rory and our new homemade friend Jacques (whom we found at House of Vintage)
Christmas has always been a pretty low key event for my petit famille – opening presents, having Xmas brunch and dinner, spending the afternoon outside for a hike and then back home to watch a movie or play a game. Perhaps it’s because holidays can always seem to be hectic or even stressful that I can truly appreciate a simple one. So, this year being away from home felt like any other year. Even in Hawaii last year we all kept it pretty simple and celebrated with a family style potluck under the stars and funny enough that’s what we did here in Portland (except we weren’t outside or in sundresses..). Catherine organized a wondrous potluck for all the Christmas orphans in Portland at the house. After a glorious Christmas morning breakfast Rory and I swept and made preparations to get the house holiday party ready. We spent our afternoon at Laurelhurst park which we hiked over to to collect evergreens, holly branches and pine cones – all of which we found plenty of right on the ground (no picking necessary). On top of getting to gather nature’s goods (a favorite past time of mine) it was a beautiful partly sunny day and the fresh air felt ever so nice on my face and running through my hair.
even my bike was dressed up for the holidays…
When we arrived back home I made a few decorative pieces for the dinner table, kitchen and around the record player. Next, we hung a few more Christmas lights and even evergreen-ed the banister! The final touches were setting up all the magical tea lights in mason jars and getting our holiday greeter, Mr. Gnome ready on the porch. Rory and Catherine had a living Christmas tree on loan from a nearby nursery decorated by Catherine’s homemade touches (she even hand stitched us all stockings!).
As more and more people arrived the delicious foods filled up the table and our bodies radiated heat through the house. Catherine had bought mason jars and printed homemade Christmas penguin cards with a list of things to do with this mason jar (i.e. as a drinking vessel for the night and to bring home leftovers in it). As soon as everyone was satiated by the food and warmed by the whiskey we all sat down to play White Squirrel (aka White Elephant and back east it’s the Yankee Swap). Catherine changed the name because she was changing the rules a bit.. in the spirit of sustainability, buying local, diy, thinking green and recycling of course and here were the rules:
– get or make a gift that would be the equivalent of $20. *note if you make something, it should actually retail for that amount. just to be fair.
– actually get a gift that people would like meaning if you like it—it’s golden.
– if you buy a gift, it should come from a local, independent store.
– you must wrap it in recycled materials.
These rules made for some pretty awesome presents such as: a second hand tent, homemade jams, roasted nuts, honey, and other baked goods, locally made wine and alcohol, zines, magnets, playing cards and drinking glasses, tickets to a local theatre show and few other things I can’t think of. The game was a complete success thanks to Catherine and her amazing friends. We were even graced by a few friends from back home – Ryan & Becky who are living in southern Oregon just a few hours away. They made the trek up to Portland to catch up and share their time with us all and we were thankful that they did (it’s always really refreshing to see familiar faces from home.. especially around the holidays). So, it was a laid back, enjoyable Christmas because everyone’s spirits were in a healthy, happy place. Not once did I feel stressed and not once did I let anyone’s stress affect me. Life is all about how you feel and with New Years upon us I can gladly say that I feel pretty confident about life as it is and how it will be in the coming year… and that is a pretty awesome place to be.