Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas at our house this year



I love Christmastime. 

It has been a wild run of a year, hasn't it? So much so that I can't believe that at last we are here, preparing for our first holiday season in our new home.



It feels kind of wonderful.



So much so that I didn't want to come up with a "theme" for the decorations. That seemed more awkward and "put upon" than need be! I just wanted...to find the joy in putting them out that I felt when I was kid...and to let this house do what it does best, to shine in its perfect imperfection.


On my morning walks with the dogs, I would gather up stray pine cones and branches that had been knocked over by the Mistral gusts from the previous night. Each day, there would be a few more, so many that I could pick and choose à la Goldielocks.


As always, we are the only people in Provence not to build an elaborate crèche filled with santons depicting characters from traditional village life but rather we will stick to our nativity scene made out of banana bark and bought during a safari in Tanzania, which makes it all the more special to us.


Remi's insistence on choosing the bright red cords for our light bulbs in the small salon seems especially fortuitous now, a festive touch for this time of year. 


Despite my glee in thinking, "Where can I put this?" I tried not to get too carried away and so the guest bedroom only has one woodsy garland on the old shutter headboard (I feared anything more might fall on the heads of our guests!)...


...and certainly, Mr. Zen Buddha in our bedroom is far too deep in his meditation to be concerned with such frippery...


...even if it is tempting to bebauble...


...and bedackle even le benitier in the bath!


But there is only so much austerity a girl can take at this time of year...come on, it is Christmas!


And so with trembly fingers I pulled out the crystals from their storage in a vintage glove box one by one. But rather than spend hours patiently affixing them to the tree as I usually do, I balanced on our ladder for a few minutes and attached a few to the iron chandelier in the entry to help welcome the winter light in. Et c'est très bien comme ça...


All in all, the house doesn't look that much different really, which is what I love. Proud to the rafters, it is a house that retains its own character no matter what. I still feel so lucky to live here, I can't quite believe it!


So tell me, do you find the happiness that I do in this one little act? Or has it become a chore? Are you already counting down to midnight on the 31st so you can breathe a sigh of relief for the arrival of the New Year? I know that for me, I feel a lot of freedom here in France in knowing that nothing has to be the "ultimate." Not the gifts, not the tree. Hey, they don't even grow perfectly shaped sapins here so there is no point in searching for one (although I have to admit that I am so excited to finally have room enough for a proper tree. Begone the Christmas Branch)... 


It doesn't matter, not in the least. Not for Christmas at our house this year.

Now, is the time to turn on the lights - on the tree, inside your heart, on the roof if need be! - and let them glow.

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To see the Monster Tree from my first year of blogging when we lived in the amazing apartment, click here.
To read more about the differences between Christmas in the States and France, click here.

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I am actually planning on posting during the holidays, albeit on my currently scaled down "Shh, it is winter" schedule. For those of you that are in the midst of an especially hectic and tiring time (like my my wonderful Mom and her Husband, Leonard, who are working so hard right now - I love you both!), please know that there is a redhead in Provence who is sending you good energy filled with calmness, strength and joy...


47 comments:

Splendid Market said...

I love seeing all of your subtle sprinkles of bedazzlement. You're right, your house speaks for itself, the little embellishments bring on the shine and sparkle of the season, I love all of your little vignettes. Enjoy!

Bill Facker said...

Something tells me those crystals might well "adorn" the chandelier long after the Christmas season ... bringing light and pzzazzzz to your beautiful home. Mele Kalikimaka from Kauai !

Lorrie said...

Beautiful touches that respect the character of your home. There's not much of a theme around here, either, just bits and pieces gathered over the years. Each one holds a memory. Love the chandelier with the crystals. So sparkly when they catch the light. Remi's red light cords are wonderful!

Merry, merry days to you both!

Judith Ross said...

Gorgeous! I'm glad you will be posting. Happy Christmas my friend.

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

I love your Christmas decorations - they are personal and reflect your experiences and what is important to you. Our decorations are understated, mostly handmade and mean something to us. We are neither competing with our neighbours or chic shops, nor are we copying suggestions from glossy magazines. For us Christmas is a personal affair filled with memories and making new one. Amicalement

Velvet and Linen said...

So pretty Heather!
Your theme is an authentic, meaningful Christmas.

Wishing you, Remi and your loved ones a very Happy and Healthy Holiday!

xo

Brooke

La Contessa said...

I LOVED the GRAND TOUR...........OF THE CASA!The shutters behind my bed!!!The crystals on the CHANDELIER.........can they stay full time???The tree in its corner full of GOODNESS.Those tiles on the floor!!!!!!!!
Perhaps, you have forgotten but I have the same type of chairs you have around your table!I also have two little holes in the wall that I made GIAMPY put in when we re-did the house!I see YOU have a candle in it......and I have small old leather books and a cement lion.........he has a name and I cannot recall!He really is a book end!MUst send you a photo one day!LOVELY LOVELY LOVELY.................THANKS for sharing YOUR part of FRANCE!XOXO

robin said...

I'm concur with the others: crystals on the chandelier year-round!!! It is ALL SO BEAUTIFUL!!! I'm glad that you have space for a big tree, and all of your decorations are so classy yet warm and wonderful (I especially like those enormous pine cones!!). It's funny how you mentioned the relief of having things not be "the ultimate". I think, growing up as we did, with Christmas and birthdays always being "the ultimate", there develops need for over-the-top everything: gifts, decorations, food, etc. Of course, it was done with so much love for us, but it is nice, too, to acknowledge that "mellow" can be just as nice! Even nice, sometimes, as it removes the pressure! Either way, "the ultimate" Christmas for me would include you and Remi, but I'll just have to send my Christmas love, and presents, across the ocean!

Unknown said...

I love everything you have pictured about your home at Christmas. To my taste, it is perfect, including your lovely tree (take seriously this comment from one living in Christmas tree country). If you ever get a chance to take a photograph of sunlight (and/or candlelight) dancing through the crystals on the chandelier, please do and post it to us. Every time I look at the wild animal figures I brought back from Tanzania gathered around our creche that Scott's mother carved, I think of you and Rémi, as well as Ben and Kipling. Merry Christmas all! Love, Leslie in Oregon, with Scott, Henry and Bob

Greet Lefèvre said...

Heather, everything is so beautiful! Your Christmas tree is to die for!!!
A wonderful Christmas to you and yours!
xx
Greet

Mumbai said...

not just finding happiness in decorating for Xmas but it makes me feel calm and humble a bit too. It is very
important, especially nowadays to retain such traditions and think , that there a more important things in life
than give presents en masse and be stressful many weeks before just for one evening. In this sense ..spend a
silent Xmas eve in love and piece. B.t.. w. please keep your crystals on the chandelier year round, they are so beautiful ....and I like the red cordel on the bulbs.

Gustia said...

On the one hand I find all the extra tasks heaped upon us at Christmas a bit stressful. On the other, once I'm decorating the tree, mailing gifts (keep your peepers on your mailbox Miss) baking, and connecting with neighbours and friends, joyful feelings pop to the surface. I love how you've decorated your new nest. Simply, lovingly and pretty. Merry Christmas to all of you!

simpleimages2 said...

Hi Heather,
"Now, is the time to turn on the lights - on the tree, inside your heart, on the roof if need be! - and let them glow."
Reading your narration and looking at your photos remind me of one of Rumi’s poems: The Freshness

"When it's cold and raining,
you are more beautiful.

And the snow brings me
even closer to your lips.

The inner secret, that which was never born,
you are that freshness, and I am with you now.

I can't explain the goings,
or the comings. You enter suddenly,

and I am nowhere again.
Inside the majesty."


MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR
Edgar

Silke Bauer said...

Your house is such a merveille! With or without Christmas Decoration. Now don't get me wrong, your decoration is wonderful especially your tree.
But I am intrigued by that lightbulb – portrait composition in your fireplace living room. And your "Kitchen-Realism"

I just booked the flights for Provence for End of April.

Joyeux Noelle! Sending all my best wishes for everyone and everydoggy there!

Gillian Longworth McGuire said...

This is not the season for austerity indeed. Your house looks so cozy and inviting. Happy happy celebrating.

RebeccaNYC said...

I love the crystal on the chandelier...perhaps it should stay there? I have a huge collection of crystal ornaments which I normally put on the tree. This year there is no tree so I fashioned a chandelier above the dining table. It looks so wintery and beautiful I think it will stay there long past Christmas. We are very low key this Christmas, and I LIKE it!! Only the favorite stuff came out...my antique angels from my favorite Aunt, my Santon collected over the years and some vintage caroler candles. Some branches of pine and eucalyptus.....done and done. I really like this relaxed yet festive approach. Everything else seemed overdone to me this year.
Wishing you the Happiest of Christmases!

Loree said...

Happy Christmas dear Heather. We do not go with a theme here either. Our tree is full of little mementoes that we got from our trips or else they remind us of important personal events, like our first Christmas together and so on. I think Christmas is better when it's personal and doesn't feel quite the same when all the ornaments come from a supermarket box. I love your new home and how you've managed to strike the perfect balance between old and new. P.S tell Remi I adore those red cords.

I Dream Of said...

Heather, I absolutely love every detail and your whole "perfectly imperfect" approach. (And so glad that you are feeling better and able to enjoy!) The crystals on the chandelier are my absolute favorite touch. Congratulations on a beautiful first Christmas in your new home. I hope that there are many more magical days ahead.

Things are slowing down a bit now that Mr. H. is sick - he's in bed watching football, I'm taking it easy, trying not to catch it. As long as I don't succumb the pace will pick up again tomorrow with an outing with Heidi and her girls to see Annie and have tea in one of the grand hotels downtown. Tuesday we are having friends over for a risotto supper, Christmas Eve is a big festive dinner party with dear friends, and Christmas will be a hectic day with my parents (lots of driving, but lucky, lucky us... it was just a couple months ago I didn't know if my mom would be well enough). I still get sad for Christmas at the family home, but have so many good and precious memories, and one can't help but feel the magic this time of year. It goes so fast. Too, too, fast.

You are probably already in bed on this longest night of the year. Here's to brighter days ahead, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! XOXO

Louise said...

Heather, I love the way you have included so many trinkets from your interesting travels...in the 33 years since my first child was born I have collected two ornaments from wherever I have visited during the year...to say the tree looks eclectic is an understatement! My daughter is now about to enjoy her first Christmas as a mother and has started the tradition for her own tree...the thought of it makes me glow! Best wishes to you and Remi from a very warm Western Australia...

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

Happy Holidays to you in your new and beautiful home! Enjoy every moment - your decorations are beautiful!

Lisa Southard said...

That's my kind of opulence Heather :-) We have a Yule branch, a tree shaped piece of ivy strung with plain lights and the reason that there's a tree shaped outline in the new glitter coating of my car bonnet! Having a bit of bounty in the midst of winter is a truly life affirming experience.
I agree about the crystals on the iron chandelier, incidentally, they seem to belong there, I am already curious what they look like in spring light!
Wishing you and yours much merriness for every festive moment, this year to the next :-)

penelopebianchi said...

OH! By the way!! If you would like my suggestion....here it is! Leave those crystals on that chandelier! Brilliant! They wanted to be there.....and they are divine!!!!

Diana said...

I love it all, wouldn't make any changes, hope you had a wonderful holiday.

Heather Robinson said...

Bill, you were the first to say it and even incredibly talented interior designers backed you up...C'est decidée, the crystals are staying!

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you! Sending Happy end of the Year Holiday wishes to you as well...

Heather Robinson said...

Ah but the memory keepers are the best ones. :) Merry, merry to you too!

Heather Robinson said...

Merci, copine.

Heather Robinson said...

I love everything about that, Elizabeth. Gros Bisous.

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you, Brooke. After years of often going to friends houses for at least one of the big meals, it felt so right to just keep it simple, just for us two.

Heather Robinson said...

I would love to see a photo! I can never get enough of all of the amazing details and special corners of your wonderful Home. xoxox

Heather Robinson said...

PS. The hole in the wall was used as a safe before that was then covered by a painting or a tapestry - there is a name for it that I can't quite remember...it might just be a cache-cache...but that is the word for hide and seek!

Heather Robinson said...

And you did! And I was so grateful for them. And for you. I am glad that you were able to come over for Christmas once Sister so that you could see how different it is here. True, we don't have children to buy presents for...and yes! all of what Mom and Dad did was absolutely filled with Love...but I was really happy just opening one present from Remi. :)

Heather Robinson said...

We have ornaments of lions and giraffes from Tanzania on our tree! I love all of the special ones and of course you do too. So far, we have had dark days but I promise to send a photo of the chandy when it is sparking like crazy! *hug*

Heather Robinson said...

Oh my Goodness, merci beaucoup dear Greet! I am quite flattered, this coming from you... :)
And I hope that 2015 is a year full of Joy for you and your family.
Bisous,
H

Heather Robinson said...

Yes definitely, R, "humble" is the perfect word. That is really how I felt this year. And grateful...

Heather Robinson said...

Ah, you are busy because you are a) a wonderful friend (dear World, my friend Gustia makes the best marmalade ever) and b) you are the Hostess with the Mostess! I hope that you all had a great Christmas!!!

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you for this beautiful gift, Edgar.

Heather Robinson said...

Yay!!!! You are coming back!!!! Please email me with more details of where you will be situated this time. Hopefully not too far away and hopefully we can see each other again this time. :)
Sending you MEGA Wishes for good Health and Happiness for 2015, Silke.

Heather Robinson said...

Grazie, Gillian! I still haven't gotten to your post on Christmas in ROME - it looks so beautiful. I hope that you had a wonderful celebration...

Heather Robinson said...

And to me too, Rebecca. It is why I just wanted to keep it siiiiimple. Even though yours sounds even more simple and I love that. If you see this, look at the first link that I gave for when we lived in the amazing apartment (and if you have never seen it you will fall over for as a NYer the living room alone is bigger than most apartments) because I made a crystal winter chandy and yes it stayed up all winter.
Your treasured pieces sound so lovely...

Heather Robinson said...

I will! The lightbulbs were my idea but now when I think back to the grey/black option that I wanted, I am so glad that he persisted. :) And so many people have written about the importance of Personal - I love that. It is all that matters...

Heather Robinson said...

Jeanne, you are so wonderful. Believe it or not, I am still sick! I just can't seem to shake it but at least it is down to an annoying cough now. That is why I didn't respond sooner, I was a bit in a haze...it wasn't so bad actually! ;) I am so touched and thrilled that your Mom was well enough to make the drive and I hope that went smoothly. As for your day with Heidi and the girls? How fabulous! Actually, all of it sounds just perfect. Save for Mr H being sick...I hope that he is better and that you have stayed healthy!
xo
H

Heather Robinson said...

Louise, that is the most wonderful tradition and of course it doesn't surprise me that now your daughter is starting her own collection. I wish that I had thought to bring back more ornaments from our travels...although some of them were in places far too rough to sell Christmas ornaments! ;) Oooh, and I will take a little bit of that heat if you wish to send it along our way...brrrr....

Heather Robinson said...

I can't wait to read how your first Holidays were in your new Home in Greece!!!!! I hope they were/are wonderful...

Heather Robinson said...

And I am sending those wonderful Wishes right back to you Lisa! Something tells me that you and yours know how to "do merry" very well...Let's hold on through these long winter days for they are already beginning to get longer. I swear that I see the difference already...

Heather Robinson said...

Penny, if you say so than it is official: DONE!
xoxoxox

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you Diana, we did and I hope that you and yours did as well.
PS. I love your haircut! :) If I had the guts I would do the same but am not quite ready yet...