One of my favorite Christmas memories involves my childhood next-door neighbor Mrs. Barr. She was an independent, working-gal widow who liked a little nip in the evening and went all out to decorate for Christmas.
Her home was packed with antiques, an endless collection of pewter, and a fireplace that always had a roaring fire inside when the outside temperature dropped. When Dad mowed our yard in the summer, part of my sister's and my task was to gather the pine cones under the tree so they weren't propelled into the air like supersonic missiles. We saved them in bushel baskets and gave them to Mrs. Barr who loved the snapping and popping they made when she tossed them into her fire. They also added a delicious subtle pine scent to her warm and glowing den.
Mrs. Barr always invited my sister and me to help her decorate her tree. (We loved visiting Mrs. Barr, so much so that Mom limited our time with her so as not to annoy. To keep on schedule, Mrs. Barr set her oven timer so when it buzzed, it was time for us to head back home) Before the decorating began in earnest, we first had to choose a theme for the tree, which she had divided into many boxes. Would it be an all-white dove theme, or what about simple red ribbons? And for her fantastic mantle, she removed all the everyday antiques and replaced them with caroling figurines and characters from Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol," all lovingly wrapped in fragrant pine branches.
Mrs. Barr gave my sister and me each a porcelain bell back in 1975, and I have mine with me in New York. Every time I pick it up from the kitchen shelf where I keep it all year long and hear its fairy tale ring, I'm reminded of being home for Christmas.
Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!
The Elegant Thrifter