Once the outside was taken care of, we could turn to the inside, which is much more fun in my opinion. At one point you could not even walk through the hallway or dining room because of the Great Christmas Storage Bin Explosion. Glitter was everywhere– is everywhere still! (Seriously, how do you get rid of loose glitter??) Having bins and bags and boxes of holiday decor, some of which I had never seen, meant opening everything all at once and seeing what was inside. Some of it was fantastic and some of it (I’m thinking of you, melted pink candle stubs), were not really usable anymore.
With all sorts of options and choices at my fingertips, I set about making the suites somewhat understatedly decorated and the public rooms overstatedly Christmased. With the holiday music on full blast–because what is the holiday without John Denver and the Muppets singing “12 Days of Christmas??–I put out the gnomes from Scandinavia, the smokers from Germany, Santa and his flying reindeer from Iceland, and everything else we have collected over the years.
Each suite has a wreath or a swag on the door and a poinsettia in the room, plus one of the drawings of the holiday card. Usually its one of me and my cat, Jackie, because of the ones with Will and I are hanging on the hallway, mixed in between our canvas travel photos.
These gnomes are from Scandinavia, called Tomte in Swedish or Nisse in Danish. Tomte are mythological creatures associated with Christmas and are usually about 3 feet tall or shorter, always have a long white beard, and wear a conical hat. According to legend, they love buttery porridge and watche over the house (or farm) in which they reside. They are some of my favorite holiday decorations and I am reminded of our trips to Denmark and Sweden everything I see them. And, if you look closely at the photo with the travel photos, you can see the Inn’s holiday card and our holiday card for this year framed on the wall.
What is the holiday without the Nutcracker? These nutcrackers are placed throughout the Inn and are just about 3 inches tall. They remind of my sister and brother-in-law, who, when living in San Francisco, worked the Nutcracker Ballet. His job: to make the Christmas grow at the end of Act I. He would have to sit inside the tree for the entire first act, waiting for his cue of Herr Doktor Drosslemeyer casting a magic spell on the tree to make it grow. I can’t imagine sitting in a tree trunk for that long for one action, but he did it, year and year.
The banister is always fun to decorate and this year, I did it without lights but with flowers, beads, and topped with a beautiful golden song bird. Also, hanging from the bottom of the banister are several bits of string, waiting to hold Christmas cards that we receive. I love displaying everyone’s cards and making them a focal point on the stairs is a great way to do that.
I think that my favorite suite to decorate this year was the Antietam Suite– it has so many options with that fireplace! I have birds and mice, wreaths and foxes tucked on the mantel. I particularly love the birds, with their faux fur scarfs.
In the sitting and dining rooms, we have garland, stockings, a Christmas ficus, bouncy birds, and smokers. Technically these are räuchermännchen, a traditional German decoration that also is an incense burner. The incense smoke curls out of the mouth and since each of the characters has a pipe, it looks like they are smoking. I have two of mine from the Christmas markets in Germany and one from a year-round holiday store in Reykjavik, Iceland.
And finally: our Christmas Tree. A real one gotten from a local market, it’s a Canaan Fir, which I have never had before. It is quite pretty and just under 7 feet tall. I love decorating a real Christmas tree, even putting on the lights– and we all know that lights are never fun. We have several of the yearly White House Christmas ornaments and one guest just gave us the 2016 one: a firetruck from the Herbert Hoover Administration. We were quite touched that our guests gave us this present.
And a post script, what house doesn’t have a bonsai Christmas? When I was putting the finishing touches on the tree, Will snuck off and decorated one of his bonsai trees, complete with miniature ornaments and presents under the tree.
From Will, Stirling, and myself, we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a marvelous New Year. May 2017 bring you love, happiness, and peace.