Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

How many times have you seen the classic holiday story, A Christmas Carol? Written by Charles Dickens and published in 1843, this timeless story is available in many different live action and animated versions.

Daughter Adriel and I have an annual tradition. We watch the 1984 George C. Scott adaptation together, something we’ve done since her birth the same year. Other family members join us some years. At other times, like this evening, it’s just the two of us.

You can catch thoughts from previous viewings here and also here. After watching this particular movie 34 times, is there anything left to share about this transformative journey type of story? Yes there is!

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

The 1984 film stars George C. Scott, Frank Finlay, Edward Woodward, Angela Pleasence, Roger Rees, David Warner and Susannah York. It was directed by Clive Donner and has a run time of 1 hour and 40 minutes.

A Christmas Carol is the story of a miserly, hard-hearted businessman, Ebenezar Scrooge, whose life is changed as he learns about compassion from three spirits who visit one Christmas Eve.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Our Observations after 34 Years

We’ve seen this movie many times, and yet new insights pop up because we are different versions of ourselves each year. And some scenes continue to delight us, no matter how many times we watch them.

Here are our thoughts this year:

Pain Built a Wall

George C. Scott plays Ebenezer beautifully, capturing his intelligence, rigid yet regal bearing, and the pain he’s used over the years to build an impenetrable barrier around his heart. He holds people at arm’s length because at his core, he doesn’t trust anyone. Money making is his business and he’s very adept at acquiring wealth.

Adriel remarked that the older she gets, the more she appreciates the complexity of Scrooge’s character. “After all,” she quipped, “he isn’t entirely wrong.” That’s what I love about the character too. He possesses wisdom even when he lacks compassion. His words have the bite of truth, even if they are harsh.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Love Still Gets Through that Wall

I noticed something new during the scene with Fred, near the beginning of the film. Scrooge taunts his nephew about Christmas, calling it a humbug for the first time. He even gets in a poke about Fred’s wife, who did not bring financial gain to the marriage.

Scrooge spars effectively with words. However when Fred mentions that he and his wife love each other, and implies that’s more important than wealth, the fight goes out of Scrooge. His eyes shift away and he abruptly ends the conversation.

As we later see in Scrooge’s past, he loved a woman once. Speaking of, thinking of love disarms him and ushers in regret.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Fred is Adorable

Scrooge’s nephew Fred, played by Roger Rees, initially made us giggle during his scenes. He’s just so positive, in an almost goofy way, and extremely excitable. Playing party games at home with his guests he gushes so enthusiastically that he trips over his words.

Through the years, Fred has endeared himself to us. His curly hair threatens to overpower his slender face, however his good heart does shine forth brilliantly. He never stops believing in the power of love and acceptance and he’s confident his uncle will come around someday. We love Fred.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Mrs. Dilber Will Always Make Us Cackle

This earthy character, played by Liz Smith, steals the scene in which she is selling Scrooge’s bed linens in a future scenario. Her sly expressions and the way she words her sentiments makes us laugh every…single…time. We don’t even fight it any longer. We simply enjoy her few minutes in the film.

This dear woman has been a part of our Christmas celebrations for many, many years. I looked her up as I wrote this section and discovered the actress died two years ago on Christmas Eve, at the age of 95. Somehow that date seems fitting for her exit from this world into glory. Bless her.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

The Ghost of Christmas Future

The Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House, affected our viewing of A Christmas Carol tonight. The creepy ghosts lurking about in Hill House made me peer into the shadows deep within Scrooge’s old mansion. If you’ve seen Hill House, you know what I mean. Barely detectable ghosts fill the dark places behind the main action in the story. Once you see them in an episode, you noticed them everywhere.

I peered harder into the backgrounds in A Christmas Carol. Although I didn’t see additional ghosts, I noticed how spooky that old house really is.

And the Ghost of Christmas Present, who has always bothered Adriel, made us think of Bent Neck Lady in Hill House. His creepiness rose considerably with that comparison.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Honoring Christmas All the Year

I’m grateful for our 34th viewing of A Christmas Carol. I’m thankful as well that Adriel shares my love for this story. We look forward to our tradition each year.

Dickens’ characters and words inspire me, so much so that I had a shirt made with a quote from the movie.

MiliLou Styles created a long sleeved t shirt for me, with Scrooge’s tearful declaration toward the end of the story.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”

His words signaled a change in his heart, which opened wide again. He became a joyful and compassionate man, the person he was always meant to be. I applaud his transformation every December.

The shirt will serve as a reminder of Scrooge’s journey. I think I’ll wear it throughout the year.

Observations After 34th Viewing of A Christmas Carol

Love is All Around Actually

One of my favorite Christmas movies is the relationship film, Love, Actually. I watch it at least once every year. The movie follows various stories interwoven among characters that are connected in a variety of ways. Some enjoy family relationships while others explore fresh romantic encounters and still others deal with loss.

One of the stories involves an aging singer who attempts a “Christmas miracle” comeback. His song, Love is All Around, climbs in popularity as he promotes it in humorous ways. The song is the heartbeat of film.

What I discovered today, in ordinary circumstances and one humorous moment, is that love is all around, actually.

Love is All Around Actually

Eyes to See

This is a simple post tonight, about a simple truth. I see what I expect to see. If I’m anticipating problems or disappointments, that’s what I’ll encounter throughout my day. And if I expect beauty or joy, that’s what flows into my life, to validate my beliefs.

It’s not that I’m never surprised or taken back or dismayed by the actions of another or a great wrong in the world. However, my belief system dictates how I respond, overall. And when my heart is full, and desiring to see good, good is what I encounter most.

This is one of those basic but profound truths that perplexes us, when we have not yet seen the connection between our thoughts and reality.

Love is All Around Actually

Love is All Around

I looked for the good today. It was important for me to see love expressed in expansive yet concrete ways. And looking for it, I find it.

• It’s there in Greg’s actions, as he takes off work to care for his family.

• Quiet love is present in a beautifully serene setting in northwest Arkansas. And it is expressed by servers in a fun restaurant who make sure I am presented with a vegan meal.

• Staff and teachers at a school demonstrate high levels of love and care to one of my grandchildren.

• I have the opportunity to give love to and receive love from all five of my grandkids today. How precious is the love of a child.

• Love flows mingled with music tonight, at a grandson’s winter band concert. My heart is touched by a young man with special needs who performs with the eighth grade band. His love for music is evident. And his band mates and director love him, creating a place for him among them and in their hearts.

• Love is all around, actually…present in conversations, snuggles, smiles, actions, attitudes and hugs…present in large and small ways.

Love is All Around Actually

Love is Everywhere I Go

I thought of the lyrics to the song from Love, Actually throughout the day. These lines especially played in my head:

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes.

The love that’s all around me. And so the feeling grows.

It’s written on the wind. It’s everywhere I go.

So if you really love me, Come on and let it show.

Come on and let it show became my invitation throughout the busy day. Show up it did. This evening my heart spills over with love and gratitude…and mirth.

This afternoon love even showed up in an amusing way. In a public restroom, I happened to glance down at the floor. In such places it’s very common to see trash on the floor or bits of toilet paper torn off the roll and dropped.

The tile floor in this restroom was fairly clean. However, a lone piece of toilet paper lay on the floor and it caught my eye. Examining it further, I smiled, and sent out a ripple of gratitude.

That bit of torn paper resembled a heart.

I see what I expect to see. Look for love and I find it, in myriad ways. Love is all around, actually. It’s everywhere I go. Everywhere.

Love is All Around Actually

Note to Self…

Can you feel it yet? As the sands of time run out for 2018, and Christmas approaches, we can dip a bit, energy wise. This time of year is stressful for many people. Emotions can range from sadness to weariness to ecstatic joy…and everything in between.

I was reminded this evening, for this Sunday Short/Self Care Sunday post, to really care for myself during this busy season. I made a Note to Self.

Note to Self

Note to Self – Body Care

  1. Eat healthy foods and nourish my body.
  2. Get outside and walk in nature.
  3. Get plenty of rest. Go to bed at a decent time. Naps are okay!

Note to Self

Note to Self

Note to Self – Creativity in Action

  1. Play every day. Use my imagination.
  2. Write my stories and journal through my questions and challenges.
  3. See and appreciate the beauty in everyday things.

Note to Self

Note to Self

Note to Self – Soul Care

  1. Express gratitude daily…for everything.
  2. Say kind words to myself and to others.
  3. Keep my heart open…and full of love and joy.
  4. Do more of what makes me happy.

Note to Self

Note to Self

Note to Yourself

Are you caring for yourself, as you would a small child? We can get so busy with everyone and everything else that we allow our energy levels to plummet. If we are running on empty it’s difficult to offer to others. We have nothing left to give.

As we enter the last half of December, and the last full week before Christmas, may you be aware of yourself in tender and compassionate ways. I’m being very mindful of my energy levels.

Note to self…take care of me. Take care of others.

Note to Self

The Richest Place on Earth

The richest place on earth is not a bank vault or a gold mine or a collector’s stash of priceless art. I found it today, in an unexpected place.

When Greg and I needed to make a trip south into Arkansas, we seized the opportunity to return to Joplin on country roads. There was a reason we headed into the “boonies”. I wanted to stop at an old cemetery, and walk among the gravestones.

Some people are creeped out by cemeteries. They are, after all, the final resting place for the bodies of loved ones. Their souls are free however and not attached to these places. I find cemeteries fascinating, full of information and stories.

Myles Munroe shares a great perspective about graveyards. He wrote:

“The graveyard is the richest place on the surface of the earth because there you will see the books that were not published, ideas that were not harnessed, songs that were not sung and drama pieces that were never acted.”

The Richest Place on Earth

Concord Cemetery

I’ve been working on my family tree this past year, alternating back and forth between my paternal and maternal lines. Greg has been doing the same. I have the advantage of ancestors buried in cemeteries within 90 minutes of Joplin.

We altered our trip home slightly this afternoon so that I could visit Concord Cemetery in Barry County. This isolated spot is deep in the country, located on top of a hill surrounded by woods. I visited Concord in 1994 with an aunt, or I would never have known about this remote cemetery. Greg and I returned to this small graveyard the next year with two of our kids. On the way home we were involved in a serious car accident that altered my life.

Thankfully I have at last healed from the injuries and chronic pain that the accident caused. However, perhaps because of the negative association with the accident, I never returned to Concord Cemetery, until today.

It appears as it did in 1995…beautiful and lonely, with a restless wind that makes the surrounding trees sway and sigh. Sounds and movements beneath the trees draw my eyes repeatedly but I never see anyone or anything there.

The Richest Place on Earth

Finding Ancestors

My knowledge about my family has broadened since my last trip to Concord. I remembered where my family members are buried, however I wanted to search for gravestones with other surnames connected to my paternal lines. We decided to walk the entire cemetery, row by row.

With temperatures in the 50s and late afternoon sunshine slanting through the trees, walk it we did.

As it turned out, all my ancestors lay grouped together in the oldest part of the cemetery. It was interesting, however, to walk among the stones, reading names and birth/death dates. I remembered the quote about life being lived in the dash between those two dates. So many stories, celebrations, challenges and sorrows represented by a small horizontal line. Rather than feeling sad or morbid about that symbolic – , it made me thoughtful.

I found my people…Lauderdales, Antles and Joneses. In this old resting place I have great-great and great-great-great grandparents. Standing before their tombstones I recall fragments of their stories and long to know more. What brought them to Barry and McDonald Counties in Missouri? Why did they say “Here we will build our lives”? Did their spirits sense my presence and my questions, drawing them to surround me?

The Richest Place on Earth

Fulfilled Lives

We had time to stop by a second family cemetery near the tiny town of Rocky Comfort, in McDonald County. There we walked about a third of this larger graveyard. I quickly located my Lauderdale grandparents, Aunt Roxie, Aunt Glenda and cousin Jeffrey. My dad’s baby sister is buried near her parents. Little Margaret‘s tombstone reminded me that although her life was brief, it had a lasting impact on my father’s family.

Using information from my genealogy research, I located Hills, Kirks, Johnsons and Stipps. These are connected to my family lines. I know the Montgomery branch has a place on my tree as well. I’m still researching that line, which originated from Scotland.

As the shadows grew longer and the wind colder, we slowly moved back to the car. I thought about the words of Myles Munroe. Did any of my ancestors die with their songs still within them? Did they have ideas that they never developed? Dreams that did not materialize?

Beyond the richness of the cemetery, the land of unrealized potential, came a chorus of voices borne on the wind. Hundreds joined my family members, encouraging me onward.

“Enjoy it all. Seize this day…and the next one…and the next one. Don’t fritter life away, caught in regrets or should haves. Go for it.”

What a great cloud of witnesses. And what a powerful reminder to live life, that dash, to the fullest. This is the richest place on earth, indeed. My family, I will be back, to learn more.

The Richest Place on Earth

Rock Star? Oh Yeah!

Forgive me for a very brief post tonight, as this day ticks down to its final minutes. It’s been a very full day. And this is blog post number two tonight.

Due to the lateness of the hour, I scrubbed my original idea in favor of getting to bed an hour and a half earlier. As I finished a post for Journey With Healthy Me, I sent up the equivalent of an SOS to the Divine.

“Another idea, please?”

God, El-le to me, is exceedingly kind and gracious. Another idea was given.

Rock Star Oh Yeah

Rock Star?

I flipped through my photos, looking for inspiration, asking for a short story to create and post. My original post can be fleshed out over the weekend.

I looked through photos on my phone because that’s where I save quotes, memes, recipes, ideas, and interesting tidbits. Why? Because I never know when I might need inspirational motivation.

I found something that grabbed my attention, made me smile and then stirred my heart. El-le said “Ta da…there you go Dear Heart. From me to you.”

From Notes from the Universe:

Two of the most important questions, Cindy, for an aspiring Rock Star are:

1. How big do you want to be?

2. What are you now doing about it?

“Rock Star” being metaphoric for “travel around the world exploring and writing.” I just didn’t want to immediately flip you out.

See you at the stadium.

Rock Star Oh Yeah

Oh Yeah!

I needed that smile and the warm glow that encircled my heart, as I read those words.

They were beautifully presented, timing wise. I almost quit reading at the words “Rock Star”. Music is part of my life but I’m not rock star material.

Or am I?

I’m glad I kept reading. The metaphoric part, the “travel around the world exploring and writing” part, undid me. Oh yeah. Oh please.

How big do I want to be? Big. As in, I want to live a big life, not on a stage but in terms of embracing this magical life with gusto, grace and gratitude…and the freedom to move about.

What am I now doing about it? I’m taking baby steps, learning new technology, writing my heart out, listening to the Divine. The steps may seem small but they are consistently in the direction I want to go. Those baby steps are growing me in big ways and bringing me the results I seek.

Travel around the world, exploring and writing.

Yes. That’s it. I’ll gladly rock it! Listen for my music…

Rock Star Oh Yeah

Winter Hygge Ideas

Last spring I set into motion an intention to bring more coziness into my life, through the Danish custom of hygge. My desire sparked the idea of welcoming each season throughout the year with a week of hygge activities.

I met that intention by practicing hygge in the spring, summer and fall. With a seasonal change occurring next week, it’s time to gather winter hygge ideas, in preparation for a seven days of coziness.

Winter Hygge IdeasmHygge is Perfect for Winter

With its focus on living in the moment, finding beauty in simplicity and nurturing yourself and others with coziness, hygge is perfectly suited for winter.

It’s thought the word hygge comes from a Danish word meaning “to give courage, comfort, joy”. That definition inspires warmth and comfort, just reading the words. It is also speculated that hygge might originate from the word hug. Hug comes from the 1560s word hugge, which means “to embrace”.

I like both meanings, which combined would mean “to embrace the tradition that gives courage, comfort and joy.” That seems to sum up the practice of hygge well.

Winter Hygge Ideas

Winter Hygge Ideas

In keeping with the tradition I began in the spring, tonight I came up with 15 winter hygge ideas. I have a cat snuggled up on my lap, that I hate to disturb. So this evening I created a list. Tomorrow I’ll cut 15 slips of paper and write an activity on each one. Folded, those pieces of paper will go into a container.

I’ll reach in and draw out a slip of paper each day, for seven days, beginning December 21…the first day of winter. This type of seemingly random game is fun for me and grows my faith. I’m well aware that Christmas falls within that seven day span. It will be interesting to see how the activities play out.

As I considered a container for the folded papers, the vintage German biscuit jar came to mind. I love the idea of using the jar to hold activities that inspire coziness.

Winter Hygge Ideas

15 Activities

I will select from the following winter hygge activities;

1. Visit a local art gallery.

2. Create a vegan hot chocolate.

3. Build a bonfire.

4. Take a walk in nature, no matter the temperature, and take winter photos.

5. Try a new soup recipe.

6. Watch a favorite movie from my childhood.

7. Put together a fun, fresh layered look, using clothes I already own.

8. Have a cozy evening with warm pjs, a pile of blankets, a hot drink, a book and candlelight.

9. Create a winter playlist of songs.

10. Pick up a new pair of cozy socks.

11. Invite family to a game night with healthy snacks.

12. Write out intentions for 2019. Dream big and record thoughts in my journal.

13. Attend a winter festival, performance, play or concert.

14. Plan changes and additions to garden.

15. Learn something new, via an online course, book or in person class.

Winter Hygge Ideas

Living the Hygge Lifestyle

This year has flown by it seems. And yet when I take a look back, I see how much I’ve accomplished and how far I’ve come.

Wrapping up the year with a week of hygge activities ends 2018 in the best possible way, nurturing myself and creating coziness around me. It feels like a comforting hug, a warm embrace, to myself. Play along with me, creating your own list of winter hygge ideas.

Let’s welcome winter.

Winter Hygge Ideas

German Eglantine Biscuit Jar

There are a few weeks left in the year, to share two or three more stories behind vintage items I own. I rescued the German Eglantine Biscuit Jar. Greg’s grandparents had stopped using it and tucked it away in their storage shed. I had no idea what it was, I just thought it was uniquely pretty. As a newlywed, I displayed the jar for a while and then I too quit using it and stored it away.

After many moves and the passage of years, I recently uncovered the biscuit jar again. Thanks to Google, I now have the ability to learn more about this vintage treasure.

German Eglantine Biscuit Jar

Eglantine Biscuit Jar

The mark on the bottom of the jar has a crown over a stylized O and H, with the words “Germany” and “Eglantine” printed beneath.

Eglantine is a type of rose. This piece has dainty roses painted around the jar, and the handles and top of the lid are made from porcelain roses. The glaze finish is clear and gold details adorn the edges.

When Americans hear the word biscuits we imagine small fluffy rounds of bread, dripping with butter or smothered in gravy. However, in Europe a biscuit is what we’d call a cookie. This small exquisite beauty is a cookie jar!

German Eglantine Biscuit Jar

German Porcelain

The Eglantine Biscuit Jar is German in origin. The mark with the fancy O and H indicates Hermann Ohme manufactured it between 1920 and 1930.

The factory was located in the town of Nieder-Salzbrunn (today Sczawienko). Ohme mainly produced full dinner sets and accessories which were available in two types of finishes. Clear Glaze and Old Ivory wares were both made from the same quality of porcelain but the Old Ivory type received an additional light ivory colored matte glaze. The Clear Glaze, decorated with a wide variety of floral and geometric patterns, was produced for the European and US market.

In 1913 Hermann Ohme, E.M. Bauer and Hermann Ohme Jr owned the company. Together they increased production for the export market, which proved to be a fatal decision. While pushing those exports, they missed the beginning signs that indicated a financial crises was coming. When the bottom dropped out of the export business, shortly after the collapse of the stock market in October 1929, a world wide economic collapse began. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1930.

German Eglantine Biscuit Jar

German Ancestry

The significance of the biscuit jar, with its origins, is that Bill and Ruby Kygar Moore both had German ancestry. The Siegfrieds and the Kygars, whether they shared connections in Germany or not, definitely tracked together in America. Greg continues to research his family roots through Ancestry.com. Bill Moore’s mother was a Siegfried. And Ruby’s father, a Kygar. Several items passed down to us came through those family lines.

I am honored to be the keeper of the German porcelain pieces that include a Hertwig china doll, the biscuit jar and a Bavarian china bread tray, seen in the picture. Traditional cookies aren’t part of my diet any longer. However, I have several healthy, plant based cookie recipes. Perhaps that biscuit jar will enjoy a new life, holding a different kind of treat.

Tonight, the jar cradles a tea light candle. I’m on Pinterest though, searching for healthy versions of traditional German cookies. How fun will baking those be?

German Eglantine Biscuit Jar

Liver Rescue Book Club

The book Liver Rescue, by Anthony William, released at the end of October. I preordered a copy, as did my mom and sister Linda. What better way to work through the amazing information within this hefty volume, than together.

Tonight we met for the first Liver Rescue Book Club meeting.

Liver Rescue Book Club

Why a Book About the Liver?

This evening we covered the first two chapters of the book. Chapter one is introductory…and eye opening. Why would Anthony devote an entire book to liver health? Because it’s that important.

We are very aware of other organs and systems in the body. Our hearts beat. We draw breath into our lungs. The stomach growls when it’s empty. We think with our brains. Our bladders fill and our intestines rumble. We moisturize our skin or get goosebumps when something extraordinary happens.

Our livers though? We don’t give them a thought…until we are far gone in a catastrophic illness such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver cancer. And yet the liver works incredible hard on our behalf, to keep the body functioning.

Anthony goes so far as to suggest that our livers are our best friends. It’s time, my mom, sister and I decided, to get to know this mysterious organ and do all we can to keep it healthy and happy, as many other ailments and illness are connected to liver health.

Liver Rescue Book Club

Liver Rescue Book Club

Our first meeting was a success. Mom prepared a delicious plant based meal that we shared with stepdad Walter. I’ll provide dinner next Tuesday. Linda will feed us the week after that.

The table cleared after dinner, the three of us opened our books and discussed the first two chapters.

Chapter Two explores the connection between liver health and the pancreas. A diet high in fat wreaks havoc on the liver, which then has a negative impact on the pancreas. Linda and I are very aware of pancreatic distress. We lost our father eight years ago to pancreatic cancer. This terminal cancer is on the rise. I know many, many people who have succumbed to this horrible disease. I want to do all I can to keep my liver and pancreas working well.

We talked about various sections in the first two chapters. And we expressed genuine gratitude for how miraculous the human body is. To encourage each other and keep us on track, we set a goal for next week. Each of us will keep a food journal over the next seven days, recording everything we eat. It’s possible, even on a plant based diet, to consume too much fat. Writing down what we eat raises awareness and allows us to see where problem areas might lurk.

I appreciate my mother and sister, for their willingness to improve their health and walk with me on this journey. Being the best we can be doesn’t have to be difficult. We intend to link arms and do this together…and have fun while we befriend our livers.

Liver Rescue Book Club

Order Liver Rescue, or other Anthony William books, through my Amazon Storefront.

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Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

I love decorating for Christmas. This is my favorite time of year, for many reasons. Near the top of the list is that I enjoy the coziness and warmth of my decorated home.

People ask me about creating vignettes, which are displays with items grouped together. They are easy to do and during the holidays, even items that aren’t specifically Christmas themed can be used as décor.

Decorating for Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive. Using what’s already owned is fun and creates uniquely beautiful arrangements. Here are some of my favorite tips that are easy to duplicate.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Use Available Surfaces

Use ALL available surfaces, clearing away regular décor. This includes mantles, tabletops, shelves, dressers, side tables, counters and even vintage chair seats. If it has a flat surface, it can be decorated! I have a vintage metal ironing board with a wooden top. It gets decorated for Christmas. Don’t forget the floor beneath tables and chairs.

Study the cleared surface and decide whether to leave it bear or cover with a cloth before decorating. I have a drawer full of linens that I’ve picked up over the years…placemats, pretty kitchen towels, vintage doilies, table runners, etc. I watch for sales and markdowns and pick up linens at a fraction of the cost. If I spy a red or green plaid cloth on sale I snatch it up. Don’t hesitate to use linens in other colors though. I have two gorgeous shawls that I use during the holidays that are rust, black and green.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Group Items Together

Once surfaces are cleared, study the space. The size of the area determines how to fill it. For a small space, such as the seat of a vintage chair, two or three items are enough. A tabletop can hold an entire collection, such as a Christmas village or a snowman grouping. Shelves hold arrangements at either end.

I tend to use the rule of three often, grouping three items together that vary in size and height. However, there aren’t really any rules! This is where the fun begins. Gather items together and play. Try different arrangements, adding items or taking them away, until what remains is pleasing to YOU.

Of course use the Christmas décor that you have, but don’t be afraid to add in other everyday pieces. More about that in the next section.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Include Everyday Décor in Christmas Decorating

This is one of my favorite things to do as I decorate, incorporate non-holiday pieces. I mix Christmas decorations with vintage pieces, stacks of books, framed art and all kinds of everyday décor. The result is eclectic and fun and it saves money, using what I already have on hand.

This time of year is great for showcasing vintage pieces. Use color to unify everything. On a shelf I have groupings that don’t contain anything Christmas themed. Red elements tie everything together and create a holiday feel. Another display features a stack of Harry Potter books, a wooden candle holder, a favorite framed quote, a black lion, a wooden box full of colored pencils and a metal candle holder featuring a row of Christmas trees. Most of the items are not Christmas related yet the vignette is colorful and festive.

This is creative play at a high level. Enjoy the process of making a display from favorite items.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Use a Variety of Containers

Another favorite trick of mine is to create vignettes inside all sorts of containers. Wooden boxes, trays, metal buckets, my grandfather’s WWII army truck, an old wooden sieve and a vintage suitcase all become a place to group décor.

Christmas and non-holiday items can share the space. Work with a color theme or chose an item to be the foundational piece and build around that.

My great great aunt’s little red footrest is flipped upside down, becoming a rustic box. It holds two mason jars with tea lights tucked inside, dried baby’s breath and cinnamon sticks. A red metal birdcage candle holder and tiny red metal BELIEVE sign complete the vignette.

On the deck Aunt Annie’s red box is filled with greenery, pine cones and candle holders. Greg has made me several boxes from old repurposed wood. Each has a vignette within it. In the bedroom Grandma Moore’s battered old suitcase holds a mix of items, from flea market finds to metal Christmas trees to vintage photographs.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Use Tea Lights Everywhere

The simplest way to create holiday warmth and cheer throughout a home is to fill it with candlelight. Those flickering lights dispel darkness and act as tiny beacons of hope.

I have all kinds of Christmas candle holders that I enjoy. However, any fireproof container can serve as a candle holder. I pop tea lights into decorative bird cages, sturdy tea cups and mugs, metal buckets, mason jars, glass containers, sugar bowls and pitchers. The possibilities are endless. If a container is fragile or not fireproof I use a battery operated tea light, to be safe.

If someone wants to decorate on a budget, this is my number one tip: buy a bag of tea lights, add them to a variety of containers, and then group them together. It’s a great way to feel the joy of Christmas.

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

Decorating for Christmas, Your Way

I hope these tips have given you some usable ideas! The best thing about decorating for Christmas is that each person can create décor that uniquely represents who she or he is.

Love plants? Collect cat figurines? Have Grandma’s silver candlesticks? Love the rustic look? Classical décor? Pink everything? It all works. It’s all allowed. Bring out the pieces that bring you joy…and start grouping them together until the results make you smile. Most importantly, have fun. Play Christmas music. Sip tea or hot chocolate. Wear your favorite Christmas sweater.

Decorate the whole house or one room or a single shelf. And please, send me a photo!

Decorating for Christmas with What You Have

The Brightest Star

What’s the perfect topic for a Sunday Short post? A Star Trek Short Trek! The Brightest Star, the third of four Short Treks, premiered Thursday evening. I grabbed an opportunity to watch it this evening.

The Brightest Star

The Brightest Star Cast

This sci-fi short stars Doug Jones, Hannah Spear, Robert Verlaque and Michelle Yeoh. The episode was directed by Douglas Aarniokoski and written by Bo Yeon Kim, Alex Kurtzman and Erika Lippoldt. It has a run time of 15 minutes.

Star Trek Short Trek: The Brightest Star is available on CBS All Access.

The Brightest Star

Saru’s Backstory

Saru (Jones) is the first Kelpien to enter Starfleet. The Brightest Star offers a glimpse into this character’s intriguing past.

A young Saru lives in a village with his father Aradar (Verlaque) and sister Siranna (Spear). Life is simple on the planet of Kaminar, governed by traditions and meaningful tasks.

The Kelpiens are a pre-warp drive race that has developed a heightened sense of danger. Ganglia on the backs of their necks alert them to impending danger. They live in fear…and resignation, knowing that in accordance with their beliefs, they may be called upon to offer themselves up as sacrifices, to preserve “The Balance” in their way of life.

When Kelpiens look to the sky, they feel fear. But not Saru. He feels curiosity about what lies beyond his world. And in contrast to his upbringing and his father’s teachings, he feels hope. There must be something more out there beyond the stars.

The Brightest Star

Saru Goes Beyond

The intensity of Saru’s desires provides an opportunity to reach out. Advanced technology literally falls from the sky, from an unseen race that the Kelpiens fear and seek to appease. Rather than destroy the beacon, as commanded by his father, Saru sends a simple message into space that’s part greeting and part invitation.

After several days, his greeting is returned. And the invitation is accepted. TODAY the return message says. After a sweet goodbye to his sister, Saru waits in the dark, watching the stars. A shuttlecraft appears, with familiar markings. Out steps a young Philippa Georgiou (Yeoh), a lieutenant at this stage in her Starfleet career.

Saru makes a choice that opens the universe for him and alters his life.

The Brightest Star

My Thoughts on The Brightest Star

This was a lovely episode, about one of my favorite characters in the new Star Trek: Discovery series. During the first season I got to watch Saru grow tremendously, as a being whose race lives in perpetual fear. The short provides more pieces of information about the Kelpiens and Saru in particular. His curiosity and hopefulness set him apart from the others in his family and community. It becomes understandable why Saru is the only Kelpien to take to the stars.

The Brightest Star creates questions as well, which in my opinion is one of the signs of a good story. It’s a “page turner”, creating in me the desire to know more about the early development and customs of the Kelpiens. And I’m always open to learning more about Saru.

Doug Jones shines in this role. He is a talented actor who appears to be a genuine, good-hearted, kind man who brings those same qualities to Saru. I’m excited to see how the character develops in Season Two.

The end of The Brightest Star brought a lump to my throat. I identifiy with Saru. His yearning to go beyond is mine as well and has been a driving force in my life these last five years. I want to know what’s out there…beyond the stars AND beyond my fears.

Saru’s voiceover as the shuttle flies away is perfection:

“I saw hope in the stars. It was stronger than fear and I went toward it.”

I get teary eyed just typing his words. Hope is always stronger than fear. I keep moving toward it too.

The Brightest Star