Sunday, December 21, 2014

All Clean for Christmas

Cheyenne got her Christmas bath today. We tried to take a nice photo, but even with all the shots I took, we still didn't end up with what I had in mind. Oh, well, She's clean, shiny, and so soft. And she smells good, too!

Are we done yet??

Now, if only my house was as clean as my dog! How are your holiday preparations coming along? 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas At The Guest House

This is only the second winter we've had the Guest House open, and this year I'm delighted that we have guests coming during the Christmas season! Last year I put electric candles in the four downstairs windows and some greenery with a red bow on the driveway gate, but since we had no guests, I didn't do any decorating inside. But this year we have guests! Although there's not much room to add a lot of things, I had fun "decking the Guest House" with a little holiday cheer.

During the summer and fall, there are pots of pink geraniums on the porch.

For Christmas, I found an old coal bucket and filled it with holly and pine and added a plaid bow.

Since we are using the dining room as the bedroom for now, there's not really any room for a full-size Christmas tree.

I found a miniature one, though, that fits perfectly on top of the pie safe.

It's decorated with tiny gingerbread men, little Santas, shiny orbs, and red bows, all topped with a beautiful red cardinal. Underneath are miniature presents that I wrapped years ago for the little tree I always had in the school library. And most important of all, the Holy Family is there, too.

There are two stockings hanging from the mantle, where the Wise Men are resting while on their long journey to see the Christ Child.

The kitchen window sill is filled with tiny treasures, too.

All in all, it's not much when it comes to the lavish holiday decorations found in most lodging establishments. I often imagine what the house will look like someday, when it's all finished and filled with gentle lights, greenery, ribbons, and pretty Christmas things. And I'm wondering where the perfect spot for a real, live Christmas tree will be. Instead of candles in only a few windows...

I'm looking forward to one day having a light in every window to let our little corner of the world know that Vance's Country Guest House is welcoming the Christ Child.

After all, He's what Christmas is all about, you know.

May the blessings of a Christ-filled Christmas be yours this season.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Keep The Home Lights Burning

Last Sunday, I went back to my hometown for the first time since my dad's estate auction, which was in early October. Although my sisters and I ended up with lots of heirlooms and treasures, it was a bittersweet weekend as we watched the rest of our family's things sold to the highest bidder. And then, two days later, we signed closing papers to sell the house our parents built in 1948. No one else had ever lived there; just us Martins. Even though we are thankful the house didn't sit on the market for months or years, it all happened very fast, making it difficult to accept the reality that the house now belongs to another family. In my mind, it's all still there - the house filled with Mom and Dad's things - just like it always was.

But alas, life's certainties not only include death and taxes, but change as well. Us three Martin girls are trying our best to accept the inevitability of losing our parents and the realization that we're now officially middle-aged! Both of these circumstances have brought a boatload of changes and challenges into our lives.

Thus, I was delighted to find one thing that hadn't changed when I made it back to Union last Sunday evening. The Christmas lights were still there!

They are the most magical lights anywhere, I'm convinced. I've not traveled much during the holidays, but even in movies and such, I don't remember seeing lights like these anywhere else. The concept is simple: just strings of regular-size colored light bulbs, hung in a zigzag design over the entire length of Main Street.

Capturing the effect of this colorful display with my camera has been quite a challenge. Someday I hope I can do them justice, but hopefully you can get the idea.

When I saw them, the childhood Christmas memories came flooding back, and it felt good, very good indeed, to be home at Christmas time.

Update: Well, apparently this style of Christmas lights was very common back in the day! I've heard from several people who also remember these same lights from their childhood. I'm so glad my hometown of Union, West Virginia hasn't abandoned them for more modern decorations.