holiday mantel by annie

There were so many times this year when I had to rely on the generous support of my friends to help me make this blog a reality. My photographer Kristin Sjaarda effortlessly picked up the scouting and shooting of all the Hello! Neighbour posts while  Stephanie over at Baba Souk dropped in twice a month with her beautifully curated "Inspired By" and "Shopping" posts. Today my dear neighbour Annie is picking up the blogging torch and telling you a little bit about her Christmas traditions. Three cheers for comrades and each one of you. Take it away, Annie!

So friends, here we are, a scant few days away from the big day in December.

Are you excited? Relieved? Overcome with dread? Some combination of the three?

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I am, thanks in large part to my children's anticipation, pretty excited. For much of my adult life, I had an ambivalent relationship with Christmas: much like the way I used to feel about marriage, I think that I was so worried about my own high expectations being dashed that I avoided the holidays and their attendant celebrations altogether.

Then, I found myself in a brand-new relationship and with a brand-new baby in relatively quick succession, and suddenly, it was the moment for a brand-new start - on all fronts. On our first Christmas with our daughter, my then-new-boyfriend gave me a diamond ring.

Eight years, one wedding, and a second child in, I love our little family's holiday traditions, and I am fiercely protective of our time together, just the four of us, on the 24th and 25th of December. We are doing things our own way, and everything about that pleases me to no end.

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And by everything I mean all of it: the tree that's comically too big. The fact that I always forget something crucial (last year, it was picking up the goose I ordered for Christmas dinner).

The scurrying into view of a mouse, which is beginning to feel inevitable, and my deeply horrified reaction - also, it seems, inevitable.

The hot cider and cold champagne, the singing of carols with our children and our friends, the parties, the sparkly shoes, the pretty dresses.

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The near-constant vacuuming.

The shortbread and the fruitcake. The cote du boeuf and its spectacular leftovers. Recently, a trifle.

And these past couple of years, what I hope will be a new tradition: a day spent with Emma and Kristin, putting together a holiday mantel (or two or three) and photographing it for you people and your viewing pleasure. This year, I was lucky enough to have it all go down in my house, so what you see here is more or less what we will be living with for the duration of the holidays.

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Which, like every other aspect of my family's Christmas celebrations, pleases me to no end.


mercury glass ball and candle holder, crystal tea light holders: West Elm
gold and green glass vintage ornaments: Goodwill
pink vintage ornaments, small antlers: Mrs. Huizenga
cranberry glass vases, brass deer: Hawkeyes
pink silk and green satin ribbon: Mokuba
Mongolian lamb and silk pillows: West Elm
large white vase on the carpet: Sweet Pea florists