Oh the aftermath! Many of us have a whirlwind of a day on Christmas, family visiting, lots of cooking and kitchen clean-up. It’s wonderful and exhausting all at the same time. For us the family time is priceless. Then in the morning THE aftermath. Wrapping paper piles, boxes, bows, and boxes, all needing removal from the living spaces. What is your mode for disposal? It may take a little bit of time, but it sure helps to recycle the fiberboard, cardboard and non-foil wrapping paper. We also reuse ribbon and some boxes making less of an impact on the landfill. One of the good things that we managed to do for the last several years was create lists for what was wanted under the tree. It may seem like a waste of time when creating that list, but it certainly saved time the day after, when among four families, there were only three returns and those for size and a toy that wasn’t working. What are your traditions for gifts after Christmas? Do you still stack them under the tree to show to visitors who stop by the house? Times sure have changed!
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I’m telling you why,
He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake,
When visitors look around at the inn, they will find that even the walls decide it’s the Christmas season. There is cheer in the Gathering Room, asking you to “believe” in the magic. There are Christmas plates, fabric quiltings, and a Santa tapestry.
But some of our favorite seasonal wall decorating is accomplished with print material. If you have been to a wonderful Christmas attraction making a collage of photos can not only add Christmas spirit to your decorations, but you’ll also have your memories of that experience close to sight and heart. These are some of our favorite photos from Longwood Gardens at Christmas time. Longwood Gardens is open year round and is located near Philadelphia, PA.Another favorite is a series of prints from an original 1950′s story book given to good little children who sat on Santa Claus’ lap in Pomeroy’s Department Store in Reading. It is depicting “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.Of course there is always a unique treasure that we hold dear. In our case it’s a picture made by our grandchildren, with those little hands and feet.
There is no beginning, there is no end. The wreath has significant meaning for the season. It’s circular shape represents eternity. From a Christian religious perspective, it represents an unending circle of life, eternity or life never ending.
Some believe that initially wreaths were hung on doors in Ancient Rome to represent victory.
Wreaths at the James Manning House can be found in a variety of materials. Some favorites are homemade, fabric squares and cinnamon sticks, while another is a grapevine wreath wrapped in ribbon with a simple small embellishment, and another is a wreath made from bells to add a festive ring to the air.
Songs are written about the Christmas tree. Decorating seems to be centered about the tree. Most times it’s the first and maybe the only decoration in the living quarters. The Christmas tree is often the topic of conversation around the holiday season. “Did you get your tree yet?”, “Did you put up your tree?” Many traditions are centered around the tree; Santa Claus comes and decorates the tree, every year there is a different theme, the ornaments are all handmade, the youngest child puts the star on top, and on and on they go. I’m sure you have your tree traditions, and so does the James Manning House, starting with a decorated tree in every room.
Today we’ll start with a few of the themed trees, and the rule is decorated, size is immaterial.Let’s start our tour in the kitchen. What is more appropriate in a kitchen that bakes over a thousand cookies for Christmas? A tree decorated with cookie cutters and a Santa Claus or two.
Outside the windows the Christmas snow has fallen and the birds are busy flitting around the feeders. Not much is more beautiful than a bright red cardinal against the white snow, and what fun to watch the little chickadees flying in and out collecting one seed at a time. The next tree brings the birds and snow inside adding warmth to the winter decor.
Our last tree to admire today is the Santa tree. Adorned with over 75 Santa Claus ornaments this Alpine pencil tree is a favorite puzzle to search for all the classic and whimsical ways that the jolly elf can be created. Candy shaped, Santa on the beach, a star shaped Santa, Santa created from a brush, Santa gone fishing, Santa made from a star fish, and there are so many more. You will have to visit just to find them all.
We do like to see Christmas Villages, and lighted houses as we drive around the countryside, but with a 198 year old house, our outdoors will not be entered in the Great Christmas Light Fight. Our front door is welcoming with wreath and greens. The front is simply lit with flood lights, and the windows adorned with ribbons and greens, much in the way of yesteryear.
Bells and greens decorate the sign and lamps of entry, while Santa Claus flies nearby in his sleigh. Another whimsical sight guests see on arrival, is Santa giving Mrs. Claus a kiss underneath the mistletoe.
Christmas trees from inside don’t have to retire at our B&B, they just become a member of the lighted grove around the driveway. Although the trees are not real, the birds find cover and the cats enjoy a new playground among the lower branches. When the December Christmas snows are falling, these trees create a winter wonderland.
Spending time with grandchildren is always great. This past week my three-year-old granddaughter has been playing and singing Christmas songs all rolled together. She likes singing “Rudolph” the best, but asked me to help her to sing “Frosty the Snowman” which she did know with only a little help. Then we were watching Frozen, a favorite movie, with a favorite character, Olaf (a snowman for those not familiar with Disney). Children love snowmen! At the first flakes they cry, “Can we build a snowman?” Day three of decorating involves the lovable characters in a variety of styles: Snowmen!
One of my favorites is this beautiful painted gourd. Created and purchased locally, this snowman is nestled in a hemlock cone forest of trees made by family. This snowman graces our house all winter long.
Some of the snowmen have been with the family a long time and we have inherited a few more from other family members that had been used in the 40′s and 50′s, that vintage time of our parents. I like to take a section of the book shelves and create a little snow scene, such as pictured here.
Snowmen have become very popular in decorating and of course come in all sizes and shapes. they are supporting favorite sports teams and added to collectors creations. If you are interested in learning more about the frozen snowballs, author Bob Eckstein has written a book “The History of the Snowman” , available on Amazon or eBay. And say, “Let it snow, let it snow!”
Today Mother Nature gave me the best starting point for twelve days of Christmas decorating. You can’t beat the real thing, and now that the ground is covered, lights twinkle brighter, beauty glows stronger, and spirits are happier. It is December and winter is here; “Let It SNOW!”
Our open house has come and gone, but not everyone had a chance to stop by. Some live to far, lives are busy this time of year, and we understand all the interruptions, so I thought I’d take some time to give you a peak around our Holiday House. Each day I’ll pick a different theme and an explanation about the decorating “James Manning House” style. Follow along and I hope it helps to get you or keep you in the holiday spirit.
Remember back to the days of your youth? Holidays were a time that we simply loved. What made it so endearing? I think it was the memories we created, the warm and fuzzy feeling deep inside. Are we taking time to recreate those memories, and make new ones for our children and grandchildren? Living in a small town, I think my family is lucky to have the opportunity to slow down and have the experience of old fashioned holiday spirit.
Our town, Honesdale, has a wonderful weekend they like to call “Honesdale for the Holidays”. Stores are decked out in their holiday spirit and many stores and businesses will host “Open Houses” with seasonal warmth for their shoppers and visitors. Christmas music rings from the town pavilion making the shopping merry as vendors dot the sidewalks with their wares. The high school choir and Victorian strollers walk main street for all to enjoy. All the while the Stourbridge Line train will be blowing its whistle inviting young and old to hop on the train and take a ride with Santa and some elves, trains and Christmas it doesn’t get any better. As the sun sets and the decorations light up the streets the sidewalks crowd as the little ones get ready for Santa to come to town. What a festive spirit as the parade marches by, ending with the “big guy” himself. The people follow the parade into Honesdale’s Central Park and activities continue. Led by Rudolph and Frosty songs are sung and the star on Irving Cliff brightens the horizon for another holiday season. Children visit with Santa and everyone enjoys hot chocolate and a wonderful small town America. For more information: http://www.visithonesdalepa.com/honesdale-event/1526/
We, at the James Manning House, love to keep this Holiday Americana feeling going, and that’s why we invite everyone to a Holiday Open House. This spirit spills out into our little village of Bethany in another event we call “Christmas in the Village”. This year we are celebrating, Saturday, December 2, from 2-4 PM. At the inn we will have the Honesdale High School Chamber Choir delighting us with Christmas songs and carols. Our friend and author of three books, Will Wyckoff, will be here signing books and chatting with visitors. The house will shine in all its holiday splendor and we delight in showing visitors all around and share with holiday cheer. Of course, the kitchen has been busy for days ahead of this event and a huge platter of homemade cookies will be available for tasting. Bethany Public Library joins in the fun with an appearance of Mrs. Claus who helps children write letters to Santa. They enjoy stories and hot chocolate, too. Bethany Methodist Church will also be hosting visitors in the holiday spirit. Bethany Village invites everyone to stop by for their tree lighting and a Tricky Tray raffle. For more info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1499957440086260/
We hope that you can take some time and visit us to enjoy the little things that make us appreciate the wonders of the season. But most of all start some of your own traditions and sweet memories will be yours.