Tuesday, December 5, 2023

A Christmas Home Tour


posted by Ida on FaceBook

Were it not for a couple of serious bone-breaking falls both Gary and I have in our respective histories, this might be us. I will not recount those episodes that have marked us for life 🙄. But no, that's not us in the above picture. We have, however, decorated for Christmas.

shutter stock.com 521469241

Oh by the way, regarding the Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays arguments that encroach on the joviality of this season, I use both. 

Christmas is without a doubt the celebration of God coming to earth as a human to bring about salvation for all who will believe. I have no desire to diminish Christ in Christmas.

But to be practical, December has several special days, Christmas being the one on the 25th. But there is also Hanukah and New Year's Eve, Boxing Day, the Feast of St. Stephen, and Kwanzaa, to name the ones that come to my mind as I type. (there are surely more) There are times to wish one a Merry Christmas but there are also times when we want to just wish everybody a "happy whatever you celebrate" that promotes good will and cheer. 

Okay. I've said my piece, which I hope does not disturb the peace of my readers. Returning to the topic of decorating in our home for this happy time of year, it began outside with the tall lantern Gary has had for years. While it looked good out in the yard, we decided a strong gust of wind would knock it over, so it's now on the front porch (and much closer to the electric outlet). 

tall electric lantern

The porch is a safer location, adding a warm welcome to whoever rings our doorbell. 

Gary and I began dating in the Christmas season. One of the things I noticed when he brought me to his home for the first time was the red poinsettia wreaths on the garage lanterns.

I was mildly impressed that a single man (widowed, actually) had gone to the effort to decorate. That was nice.

Then I saw the electric lantern and his white Christmas tree. He had not gone crazy wild but I liked his taste. By the way, that year this tree was in his office window, but for the past couple of years we've put it in the garage window where it is more easily seen from the street. Now there is a potted Poinsettia on a table in front of the office window.

Lunch on the front porch

My contributions to the outside Christmas decor are focused on costumes for the creatures. As people approach our houses, Larry the Turtle welcomes them first.


Larry sits above the stump of a Live Oak tree that was growing on top of utility lines, necessitating its removal earlier this year.


Dawg, formerly known as "Brutus" at my last house, was re-named by Gary. He sits beside the driveway, close to the garage.

two birds outside a garage window

These two birds don't have names, as far as I know. Gary put me to work spray-painting them with a fresh coat of copper sometime shortly after we began dating. The white Christmas tree is in this window, but I couldn't capture it well in the daylight.

back yard bird

This bird came with the house when Gary bought it ten years ago. He, too, does not have a name. 

new this year

This couple flew in and stayed when we updated the back yard landscape last spring. They are probably our favorites due to the art of their wing spans. When hurricanes or tornadoes threaten, we are able to easily remove the wings and they still look good. (the feet of all our birds are embedded in concrete)

Can you tell that yard ornaments are "a thing" here in Florida? We see birds like this in the yards of many of our neighbors, along with other animals. Now this next picture is not from our yard but is currently in the yard of one of our more creative neighbors .....

This gator in her front yard usually has golf balls in his mouth, but for Christmas it's the lights. This is Florida, after all, and we live in a golf community!

As I have shared before, I put up a 6 1/2 foot artificial tree for years, the last several being more an activity of love on my part for my late husband than personal preference. He helped me drag the box into the family room and assemble the thing, and together we wound around the strings of lights; but after that, he watched football from his recliner while I hung the hundreds (or so it seemed) of ornaments on the branches. 

decor from Sister

Please understand that I mean no disrespect at all when I say this. As I struggled through the first two holiday seasons after his death, I did take some satisfaction that since I had the house all to myself, I no longer needed to put up that big tree. I gave it away to a family member and bought a much smaller artificial tree to stand on a lamp table. 

When we combined our households into one, I brought my tree. This year it sits atop the kitchen counter above the sink, which puts it in full view of a large area of our home. 

"Greetings from Idaho"

When I emptied my house to list it for sale, I disposed of most of my tree ornaments. By that time I was with Gary, who hails from Idaho and grew up harvesting potatoes. I kept this ceramic ornament, a souvenir from my travels to that state some years ago. During this Christmas season, whenever he is at the kitchen sink, he can look directly into the squinty-eyed smile of this fella.

near the tree top

I tend to be a sucker for signs and pithy quotes, so that's what our visitors see when they walk through our home.

dining room embellishment

Think of the signs as stimulants to be cheerful and enjoy the season. Christmas stirs up a lot of memories, especially as we get older, and in particular if we have experienced significant losses. 

This one is perfect for Gary's desk ..... who tells me he wants to make a trip to Lowe's to buy a big green Grinch blowup for the front yard. (ah, no, please. No.)

Food is a big part of the season's fun, of course. I'm not much into decorating Christmas cookies (Publix does a much better job of it anyway), but I do enjoy cooking with the Hallmark channel on TV. 

Yesterday I baked a recipe from my mother, whose pseudonym for this blog has been "The Cook on Fifth Street." It's a cobbler made with 2 cans of apricots and 1 large can of peaches (both drained very well and the fruit chopped to smaller  pieces) and topped with a sweet dough. This was the first time I had made it for Gary and he pronounced it good. 

"Flamingle Bells" cross stitch
-- a gift from Sandy

Hand-made needlework will always be a part of what makes Christmas beautiful for me. Sandy (see her blog at Home Ec Major) stitched this flamingo for me the year Beloved died. I have her creation in the master bathroom this year. Here's a better photo:

Several of my creations are scattered about as well. 

Poinsettia made with wool scraps

Cross stitch is still a love of mine, but my days of focusing through my trifocals on the Aida cloth and linen are behind me. This one in the silver frame has been one of my very favorites. Peppermint is so cheery, don't you think?

stitched in Highlands Ranch, Colorado
in 2005

Then, of course, my love for quilting lasted the longest of my needlework hobbies. Snuggling under a quilt during a Christmas snowstorm is such a delightful thought!

Beautiful dining furniture is from Gary's first wife, along with the pewter candle holders, the pitcher and bowl (there are 3 of them!), and a china cabinet full of beauty. 

a combination of my treasures with those of Edith

The Log Cabin Star table topper is from my sewing room (sewn by machine in 2011). The Nine Patch quilt in Christmas colors (completed in 2012) used to hang from a rod on the dining room or guest room wall during the  holidays. Now it rests on Edith's rocking chair.

Per Gary and Edith's habit, we will display our Christmas cards on the dining table cloth, where we see them easily in passing by. They contrast nicely against the white table cloth. As you can see, our first card has come already (from Jersey Girl and Jersey Boy).

another view in the dining room

Here are a few more evidences of the season in our home:

a friend on our kitchen table 
(from Sister in 2020)

another snowman from Sister

Continuing with the snowman theme...

Jim Shore snowman.
Jim Shore is known for his quilt designs on figurines.

Jim Shore Santa.
Jim Shore decorates our lanai/Florida room

This is where Santa sleeps... (just sayin'!)

somewhere in my move I lost track of 
Mrs Santa's pink lace snood.

Of the nativity sets I had before selling my house, this one is my favorite. It's a combination of small figures from a Christian bookstore and Walmart. I intertwine tiny lights to sparkle like the stars above the shepherds.

Celebrating the advent of Christmas

As I close out this post, it is a cloudy afternoon with an outdoor temp in the 60s and a breeze is gently stirring the palm branches just outside the windows. My Christmas play list is on. This is my seventh Christmas in Florida after leaving Colorado. 

Georgetown, Colorado

With each year I am acclimating more to a sub-tropical Christmas here in Florida. Friends Terry and Sandy posted the above photo on FaceBook -- a favorite Colorado mountain town sitting beside I-70, en route to the ski resorts. John Denver made a movie there in 1986, The Christmas Gift. Wonderful memories of times gone by.

Gary and me

My life has met big changes since then. While sometimes during this nostalgia-prone season I am tempted to dwell in what was or what could have been had not this or that happened ..... 

Well, I have learned the better choice of my thoughts is to be profoundly thankful for God's blessings on me in and through it all. He has been thoroughly faithful to fulfill his promises. 

Do not fear for I am with you;
don't be dismayed
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you
and help you;
I will uphold you 
with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Until next time, may your days be full of peace.


  1. I enjoyed the tour. It looks very nice! I also like signs and have some scattered around. Good thoughts on Christmas greetings!

  2. Thanks Barbara! Beautiful blog. Merry Christmas to you both. 🎄🎅

  3. Enjoyable post and enjoyed seeing your Christmas touches/decor. Wishing you and Gary a wonderful holiday season.

  4. I absolutely adore your Christmas decorations, Barbara, and got such a kick from the animal statues adorned with ribbons. It does seem Floridians love their outdoor creatures in the landscape.
    Wishing you a blessed Christmas, my friend!

  5. I so enjoyed reading this post. Your home and yard look lovely.


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