My Christmas Home Tour 2011

Welcome to my home!
Please, come on in! 
I'll bring you a cup of tea, I'll show you around.

This is my life. Today.

I haven't opened one single Christmas storage box yet.
I haven't "decorated".
If you'll please excuse the bit of projects here and there, thank you.

If you'll overlook the half-decorated window sill,

the mop I just used in the kitchen, which is now drying in the sun on the deck,

the hum of the dishwasher and dryer run through their cycles,
cleaning up after yesterday's adventures,
the baking debris in the corner as I make thank-you-for-teaching-my-kids goodie bags.

I have been guilty of slaving away in the kitchen baking dozens and dozens of goodies,
while worrying about just the right touches to adorn my dining room.
But, it hasn't happened yet, because we are in the process of staging our home to sell it.
This room is taking longer to paint it that anticipated,
because I keep getting "interrupted".
And it's okay.
I am grateful to have a home.
And paint. And especially a ladder.

Our mantel still has Autumn's decor on it.
My cloche on the table between the red chairs remains empty,
waiting for some bauble or glittery addition.
The coffee table has my daughter, Miss A's Algebra 2, Chemistry, and Chinese class notes on it, 
because she has finals this week and has to study.
And she chooses to do it right in the middle of all the activity.
The sofa's slipcover is in laundry room.
And it's all right.

The inside of the ex-TV armoire, where our high schoolers keep their school stuff,
 is trashed from said teenaged girls coming and going to separate schools.
Miss A's stuff is on the left,
and Miss Lovely's (our S. Korean exchange student daughter) stuff is on the right.
Piles of books, calculators, pens, binders, and Miss Lovely's camera that she keeps ready 
at all times to capture something curious to her about us Americans!

I could fuss and fume about the clutter.
But, when I look at this mess, I see the future.
These children are learning and excelling in areas I could only dream about.
When I stare into the piles I hear the lectures, the clicks of the locks on the lockers,
the between-classes bell, I smell the cafeteria food.
It brings me back to my high school years, and I remember to hold onto
these moments with these young people, and encourage them and reward them
for our world rests on their little shoulders.

And their shoes remain on our stairs for only a little while.

This is the room that usually holds the Christmas tree.
Yet, in the spot where it should go, the mirror and the artwork for the dining room rest.
The top of the piano is eerily empty, and someone has left the tissue box on the floor
near the heater which was warming their tootsies.
I am tempted to stress that "the tree isn't up yet".
But, I won't. 
For some reason, I'm not offended by its absence.
I'm not compelled to action by the bins in the garage, containing its contents.
And it's fine.

We have a budding pianist that performs in this room.
Miss Lovely plays from memory.
She's perfecting Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata
I have an international star in my home!

The only thing Christmas-y our half bath has going for it, is the remaining red wall.
The others have been painted contract-on-the-house khaki.
You see, we started a teeny weeny project after Thanksgiving, that we thought would take a day,
two days, max, that turned into a bigger project when the new faucet we installed 
started leaking behind the pedestal sink.
The sink waits patiently while we attend Christmas parties and drive offspring to recitals
and their own holiday gatherings.
No matter.

I did manage to whip up 2 dozen cupcakes for the youth group last night.
I would have saved you one, but they're gone.

And I did manage to let a whole card full of faux snow escape onto my foyer floor
when opening this greeting by my friend, Marcia, in Miami.
You're a stinker, chica.

My excuses for not being more prompt with decking the halls?
The second Saturday this month, I hosted a regional P.I.E. gathering in our basement cafe'.
Pacific Intercultural Exchange is the organization that puts exchange students and
host families together. Eight other host families and their students came to our home,
with their international stars.

Poon, from Thailand (not pictured yet), wrote Merry Christmas for me on the chalkboard wall.
Translated into Romanized font, read this out loud: "Sook sanwan Chrismass."
There, you just spoke Thai!
Then, Jeep from China (below), wrote Merry Christmas in Chinese for us.
I can't pronounce it and won't even try.

I got teary-eyed as I took this picture in our backyard.
Amazing young people. Left their homes for a year to experience our way of life.
I never would have thought in a million years, that souls from many other nations
would have graced my home!

How am I so blessed?

From left to right, countries represented:
Back row: Brazil, (this is Poon) Thailand, China, Mainland China, South Korea.
Front row: Norway, Brazil, and South Korea (our Miss Lovely).

A few days after they left, my mom (#1) and my other mom (#2) prepared
for a Gingerbread House Workshop, also held in my cafe'.
We each plugged in our Kitchenaids.
And got the gingerbread dough cranked out!
12 batches of it. 


Mom #1's (the mom who birthed me) mixer.

Mom #2's (the one who lives near me) helper.

I did this for a few days.
And loved it.
I especially loved being with my moms, making messes and making memories.

Thank you #1, for all your help.
Wow. You are one incredible woman.
Giving, kind, and knowledgeable.

Mom #2, thank you for all your help.
I am grateful that you always wash the dishes after the fun is over.
What a servant example you are!

Miss Lovely and Miss A, after Miss Lovely's Holiday choral performance at school (she is a soprano) 
doing that peace sign next to the face thing all teenagers do for pictures nowadays.
And to that I say, "Yes, I have peace, too."

I have peace this year, more than any other before.

Because, I think Christmas (maybe) doesn't come out of storage once a year.
It's something that we should perpetually live.
Christ came from His throne, to be engaged in our way of life.
Our Emmanuel became God with us.
To empathize, to give hope, to heal, to share, to love.
And I want so much to be like Him.

And though I acknowledge His arrival, and I am certainly not anti-Christmas
(in fact, I am having a blast Pinteresting and visiting everyone's beautiful homes),
I have concluded (through tears and a tantrum or five) that I DO NOT have it have it all together.
I decided that I can't do it all.
I decided to accept the beautiful messes. The decorations of life.

Starting this afternoon, when the last bell sounds for school to be out for winter break,
I am looking forward to the next three weeks with my family!
I choose to be just as excited for this winter recess as I was when I was a kid!

Maybe we will put the tree up this weekend.
Maybe not.

Either way.
It's okay.
I will rejoice!

(I'm glad I thought to grab this swag at Trader Joe's for $5.99 last week!)

This concludes the tour. For now.
To be continued....



  1. "Making messes and making memories."

    This sounds a heck of a lot better than making the most beautiful Christmas vignettes ever.

    Congratulations on your real, true CHRISTmas. What a gift He is. And what a gift you are.

  2. It looks like your holiday is very busy and you are surrounded by interesting and loving folks. If thats all the decorating your home gets, then you already have it all~!!
    Merry Christmas and enjoy every moment.

  3. I love it all!! Yes, I am a stinker...I knew that snow would do the job of messing things up a bit. I enjoyed making the cards so much that I forgot to add the piece of ribbon that goes on the inside back-to-back with the front one to cover the glue indentation. I say, "It's a good thing." :)

  4. By the way, your home has never looked better. :)

  5. Aw, my eyes are leaking. Love you so much and all your beautiful thoughts. Prayers for you and a huge MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and the family.

  6. Well, at least you posted a meaningful Christmas home tour post. I am all decorated but have had no time to blog about it! Merry Christmas, friend! :)

  7. All the other home tour posts I've read this year have just left me feeling bad about myself.

    We actually LIVE in our home - with four kids from 2-8 in a small house. No breakables, no vignettes just because they're pretty, no beautifully wrapped gifts (even empty boxes) because they'll get broken, played with and opened. Lots of baking, though. It's a season I love, but ...

    Thank you for sharing a real home! It is beautiful, and it seems the real spirit of Christmas dwells there with you.

  8. What ! I was all excited lololol Looks like my house hehehehehe , I know You have been so busy , I am always excited to see what you come up with each year , your so talented" Miss Decor " I guess I will have to wait :( Love ya , Your sista from another Mr.

  9. What I can tell about you and your house is that you are an awesome mother!! You really inspire me to be a better mother! I do love having beautiful decorations and all that stuff, but what really warms my heart is doing it for my kids! So that home feels safe and warm to them!! I love your home and the spirit you bring to it! xxoxooxoxo

  10. Ah, as my Dad used to say, "I believe you are starting to mature":) It is work to get our attitude right in our culture of pushing ourselves to get it all done.....right.

    Merry Christmas and thanks again for the magazine.

  11. Just stumbled upon your blog - and LOVE it! Love your home and all the color and personal touches. Can you tell me the new dining room color - it's beautiful and I've been looking for that mix of blue, gray, green for my guest bathroom. Merry Christmas!

  12. I love it! It doesn't have to look perfect! As long as your family is enjoying it and worshiping...that's what matters. Lisa~

  13. "Christmas doesn't come out of storage once a year." So true. I have --count it-- A+wreath = one on our front door this year. I started crafting eight felt poinsettia place mats to set our new dining table... Then I stacked and packaged all the components and put it away. Next year. No need for this year. Not into it.

    Christmas for us this year will be sans children, just the two of us in Manila. So I will bake two of my sweetie's favorite goodies plus his favorite meal-- turkey dinner-- and we'll choose JOY. We had to choose joy already. Joy is scheduled. It's what's on our Christmas list.

    And I will take my Christmas items out of storage AFTER Christmas Day. Only to photograph each piece and photojournal its history. Then I will carefully return those lovely pieces of our lives back to their boxes-- all three of them. Maybe they'll come out next year BEFORE Christmas.

    Neglected to mention the pleasure we've had to travel this month, making us ever grateful for all those who support our ministry and cover us daily with prayer.

    Merry CHRISTmas!

  14. Leslie, every time I read this something new pops out. "Christmas doesn't come out of storage once a year." Amen! And I love how Emmanuel, God with us, is here too. Perfect rhythm to the beat of His heart echoing across our little corner of blogland.
    I could so see how you would get sentimental about the group picture. It's beautiful.
    In answer to your question, yes, always feel free to use anything from my page and you never have to ask but thank you for the courtesy. <3

  15. You are awesome for being so real. Thank you. Even the most beautiful homes suffer from living at times. And that's the way it's meant to be. Homes are made for living in not living for. Have a blessed Christmas!

  16. Thanks for the nice post. that we are Interior Decorators in chennai and Interiors Designing in chennai .That I will inform about your post to my friends and all the best for your future post..

  17. your home is beautiful! good luck selling it!

  18. It sounds as though you have a full and fun life. (Love the color you are painting your dining room.)

  19. i really love this blog, you learn so much from what other people do who work in the same field, i did high-end interior design for so long and still love it, hope to enjoy this blog as well in 2012

  20. WOW, excellent work on your house. It looks so fabulous and fascinating. Thank you for sharing and keep up the good work.

    real estate ph

  21. You have shared with us the Christmas home tours. The information shared by you is very useful

  22. Christmas is a special occasion. I love the decor ideas and the food preparation is also adorable.


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