Everything old is new again

My dad worked 40 years for the Coca-Cola Company, and all those years of growing up, Mom decorated — including leaving Santa a bottle of Coke with cookies behind the overstuffed chair. My wife, Nancy, also grew up in a loving family that thoroughly enjoyed the fun of gift giving and we have chosen to continue these traditions with our family through the years.

As the boxes are opened, it’s almost like an emotional reunion with old friends. There are all sorts of collections — the fun is renewing our acquaintance with their memories and deciding how we will cover the house with the holiday’s sights and sounds of so many wonderful years.

Just to make sure everyone knows where we stand, we make it a goal to know that wherever one’s eyes might travel in our home, they are fully aware that it’s time to celebrate! Celebrate family, celebrate life, celebrate children, celebrate the true incomparable joy of knowing that “Peace on Earth” can be a reality — and that in the Incarnation of the Christ Child comes a Wonderful Counselor, an Almighty God, and of the increase of His government there shall be no end!

There is a symphony of color and music, intermingled with movement and fantasy throughout the house. Nothing we have is extravagant or expensive, just designed in ways to lift our spirits and hearts to celebrate the season.

Some areas are “way over the top,” some are gaudy, mostly pretentious and too much — that’s the way we like it. May it ever be! The fun of it is changing it each year, adapting to the times in our lives, getting ready for family and entertaining from Thanksgiving to New Year’s — all with simple and understated elegance.

Yes, it takes some time, some effort, a lot of energy and all for a short season — but oh, what fun on the journey. Much of the secret lies in the attitude — not just in what there is to work with or how much the budget allows. Intermingling the old with the new, the traditional with the modern, the living plants with the silks…each bringing their unique elements to the celebration.

We always choose the focal points in our home that seem to invite the eye to spend a moment or two in observing the heart of Christmas. The front door is the formal invitation to the exhibition on the inside. Georg Andersen, interior designer, taught us to use a variety of sizes in light bulbs to create a wonderland of welcome around the door. The largest of our seven trees graces the front window and is flanked with the harp and piano.

“Nino and Nana’s Candy Store” is strictly for the grandchildren. It’s housed on top of a sideboard, with apothecary jars filled with healthy and not-so-healthy treats — free for the taking for these precious gifts from the Lord — our grandchildren.


The dining room tables house the sets of Christmas dishes that Nancy has collected through the years. Some are mix-matched, but all work together for the end result to house the many feasts we share around the table.

This year, Nancy’s mother has moved to Conway! After a wonderful life with children, grandchildren and great-grands, Helen Barker has come to town — she is our Mimi! Her Fitz and Floyd dishes will be added to the china array this year. The dishes are a welcomed addition, but to have Mimi is probably the greatest gift this year! (Did I fail to mention Mimi still drives, is a bridge-playing fanatic, and looks like a million dollars?)

We love dragging all the decorations out, unfolding the ladders and wearing the misguided glitter the entire month of December on our clothes. All the while, we know it has to come down in such a short time but as long as we can hold on to this tradition — we will!

Sometimes Nancy has to “reel me back in.” We have been known to say in the last two or three years that’s it’s time to gear back but so far, it hasn’t happened.

I like to think that we are simply in “the youth of old age” and with each Christmas decoration comes the reminder of all the truly important things in life.

So, we continue to deck our halls with boughs of holly, cedar, pine, garlands, lights, balls and bells, tinsel, artificial candies, ivy, twinkle lights, ribbon, candles, brass and silver, poinsettias, hydrangea, magnolia, snow, tea cups and napkins, cookies and cakes, pies and tarts, music and singing, Christmas soap in the bathrooms,…and this is just the inside! I’ve yet to persuade Nancy to transform our backyard into the wonderland I have envisioned for someday!