Sunday, November 12, 2006

the christmas aesthetic

i finally
went to
value village
this past
i have been
away too long
but astrid
and i have
so we decided
is our
village time...

the christmas
were out
in full force
at the village
{but no
christmas music
thank god}...

at all the
holiday stuff
made me
think about
how we
all have such
with the holidays.
who celebrate
each have
a different

my christmas
is heavily
by my mother

and her
as kids
we listened
to german and french
christmas carols,
ate weihnachts stollen,
drank glühwein,
and all our decorations
were from
or france
{where my mother
before she
came to
the states)...

so of course
all of her children
love the white lights,
noble fir trees,
and ornaments
german wooden angels,
swedish straw stars,
french paper ornaments.

but at some point
my dad began
to protest...
"where's my tree?"
he'd say...
along the way
the christmas
aesthetic he loved
was lost
in our "new"
family tradition
(usually because he
was too busy
working to take part
in the decorating)...

he grew up in brooklyn, NY
in the 1950s...
so he loves the
big colored lights
the shiny
50s ornaments...

so when i was
about 10 y.o.
we started
a two tree christmas.
upstairs in
the living room
we had mom's tree
{noble fir, white lights}
and downstairs
(in the library)
we had dad's tree...
{bushy with colored lights}.
for many years
i didn't appreciate
his tree...
but as i get older
i find it really sweet
that my dad sits
most nights
the holidays
smoking his pipe
in the faint glow
of the colored lights.
i imagine that
he is
remembering his parents
and his own christmases
so many years
ago as a little boy
(think a christmas story).
i find it

i think that
this year
i will make sure
to go
and spend
some time
with him,
his tree,
his memories.

so i found
a vintage
christmas tree top

for his tree
at value village
this thursday.

as well as
polaroid cameras

of my favorite bloggers
this vintage

had my name
on it!

what's your
how has it
as you
get older
partnered up?

hope you
all had
a lovely


Eero said...

My Christmas aesthetic? As a kid, a BIG tree, always the blue light-up star on top, a chaotic jumble of every ornament known to humans on the branches. Stockings were a big deal for us---to wake Christmas morning and find what "Santa" had left us. I am sad to see how commericalized the holdiays are....and frustrated. Some of my family members get offended if I don't buy them a present....and they don't like handmade presents, either.(Except for my sister :) ) Crazy. The pressure to 'prove' my affection for them with objects aggravates me to no end! Anyone know what I'm talking about?(Hopefully, I'm going out of town for Christmas this year...)

shari said...

hello sweet gwen!
your posts are always so thoughtful and beautifully written. i love the christmas photos of your mom and dad's trees.

i grew up with a douglas fir with a mish mash of colorful ornaments...many of which i still have and love, particularly the handmade ones. my grandparents, though, had a tree covered in gold ornaments. so elegant and pretty. i love holiday evenings sitting in the quiet with the colored lights. it is a special time of year. xox shari
ps: yippee! a polaroid. :)

Anonymous said...

hello, such a beautifully written post! i can very well relate to your moms christmas decorating tradition - pretty much the same that we had around :)glühwein, strohsterne, kugeln, all that and i still love it. how about lametta? ever heard about that? also, we always used to have real candles on the tree. i used to love the classic all red (many many kugeln :)) which changed some years ago into natural (strohsterne :) and handmade things. i also love glass and silver baubles :)still sticking to the white lights :)enjoy your decorating!

Anonymous said...

Since I have lived all my life in Sweden I do have white lights, and I don't like the colored ones. But the ornaments in the tree can be in all colors, or diffrent in diffrent years. I was thinkin of white danish paperstars this year, maybe with red glass globes.

Funky Finds said...

that is so touching about your dad wanting to have a tree that reflects what he grew up with! growing up we always had an artificial tree b/c i am VERY allergic to pine! :) and all the ornaments are ones our family has collected, made & been given over the years. i love that b/c every year when helping to decorate the tree we all have memories of when we made that certain ornament, or of someone special who gave it to us. dept store trees that are monochromatic are pretty, but it's so much more special to me to collect ornaments thru the years. oh, and we too have the obnoxious bright lights! but i opt for white & red only on my personal tree. that comes from my stepmom's traditions! :)

bikeandbeer said...

how about that: a fake pine tree paint-covered in fake snow? which is particularly interesting because i grew up in the tropics, where there are no such pine trees and it NEVER snowed? we always celebrated on christmas eve, when the family got together, ate a big dinner, and presents were opened (as close to midnight as sleepy children could manage). but, those presents were from family, not from santa: we kids would still wake up on dec 25 to find a gift by our bed. which brings me to another interesting detail: kids only got *one* gift from santa. i think until today that's the usual. we had to think a lot before asking for a gift!

f. pea said...

Just today we were talking about whether we should get a tree for our house, since we are always off at one of our parents' for the actual holiday. I told HWWLLB that we can have a tree if I get to hang all my "crap" on it... meaning goofy ornaments that somebody made as a gift (think Santa made of a recycled light bulb), and also tinsel which I love even though I can never get it out of my hair. Glühwein helps. Our Norwegian neighbors always had a drink on Christmas called "glug," which seemed to knock everyone but the Norwegians on their arses. Well, now I really feel like making some goofy ornaments tonight!


wonderful post!!

Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...

Oh i so love your 'look back in time' posts accompanied with special pictures...i get carried away with background music and are a super documenter Gwen!!
Well, although we dont celebrate Xmas..we have our festivals full of tradition. I grew up in London..but it seems we celebrated them pretty much the same as here!!

Anonymous said...

I adore Christmas and think that decorations are so personal.Like hanging up special memories every year new and old.My girls all have their own trees in their rooms and get to buy what they like.Building memories for their trees 'downstairs' I hope.

Anonymous said...

this is such a beautiful post! i grew up in a jewish home, but when we were young we used to drive over to the italian neighborhood where people went ALL out on their xmas decorations. i loved the "over the topness" of it all (or ongapatchka as we say in yiddish).

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I'm trying to add more Swedish items to our celebration since my husband's grandma was Swedish. I want the kids to learn something about that. I also grew up with Christmas during the summer in South America, with a scary overly dressed Santa Claus going "ho-ho-ho" outside the toy store. I had to cross the street, it was so scary :) I love the smell of freshly cut trees but we started buying a live one and finding a good home for it every year. So growing up, my holiday probably looked more like your dad's without the snow. When the kids were little, we started making ornaments. I like it when the ornaments have some sort of story, memory in them. I usually don't rush out to get new ones. I love the old photos on your family holidays.

stephanie said...

i love these photos, sentiments, and memories.

i think when jack and i got married, we were both resistant to the idea of a really commercial christmas and all we ever did was make a square wreath for the door (sigh...architects), but later when we had kids , we became more and more sentimental about it. now i see the value in the traditions and just how much meaning they have for my kids (and me). it doesn't have to be about consumerism.

we love our white lights and rather sparely decorated tree. every year we add another layer of handmade things...there will come a time when it will be spare no more, i'm sure!

Anonymous said...

Hello lovely Gwen-bug,
This blog is a marvel! I was poring over your archives on my do-nothing-Sunday afternoon, and then I get to read this on Monday.
For some reason this post really made me tear up a really is beautiful. I think it was the part about your dad hanging out at night near his tree...

xoxo + happy monday,

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Another glorious short story/film post. So beautiful and bittersweet. Take care, you really have a gift that creates a certain mood with magic. Do you know something that we don't? Maybe, your magic relies on the underworld of insects that transmit otherworldly instincts..... Forgive my silly post, this has been a long Monday.

Erin Lang Norris said...

what a beautiful post!

i have only had one christmas away from "home" so far. but i must say, i liked the traditions that my husband and i are starting.

this year we are planning to sip a lot of different holiday drinks. i want to have a new one each night that we have time to, counting down the days from dec. 1 till the 25th. eggnog, hot chocolate, wine, flavored coffees, teas, apple butter rum...they are all on the list. we'll eat cookies and biscuits and cheese and crakers.

we'll decorate the tree (a tree that i MADE last year!!) and listen to christmas music.

we have spent the last couple of years driving around and looking at christmas lights that adorn big houses.

we also decided that it would be fun to have a slumber party together in the living room and play games and watch christmas movies.

my family never did anything SUPER cool, but thats okay- i enjoyed waking up at like 6 AM to open gifts!

Anonymous said...

I was born in Nuremburg and was carted to the Chriskindelmarkt when I was weeks old. My Christmas aesthetic is WAY german ornaments and toys -- peppernuts and o tannenbaum. I WILL go back there sometime at Christmas.

lisa solomon said...

gwen dear...
1. i have those socks
2. love your story [duh]
3. didn't have x-mas when i was a kid
4. inherited a ton of old ornaments from a dear friend so your dad should come to my house for the 50's/60's ornaments [some from the 40's too]
5. ladybug skirt?!?!
6. yay for polaroids for those gals!
7. miss you

Anonymous said...

Bug!! You are the greatest! Thank you so much for finding me that camera ;) I will definitely be sending you snaps from it! along with other goodies !!

+ I love this post, your photos are so fun to see & your family traditions are very sweet, I love that your parents have totally different views of what Christmas should look like.
When I was growing up my parents of course did the normal tree thing but my favorite was my grandparents tree, they covered it in doves, lace & white twinkling lights. It was just such a gorgeous tree.
On Christmas day we always had cinamon rolls for breakfast, its now a tradition! so yum

hugs friend!

Anonymous said...

You two tree Christmas sounds wonderful to me... a little bit of something for everyone. How this post has me eagerly anticipating all things christmassy.
take care, g
(Oh, and should you miss my reply to you buried on my blog... I'm thinking of featuring that collage of a lady with her bird of blue, surrounded by coloured dots, as a little work to send out to all my blogging chums... as well as a little something sewn & blue. So, when the time comes, I'll be emailing your good self and various others in search of a postal address.)

Anonymous said...

holy toledo, that is quite the treasure you found at the Village -- all in one piece! And you are so lucky to have the 2 tree thing going on in the same house -- I would love that. We put out cookies for Santa, hung our stockings on the fireplace, and opened all our presents on Christmas morning. A real tree, and my Mom had her way of decorating it so it looked it almost exactly the same every year -- the best part was that it was always snowing out in the country at my aunt & uncle's and we'd go toboganning after Christmas dinner.
thank you for another wonderful post!