12.20.10 Home for the Holidays
The countdown has begun. My sister and her daughter (17 years old!) are arriving for a visit this week. Four of us crammed into this tiny cottage should be interesting. I had hoped like hell to have the bathroom renovation completed by now, but we're on country time up here and still praying it will happen in January. There's no snow either, and no prospects for any, even though further north they're up to their eyebrows in the stuff. So no snowshoeing. What will we do? Probably sit in the front of the fire reading, watching movies and eating a succession of wonderful things that will emerge from the kitchen on a regular schedule. (I'll definitely be making crack and white hot chocolate.) Since we'll be welcoming guests, I wanted to make sure the house felt festive. But not kitsch. I'm sure you all have your traditions—the tree dripping with tinsel, the crêche, the knick-knacks and gew-gaws you haul out once a year at this time—and I wanted to show you how, with just a few simple elements, I've added a bit of holiday cheer to my home. The giant glass mercury balls, above, I found on sale at Takashimaya a few years ago. They have a vintage look and I love how they reflect the firelight.
They also look pretty in an impromptu table arrangement with a pine-scented candle and some beautiful squash from the farm.
A few years ago we ordered a bunch of reindeer skins on ebay, and this one fits perfectly on an old Warren Platner chair. They transform any chair or bench into a cozy winter spot.
There's no florist up here, but mother nature will provide. Bright red winter berries are now visible in the stark winter landscape and I stuck several branches in the new mercury glass jar I found at a local "antiques" shop.In addition to these few touches, I like to burn Diptyque candles in pomander, which smells of a clove-studded orange, and feu de bois, whose fragrance echoes the rich woodsmoke of the fire; as well as Mariage Freres' ambre thé or thé rouge, two complex and transporting scents I cannot resist. And there are a few musical selections I simply must play over and over at this time: Handel's Messiah; Noel, a Christmas album by Joan Baez; and the Mexican peasant mass, Misa Criolla (the Ariel Ramirez version only, please).How do you prepare your home for the holidays?