“Who wants to put baby Jesus in the manger?” My mom had a stunning Lladro creche nativity scene (this piece was my personal favorite — and P.S., Etsy has quite a collection of vintage Lladro pieces at decent prices if you’re looking to start your own), and she would always leave Jesus out of the scene until Christmas morning, when all five of us would come tumbling down the stairs like wild banshees on the moor, eager to tear into our presents.
But first, my mom would have us cluster around the creche, place Jesus in the center, and sing “happy birthday” to Him. We always sang it as fast as possible, the girls in sharp staccato as we hustled through the lyrics to get to our gifts, and my brother singing sullenly, glumly, annoyed that this practice was standing between he and his newest computer game.
But, to my mother’s credit, we never forgot that the day was about more than Santa and gifts.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, my mother transformed our house into a holiday wonderland, with Christmas pillows, wreaths, and miscellaneous decor decking every nook and cranny of the house. She would simmer a mix of cinnamon and other spices on the stovetop so that the smell of Christmas was in the air, and we’d play a couple of Christmas albums on repeat. My favorite was a collection of “children’s Christmas carols,” including the perennial classic “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” which invariably elicited a heaving sigh and eye roll from my father if not a routine, “This is such a stupid song.” My Dad always preferred Elvis’s Christmas album, which is very much worth a listen if you’ve not heard it end to end.
I am certain my mom will have the creche out, and her holiday pillows fluffed, and Christmas carols on, and probably even the Christmas table set with her beautiful holiday china, when we arrive home for the holidays on the 23rd, and I can hardly wait to introduce minimagpie to the magic. I know everyone loves Christmas (how could you not?) but my mom makes it — and every holiday, and non-holiday* too — special. There’s a line in one of my favorite movies, Sleepless in Seattle, where the love interest (played by Tom Hanks) says of his late wife: “She made everything beautiful.” (P.S. Just try to watch that movie without crying. I challenge you.) I feel that way about my mom, too, and especially around Christmas.
*My mom also invented holidays for us. She had us celebrate “mid-summer’s” — we’d get a special gift from the “mid-summer’s fairy” and have friends over to play in the sprinklers and hoses in the driveway, bob for apples, and eat hot dogs.
A Few Things I’ve Bought / Am Eyeing for Christmas This Year
+After mulling over these options for weeks, I found my Christmas dress — this green velvet Misa dress ($238). It fits like a glove — the vee isn’t as low and revealing as the Shopbop picture makes it look, and it’s just so festive and different from everything else in my closet. Plus, green! I’ve been so into it the past few weeks. And the pricepoint was a little more manageable than the one on this stunning Ulla Johnson number.
+This boxwood wreath, trimmed with a big burlap or striped grosgrain bow, are something of a departure from my usual fir wreaths, but I’m obsessed with the look (see pic at top of this post!). Or consider this sweet trio if you don’t feel like assembling yourself! (I also like a lot of these styles.)
+I would love to eventually get an advent calendar for mini. Mr. Magpie said his mom used to put a small treat inside each drawer of his childhood advent calendar for the 24 (!) days leading up to Christmas. Sometimes it was a little piece of chocolate or dollar store toy or a little tub of play doh and sometimes it was something bigger and there’d be a little note tucked inside the drawer. Such a fun tradition. Maybe something like this? Or this?
+If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to build your ornament library, I have to rave about these Martha Stewart sets. We bought a few boxes a few years back and they’re great “filler” pieces to layer underneath more meaningful ones. Because it takes a lifetime to collect enough for your whole tree!
+Speaking of trees: Mr. Magpie has long been needling me (pun intended) to get a fake Christmas tree. I’ve always liked The Real Thing — we always had real trees growing up — and it’s been something of a tradition for the two of us to go pick one out together. However. Mr. Magpie’s mother has used an artificial one for years and hers always looks spectacular. I will admit that I like the look of these flocked trees that have been so trendy in recent years — see below. (Flocked trees:Christmas Trees :: Bell Sleeves:Blouses. AKA VERY 2017.) Of course you could do the flocking yourself, but you can also buy them pre-flocked here ($$$) and here ($). For non-flocked trees, I’d consider this or this, both of which get solid reviews.
+I’ve always wanted to get a proper tree skirt — specifically, this one or maybe something more rustic, like this (which gets great reviews!). Mr. Magpie inherited an incredible Lionel train set that we like to set up around the base of the tree, though we skipped it last year thanks to our puppy. You can find select Lionel pieces on Etsy, like this one, which would be adorable if you have a train set, or could also just be a chic piece of decor on a mantle or something.
+Speaking of blogger-approved Christmas gear, people are flipping out over this collection for Target. I have to say this dollhouse is beyond, and would make an insane gift for a little girl. (I’ll never forget coming down to my own dollhouse one Christmas. Magic!) I also love this gift wrap — and there are more gift wrap ideas here!