Wednesday, December 10, 2014


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.

* * * * *

When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me that one of her greatest Christmas delights was to find a fresh orange in the toe of her little Depression-era stocking. 

An orange?? 

Psh. What's so special about an orange, for heaven's sake. Such a boring, blue-collar fruit. I used to find one in the bottom of my lunch box pretty much every day of my grade school life and I grew to despise them.

So she would explain about the days before the global fruit economy and the limitations of pre-jet-travel transportation until the whole topic became unbearably tedious. 

But still, I puzzled over the idea that citrus fruit could be exciting. 

When my own daughters were growing up, we loved to read the classic tale, Beauty and the Beast, as retold and illustrated by Jan Brett. My favorite part is when Beauty's father first stumbles into the Beast's neck of the woods, and an amazing thing happens:
He pushed through a deep forest until the snow covered the track and he was hopelessly lost. Just when he felt he could no longer go on, he saw an avenue of orange trees, untouched by the snow, and beyond them a grand palace.

Suddenly, I got it. The mystery and majesty of oranges and their little cousins, the clementines, satsumas and tangerines, was revealed to me in a single sentence and I've been in love with them ever since.

For the past few Christmases, in celebration of their exotic winter abundance, I've been placing a handful of tangerines on the dresser in my front hall. Their scent, shape, color and organic energy feed my soul throughout the holiday season and on into the quiet hibernation of January.

And let's be honest. This is about the simplest holiday DIY ever, totally easy on the pocketbook, and you can eat and replace them endlessly.

Plus, if the Beast shows up at your front door, he will feel right at home.

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