m e r r y + b r i g h t

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Do you hear what I hear?  The bells are jingling and the chestnuts are roasting. And that only means one thing, it’s time to decorate for the biggest and best birthday party of the year, the one the whole world throws for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Design enthusiasts, like myself, confess with zero shame that having a reason to completely redecorate our homes from basement to attic is also a perk of the Christmas season. It gets our creative juices flowing and is permission to go, well, a little nutzo.  I am no exception. Over the top? Guilty. Absolutely obcessed? You got it. So yes, pass the glitter and garland and let’s get this Christmas party started.

 

My home is a four level split so upon entering my guests are greeted by my half stairway, which is the perfect place to say, “Welcome and Merry Christmas!”

I wrapped two garlands (one traditional and one with Eucalyptus) from the Hearth and Hand line at Target up my railing. (Remember to drape them on both sides, alternating back and forth.) I kept it simple and only added beaded garlands this year. In prior years I’ve added large burlap bows but I’m leaning more towards the simplicity of greenery lately.

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But let’s back up a bit, don’t forget your outside entrance.  I always go big on my front step and pick the tallest tree tops I can find.  Watch the weather and try to create them the first night it freezes for you’ll want to pour water into the pots that evening so they’ll be nice and sturdy for the rest of the season.

The faux berries I use year after year and I try to get creative with real cedar garland and drape it around my front step decor for added interest.

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Back inside, I tend to decorate with a very neutral pallet so I am consistent when I decorate for Christmas. My main living area, therefore, has a ton of greenery and my Christmas tree decor aligns with my preference for a neutral aesthetic.

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You can tuck a little greenery into just about every nook and cranny and I take full advantage. This is also preferrable as I can leave the bulk of it up as winter decor long after Christmas has passed. (Usually, the only thing I remove in January is the Christmas tree, I leave the rest of it up until Valentine’s Day.)

Traditionally, red is the Christmas go to and I do love adding it. I choose to use a lot of red in my downstairs family room.  So if you’re a neutral lover as I am, don’t be afraid to pick a room to channel your inner Santa and throw some red around.

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This room is actually my favorite, is the place you can find me entertaining girlfriends with a glass of wine on a snowy winter night with lots of laughter or curled up in my sweatpants on a Netflix night with too many cookies. This is also the room where I display all of the ornaments my kids made over the years on the more traditional Christmas tree.

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Speaking of traditions, Christmas is the time to break out the nostalgia.  My daughters’ first baby shoes are both tied up with bows and hang prominently on my main floor Christmas tree. They loved seeing these on the tree every year as children and now when they visit the first thing they do is look for their “baby shoes” on the tree!

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Last but not least, there is another ornament that I hang prominently at the top of my tree every year for all to see. I made this ornament when I was in the first grade and the story behind it starts with tears.

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I was six years old and our teacher, Mrs. Kost, with her warm smile and big grey bun on her head, was leading an art project for the first and second graders. We were to glue sequins to a styrofoam ball, shove a pipe cleaner through it and create our very own Christmas ornament for our moms. I don’t remember the look I was going for but I remember taking this creative endeavor quite seriously as I carefully picked out each sequin and glued it on in what I felt was the perfect place. I was going to give this to my mom, after all, and I was really excited to make it just for her.

When I was finished and proud to take it home to show my mom, another little girl walked over to me, eyeballed my work and whispered in my ear, “That is ugly,” and walked away.

I can still feel the tears burning as I tried to keep them inside.

I still took my ornament home but I didn’t show my mom. She found it in my school bag and held it up so excitedly, “What is this beautiful thing?”  I started to cry and told her so and so had said it was ugly. And that I tried to make her something pretty and I was so sorry I had not been able to do it. And then the tears came.

My mother, who is fiesty and not exactly a warm fuzzy kind of personality, instantly stiffened and said, “She is a mean little girl! YOU made this. For ME. And it is the most BEAUTIFUL THING I have ever seen! We are going to hang this on the top of the tree in the front for EVERYONE to see.  I love it!  And I want you to remember always that what other people say about you or about what you do does NOT MATTER. You do not care at all when people are mean, you just keep being nice and creating pretty things and you ignore those mean people. Forever.”

And then she hung it on the tree. For everyone to see.

Forty one years later, this ornament hangs on the top of my tree. In the front. For everyone to see.

And every year when I take it out it reminds me that what is most important in life is NOT what other people say. It is about our relationships, our love for one another and the things we do to tell each other that we love them.  Creating is beautiful. What we create, because we created it, is beautiful. And the ultimate creator, our God, created us. And sure, we aren’t perfect either, but He thinks we are beautiful. Exactly as He intended.

It wasn’t until years later that when I really looked at this old styrofoam ball that I realized it is quite obviously the letter J in those sequins I placed so intentionally as a six year old.  And whose name starts with J? Well, the whole reason for the season after all.

Jesus Christ himself.

He was with me then and is with me now, as He is with you.  So this Christmas season, remember that what matters most is the love we show others. Whether your Christmas decorating is elaborate or simple or even nonexistent, it does not change the fact that Christmas is a season of joy, love and peace.  Celebrated by the imperfect people created by the perfect one.

Merry Christmas! 

~Audra

P.S. To take a live tour of my Christmas decorating, visit me on Instagram @audramehl and see my story highlight titled simply, Christmas.

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2: 17- 20

 

 

 

 

 

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