Angelicscalliwags Christmas Traditions # 5: Decking the Halls

For the last two years decorating for Christmas has felt more of a chore than a joy.  What with the cancer and a baby who wouldn’t stop crying day and night, Gary, the older children and I were exhausted.  Last year I remember having got out all the decorations into the living room, and disappearing to my bedroom to cry my eyes out.  Not to be too melodramatic but I was bone tired and terrified that this might be my last Christmas.

I thought I had hidden it fairly well from my children yet when I mentioned this year that we were decorating this Saturday, T11 looked me squarely in the eye and told me gently that he had not really enjoyed decorating the last couple of years.  Although this saddened me, I understood.  Neither had I.  This year, I determined it would be different.  It would have been anyway, simply because B2 no longer is awake all night and does not cry 24 hours a day.  As a result both Gary and I (not to mention the children) are full of the joys of spring and ready for some fun, fun, fun!.  So I got me a plan.  I didn’t even tell Gary about it.


Each year decorating day includes mince pies and Christmas music.  This year I took it a little further.  I wanted to make sure we were all in the Christmas spirit and that some of the fun of the previous years returned.  Whilst Gary and the other children were collecting T11 from his Saturday physics lesson I got to work, setting out a table with some beautiful flowers and candles:

Some Christmas cookies:


This year’s Christmas decorations:


And some hot chocolate with marshmallows:


When they returned I said nothing but allowed them to find it on their own accord:


C11 was immediately on the case pouring everyone’s hot chocolate:


C11 was very excited to be opening her little bag
C11 was very excited to be opening her little bag
And there was much ceremony whilst they all read out their individual scroll
And there was much ceremony whilst they all read out their individual scrolls

Someone asked whether I would be willing to share the scripture we chose. T11’s was from Jeremiah 29 –  ‘For I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not evil; plans to give you hope and a future’ The older girls were given the whole of Proverbs 31 and also a separate scroll with verse 25 –  ‘She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future’. My little ones were given Mark 10 – ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’:

Much fun was had as we made a quick job of demolishing all the food:

My gorgeous husband and equally lovely daughter
My gorgeous husband and equally lovely daughter
Much hilarity!
Much hilarity!
That went on and on...
That went on and on…

This had been just what was required to get us all into the spirit of Christmas and soon we were ready to deck our halls…..

Gary and T11 wrapped all the lights around the tree and then we let all five children decorate it:

This was B2's first time helping and she LOVED it!
This was B2’s first time helping and she LOVED it!
So beautiful, and happy
So beautiful, and happy
My other gorgeous little girl
My other gorgeous little girl
Sitting down on the job!
Sitting down on the job!
How blessed am I?
How blessed am I?

And here is the finished tree:

Didn't they do well?
Didn’t they do well?

It was decided by all that there was something missing from the tree – edible decorations, so Gary, being the great father he is, took the four girls to choose some whilst T11 and I finished up the decorating.  I enjoy my son’s company immensely and we had such a lovely, relaxed time, chatting and decorating.  I did the mantle piece:





I put up our advent calendar, which L11 had filled with little slips of paper retelling the advent story:


And our wreath:


And finally I placed our Christmas book basket under the tree:


T11 concentrated on the Manger scene.  Gary and I bought this 15 years ago for the first Christmas we had together in our flat.  It is still the nicest I have ever seen and the detail on each figure is incredible.  T11 really enjoys this part of Christmas preparations, and takes a great deal of trouble to get it just so:

We made a platform of wool and hessian and then T11 started to unpack and play around with the arrangement
We made a platform of wool and hessian and then T11 started to unpack and play around with the arrangement
He even worked on lighting, to ensure that the spotlight lit just the right area of the nativity
He even worked on lighting, to ensure that the spotlight lit just the right area of the nativity

And here is the final scene:


On each figurine a scene pertaining to the story of that character is carved and painted onto his dress:

Joseph with a picture of he and Mary travelling to Bethlehem
Joseph with a picture of he and Mary travelling to Bethlehem
The shepherd with the angel painted on his robe
The shepherd with the angel painted on his robe
And the three wise men, with scenes from their journey
And the three wise men, with scenes from their journey

The attention to detail is stunning and I always feel such joy when we take them out of their boxes.

I’m feeling incredibly blessed this Christmas, to be healthy and surrounded by people I love.  What more could a girl want?


  1. I’m so happy that you’re having a much better (and healthier) advent season. Wishing you continued joy and contentment.

  2. As one who has walked a similar road with that ‘C’ word… I so understood what you were trying to convey. I think that you did a smashing job of driving the memories from before right out the front door… it remains a task that does crop up every now and then… it has been 15 years for me. But I can tell you have wrung its neck… 😉 Beautiful my friend… loved this post. x

      1. We are moving cross country to a different province ONE week before Christmas…. a little bit of insanity if you ask me… but it shall be my first Christmas in three years WITH my gorgeous husband and THAT is the very best gift ever… so just the three of us… one week into our new home (possibly) surrounded by boxes. As long as our Christmas Tree is up and I can find the kettle… all should be just fine! 😉

      2. You think?! Just a little bit insane? I think you might be understating your case a little!! If you were nearer I’d offer to come help you pack. Instead, I shall send you prayers over the land and seas for a swift and easy move in that one week before Christmas….are you nuts?!!
        That said, I’d rather have a Christmas with Gary and my children and absolutely nothing at all, than have much but be without my family. I wish you the bestest and most special-est Christmas ever! (spell check is not liking my vocab tonight!!)

  3. Your nativity scene is wonderful! It sounds like you did a great job getting into the Christmas spirit, and you’ve made me determined to do my decorating today. I hope you have a peaceful and happy Advent 🙂

  4. What a beautiful storyteller you are. And what a beautiful story, too. I know that I have been blessed this past year as I have gotten to know you better. I love your honesty and the fact that sometimes it is hard to bring the beauty into the lives of our children. I am so happy that you are feeling better and that your little one is now sleeping! I know how that feels because Katie had terrible reflux as a baby and did not sleep either. Fortunately for me, she was my first, so I could dedicate all my time to her. I wish for all of you the joy and peace this season brings, my friend.

    1. Thank you Phyllis. That’s such a lovely and encouraging message to leave. And you are right. Sometimes we can’t always be the mummy we want to be. Sometimes simply trying hard has to be enough.

  5. You are a blessing, Claire. I am so happy that you had a wonderful time preparing for Christmas with your family and that you are feeling better. All your decorations are lovely. The little scrolls for the children were so touching. I am sure they will treasure the verses you have chosen just for them. There is no greater gift to share than what the Lord has given to us.
    Love all the happy faces around the tree. Your nativity set is beautiful. It looks very much like Jim Shore.
    Enjoy your day. I pray you will have a blessed season full of much joy and happiness.

    1. I’ll have to check the make of the nativity set. I’m not sure.
      The verses, in particular the girls, were chosen because we will be starting a study on Proverbs 31 next year. I love it, it’s so inspiring!
      Have you decorated yet? – or do you wait a while to recover from Thanksgiving?

      1. We have recovered and the decorations are up and everywhere. It seems Christmas is approaching too quickly this year.
        I, too, love Proverbs 31. I did a private devotional study this year. My girls’ Sunday School teachers did a several-week study at church, but we will be doing one here, too. Something I learned while studying, Proverbs 31 is just as important for boys as for girls. They will be waiting for that Proverbs 31 lady to be their wife one day. I think it will make a great study for my husband and son to do one day together.

      2. It’s funny, we’ll be using Polished Cornerstones next year and I was thinking about including T11 maybe a little bit. Although he does have Plants Grown Up to work his way through, so we’ll see.

    1. I’ve enjoyed sharing. It’s really nice to be able to see it in pictures. I’m naff at organising photos in albums, but this seems to be a fairly painless way of keeping tabs on our memories!

  6. I am so drawn into your descriptions. So lovely that you have started fresh again and I am so happy you are well enough to do so. Your family is stunning and so joyful. Happy Advent!

  7. Such a beautiful post. I’ll be praying for your 2 year check up, I know those are super important.

    There really are times it’s hard to have the right spirit. I’ve been struggling with that lately with everything going on here, and it’s been good to read others preparing, and your posts have been so encouraging for me. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. Once again, your family warms my heart – it makes me genuinely happy to read about what a wonderful and lovely time you had preparing for Christmas with your family (just as it was heartbreaking to read about your difficulties you experienced and felt last year). Blessings to all of you.

  9. i don’t think there are words in the english language to describe how much love, joy and pride i feel for you all reading this. and a wee bit of loving jealousy lol. big hugs to everyone.

    1. I just love seeing your name on a comment!! I’m sure you have been making special memories with your family in your gorgeous home. I’m still trying to figure out how to make my home look more like yours. Perhaps you need to come over and be my interior designer….

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