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Stella Matutina
books and stories and musings, oh my!
Blog Advent Tour - Day Twenty-Three 
23rd-Dec-2008 06:47 am

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do for the Blog Advent Tour, hosted by Marg of Reading Adventures and Kailana of The Written World. After some debate, I decided to show you guys a few pictures that highlight my very favourite holiday tradition: my tree.

I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures. I’m a rather shivery girl around this time of year, and my camera is uber-sensitive to movement.

I’m tree crazy. Seriously, folks, ain’t nobody allowed to come between me and my tree. I put it up right at the beginning of December, and I have a blast with it. I assemble the whole thing, turn on the lights and make sure each ornament is arranged in just the right way. The sparkly ones have to be nice and close to the lights so they’ll reflect them. The tinsel has to drape just so.

Once I have everything arranged to my liking, I turn off all my lamps and sit there in the dark with my tree. This is my favourite holiday tradition by far. The tree provides just enough light to read or write by. I’ll often open my blinds, too, so I can see the winter sky. I’m not sure how it is in other parts of the world, but our winter skies glow. I’m talking full-on, illuminated-from-within glowing, too, not just an overlay like the Northern Lights. I wish my camera could capture it. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

But on with the ornaments! This little guy is one of my oldest and rattiest; I’ve had him since I was a baby. When I was very small, I used to hang him on the little tree I had for my bedroom. He’s part of a set of very cheap Japanese ornaments; his compatriots include an elephant, a sitting mouse and a rocking horse. Most of them lost their hangers ages ago, but I still sit them on the branches.

My little book of Christmas traditions from around the world is another favourite. I used to mark advent by reading about a different tradition every day. I was particularly taken with Saint Nicholas Day, (aka Dutch Christmas), and my interest in the holiday sparked a family tradition. I’m of Dutch descent on my grandmother’s side, and now my family celebrate Saint Nicholas Day every year. The book has a fancy embossed cover, gold page edgings and a ribbon bookmark. (Y’all know how much I love the ribbon bookmarks).

What would Christmas be without a flying pig? This dude isn’t actually a Christmas ornament, but I figured the tree was the best place for him. I try very, very hard not to buy random crap, but I do like searching for books and craft supplies at rummage sales. Sometimes I find other things, too. I caught site of Pig as I passed by one girl’s table. “That’s so cute!” I squealed.

(Yup. I’m a squealer. I’ll understand if you don’t wanna come by la blog anymore).

She scowled. “Everyone thinks my pig is cute, but no one wants to buy him.”

“Well,” I said, “I’d like to buy him, but I don’t think I have any use for a flying pig.”

Then I realized that that wasn’t true. I mean, really: who doesn’t need a flying pig? So I shelled out $0.75 and brought Pig home.

Many years ago, my aunt decided that she and I ought to have a Christmas Tradition. To that end, she converted a whole ton of beautiful shells into ornaments, with the intention of giving me more ornaments every year. The tradition lapsed pretty quickly, but I still treasure the shells. Most of them are (tastefully) embellished with fancy cord and fake jewels, (you can see one in the background of the dancing mouse picture above), but this one is so beautiful that it speaks for itself. It’s by far my favourite.

I’ll leave you now with one clear(ish) picture highlighting a vintage glass ornament I purchased from a thrift shop, a blue shoe ornament my aunt made, and a reindeer a friend gave me. Happy holidays! And make sure you visit the other bloggers participating in the tour today:

Jane from life & times

Debbie from Friday Friends Book Blog

Cari from Book Scoops
General Fiction
23rd-Dec-2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
I love your tree especially the flying pig. Really who doesn't need one of those?
23rd-Dec-2008 07:08 pm (UTC)
Just to clarify that was Cari, not to get confused with my sister Holly. We blog together.
24th-Dec-2008 02:27 am (UTC)
You know, I can't think of a single person whose life wouldn't be somehow improved by the introduction of a flying pig.
23rd-Dec-2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
So beautiful!! I have the same little book ornamnet!
24th-Dec-2008 02:28 am (UTC)
That's awesome! I always figured it was a pretty obscure little thing.
23rd-Dec-2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
I love this post :D Your tree is gorgeous, and I just love the flying pig! I like your way of thinking - who doesn't need a flying pig indeed :P

Also, that book about Christmas traditions sounds great. I was thinking that I needed to get a book of that kind just the other day.
24th-Dec-2008 02:45 am (UTC)
It's a lovely little book. Not the most reliable resource, perhaps, but it sure is fun to flip through!
23rd-Dec-2008 10:19 pm (UTC)
Great post! My mother loves the tree, too. She always has quite the set up!

- Kailana
24th-Dec-2008 02:29 am (UTC)
It's definitely my favourite part of Christmas. :)
23rd-Dec-2008 11:48 pm (UTC)
I... think you'll find that Christmas is Dutch Saint Nicholas day. ^-~ (Sorry, pedantic, but there you are. We Dutch don't even have that much claim to it, seeing how the tradition itself started in France. Fun to compare the two, though. Have you ever heard (or read) David Sedaris' 6 to 8 Black Men?)

Your aunt's shoe looks like a Delfts blue shoe in that shot too, incidentally. ^-^ I miss my odds-and-ends tree with lots of colours, but mum wants the whole thing golden now that I'm grown up and she's in charge of the decorations since dad doesn't bother and I never remember when Christmas is, nor feel comfortable celebrating it much.

My favourite ornament is the shell, though. That's such a lovely, original idea for an ornament! Also, flying pig! I'm sure I read a story about a flying pig when I was smaller...
24th-Dec-2008 02:36 am (UTC)
I guess tiny ornament books aren't such a reliable source. Sigh. Oh well; we still have fun eating badly cooked Dutch food every December 6th!

The shoe is a Delft blue. It's one of my aunt's particular dishware interests; she and my uncle went to the Netherlands for their honeymoon, and she came home with an addiction to the stuff. :)
24th-Dec-2008 08:50 am (UTC)
I'm not surprised by it, really, cynical though that may sound. I've never seen the ornament before, so I can't say exactly what portion of it is true or untrue, but the ideas are the same. The reason I mentioned the Sedaris story (which you can easily find on YouTube if you're interested) is because it's an American's view on Sinterklaas and points out the similarities and the differences. Get the cultural misinterpretations as well, but... hard to put into words right why.
Speculaas should be sold everywhere in the world...

Awww. ^-^ One day I need to go to Delft and find a museum with real, old Delfts blue, not the touristy stuff. Or it could just be that I dislike Delfts blue colour schemes. ^-~
24th-Dec-2008 10:56 am (UTC)
Ahh the tree, one of the my favourite traditions too. I actually left work early this year so my housemate and I could have plenty of time to selecte and decorate the perfect tree. His name is Clarence! Yule trees for me need to be either delicately and elegantly decorated or so gloriously over the top..there's no middle ground! Yours is beautiful. My parents aren't christian, so as a kid I hung a penguin on the top of our tree. Not quite as good as a flying pig though!
25th-Dec-2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
I love that your tree has a name! I have a living fir tree named Ed in my backyard. He's getting a little too close to the fence now, and it looks like he could end up as a Christmas tree in a year or two.

I love the idea of a penguin on top of the tree, too. It's probably not too clear in the pictures, but my tree-topper is a Barbie angel. :)
29th-Dec-2008 05:52 pm (UTC) - HAPPY NEW YEAR
Loved the pretty pics of your wonderful tree. I was away on Christmas Vacation when your day was up on the Blog Advent Tour, so I didn't have the chance to check in and wish you a Merry Christmas. But now I am back home and want to wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR :)


31st-Dec-2008 09:40 pm (UTC) - Re: HAPPY NEW YEAR
The same to you! Thanks for stopping by.
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