lot of mis-spelled words!! LOL!!
    I LOVED this post but I am sure you knew that I would! From one Victorian soul to another,we both love Christmas traditions of the past..... When I read what you said at the end of this post, I was shaking my head "Yes". I felt the same way when decorating this year....Personally, this has been quite an interesting year for me. My one Little Word for 2018 was Peace and it seemed that it became the year of Unexpected Occurrences! Both wonderful and not so wonderful! A lot of them happened from September to the end of November and left me feeling drained....And that affected my Christmas decorating but I decorated the entire house like I normally do because I have a reputation to uphold!! LOL! Now that I can sit back and enjoy the fruits of my efforts, I an glad that I did it all! But it seemed like my heart just wasn't into it this year so I hope that next year will be better as I will not be working anymore this time next year..... Your home is beautiful and you know I adore it! I am off now to read your next post!! Merry Christmas!!


Your comments are so special to me...Judy