Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bringing Rockwell Home

Decorating for the holidays brings a certain familiarity to where ever I am in life, time or location. My simple childhood, awkward adolescence, wanderer in Washington, learning newlywed. Things appear more clearly when seen by the light of a Christmas tree glow.

No matter how old I get, there is something about decorating for the holidays that takes me back to a simpler time, when I was very young and the greatest worry I had was specifying - and spelling - exactly what I wanted for Christmas in a letter to Santa. 

This is not my letter. 
Santa did not save my letter. 

Do you know what else decorating for the holidays does for me?

It reminds me that I'm the third child.

This was the year I got a lamb ornament because 
my two older siblings showed sheep in 4-H. 
At least she dated it. 

I gladly agreed to help Momma decorate the BSG homestead last Saturday. Someday I'll post photos, but when Momma decorates she does not skip a detail. Walking into the Bowman homestead during Christmas is like walking into a Norman Rockwell painting. The sights and smells.Everything is nostalgic and perfect...

Back to me agreeing to help her decorate:
This has become a two-day ordeal. Growing up we had one tree and three stockings. The entire task - start to finish - lasted two hours, mainly because there were six tiny, anxious hands involved. 

Granted, we didn't really have much of a living room to decorate, but we made it work. 

Today there are seven trees, six stockings and 41 Rubbermaid tubs full of tangled lights that haven't worked in years. We're still holding out, hoping they'll come back around at some point. Also included is a zip-lock bag of spare twinkle lights. Momma has been accumulating those since '96.

Momma and Dad have bought each of us a Christmas ornament annually, accounting for 93 delicate story-tellers on the keepsake tree. They each have a background story that allows us to reflect on the previous year. That's assuming - after 30 years - we remember the story.

Some special ones:

A hand-painted ballerina slipper for Laura, the year she eagerly got involved in the local dance studio. A natural talent. 

A special football ornament commemorating the year that Luke's 8th grade football team went undefeated. For four years, Luke was #58 on the football field. 

And to think, all those years of 
sitting on aluminum bleachers 
in the autumn cold and 
Momma was watching the wrong kid. 

And one of mine. This little gem was to commemorate the 2-week period that Dad and I trapped/shot 17 raccoons in our bank barn. Must have been a boring year on the farm. Something tells me Momma bought this on Elder Beerman's yellow dot clearance table on the evening of December 23rd. I think I get my creativity from her. 

Now, I'm a young  wife trying to make our homestead feel as cozy and memorable as my parents' home does around the holidays. I just want to bring that little piece of Norman Rockwell home. 

It ain't easy. 

First of all, Cody and I stored our artificial tree in an outbuilding. When we brought into the house, approximately 1,000 orange beetles dropped out of it. The kind that stink. I used the Dust Buster to try to capture the critters but had to empty it three times due to capacity. The Buster also ate half of the tree skirt in the process. I rearranged it and put that side in the corner. 

Then I couldn't find the ornaments. Excuse me - couldn't find my ornaments. 
No problem. 
His were boxed, labeled and stacked. 
I found them two hours later inside a box labeled "Barn Towels" under a puppy crate full of VHS tapes. For everything a place, I guess. 

Perhaps my favorite holiday display is our nativity scene on the mantle.

We prefer that a pair of bronze beef watch over our Nativity scene.

But I got in a rush to create an ideal scene, fumbled a few things and now we have a three-legged billy goat just hanging out in the berry brush. Dang it.

Still sound-footed. 

Decorating the interior of the homestead was the easy part. In fact, I did it all while Cody was gone for the afternoon so there wouldn't be any discussion as to why red berries had been spewed in every nook and cranny of our home. Better that way. 


But then Cody came home. 
And I had expectations. 
And per usual, they were high. 

Twenty minutes into the conversation he said
while carrying an aluminum ladder across the barn lot:

"I know you have this 
antique magazine cover 
pictured in your head, 
but I just don't know 
if it's going to work..."

Well, at least he gets me. 

Thirty minutes after that, Cody was up to his neck 
in a pre-lit wreath project and from the ladder he yelled, 

"This is one of those 
stupid ways people get killed!!"

I asked him to not be so dramatic; a husband has never died from making his wife happy. 
After the wreath was hung, Cody got a brief lesson on what it means to “fluff the bunny ears” on the bow. He acted like he’d never fluffed bunny ears 
on a bow atop a ladder during 30 mph winds. 

By dusk we had candles in the windows, 
three trees standing, 
three wreaths hanging and 
an old sled leaning. 

I think maybe next year I'll be more acclimated with the limits within this homestead and set  the bar for Christmas decor a bit lower. After all, not everyone can be Linda Bowman

Ah, who am I kidding. 
Rockwell has already captured 
Cody and I's Christmas escapades perfectly.


  1. This is right on! My kids are 18, 15 and 11 - I asked if we really had to have a tree this year - they said 'yes!' - I miss our star on the grain leg, icicle lights on the porches and a wreath on the barn - but this year I am just tired!!! Enjoy your decorations - they are beautiful!!!

  2. Love this so much!!! Enjoy making your own memories with Cody!