“Oh, the weather outside is frightful” – and, that pretty much sums it up right now. We have been receiving soooo much rain lately. Go ahead and Google “Atmospheric River”. Actual rivers are flooding, wind storms, power outages, trees down. It has been hard to muster up the requisite holiday cheer. Today the high-schooler texted me from school (which is weird as they aren’t supposed to be using their phones in class!) to tell me they are sitting in the dark. It is not feeling very merry and bright here – more dreary and dark. Add to that I have been busy helping my folks with some projects, so I haven’t taken the time to put up any decorations and you can see that I needed to do something. And I needed to do it fast.
After 11 years here, I’ve resigned myself to the garden being flower free all winter, but I do need a little something in my pots by the doors and outside my kitchen on the balcony. But it’s not easy to find color for your pots for the wet and cold months. I do like pansies and make use of them, but they don’t really say “holidays” to me. I saw a fun little tutorial on Molbak’s Facebook page, and it gave me some inspiration. (I can’t find the original video) We have had so much wind-fall that I knew I could fill most of my pots with fallen branches and I had saved some left-ever fake berries from old wreaths. On one of my (frequent) trips to Costco, I grabbed some wreaths and a garland, and stopped at Molbak’s for a few flowers and greenery. I came back and cleaned out the pots, followed their directions, more or less, and in just a few minutes, my pot went from sad and dead to pretty and festive.
Add the wreaths and the garlands, and it really didn’t take much more than 10 minutes to do the whole thing. I was so inspired by the difference that I decided that the barn needed a little holiday makeover too. I raked away some of the fallen greens, pulled the frosted geraniums – they stayed nice until mid-November! – tied up the pencil holly (it’s never been the same since the one year we had so much snow and I neglected to shake it out of the branches. Sorry! I’m a California girl – what did I know from snow damage?) added the branches, a few berries, and temporarily replaced the grape stem wreath with a Costco one. I even brought down a red faux-berry wreath to decorate the playhouse for a little added color. Again, only 10 minutes to go from sad to merry!
Now if you were to come up to my house, it would look festive and like we were ready for Christmas. Of course, I couldn’t let you in as then you would see we don’t have our tree yet and the opened plastic bins look a little like Christmas threw up in the house, but we look ready from the outside, and that’s a start! Also, I’m playing Christmas music so… “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”! Or a little. Whatevs.
One thing I did have already set up isn’t specifically for Christmas, but since I’m so behind I’m going to count it. Have you see those lovely hot chocolate beverage centers people set up in their homes? Some are quite involved, which is nice but exactly how much hot chocolate are you drinking in winter?? Add to that my sweet but very bad dog spends much of his time trying to get into the people food, and that just isn’t going to be a big set up at this house. But I have a little corner in the kitchen where he has been trained not to go, and so in fall I set up a little basket with hot drink materials. And before you start in, I KNOW that home-made hot chocolate and apple cider are both easy to make AND better tasting, and I have spent the time to make them, but both of my girls prefer the mixes so I lost that round. I just have some mixes and small whisks, stirring peppermint sticks, sugar and honey sticks, herbal teas, tiny marshmallows, and some sipping chocolate for those with a little more refined palate. It looks so cheerful, and I often have a hot drink waiting for the adorable high-schooler when she gets home. I even keep some of those paper hot-drink cups with lids on hand in case we get some snow so the kids can warm up outside with hot drinks – and to make it feel more authentically like Starbucks, I charge them 5 dollars and then write their name wrong on the cups!
Hope you are enjoying this run-up to the holidays – and that you are a little farther along than I – but either way, remember to take the time to enjoy the lights and the treats and smells of the season. Our church passed out lovely little bags for Advent with the motto of “Slow down. Quiet. It’s Advent!” and I think we can all benefit from this advice. Christmas will come even if the house isn’t perfect or your cards went out late or your crafts weren’t Pinterest worthy. Make your kids some hot chocolate, warm up some wine, sit by the fire and enjoy.