Today is our 16th wedding anniversary. And in all our years of marriage, we haven’t experienced a Christmas holiday that didn’t involve us traveling to visit our families. It didn’t matter if we were living in New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Kansas, or Texas at the time – our Christmas break involved traveling anywhere from as little 500 miles to as far as 3000+ miles round trip depending on where we were stationed at the time. Most years involved visiting both of our families in the same trip because our parents only live 375 miles apart (which I realize looks a bit ridiculous typed out) and in the same region of the United States. Some years we would wake up Christmas morning at one of our parents’ houses and other years we would spend Christmas at our home and not travel until the day after. But thanks to the flexibility of block leave over the holiday, every single year for the past 16 years has involved visiting Georgia and/or North Carolina at some point during the week-long Christmas-to-New Years window.
With COVID-19 and a new puppy, we are staying put for the first time ever. And we are 100% okay doing so. We will miss seeing our families but we are absolutely thrilled to not be traveling. Now that we’re stationed at Fort Sheridan, IL, we’d be traveling over 2000 miles if we were to do our typical Christmas break tour of the southeastern United States – as if living through 2020 wasn’t already exhausting enough. So it will be just the four of us (and Teddy and Alice) this Christmas and you know what? I think a simple and quaint family Christmas is exactly what we need right now.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. stated that “Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” We have loved in many places over the years and we have learned that a house is simply that – a house. Flashy appliances, expensive countertops, large bathrooms, two-car garages do not a home make. Home is us. Home is anywhere. And right now, home is military housing on Fort Sheridan, Illinois. During this 2020 Christmas season we couldn’t ask for a better place to love, so I thought I’d share a little of our home and how it is decorated during our first year on Lake Michigan.
Are you a Christmas card family? We are and it is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. We can thank Sir Henry Cole and his desire to make the Public Record Office more attainable to the common folk during the mid-19th century for the custom of sending Christmas cards to loved ones. We always display the cards we receive and in this house, the entryway closet doors that struggle to stay on track are the best place to do so.
As evident by the above picture of our entry/living room, our decorating style can best be described as eclectic with a dash of let’s see how we can make this furniture work in this house – its all part of the fun of moving every 1-3 years. Our living room has a handful of Christmas decorations scattered about but because we opted to put the Christmas tree in the family room, the room you first see when entering our house is a little more understated with Christmas cheer.
I adore vintage decor so when my grandmother passed away a few years ago, my dad and aunts ensured that her ceramic Christmas tree ended up in my home. Her mother (my great-grandmother) made them for all the women in the family in the early 1980’s and I’m thankful I am able to now display one in our home. I’m incredibly happy that it survived its first military move – hallelujah!
Our piano is adorned with the Nutcrackers we’ve collected over the years.
Don’t be too impressed – the majority are from Target.
The china hutch was our first ‘grown-up’ purchase as a married couple. We felt so adult buying a piece of furniture to put fancy dishes from a fancy furniture store. It’s missing panel of glass on the side that broke three moves ago that we haven’t bothered to replace. Our elf, Pickles, is currently hanging out in a Moscow Mule mug this Christmas because the kids lost interest which is 100% okay with us.
The Santa tray is one of my favorite items – it makes the perfect place to roll Yahtzee dice or place a wine glass while curled on on the couch.
I picked up this carved Nativity from a fair-trade shop in Alexandria, Virginia a handful of years ago.
Our family room is my favorite room of the house. It’s right off the kitchen and while we’d prefer a wood-burning fireplace, we’re just thrilled to have a fireplace again. This year, we let the kids put the ornaments on the tree so there are bare spots and it is far from magazine-worthy but it is our tree. And for that reason alone, it is the most beautiful tree in the world in our eyes.
Our stockings are hung on the mantle with care after spending the last three years nailed on a wall in our previous house. The stockings don’t match and they never will. When we got married, Fort Drum would only release Clay for three days so we had a short honeymoon before returning to the frozen tundra for our first Christmas together. I purchased our stockings at the Kmart in Watertown and while they may not embody my current style, they bring me so much joy. The kids’ stockings are from Pottery Barn Kids, purchased during their respective birth years, and Alice’s and Teddy’s stockings are from Target. Yes – in our family the pets have stockings.
And finally, I’m a sucker for a cheeky coffee mug so I couldn’t resist this one I spied at Target a few weeks ago. We’re absolutely loving having a cat and a dog in the house again and we are starting to settle into somewhat of a routine. With no school and more scaled-back work schedules beginning next week, we’re looking forward to a relaxing Christmas break filled with lots of family time. We’re kicking off the break by celebrating our anniversary tonight as a family because #2020. And you know what? That sounds pretty damn good.