The last time I remember Christmas in this house was many, many years ago. I was a little girl, the tree was a Charlie Brown Christmas tree on a table in the bay window. Very grand in this little girl’s eyes. There was a village beneath the tree, covered with soft cotton glistening as snow. The ornaments were old world, German mercury glass klugel. Shiny, heavy and reflecting light at every angle. The tree topper, also of mercury glass, was round at the base and pointed at the top, shining up like a bright star over the tree and onto the ceiling.
These were my memories (along with my sister’s) of Christmas in this house. Before my grandmother passed away, she gave us an ornament from her collection. She was living modestly and I am sure she wished she could have given us more. But it was a present I cherished and have always remembered receiving. Regretfully, I also remember loosing it, as it was accidently thrown out with the discarded Christmas paper. I was heartbroken. Since that Christmas, I have had an affinity for those old, big mercury ball and figural ornaments. I have collected a few over the years and I always lovingly, remember my grandmother.
So here we are. In the house that my great grandparents built, that my grandmother and father grew up in and that I am decorating for the first time. No pressure, right? I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I had 3 mantles downstairs, a sideboard and table original to the house and of course, the front of the house. So I did what I do best, I just started winging it. I started with the outside and greens from the Charleston Horticultural Society’s Holiday sale of garland and wreaths. Adding lights to the garland, decorating the Palmetto tree with lights (thank you husband!), it was starting to shape up on the outside.
Inside, I knew I wanted to fill my Charleston Camellia bowl with the old world mercury ornaments to be placed on the sideboard my grandmother used. I opted for a big tree (with the intention to have a Charlie Brown tree one day with a village, but not this year) and added new elements like gold tulle to highlight the gold accents and sweetgrass baskets in the room. As I was placing a very large (why is the ornament so large?) ornament in a basket so it wouldn’t break, I started building a centerpiece around it and it worked, showcasing the ornament and the sweetgrass basket.
This was the first time (ever?) I wasn’t pressed to get the decorations done on a weekend afternoon. I played with it and I had fun doing it. And most importantly, I think “Ma”, my grandmother, would be happy with the results.