After I lost my mom in 2008, I could not begin to look at her holiday decorations. My mom was Christmas to me. Our house and holiday table were always beautifully decorated and she went to great efforts to make sure Christmas was a special time. It was just too painful to unpack the decorations I associated so closely with her. I could not even bear to bring any of her holiday decorations home until after my dad passed away in 2013 and I had to clear out my childhood home.
It has taken me quite a long time to be able to put out my mom's Christmas decorations and try to integrate them into my own. But it's true that time softens the edges of grief, and this year I was able to use a few more of Mom's things and have them bring to mind all the good memories I have of her.
I always loved these NOEL letters, but my mom never seemed to use them very often. I am guessing it's because each letter has a hole or two in the top for candles. I don't care for the look of candles in them, and I'm betting she didn't either. Without candles, the holes are quite noticeable.
I decided to punch circles out of similar-colored cardstock and lightly adhere them over the holes. That did the trick for me, and this year I used the letters on the little bookshelf in our entryway. I brought it home from my parents' house, too.
The bottle is one I painted this past fall, with greenery and a plaid bow added.
On the second shelf, I put out my mom's very cute little set of jadeite childhood dishes which happens to be the same color as the NOEL letters. The book belonged to me as a child. You can tell by the binding that it was very well-loved! I am lucky to have many of my childhood books.
When I was cleaning out my dad's garage, I found a bucket of Christmas bulbs in red, green, and blue. My dad absolutely hated putting up Christmas lights but my mom always insisted upon it, at least when I was a child. Let's just say he lacked the holiday spirit while he was stringing them on the house! :) So of course I could not part with those bulbs. I love the look of them in one of my mom's old bowls.
This little snowman belonged to my paternal grandma. My extended family gathered at my grandparents' house each Christmas Eve, and this little guy was always on the scene. When my grandparents moved to a smaller house, he was one of the items I got to keep. This year I put him on a small red chair that belonged to me as a child. I have a series of photos of me sitting on this chair with a kitty when I was just a couple of years old. It's very special to me!
These elves belonged to my maternal grandma. I loved seeing them at Christmas each year. She would pose them in different ways around her living room. I found the elves in a box when cleaning out my childhood home and literally wept with joy. I had no idea that my mom had them tucked away all those years.
I bought the little wooden village on a class trip to New York city when I was in high school. We went to visit the United Nations, and I was thrilled to find this little German village in the gift shop. I look forward to setting it out each each Christmas. This year, I put it on a ceramic stand I found in the Target Dollar Spot and covered it with a dome from the thrift store. It's funny how making a little change can make an old thing like this village seem new again!
I always loved my mom's Lefton holly dishes. She didn't get them all out at Christmas because she was afraid of breaking them. When I found them in my parents' basement, I couldn't believe how many pieces she actually had. These holly dishes are some of my dearest possessions. I especially love that little lantern.
My mom's collection includes candy plates, jars, sleighs, and other small pieces, perfect for desserts. This year I got out the cake plate which I don't remember my mom ever using. It was perfect for cookies and would even work well with my glass cake dome.
It has taken a very long time, but I've finally found that using heirlooms in my decorating brings back fond memories and helps me feel closer to my parents and grandparents. I love looking around our house and feeling that there is so much meaning and significance to our holiday decorations.