I love to decorate for Christmas.
But I prefer to do it very slowly.
The halls of most American yuletide-loving homes are fully decked by the close of Thanksgiving weekend, but that's when I'm just beginning my process. Armed with bits of paper, tree branches, fishing line, assorted garlands, and twinkle lights, I expect to spread the job out over the next few weeks.
Here, in day-to-day installments, is the story of how my house is getting ready for Christmas.
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Christmas morning is always an explosion of joy for the senses. Over the years, our family rituals have taken on a pleasantly predictable pattern, though they have shifted an changed a bit as my babies have grown up.
^ When the girls were young, Christmas breakfast was an afterthought, a formality to be squeezed into the gift-opening rituals and never-ending rounds of candy.
Now that they are grown up, this meal taken first, so we all have a chance to wake up.
What remains the same is that our plates always feature yummy homemade baked goods. After many years of cranberry-orange scones, we transitioned to cinnamon rolls and have no regrets about the change.
^ Gift-wrapping has always been a labor of love. As little girls, my daughters were careful and creative stylists, bringing their own special flair to the finished product.
As years have gone by, this ritual has intensified. Using just simple wrappings, random ribbons, and mostly homemade name tags, our packages have personality and panache to boot. I almost hate to rip them open. Almost.
For the first years, a handsome Irish lad named Casey filled our hearts.
Then this guy came along.
While both dogs have had distinct personalities, each has enjoyed the exact same holiday morning ritual. With a little help from the humans, they have discovered treats in their Christmas stocking, and enjoyed a fabulous snack.
^ Thus satisfied, our sassy red dogs have shared a longstanding tradition of lying down among the wrappings for a dreamy Christmas snooze.
And though my daughters used to fight the idea of following that fine example, we have all come round to agreeing that a good solid nap is the perfect capper to a magical Christmas morning.