Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Decorating my home with holiday memories December 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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VISIT MY HOME DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON, and you won’t find Martha Stewart perfect holiday decorations. Rather, you will discover an eclectic mix of Nativity scenes, Santas, angels and more. There’s no color scheme, no continuity, except in the memories.

This was crafted by my Grandpa Bode decades ago.

My Grandpa Bode crafted this Nativity set decades ago. He made them for family and also sold them.

Memories thread through each item I display. My maternal grandfather crafted the Nativity scene positioned atop the living room entertainment center. He built and painted the stable and then molded Baby Jesus and the rest of the Bethlehem crew from Plaster of Paris. Mary’s right hand is broken. The camel is missing. But I don’t care. This is my most treasured of scenes depicting Christ’s birth.

A beautiful cross-stitch of Baby Jesus.

A beautiful cross-stitch of Baby Jesus.

Last year my mom, who collected Nativities, gave nearly all of them to her children and grandchildren after moving into an assisted living apartment. I chose a grouping of six Nativity cards cross-stitched by my cousin Traci and mailed each Christmas. My mom was also an avid cross-stitcher, thus these hold double significance.

This angel candle is more than 50 years old.

This dusty angel candle is more than 50 years old.

I also cherish three angel candles, which belonged to Mom. Fire has never, nor will it ever, touch the wicks. The angels are dusty and not all that beautiful. But I remember Mom setting them out every Christmas.

The largest of the candles in my vintage holiday collection.

The largest of the candles in my vintage holiday collection, Santa stands about five inches tall.

Likewise, I set out Santa and snowman candles acquired in the early 1970s at a family holiday party. They are from my Aunt Ardyce. Like the candle angels, these will never see a flame.

Homemade cards, especially from my kids, are cherished.

Homemade cards, especially from my kids (now grown), are cherished.

And then there’s the Christmas card crafted by my kids. I expect Miranda magic markered the scene signed by all three. It’s a treasure from their childhoods. Such sweetness.

Charlie Brown would be proud of my Christmas tree choice.

Charlie Brown would be proud of my Christmas tree choice. The tree is not yet fully decorated in this image.

Finally, the Christmas tree in our house is chosen not for its perfect shape, but rather for its resemblance to the tree of my childhood Christmases. (The husband, kindly and wisely, agrees with my choice.) Ours is a “Charlie Brown” tree. Uneven and with bare spaces, the short-needled tree plays on my nostalgic memories of the tiny tree that sat on the end of our Formica kitchen table. The tree seemed plenty big back when I was a kid living in a farmhouse much too small for a family of seven. Yet, the tinseled tree seemed magically perfect. Just like my $15 tree, hauled from Duluth and purchased in a Faribault tree lot.

Tell me about your holiday décor. How do you decorate for the Christmas season? Do you display any items that hold special significance?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


28 Responses to “Decorating my home with holiday memories”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    All that you have shared is at such a minimum here this year and serves to further distance my thoughts from the actual fact that Christmas has arrived indeed!!! I do beg to differ with your sentiment……there is continuity in your “Reason for the Season” most definitely is present!!! CHRISTmas Blessings, dearest Audrey and Randy! Immerse yourselves in those moments of family memory-making activities!!!! May you know a Joy-Filled New Year!!!!!!! and hugs………..

  2. The memorable decorations are the BEST and the FAVORITES 🙂 I have collected ornaments throughout my travels. I have decorations handed down to me as well as gifted that I treasure and display in the best spots. Beautiful photos – thanks so much for sharing. Merry Christmas!

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    It has been hard to get into the Christmas spirit this year. Our kitchen and yard have been torn asunder because of remodeling projects and my night-owl wife has a new job that requires her to be at work at 5:00 am, leaving her little time or energy in the evening. So yesterday, after she left for work, I cleaned and organized the house and retrieved a few of her favorite Christmas displays from THE PILE IN THE BASEMENT. When she arrived home, I had diner on, a bottle of wine in the cooler and the living room aglow in Christmas lights.

    Merry Christmas to all!!

  4. Great decorations. We have so many ornaments that we can’t display them all. The ones that we currently have out are ones that our kids have received as gifts over the last 10 years or so. Nothing matches!

  5. Jackie Says:

    I’m sure your house is beautiful, i especially love your Charlie brown tree… I think they are the best, lots of room for bigger bulbs. I also love that you saved the home-made cards from the kids, what a sweet memory. I’m a crazy woman when it comes to decorating, I have a mix of cherished pieces that were handed down from generations, Decorations that honor Christ, and just plain fun stuff….lots of candles and light- up things. I posted a few weeks back, heres the post of my “Christmas Ambiance” http://jackie000.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-ambiance-of-christmastime.html

  6. Norma Says:

    I have several boxes of decorations and ornaments that I have collected over the past 62 years. When we moved into a smaller home last year, I found that I have no room to really decorate. They are all stored in the laundry room. I have been able to give some away, but not very many. I have an 18 inch, pre- decoated live tree that was purchased for $10.00 at Sam’s Club here in Bakersfield. That even takes up a small table that I was using for something else. I found three wreaths that are hanging outside. Also a couple of red items that decorate my dining table, and coffee table. One of my daughters, and my daughter-in-law each gave me some beautiful poinsettias. That’s the extent of my decor. No room at the inn for more—-

  7. Aunt Dorothy Says:

    Of course we have the same manger set up as you have. Our difference is the painting of all of the pieces. Robin painted them years ago and some of the paint is chipping off but would not change it for anything. Old memories are so important. Remember being at your house when you were little. Not much room for guests but we did fine. This Christmas both Craig and Grant and their families will be here for part of the time. In fact Grant arrives tonight and Craig not until Monday. So we will have lots of time to be together.

    Merry Christmas to all of you and a Happy New Year.

    Dorothy and Robin

  8. Don Says:

    Perfect decorating, I believe it is much better then what Martha Stewart would do! Like you I am sentimental about the home made items and items pulled out year after year. It binds us with our past. I too have a tree full of masterpieces created by the kids when they were young. Sitting in my chair at night and reminiscing of years gone by is my favorite pastime. I can still hear my children running in their footed pajamas across the wood floor making that unforgettable scratching noise and their excitement as more gifts were added to the pile under the tree. Anticipation was infectious.

    I read Greg’s post and thought wow what a great surprise for a hard working wife, kudos to him!

    To all have a very Merry Christmas!

  9. Marilyn Says:

    Thanks for the invitation to share how we decorate for Christmas. We’ve used the same tree for 40 years except for a couple of years when we happened to be back in the USA. I have a couple of small collections and the sheep and lambs are arranged around some of the Nativity scenes (I also collect Nativity scenes – have 10 so far). Happy Christmas! Joyous Christmas!

  10. Marilyn Says:

    P.S. I love your nativity scene and the fact that your Grandfather made it. This represents perfectly why we cherish certain decorations.

  11. Littlesundog Says:

    Those old candles struck memories for me. My Grandmother gave me some old ornaments and in the box in the original candle boxes were several unburned figures – Santa, a flaming candle with wax dripping, a snowman, a grouping of poinsettias, and a reindeer. I was horrified one year, when the garage closet i had stored them in got too hot and they all melted! I had stored them in that closet for many years and that never happened. It was a terrible loss for me. 😦

  12. hotlyspiced Says:

    You have some beautiful Christmas decorations that are special because of who’s made them or because of the memories they hold. I have things in my home that I keep and bring out year after year for the same reasons xx

  13. Sue Ready Says:

    I downsized to a very small artificial tree for the first time in 48 years since we weren’t going to be around much in Dec. Let me tell you it was not well received.by my family and it became the butt of many off hand remarks. I learned a lesson never mess with tradition even with adult children. .

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