A Christmas House and Neighborhood Tour!

I'm not ready for Christmas this year.  I still have gifts to purchase, I still have to wrap, and I haven't yet planned Christmas cards.  (Christmas cards are my holiday Achilles heel. Every year I'm surprised by the tradition and how I seem incapable of planning for it.)  But at the same time, I'm entirely ready for Christmas.  I'm ready with good cheer, warm blankets, and spending time by the glow of our Christmas tree reading books, slowing down, and playing games with the kids.  My heart is ready, and that's most important.

So, friends, in this spirit of festivity and hospitality, I thought I'd take you on a little tour of what's making my heart happy in my home and my neighborhood right now.

Let's take a moment on the front porch so you can check out my outdoor decorations.  I love using my vintage metal milk boxes as the background for seasonal displays.  I found these milk boxes on the side of the road on trash day last year, which made me feel as if I were in an episode of American Pickers, minus the bartering and the lengthy road trip in their van.

I also enjoy the natural touches, like the birch wood and small pine swag, both of which I found when taking a recent walk.

My decorations inside are simple, like this Fresh Cut Christmas Trees sign which I bought at Wal-Mart last year, my wooden sleigh which I found at a garage sale and spruced up with weathered gray paint and silver tacks, and a small faux Christmas tree from Target that's perfect to fill the sleigh.

Other Christmas touches in our house are subtle and mesh with our existing decor, like hanging a wreath on top of mirror,

or setting up a Christmas countdown on the footstool beside our front door.

In the kitchen, I updated my cafe curtain (find the easy tutorial here) by using silver and gold snowflake fabric. I'm especially proud of this project because I bought the fabric two years ago, but just got around to sewing it this year.  (If you've been reading here for long, you might recall that any sewing project is another domestic Achilles heel of mine, destined to take much more time languishing on my to-do-list than needed.)

Each year I add one or two new decorative Christmas touches, like this wall hanging I recently made by painting stripes on a plain canvas I already owned and then hot-gluing a wooden reindeer head silhouette, which I bought from Michaels.

Around the neighborhood, I also seek out the small views that bring delight, like this church's simple wreath that always looks festive against its white arched doorway,

or the Christmas touches on the local granary, a charming historic building that used to store and ship grain on the railroad line that abuts the building.

I sense this is why my heart is ready for Christmas this year.  As I wrapped up my fall semester and now plan for my spring courses, I've slowed down long enough to notice things.  (Not long enough to do Christmas cards, mind you, but at least long enough to notice that I haven't done them.)

I've even taken time to do things that I've only thought about doing in the past, like walking home along the railroad tracks rather than taking the road I normally take.  For the record, walking on railroad tracks is not as easy or charming as you might think.  It's impossible to find the right stride to match your steps with the spacing of the railroad ties, resulting in an awkward clomp-shuffle that's not entirely pleasant to sustain over long distances.

But still, it was an experience.  And during this season of Christmas, I want to soak up and notice the experiences, not just rush through them.  Even clomp-shuffling over railroad ties on a walk home, decorating the house, and maybe -- just maybe -- eventually getting to my Christmas cards.


How are your Christmas preparations coming this year?  Do you have any Christmas Achilles heels that you haven't yet completed, or any traditions or decorations you especially love?  Drop me a comment below to let me know!

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