Okay-I will admit it. I have a lot of Santas and again,the collection began while living in Zurich and driving up to the Black Forest with all of my American friends. They are so dear to me that the architects actually built the mantle in the Family Room to fit all of them at Christmastime.
The family tree is very special to me. All of the ornaments have a story behind them. Interests the kids had-hiking boots for Kate’s days at Dartmouth,scrubs for Phil in Med School,Bud Light can for Peter’s favorite,computer screen for Chip,horses for Susan. We also have an ornament made by my Mom for when we got engaged-complete with the teddy bear with a ring around his neck as Bill did. I also have many handmade ornaments by me and by many members of our family.
The brass reindeer I purchased this fall from Gerard’s in Lincoln MA-love them! Judy surrounded them with beautiful balls of moss and boxwood that she created, mixed greens,gold ribbon and magnolia leaves.
These are our pyramids-each of the kids has one and I also have my Mom’s. I bought all of them either in the Black Forest in Germany or at The Christmas Haus,located in New Oxford,PA. I used to go to the Christmas Haus when my two boys were at Gettysburg College.
As you entered the front hall, my friend Judy had made a beautiful arrangement out of rhododendron,magnolia leaves, white pine, flowering kale , and some other mixed greens that she used for layering and texture.
On the other side of the front hall, we had Bill’s grandmother’s creche.She had apparently made all of the pieces at a pottery class in Pennsylvania in 1963 and painted them herself as well!
As you left the front hall,you went into the library to the left. In this room, we had a small tree with little Swiss cowbells. We lived in Zurich for 3 years and when I first got there, my new friend Joan told me to collect the bells at kiosks in every village as I travelled around with our family. “Then” she said, “you will have a second Christmas tree when you move back home- dedicated to your years in Switzerland”. I thought this was a great idea!
In addition,just as we were leaving to return to the US, my friend Sandy found a shop that sold real Swiss cowbells with a brass plaque on which they would inscribe your family name and the years you lived in Switzerland. This bell was at the base of the tree.
Bill’s trains from his childhood circled the tree but unfortunately we could not get them to go-he has ordered the missing part!
A few people have asked about the parquet floor that we did in our front hallway-what was the inspiration for it?
The truth is, that was in the works from the very beginning. At our very first meeting with the architect, my husband mentioned the parquet floor. Right away Jen Hart, the architect, lit up-“I have always wanted to do that!” she said. The reason? They both went to the University of Virginia and love Monticello in Charlottesville. This floor is in the parlor (pictured below) and is made of cherry and beech. It is said that Thomas Jefferson designed it himself, although the thought is that he may have seen something similar during his years in France as the Ambassador in 1784-89.
Each unit is constructed of a center square of cherry and a border of beech. When first installed, the contrast between the woods would have been even more striking than it is today, with the cherry coming across as a rich red and the beech a golden blonde. Beeswax was the only substance used to bring out the color of the woods. Additionally, the squares were installed with their grains going in alternating directions, which would have added further nuance to the regular geometric pattern of the floor, depending on the angle of light and where one was standing.
J J Hardwood Floors from Acton,MA certainly did a very good job of replicating the floor for us. We were all very true to the design as well as the woods used for the project and the installation.
We got moved in for Christmas and had such a great time with everyone home. It was incredible to me that we even got the Santa and Snowmen collections out and the little dog tree. Our new kitchen table worked great-wonderful for our large family.
It was great to get the art work unpacked-especially the 5 black and white photos of our kids that were taken 20 years ago. I also always feel like it is home after I get the needlepoints with our kids names up too-my sister did those as each child was born. We also hung the paintings that our daughters each did as gifts to us over the years.
And it was great to see the ping pong table again-it had been in storage for 9 years as it never worked in our old house on Main Street.
While we used all of of our existing furniture there were some “news” which was a lot of fun too!
Yesterday happened to be Dave Jenkinson’s birthday (he is the main contractor on the house) so I ordered a cake from Concord Teacakes to celebrate. Right as we were cutting into the cake and all of the workmen were gathered in the kitchen, the inspector drove up the driveway to perform the final inspection and give us the occupancy permit so that we could actually stay in the house. It all passed, so last night was our first official night in the house!
We were able to get our Christmas tree up which seemed appropriate for our first night there.I feel like this house is a combination of all of our years as a family-we took a piece of each of the 12 houses we have lived in and enjoyed, and created this house. Christmas trees are the same-each ornament brings a memory-something one of the 5 kids was interested in,or a place that we visited,or a location where we have lived over the last 34 years. A true piece of your history as a family.
Happy Holidays to all!