Home Improvement

Christmastime At the Mermaid Lair

Once again, the “Good Old-Fashioned Family Christmas Season” is upon as, as they say in National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation” movie (one of my family’s favorite movies).

Last year was my first Christmas in my new home, which I aptly call “The Mermaid Lair 2.0”.  But it wasn’t a very festive one due to the fact that Grandma had died right before the holidays, and it was the very first Christmas I had ever spent away from my family.  But this year I decided to make my home more festive for the season, both for my own enjoyment and to honor Grandma and Grandpa’s memory since they both LOVED Christmas season.

It’s interesting to note that I am actually an Atheist who subscribes to the tenets of Satanism, but I still love Christmastime because I enjoy all of the lights and festivities and family time.  This year I am making an effort to step up my Christmas decorating game to the next level in the hopes of getting somewhere near Grandma’s legendary expert level of holiday home decorating.  Anyone who knew my Grandma or had ever been to our home at Christmastime knows that she went OVERBOARD with Christmas decorating.  She had multiple full sized Christmas trees in the house, each with a different theme.  There were little mini Christmas trees in every room, and every nook and cranny of that house had some kind of Christmas decorative touch added to it.  It usually took her between one to two weeks to complete all of the decorating.  It was excessive, but it looked BEAUTIFUL. Grandma’s home always looked like something out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

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Grandma’s basement staircase
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View down into the basement
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Grandma’s light-up ceramic Christmas village display
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The “Victorian Tree” in my old bedroom

So far, my home isn’t decorated nearly as thoroughly as hers always was, but I did purchase many more Christmas decorations this year.  I would like to have as many as Grandma did, but it took her a period over many, many years to accumulate the entire storage closet full of Christmas decorations that she had. (I store all of my holiday home decor in a storage unit.).  It will definitely be a gradual process for me to accumulate more stuff, because a lot of the Christmas decor I like is rather expensive.  I got a lot of my stuff from Target and Walmart, but I LOVE the holiday decorations for sale at Michael’s.  But unfortunately, Michael’s stuff is pretty expensive.  I’m eyeballing a beautiful Christmas table centerpiece in there with tall blue candles that match the blue color of my living rooms walls, but the thing is $50.  Sigh….  One item I purchased that I’m really enjoying is my mini purple Christmas tree in my purple Master bedroom:

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The first thing I got around to decorating this year was my balcony. I did the same thing as last year by hanging blue and white twinkling icicle lights along the balcony railing and stood the big twinkling wire lawn angel in the corner.  The light-up lawn angel was a Christmas gift from me to Grandma back in 2008.  That was her first Christmas without Grandpa, and every Christmas she would place the angel outside next to Grandpa’s memorial plaque.  When she died last year, I took the angel home to Florida with me to use at my own home.  When I decorated my balcony last Christmas, the balcony was still completely empty, so it didn’t look that great.  But now that it is filled with outdoor furniture, lots of plants, and statues, it looks AWESOME with the Christmas lights.  I will definitely enjoy sitting out there and relaxing in the evenings this winter with the lights glowing.

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I just finished erecting my Christmas tree the other day, and this tree is also another item I inherited after Grandma died.  This is a very special Christmas tree that has to be decorated in a very specific way, so the pressure was on for me to do it correctly all by myself and get it right!  This tree originally belonged to my great-great-aunt Alberta.  Every year at her house, she would have the tree set up the very next day after Thanksgiving and taken down the very next day after Christmas.  The tree itself is from 1963, but all of the ornaments on it are from 1911!!!  Every year, Alberta decorated the tree exactly the same: white lights, silver beads, and her antique ornaments.  Nothing on this tree ever changed. When she died in 2007, she willed the tree to Grandma.  Grandma used to set up the tree in my bedroom every year because she knew I admired it so much.  We called it “The Victorian Tree”. Grandma agreed that when she died, the tree would then be passed down to me.  And now it is mine.  In order to continue with the tradition, I have to decorate the tree with white lights, the silver beads, and all of the old Victorian ornaments that came with it.  The only thing on this tree that ever changes is the tree topper.  In order to maintain the theme of the tree, I put a fiber optic Victorian angel on top of it.  The fact that these 100+ year old tree ornaments are still intact is incredible….although the same cannot be said for the old boxes they are stored in.  The boxes are rapidly deteriorating with age.  I’m very proud to have this antique family tree in my home, and I will always set it up every Christmas for the rest of my life in remembrance of Alberta and Grandma.  I hope it will draw their presence near during this time.

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The Victorian Tree in my home. (Please overlook the lack of draperies on my windows.)
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Antique tree ornament from 1911
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Antique lady’s purse ornament circa 1910’s
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Victorian lady’s shoe

Victorian lady’s hats

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Cherub ornament circa 1910’s
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Antique ceramic teapot ornament

I took several of Grandma’s household Christmas decoration items with me when I left our house for the very last time a year ago, and I proudly set them around my own house every Christmas.  I’m also slowly purchasing more and more of my own to add to it.  My front door entrance looks pretty snazzy this Christmas!  I only wish that I could have gotten my Great-Great-Grandfather Walter’s big old sleigh bells that he hung from his horse and buggy harnesses every Christmas back in the late 1800’s.  Grandma hung them on the back door every Christmas, and they made a fantastic jingling sound when the door was opened.  I would have loved to have them on my own front door, but I was not next in line to inherit them after Grandma died.  One thing that Grandma did every Christmas that I really admired was put electric candles in each window of the house to give it a New England Christmas look.  So I made sure to do the same thing at my house, and it looks really sharp.

The Christmas plant was Grandma’s

Every year when Grandma’s house was decorated inside and out for Christmas, I remember how she had to walk around the house twice a day to turn on and off every Christmas tree, every illuminated Christmas decoration, and all of the outdoor Christmas lights.  After a few days of having to do that myself, I said “Screw this!” and went to Target to buy several outlet timers for my Christmas tree and outdoor Christmas lights.  Now they turn on and off by themselves each day, making my life MUCH simpler.  I even made sure to get solar sensor window candles so that I won’t have to bother with turning them on and off, either.  The timers will come in very handy when I leave to go home to visit my family up North in a few days.  I pay my friend Emilie to stay over at my home whenever I’m gone and take care of Lexi and my house for me.  She will appreciate not having to think about turning all of those lights on and off every day since she already has enough responsibilities to take care of in my absence.

My home is still a long way from looking like Grandma’s, but I’m pretty proud of it so far and I look forward to entertaining guests in my home later on this Christmas season.  And I’m looking forward to me and Lexi’s Christmas present that will be arriving at our home shortly after I return to Florida later this month:  Lexi’s new little brother or sister. 👼🏼🐱

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