Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's one of the things I love about Christmas

We all have our own Christmas traditions. They are rituals born out of repetition, from the mere fact that we do them every year. Sometimes they change over the years, variations of previous traditions. As families grow and expand to include in-laws, and babes are born, traditions merge. A very wise woman told me my in my first year of marriage, "Steve has his family traditions, and you have yours. Now it's time to make some new ones together." I remember that every year as we have grown our little family and are sharing Christmas rituals and traditions with Sydney.

One of my favorite traditions is putting out this very special little house. I love it so much that I often want to leave it out all year long, but I don't think it would hold the same meaning if it were an everyday piece. It is not at all ordinary and really quite extraordinary to me. It was given to me by my Grandmother, Esta, my dad's Mom. She held onto it until her death 12 years ago, but she told me that I would have it after she passed away and I treasure it. Every Christmas my Grandma put it out, and I never tired of looking at it. It really fascinates me. I imagine the fictional family that lives inside that cozy little house. She has been putting it out since the 70's, when it was given to her by a friend, Elizabeth Vessels.

Elizabeth was born in the 1880's and was getting up in age when she gave it my Grandma, Esta. Elizabeth lived in a log cabin in the San Bernadino mountains that was built for her grandmother. I don't know much about Elizabeth other than she and my grandma were friends and my grandma had always admired the house, so when Elizabeth grew older and needed to downsize, she gave my grandma the house.

But the story of this little house didn't start with Elizabeth. It actually started with her Grandmother, who received this house as a gift when she was a little girl. I know even less about her, but I have many years to imagine who she was, and who made this beautiful little house for her. I believe she was born in the 1830's, but I don't know for sure. I don't really know where the items that are inside of the house came from. Sometimes I think about adding things or changing items, but in the end I always decide I just kind of like it the way it is. At some point, a light was added to the inside of the top roof, so it lights up nicely!

The little gnome came with the house, he is a wooden fella. I don't know when he joined the house, but he stays out all year. He sits on my piano when it's not Christmas. That's the little door that swings back and forth. You can see the house is in need of repair. It has seen a lot of years and I'm afraid to do anything to it. I think it is due for a major cleaning though, but I need some recommendations on how to clean it without damaging it. It's hard to get a camera inside to take any pictures, because of how small the opening is in the top. I love the little sofa. It is made with a silky fabric and there is a little bible that sits there.

There is a little rooster in this window box and a little picture of an American flag. A little chest sits there on the left as well. You can't see the four fancy little chairs that are in there, or the china hutch, but I'll leave it to your imagination.

The only thing that I have added to the house is the little Merry Christmas sign that sits on the roof ledge. I think that someday I will make a teency-weency miniature little quilt to throw over the sofa and that will be my contribution for my time with this house. I tell Sydney about my special little house when she'll listen, and as she gets older, I'll have her help me put it out every year as I tell her the story of her Great Grandmother Esta that she never met, Esta's friend Elizabeth and Elizabeth's Grandmother who was the original owner. This is my part in this very long tradition, that I hope someday Sydney will have and make her own tradition.

Thanks for letting me share my little house!


BrendaLou said...

The first Christmas I witnessed at your Dad's house this little house sat on the buffet....the same buffet that now sits in MY dining room. We're the 3rd generation to sit around the dining room table and since I didn't inherit the little house we put the Nativity Scene my mother made for us. Maybe someday another generation will use the dining set, Nativity Scene and little house.

April said...

Wow, what an amazing folk art piece Liz! Not only is it worth a lot sentimentally but I bet it's worth a bit monetarily as well! Folk art is very popular now. Our house was built in 1875 and looks just like this house except that the front door is in the middle with two windows on either side. Thanks so much for sharing!

TnT said...

i love this house. What a family heirloom!

Beka and Jason Haché said...

Ahh, so nice to see Grandma's little christmas house!!! Seeing it at Grandma's every year was definitely a highlight, there really is something magical about that house!!!

Christine Thomas said...

What a beautiful story.

Mama MollyJoy said...

Lovely read, friend! <3

Lara said...

I love this little house! I had no idea it was so old! What a fun piece of family history to share with Syd!

Anonymous said...

OMGosh!! I remember that house! But when she lived in Southern Cali wayyyy back!! wow... I was really little. I asked Aunt Esta about the house every Christmas and she'd tell me the story. I didn't even remember it until I read this! *sniff-sniff* thank you so much for sharing! *Angel