22 December 2011

The spirit of the holidays

In keeping with my desire to simplify this year, I haven’t decorated as much as I have in the past. Unlike years past, we don’t really have any special Christmas décor in any rooms but the main ones (unless you count the wrapping paper explosion in the office as a décor statement). I consciously made that choice, but at the same time worried that it would feel sad or “not like Christmas”. But you know what? It’s fine. Christmas is totally what you make of it, and as much as I enjoy wrapping our banister in garland or using special Christmas kitchen towels, I’m having a blast this Christmas keeping it simple.

So our only other decorations outside of the tree, the entryway, and the mantel are a simple wreath on the front door:

And some shiny ornaments on our dining room table:

I didn’t even break out special Christmas dining room linens – I just left the green runner, and took away the ones that weren’t Christmas colors. And I’m loving it. The time spent stressing over arranging garland just so and filling our home with things has been replaced with focusing on people – sending notes, buying gifts, and attending parties, like this engagement party for this cute couple (who will also move to St. Louis soon!):

Or this work party at my PhD advisor’s home, for which all the female graduate students in the lab inexplicably decided to wear teal-green sweaters as shown in this camera phone photo, and no we did not plan that in advance:

That’s really the spirit of the season, isn’t it? Friends and fun and soon, family?

That’s not to say I’m not tweaking the atmosphere in other, non-décor-related ways, though. I’m burning some holiday candles and playing my favorite Christmas tunes and movies. For instance, I continued my annual tradition of watching this movie as I put up our Christmas tree:

That would be my favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually. Sure, It’s a Wonderful Life is great, and so is A Charlie Brown Christmas, and if my stepfather has any say in it, so is Christmas Vacation. But Love Actually is my personal favorite, and I watch it every year if only for this scene – which you probably should only watch if you have seen the movie, not only because it spoils the film, but because you can’t possibility get the full effect of its darling-ness out of context. If you have seen the film, well, enjoy this all over again:

Ohhhh. Oh! I love so many scenes in that movie, but I honestly cry during that scene every year, every time it plays. And Mr. P gets a real kick out of saying “Just in cases” out of context throughout December and watching me tear up. That is seriously the best Christmas movie ever, you guys, though be advised it’s not exactly a family movie – it earns its R rating. You might not realize that, considering this scene with the adorable kid crushing on his classmate:

Everyone else thinks of Mariah Carey when they hear that song, but all I can think of is the little boy who learned how to play drums to impress the girl.

Which brings me to another point: Christmas music. Between Spotify, the radio, and my current CD collection, it’s been playing almost daily around here. Of course, we’ve been listening to the classics that we all know and love. But I’ve also been enjoying the modern artists that cover the classics, like Sufjan Steven’s Christmas set. “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” is just gorgeous:

Or this little number by Lady Gaga, in which she expands the lovely classic “White Christmas”. Say what you will about the woman, but I find her to be rather charming. I mean, she had a Christmas variety show!

And speaking of Christmas variety shows, I told you a few weeks ago how I’ve become enamored with the Sing-Off. This year they, too, did a Christmas special, which was delightful and proved to me that I totally belong in a time in which Christmas variety shows are commonplace. See, here’s The Collective performing “Santa Baby”, and it’s freaking adorable:

That group, by the way, is from Nashville. Represent!

Of course, with the Sing-Off, I can’t neglect to include my all-time favorite musician playing a little Christmas tune. Jump ahead to 2:10 to skip the space-filling banter between Ben and Sarah Bareilles:

And finally, in a lovely mash-up of my favorite Christmas movie and my favorite Christmas variety show, I got to see the Darthmouth Aires performing “All You Need is Love”:

So that’s how I’ve been filled with the Christmas spirit this year – not hauling all the décor out of the garage, not vacuuming up glitter and needles, not dreading putting it all away again after the season is over. Instead I’ve been singing along to Christmas songs and spreading Christmas cheer with my friends. And I hope you are feeling the same lovely spirit too!


Christal said...

I love love love the ornaments in jars idea! So beautiful!