“Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”

This morning the lawns were white with frost and the cars windows would have needed scrapping. I walked across the lawn to get my papers so I could hear the crunch, that wonderful sound a freezing night brings to the morning. I could see my breath.

This room is such a mess my sensibilities are distressed. Every spare space is filled with wrapping paper, boxes, tags and presents. They are my next week’s projects. Today is sending packages and making goodies for sister as I’ll see her tomorrow. I’ll bring her favorite fudge, a recipe from a long ago friend of my mother’s, and date-nut bread, my grandmother’s recipe. The traditions continue!

When I bought my house, I didn’t have much money. My mortgage was half my month’s salary. Everything I bought was a necessity, nothing frivolous, including furniture for a while. I had a desk, a TV and a studio couch in this room and some pots and pans for the kitchen. I ate, slept and watched TV here in the den. The rest of the house was pretty empty. That first Christmas I bought a small tree. My mother gave me some ornaments, and I bought a couple of strings of lights. One night I went about making paper garlands out of construction paper. I cut the paper into strips then the strips into smaller strips. I used tape to connect the small strips to one another. There were four garlands, each a different length with the shortest at the top and the longest at the bottom. They were perfect on the tree, being colorful and making the tree more festive and hiding the lack of ornaments. I used those garlands for a lot of years. One Christmas a few years later I was sitting in the living looking at the tree, a taller one with more decorations, when I heard a strange sound from the tree, and then I heard another. I investigated and found my garlands were breaking apart. The tape had yellowed and lost its ability to hold the strips together. I grabbed my favorite tool, my stapler, and used it to keep the garlands together. It worked.

A year later when I was bringing out my tubs of decorations, I noticed the garlands had just about completely fallen apart, and, for the first time, I noticed how faded the colors had become. It didn’t matter to me, though, as I still hung the smallest of the garlands on the tree that Christmas. I still have that garland.


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17 Comments on ““Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.””

  1. im6 Says:

    The other day when you were talking about such strands of garland, I kept thinking we’d called such things something else down here in Texas. I thought we called it ______, but decided, no, that couldn’t possibly be the name. What could it be? I knew we didn’t call it garland. Strands? No, those were the lights. It took a couple of days to get in touch with my aunt and she confirmed that my initial instincts were correct. Ropes. We called those strands of tinsel garland ropes. Pretty stupid name and pretty stupid of me to have forgotten. Maybe they were braided back then. I think they were. Sort of like strands of crumpled up aluminum foil then braided together to create a rope. Were those just a southern thing?

    • Kat Says:

      That is the first I have ever heard of them called ropes. I have some of those silver garlands from way back so I’ll have to mosey downstairs to see if they are roped or braided. That name encompasses everything: tinsel garland robes.

      I have a few ornaments which are crumbled up aluminum in different colors but they are singles.

      I don’t think we had what you are describing.

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I remember making paper chains for Christmas. In school they made us use that white paste that many kids like to eat though I’ve never figured out why. It’s vile tasting stuff. Our paper chains were lovely even though they were badly cut, crookedly formed and completely gooped up with the excess amount of paste we first graders always seemed to have to use. We drew designs on ours. Mine probably did not last as long as yours though my mother tried to keep it more than one year. She always tried to reuse things but being kept in a real cellar is not good for paper.
    The frost was heavy up here, too, but now the sun is shining and it’s still not warm. The front porch is very warm and Rocky is out there sunning himself on his favorite chair. I’m still goofing off.
    Enjoy the rest of the day.

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Still chilly here. Gracie and I are on our way to the UPS store to send out Colorado. I made fudge for my sister already and got a start on the bread. Things are moving right along.

      I remember that paste and how there was a brush in the middle of the handle. I never could get just enough paste; it was always too much and made lumps on what I was pasting.

      We also did popcorn stringing, but we ate more than we strung. I remember Shauna, one of my early Boxers, eating the strand right off the tree little by little. She also ate some cookies. That dog loved my mother’s tree.

      Off to UPS!

      Have a great afternoon!

    • olof1 Says:

      We call that paste Bear glue 🙂 Since so many kids ate it (and I agree, how could they eat that nasty paste) we weren’t allowed to have it in our desks at school 🙂

      • Kat Says:

        I also can’t imagine eating it. Maybe it is due to a deficiency in their diets.

  3. Birgit Says:

    Just in case, this is even easier than paper garlands:

    • Kat Says:

      That would be so much easier except for the cleaning up. I suspect those little snowflakes would get everywhere!

  4. olof1 Says:

    I’m having problems picturing how they looked. I’m sure I must have seen something similar here though, lots of people had home made garlands in their trees when I grew up. Many also had either strings with all the flags in the world or just a lot of Swedish ones in their trees. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard about strings with popcorn.

    We made small heart shaped baskets of paper to hang in the trees, if we did them in school they usually were made from metallic green and red paper. I especially liked the ones that were braided together. I’ll see if I can find such metallic paper and make some small ones to have in my tree. Won’t fit especially much candy in them if they are too small but if I had candy in them I know some dogs and cats that would eat it anyway 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • Kat Says:

      I found the perfect site for you in case you have a few idle hours:


      I haven’t ever seen the garlands with flags. I bet they are really colorful.

      We used to make baskets like that but for Easter rather than Christmas, but I actually have a few similar Christmas baskets to yours baskets on my tree, really old ones in red and green and made from cardboard and crepe paper. They used to have hard candy in them.

      Have a wonderful evening!

      • olof1 Says:

        I remember some kids doing those 🙂
        Baskets aren’t an easter thing here but they are during Christmas 🙂 Yes hard candy or perhaps tiny chocolates wrapped in paper just in case they would melt 🙂

  5. Hedley Says:

    It’s been such a long day and I am thinking about my wonderful six grandson and the blessing he brings. Such terrible things

  6. Lori Kossowsky Says:

    In my other posts I forgot to wave.
    Waving with vigor,
    Lori and Jewels

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