Christmas houses

old toysI was driving the roads of rural Oregon, my local roads, the other day. I was just outside a little town–a place where, like everywhere, times are hard this winter.

A big yellow school bus stopped in front of my car. The red tail-lights flashed at me, the “stop” sign swung out from the driver’s side and  I stopped and waited. It was around noon. “It must be a kindergarten child,”  I thought, “home from the morning session.”

I looked at the house. It was small and sad looking, with a “shop” attached where a sign told me that lawnmowers were repaired. A few mowers sat outside, for sale in the winter rain…

But, I worried suddenly, what if there is no one home waiting for this child?

Then a tiny boy made his way down the tall school bus steps and hopped to the ground. He carried a school paper in one hand.  He was very little.

I feared again:  what if there is no one home?

He made his way up the path, past what might have been part of a wheelbarrow, walking with small steps through the cold, up onto the porch.

Immediately a young woman opened the door. She smiled like the blue sky and summer sun of June and she greeted her child with wide open arms, missing him, welcoming him.

I was glad to see he was a rich kid after all.


making wreaths

I did some wreath-making. It was great.  Mr. O pruned up a bunch of our garden trees, so we won’t have to duck  next summer when we walk beneath them. The wreaths are made of cedar, white fir, redwood and Douglas fir– fragrant evergreens to tie onto circles, round and round, endless and forever like the comings and goings of the the seasons.

wreathI hang the wreaths all indoors, where I can see them and smell a forest in my house. And so the wood spirits can shelter in them. Oh, today is the Winter Solstice! Deepest darkest day– a candle night for certain…

In other news, the Plant Goddess and I had Candy Day.

This is an annual event involving  my kitchen, a bottle of champagne and the soundtrack from Chicago.


This year, among other things, we made marshmallows, to put in the fudge (we made that too), with nuts. The outcome is a candy called “Rocky Road.” But the marshmallows turned out to be more like silly putty, very nearly impossible to cut up, bubble-gum mallows, and for one terrifying moment the sticky stuff grabbed my hair.  We laughed our way through it all (merry does not quite describe the experience) and really the fudge is pretty darn good.

nutcrackerGetting out the holiday stuff–

Years ago we bought this nutcracker. He is German, and a carpenter by trade. A shoemaker actually I think. Every year I find him in his box on the Christmas shelf of the upstairs closet, and I wake him up and bring him downstairs to a mantle– usually in the diningroom.

I greet the nutcracker. “Happy Christmas, nutcracker,” or something original like that. He never answers, but I know he is always relieved that I remember to come for him.

When the holidays are over I take him down again, off the mantle, and rest him back in his box upstairs, and I always tell him goodbye, see you next year, and I hope to heaven that in a year’s time all will still be well enough in my life that once again I will be setting him on the shelf at Christmas.

In recent years I have brought out the Old Toys. I have a few that have endured, from three generations. I do think it is good for the toys to get to participate in Christmas — see how happy they look– and I like seeing them again.

old Toys

So much left to do this week.

I told my friend Roberta that  my house looked like a bomb site, with cooking and mailing and wrapping happening in every corner.

She wrote back to me :   “Enjoy the chaos while it lasts. It’s a sure sign of life.”

MaxHappy holidays everyone~


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in Max the Westie, my 19th century house, The Plant Goddess and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Christmas houses

  1. Roberta says:

    I can practically smell the wreaths in your photo! I usually have one on the front door but we went without this year. I regret letting time slip by the way it has. And I could never put out toys for fear that Beagle would find them irresistible. They look like they are all agreeing with you, by the way. They look like they are happy to climb from their boxes and stretch their legs a bit. You should give them all a little Baileys or brandy to warm them up or to help them sleep after the holidays are over. I’ll bet that nutcracker would enjoy a stiff drink, it would help him loosen up a bit – he looks a little frazzled.

    • linniew says:

      Hey ‘berta! Happy everything to you! Max would shred all toys but he can’t reach them… I save the Bailey’s and brandy for me, wretch that I am. The nutcracker is a bit severe looking I know, but I don’t think he would drink. Strict moral etc etc. I keep modeling a celebratory nature for him but he never gets it. Do your chickens speak on Christmas Eve?

  2. Holleygarden says:

    Oh, I loved your first little story about the rich boy. So true. Candy and champagne to celebrate the winter solstice? Sounds wonderful! I may have to start invoking that celebration for all kinds of things! 😉 Your wreaths are very nice – bet they smell wonderful – and I love the old toys. Enjoy your Christmas. I hope it is very, very merry for you and all your family.

  3. Grace says:

    Your story of the “rich” boy had me captivated. I love that he was greeted with warm love and hugs. It warms my heart. Actually I don’t think (by law) the bus driver is allowed to drop off ones so young unless they see an adult caretaker.

    Your wreath, ooh I love green! And I love that white woodstove in the background. Your macro candy shot makes me crave chocolate, like, NOW. 🙂

    And I love your vintage toys. What a sweet thing to do. I love your Christmas spirit. Maybe I need a little more champagne in my life. 🙂 I’ve got plenty of chaos though so I guess I should be happy. And I am. Big hugs to you Linnie Girl.

  4. Greggo says:

    Merry and Mighty Christmas to you!

  5. Roberta says:

    The chickens speak all year round, especially the Delawares. They speak at night after I have locked their coop door and they speak after I chase them down to love on them. They complain and say mean things – like why aren’t they getting the primo expensive organic layer ration anymore and who do I think I am ruffling their feathers the way I do? My Orpington, Dorothy, gives confirmation to everything I say and answers in the affirmative with a very sweet and long, “uh-huuhhhh”. Big Tiny Little the Rooster calls for me every morning in three syllables, “Ro-Bert-aaaaaa!” When I meet him I tell him That’s My Name, Don’t Wear It Out which evidently he has because when I inquire of the neighbor if Tiny is a nuisance he reassures me that he is nothing but white noise at this point. So by the time Christmas rolls around, I hope to see them lined up in a row and caroling.

  6. Fay says:

    Max looks worried, have you tried to decorate him too!?

    Wreaths look grand, I’m sure they smell awesome.

    Caroling chickens, now I’m jealous, mine don’t sing. They are also sulking, we’ve left them with provisions at home, mr f wouldn’t allow them to come on holiday with us, nor peedie, who is in England, where accents are funny and hes indulging himself beside a wood stove this Christmas (with a far nicer family than us).

    Have a great one linnew, I have you’re ‘sleuthed’ out neep seeds ready to post.


    • linniew says:

      I’m afraid I quite understand leaving the chickens at home– not unreasonable Mr F! I hope Peedie doesn’t come home with a new accent! But certainly there is no nice family than yours– he would agree. Max has to have a Christmas bath today–

      Have an awesome romantic festive merry holiday Fay!
      Hugs, L.

  7. b-a-g says:

    Hi Linnie – I recently pruned an evergreen tree hanging over my fence. I’m now kicking myself that I didn’t make a wreath with the trimmings. Never mind … Wishing you, Mr. O and Max a merry xmas.

  8. Wreaths that work! We tried last year and the results were . . . a mess . . . with bits sticking out at odd angles and falling off all the time.

    Do you use the nutcracker or is he simply ornamental?

    Enjoy the chaos – and continue enjoying everything through the year that’s coming- right to the time the old toys come out again and beyond.


    • linniew says:

      Hi Esther
      I have had to rearrange or trim wreaths after hanging them up– gravity has an effect. The nutcracker is just ornamental and just for the holiday. Thanks Esther, and Happy New Year!

  9. Bridget Foy says:

    Lovely seasonal the wreath…and the nutcracker…and the old toys.
    A very happy Christmas to you and yours.

  10. Alberto says:

    Sorry if I’m late for Christmas best wishes. I have no other comments really but I really enjoy this warm and cozy post!

    Well yeah I’d have a comment about your vintage stuffed sad bear but it’s better I keep my mouth shout: at the end of the day it’s Christmas and I have to be good.

    • linniew says:

      Thanks Alberto– I hope you have been adequately merry!

      Regarding the bear, I just hope you look that well when you are 85 years old. And yes he predates MY childhood.

  11. Ruth says:

    The Rocky Road looks delicious! Your wreaths and greenery are very festive too. I tried to make a wreath but it wouldn’t stay round! Have a great Christmas and New Year season.

    • linniew says:

      Homemade wreaths are more casual looking than professional ones. So mine aren’t perfect either. But they are free (I reuse the wire frames from year to year) so I can have lots. We get the trees pruned, I get fragrant wreaths, and when I take the wreaths apart after the holidays the little dry evergreen pieces are great for starting stove fires. –Happy New Year Ruth!

  12. Beautiful christmas story and love the toys coming out to play across the generations. Such a fabulous festive feeling emanates here Linnie and wishing you all the best for 2012
    p.s. is Tillie too grinchy for Christmas or has she retired to the country?

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