Wednesday, December 21, 2016

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house a sigh could be heard from this very tired spouse. 

The house is decorated, the shopping’s done and the wrapping will get done on Friday.  Time to sit down to a quiet breakfast and enjoy the blessed stillness of early morning. 

It’s also time to reflect on the ghosts of Christmas past and share with you a few of my favorite things. 

This little guy with the red nose is the first Christmas decoration my husband and I ever bought for our first Christmas together.  He’s just sticks of wood stuck together with a red light bulb for a nose, but it was love at first sight for me.  I don’t know what they treated the wood with, but he has survived 40 Christmases.  His legs have gotten a bit rickety over time, but then, so have mine. 

Mme Mère gave us this beautiful Christmas angel and her celestial splendor has not diminished over the years. 

This adorable Snowman tea pot, complete with carrot nose and woolen muffler, was a gift from my college roommate and dear friend, Paula.  Pouring a hot cuppa from this jolly gentleman has warmed up more than a few frosty faces over the years. 

Eight years ago, Miss Annie in her red velvet bloomers and bows holding a sachet pillow peaked out from the top of Mme Mère’s Christmas stocking.  It was my mother’s first Christmas as a resident of St. Mary’s Catholic Home and she was unhappy and angry at everything and everyone who was responsible for her being there, me being at the top of that list.  Needless to say, it had been a rough year for all of us. 

Mme Mère had made it very clear that under no circumstances was I to give her a stuffed animal for Christmas.  I believe her exact words were, “Don’t give me any of those stupid stuffed animals that all the crazy old ladies in this place have.  I hate stuffed animals!  I’ve always hated stuffed animals!!” 

So, when I saw this adorable teddy bear in a little shop in Haddonfield, I thought, “Oh well, if she hates her, Miss Teddy can come home with me for Christmas.” 

On Christmas Eve, I walked into my mother’s room with all her presents and a Christmas stocking stuffed with goodies.  From the top of the stocking you could just make out two furry ears with velvet bows.  Christmas presents duly opened and approved of, it was time to check out the stocking.  Mme Mère pulled out the little bear, took one look at her and smiled for the first time in a very long time.  She named her Annie, and for the next five years, Annie sat on my mother’s bed and was by her side when she passed away quietly in her sleep. 

And while we’re on the subject of family, this lady has been in our family for almost 400 years.  She was the wife of the Mayor of Brussels and an ancestor of Mme Mère’s mother.  We don’t know her name, but we do know the name of the artist.  The portrait was painted by Dutch artist Caspar (or Gaspar) Netscher (1639-1684).  If you look closely, you’ll see she’s holding a King Charles Spaniel and the child standing next to her dressed as a little girl is actually a little boy.  It was common to dress little boys in female clothing during this period. 

The Lenox Christmas wine glasses were a gift from my husband’s childhood friend who was the best man at our wedding.  We are still very close. 

On the far left is a tiny red house with Santa and his sack of toys on the roof.  If you place Santa at the top of the wire pole, he bobbles his way down the pole to the roof.  He’s been doing that for almost 60 Christmases since I first found him in my stocking hanging at the foot of the bed. 

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the distinguished gentleman in the top hat is the great Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901).   

I found this Santa with the little boy and girl in a local vintage shop.  The figures are painted on a piece of wood and it has a tiny music box attached to the back that plays “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  It sits under a portrait of Maurice Lumley, my British grandmother’s grandfather, painted in 1867. 

My white Mikasa crèche sits under the portrait of Maurice’s wife, Julia Hart Lumley, painted in 1865.  I love the juxtaposition of the sleek, white figures and Julia’s heavily embellished dress and elaborate sleeves. 

A little Christmas tree sits between the portraits, and if you look closely at the center, you’ll see two zaftig opera singers (soprano and tenor, no doubt) with their mouths opened wide going for that high note.  This pair of whimsical ornaments was a gift from a college classmate, Pat Ciarrocchi, still a dear friend.  Pat recently retired from a 30-year career as a CBS 3 news anchor and co-host of a daily talk show, but knowing Pat, retirement just means moving on to something new and exciting.  

Like whiskers on kittens and warm woolen mittens, these are a few of my favorite things. 

Have a Blessed Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Wonderful New Year.  May you have the joy of sharing favorite things with those you love. 


  1. So lovely... thanks me letting me take a peek. This reminds me of each time I have relocated how I marvel when I unpack mementos and trinkets of the past and by holding them I feel that I hold on to the essence of family members that have gone on before me. And your "big reveal" proves that we are never alone. Thanks for sharing.
    and Merry Christmas!

    1. Dear Friend,

      Once again, you have touched on the heart of my piece. 13 years ago when we moved to our present townhome, I went through everything I owned and was amazed at how much I could live without. There's always that emotional tug-of-war between "things" and the memories they represent. If we throw away the things, have we thrown away the memories attached to them?

      Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. I look forward to reading your blog pieces in 2017. Always a joy.

      xoxo, M-T

  2. Just beautiful M-T. Thank you for sharing your memories.

    Merry Christmas and have a wonderful New Year.


    1. Dear Erica,

      I'm so glad you enjoyed sharing in my memories. I'm a very private person (too much French blood, no doubt), who has no problem sharing her thoughts, but is less at ease when it comes to sharing her personal life in a Blog, especially pictures of home. One of the benefits of blogging is that I have become more open, mostly because of the wonderful feedback I've gotten from lovely readers such as you, and for that I am grateful. I'm also grateful to know what the "e" in "eb" stands for.

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Erica.

      Cheers, M-T

  3. Dear M-T.
    Some time in the past year or so I wrote to you about my fibromyalgia and how it had sidelined me for much of the past ten plus years. You wrote me back such a lovely note and I so appreciated your sharing of your own fibromyalgia difficulties. It is a silent stalker that many do not understand. And often the one who suffers with it is judged to be lazy or disconnected from life. When you told me that some days your best friends were your pain meds and your pillow I admired you even more and knew that you understood me as well. I want to wish you the very sweetest of Christmases; and blessings in abundance in the coming year. I have known of some people who have fibromyalgia that 'just runs its course and then disappears' after a number of years. I pray that you [and I!] might be so blessed. Merry Christmas. Suzie Kirby
    P.S. I chose 'anonymous' simply because I couldn't figure out where my email address fit into the choices!

    1. Dear Suzie,
      Yes, yes, yes I remember our email exchange from March of this year very well. In fact, I saved them. I still have your g-mail address, and I will be in touch very soon.

      Blogger made some changes this year and it affected my readers' ability to leave comments, so Anonymous is often the best way. Just sign your name at the bottom and I'll know who it's from.

      Have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed, healthy and happy New Year, Suzie.

      Cheers, M-T

  4. Dear M-T, Thank you for another year of wonderful and interesting Blog posts.
    I'm with you - everything is decorated and ready for the holidays - Time to enjoy the music and old Christmas movies - lovely conversations/get-togethers with family and friends and just be blessed during this Holy Season.
    I wish You and your loved ones a wonderful and joyous Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2017 - May you always feel the Magic of Christmas... All the Best - looking forward to read your blog in 2017 -
    Rose in Florida - it still sunny and warm here!

    1. Dear Florida Rose, I always love hearing from you, and I should be jealous about your balmy weather, except that it's been rather balmy up north over the last week.

      I count myself very blessed to have you as a loyal reader. There are times when I wonder if anyone out there is reading my "bons mots," and then I think of you.

      Have a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with joy and beautiful surprises. Best to your family during this holiday season.

      Cheers, M-T

  5. I love you tasteful and meaningful Christmas decoations, M-T! Traditon is such an important part of Christmas, and each of your pieces have a lovely story. Your tea set looks especially inviting and ready for guests. :)

    Thank you for sharing your holiday pretties with us.

    Merry Christmas, Marie-Thérèse!


    1. It was my pleasure, Debbie, to share these things with you and all my wonderful readers.

      Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year. Perhaps we will meet in 2017? At the opera? That would be delightful.

      Cheers, M-T

  6. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    What a lovely collection of Christmas favorites you have! Even with historical values from both sides of your family.
    Did email you a translated Dutch to English (Bing) page about Caspar Netscher... What a remarkable painter he was, coming from Germany to The Netherlands and living there most of his life.
    You have precious pieces with lots of stories, even if one would love to hear more of the details from 400 years back...
    Wishing you both a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    1. Dearest Mariette,

      I received your email regarding Caspar Netscher and will read it carefully when I have a moment. How thoughtful of you to unearth this information and send it to me. Actually, it's quite typical of your thoughtful nature, as I've learned over the years.

      Have a wonderful Christmas and Blessed New Year. Will be in touch after I've read up on this interesting artist.

      Grosses bises,

  7. I really enjoyed looking at your beautiful decorations. Thanks for sharing them. They are all pretty but if I had a favorite it might be the little Christmas tree with the opera singers. I have never seen ornaments like that. I do have some ornaments representing people, but I think they are made of terra cotta maybe – you know, the Santons I bought in Marseille (en argile ou terre cuite je pense.) It is so nice to have ornaments that have sentimental value. When we moved to Georgia from San Francisco in the 70s, someone burglarized our new house before we had fully moved in. The only things we had placed in the house so far were all our boxes of Christmas decorations (some I had brought from France) – I was so very sad to lose them. The other two boxes we had brought in were our photo slides, our wedding pictures and the pictures of the first years of our little girls. I was even sadder to lose those!

    1. Chère Vagabonde,

      While it is difficult to choose among all your "Christmas Children," I admit that I, too, have a special fondness for that little Christmas tree with the opera singers. My father had a beautiful set of Santons (en terre cuite), which he brought with him when we moved to the US. Sadly, they have since disappeared without a trace.

      It's bad enough to have your pocket picked, but when some horrible stranger burglarizes your home, that is just such a violation on an intimate level. Thankfully, you still have your memories.

      Je vous envoie mes meilleurs voeux du nouvel an.

      Bonne Année, M-T

  8. Replies
    1. Happy New Year to you, too, Regine. Hope this is a wonderful year for you and all those your love.

      Cheers, M-T

  9. Masz cudowne dekoracje świąteczne.Pozdrawiam serdecznie.

    1. Thank you so much, Malgorzata, for your kind comments about my Christmas decorations. I hope your Christmas was lovely, and I wish you a very Happy New Year.

      Cheers, M-T


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