Deck the Halls, Home Edition

As with the rest of this year, the holiday season has been different from what Brandon and I anticipated. Since we went to Florida last year to be with his family, we had planned on going to Maine this December so that Brandon could experience a New England Christmas with my relatives. The pandemic changed those plans though, so we’re staying at home in Williamsburg. It wasn’t what we originally intended to do, but we agreed it wasn’t worth putting anyone’s health at risk.

Home for the holidays, pandemic edition. Checking out the decorations at Colonial Williamsburg this year means wearing masks and seeing signs reminding you to maintain a 6′ distance from others.

That said, this isn’t the first time we’ve stayed home for the holidays, and there’s been no shortage of ways to celebrate them around here. Today then, we’ll take a break from the usual scholarly content and take a look at what we’ve been doing to observe the season.

The doors of Colonial Williamsburg, Christmas 2020

One of my favorite things to do here every December is to look at the wreaths in Colonial Williamsburg. We’ve been doing this every year since we moved here, and this time around I really enjoyed having the chance to get out and look at something different. I particularly appreciate how the decorators create wreaths that reflect the histories or functions of the buildings they adorn, whether they are taverns, houses, or some other structure.

Here are a few that I especially liked:

I’ve also been keeping busy at home. I usually don’t decorate that much for Christmas because I’m either traveling or have work deadlines, but this year I decided to indulge my penchant for crafting, as this has been a weird year, and making things has always been an important source of relaxation for me.

After checking out the wreaths at CW, I made my own

I started with our front door. After seeing all the lovely wreaths at Colonial Williamsburg, I decided to make my own. Rather than create an overtly Christmas-themed one though, I opted for a winter-themed design that I could keep up until spring. To do this, I took several magnolia leaves that I had dried some months earlier, painted them silver and gold, and wrapped them all together with wire into a circle. We’ll keep it up for a few months, and then I’ll put the leaves in storage and craft a new seasonal decoration.

I’ve also been doing small things to enliven the house, like making pomanders out of cloves and oranges to introduce a seasonal scent to the living room, or suspending our Christmas cards from a string over Brandon’s bookcase so that we can look at them. They’re simple things, but they add some seasonal festivity to the space. Given how distorted my sense of time has gotten during the pandemic, with days, weeks, and months blurring into each other, observing seasonal or holiday changes has been especially important for me this year.

Arguably the most involved thing I’ve done is to make a pair of stockings for Brandon and myself. I took up knitting back in March at the start of the pandemic, learning the basics through Youtube tutorials and affordable learning kits from Knit Picks. I’ve really come to enjoy it as a hobby, so I thought it would be nice to knit up some decorations for the house. These stockings are my first foray into stranded knitting, and I’ll admit I’m pretty pleased that I was able to complete these patterns.

This year I put the tree on top of my yarn container for a little more height. It hasn’t kept that cats away from it though.

And there’s the tree. We have a three-foot artificial tree that we bring out every year. Sometimes we think it would be nice to have something taller, but honestly, I really like being able to put all the decorations away in under thirty minutes once January rolls around. For the last few years I’ve been making a sketch of one or two of the ornaments, usually a little pen and ink with acrylic. This year I drew an ornament that belonged to my grandmother, paired with some holly that I found during a walk. I usually don’t do anything with these sketches in terms of finished artworks, but it’s a nice way of observing the holiday spirit through drawing.

Overall, I’ve actually been enjoying this season. As much as we would have liked to have gone North this year, it’s also nice to not worry about long drives or to endure the drain of extended travel. Things are stressful enough as it is right now, so in a sense, I’m relieved we didn’t add to it by trying to make the trip. We’ll go up during a future, non-pandemic holiday, but in the meantime, we’ve been appreciating all the things we can see and make around here.

Good tidings and best wishes to all of you for a safe, happy holiday season.

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