Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas at My Old Historic House

Then 1845 Historic Elgin/Cottrell House, aka, My Old Historic House.

My Niece Linda adds a bow to the white pine garland that we made. We gathered the pine  and I gave the girls a lesson in garland making. We used no electric lights in our decorations.

        I'm hoping to take you on a trip back in time, when Christmas was a rather new word. A time when the world was a much simpler place. A time when Children couldn't sleep at night, waiting for a simple treat, like an orange or a stick or two of peppermint,When children were very good and waited all year for a penny and a bright new toy. A doll that cost $1.50 and  a wind up truck that cost a few cents. A time when families would travel for days to visit and stay for weeks.A time when people snuggled under goose down comforters and wore nap caps to bed ,to keep them warm.

The 11 foot Christmas Tree in the Down River Parlor.Hand made paper ornaments and garlands of Ribbon Roses. Antique hand blown ornaments.No electric lights. 

   In 1845 America,when My Old Historic House was started, very few people knew any thing about the celebration that we call Christmas. There were no Christmas trees or Santa Claus. In 1860, when an addition was added to, My Old Historic House, Christmas and Santa had made it's way to America. The Christmas traditions were started in Germany and England. Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, actually brought the Christmas Tree to England from Germany. When pictures of this tree were published, the tradition traveled to America. Very few people had store bought decorations. Most trees were ever greens that were cut from the woods. Decorations were mainly hand made. The Christmas card is a 19th century invention. Santa Clause was originally a religious figure, St. Nick.  When the little children book, "The Night Before Christmas", was published, this made Santa ,a house hold name. We Americans gave him the name of Santa Claus and invented his traditional look.

Trees made from Gum Drops  , ginger bread men and Cranberry pie.

A ginger bread house and a cookie tree. 

Gum Drop garland  made by lacing a florist wire through  the gum drops and they were hot glued to the cake plate.

   Store bought Christmas Tree ornaments are a 19th century thing. They were at first all made in Germany. Hand blown from glass into metal molds and decorated by hand. These were made in a cottage industry, and were soon being shipped all over the world.Electric  lights were not  used on Christmas trees till the 20th century. Most homes did not have them  till the middle of that century. Candles were often used to light the Christmas Tree. This was very dangerous and they were only lite for a few minutes. Most homes kept a bucket of water close by, just in case of a fire. The traditional home would decorate the tree on Christmas Eve , after the children had gone to bed.What a surprise when the woke  on Christmas morning.
    The first Christmas Trees in the American White House were not placed there until around 1921. Christmas was made a national holiday in the in 1899.The date of December 25 was settled on at that time. The original Christmas meaning was to mark the Birth of the Christ Child. This is often over looked in  world today.The Christmas present was to represent the gifts that the three Kings brought to the Christ Child. The Christmas Carol in Europe is many centuries old, but in America, it is mostly a 19th century inventions.

Hand made ribbon roses were linked together to form a garland.

Paper Victorian Scrap ornaments.

   Oh my how Christmas has changed. Today there is Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Trees are up before Halloween, people go into debt and Children get things that cost  as much as some people have to live on.Bright, flashing lights are everywhere. Some displays are  so over the top, that ,"Christmas Toxin." is the way I can describe it. I guess all this is progress. But some how I long for the simpleness of the pass. I hope you all will stop and think about the Real meaning of this season. Take time to be thankful for what  and who you have. Keep in mind, those who will do without and maybe be a little generous with the giving in that department.
   I am showing you today the Christmas decorations at, My Old Historic House. There is no flashing or twinkling lights.There is a 11 foot tree, loaded with hand made paper ornaments, ribbon rose garlands and some of those first, hand blown glass ornaments that made there way to America about the same time the house was built. I had my sweet Nieces and one Great Niece come and help. They chose to get dresses up in there Ante-Bellum Christmas gowns for the occasion.  We had fun decorating the tree, making ginger bread men and houses.I had ribbon candy, orange slices, pecan pie, fruit cake and plum pudding , for treats. The dining room table was a feast to a little girls eyes. There were Christmas trees made from Gum Drops and goodies to eat. Candles were lite all over the house and we all stood back and admired our creations.

My two nieces, Linda and Elizabeth and Elizabeth's daughter Patricia.

She looks like a little girl from a former time. 

My Great Niece Patricia adds decorations to the tree.

   I sure wish you all could come and visit, My Old Historic House , for a Christmas Tour. I know this is a busy time and we all live far apart, but I'll take you on a tour  today, by the 20th century invention, the computer.
    Come anytime,I will leave the lights on and Sissy Dog will always meet you with a big jump and a big kiss. I hope you all are having a wonderful  Christmas Holiday Season and you surely are thankful for what you have. I know I am. Christmas Love to each and every one of you!! Richard


The Down River Parlor with a fire in the fireplace and all the candles aglow. 

The Up River Parlor with a 20th century feather tree on the center table.

A simple bunch of English Ivy from the garden with a pretty bow .

Hand made ribbon rose garlands, paper scrap ornaments, clip on candles , feathered butterflies and antique hand blown glass ornaments decorate the great tree in the Down River Parlor.



Akissfromthepast said...

how LOVELY! i love that chandelier and rococo couple in front of your fireplace! and christmas tree!!! wonderful! i can almost hear the nutcracker ballet in my ears...

Charlotte Wilson said...

Hi Richard,

I have to agree with you about the toxicity of our present holiday. I use the word "holiday" with a bit of sarcasm. People seem to be afraid of Jesus and the reason for the season.
And it has become so gaudy. I like the simplicity of your decor, although it can't exactly be called simple. Elegant is the word. And no bright lights...just the softness of candles. Very pretty.
Your nieces and great neice are gorgeous and add to the charm.

A very merry Christmas to you, my friend!


Ann said...

How splendid is the decorations and tree. What a beautiful tradition of decorating according to the times. I always try to say "Merry Christmas" and NOT happy holidays where ever I go during the holdiays. I read an article about a town in Calif., where a group of athiests has successfully stopped an 18-booth outside Christmas display for the town. Its like a 40 year tradition, what a tragedy for us all.

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

We both enjoyed this so much Richard. Your Christmas home is absolutely beautiful!

Merry Christmas!

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

I just came back to tell you how much I loved seeing your post about ME and your feature in her magazine! Absolutely delightful!

Curtains in My Tree said...

Breath taking my dear just breath taking you win the prize for the most beautiful house on the web and really any house I know of

I love the Down River Parlor

Your great niece is so proud to have you for an Uncle I am sure. she can brag Thats's my uncle Richard's house , the mansion on the river

I knew it would be out of this world gorgeous.

I am so hungy for a piece of that cranberry pie or I could eat all of those gun drops right now , surely I have lost an ounce LOl(starving for pie) LOL

The outside looks so pretty also. Something is missing? Sissy with a red bow on

until I see you & Sissy again xoxo

The mum of all trades said...

Fabulous! The picture of the parlour lit by candlelight looks like a dream Christmas scene. It must take you a few days to finish decorating, but its worth it for the finished result.

Susan said...

Oh my GOSH, Richard. That was a fabulous post. I LOVED it. Those ribbon roses----oh, so lovely. And the gumdrop trees! So colorful and lovely. Bet they smell nice and cinnamony, too!

Soooooooo fun. Thank you for the tour of your most magnificent house. Susan

Lavender and Linen said...

Everything is so beautiful! What a beautiful, charming home!

Pearl said...

Now that's one magical Christmas!! The girls are lovely and such beautiful pictures. Wish I could be there to see in person. I have to say Richard that is the prettiest Christmas decorated house I've ever seen. I long for the old ways too. Merry Merry to you also. Pearl


Oh Richard my friend, this is stunning all over the place, wow!! Every vignette, trees and the lovely nieces, just perfection! The young girl looks like some one out of a period movie! The chandalier by the fire place is amazing, it looks like it's ready for a stage production, just magical my darling. Merry, merry Christmas to you and Sissy. Love,


Oh, I forgot...what about all the yumminess, wow! Love, FABBY

Shelia said...

Hi Richard! Oh, your tree is so pretty and I love the olden ornaments! Your home is just the most gorgeous! You have the prettiest things and your knowledge of olden times is just amazing!
What pretty ladies you have in your family! I'm sure your little great niece loved putting some ornaments on that tree! :)
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Megan @ Restoring the Roost said...

Wow!! How wonderful and beautiful a Victorian Christmas is in your historic home! I too long for the simpler Christmas celebrations of the past, when people had fewer distractions and could focus more on the true meaning of the season! Christmas really transitioned in the mid 19th century from a public celebration of revelry to a child and family-oriented Holiday celebrated inside of the home. It's really a fascinating story of how Christmas came to be as it is today in America. It has changed so much. Awesome post!

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...


Breath taking!! The tree is magnificent!! Your ornaments and garland are to die for!!
And the photos are night with the lights on at gorgeous! Drop dead gorgeous!!
If I lived closer , i would be on your door step now, asking politely for a tour of your Old Historic House!!

Debbie said...

Your decorations are so beautiful! You and the nieces did wonderful job.Toxic is the right word-I decided to do simple this year. I once went on a Christmas tour in Carrollton,Ms. There were some wonderful beautifully decorated homes, but my favorite was an old log cabin out in the country.. You could honestly see daylight through cracks in the floor and walls and there was no electricity. It was a dark overcast afternoon and the only light was the fireplace and candles. The tree was a cedar cut from the woods and decorated with homemade ornaments. In the kitchen of this three room cabin was a plate of homemade gingerbread men.I felt such a calm and peace in that little cabin and my heart was full I have never forgotten it. aia wish everyone could have that experience and realize what Christmas should really be about.Kiss Sissy for me and tell her to be good-Santa Paws is coming.

gertie @ The Old Block House said...

So gorgeous! I love the rose garland. I'm going to try my hand at a bit of this, although I know it won't compare to yours. Thank you for sharing. I love your posts.

Debra@CommonGround said...

Hi Richard, love hearing about the history of the Christmas traditions. And I agree, I like to keep things a little more simple! It's really beautiful, love seeing your neices there to help you decorate. thanks so much for linking up to the party!

Bohemian said...

Oh Richard... it is all MAGNIFICENT and your Nieces and Great Niece look Lovely in their period clothing! What a great Post to not only give us a Welcoming Tour of your Old Historic House and the fabulous Styling of this Christmas... but also to tell about the Christmas Story as it has unfolded over time. I remember being so excited as a Child to get Oranges, Uncracked Nuts and home-baked cookies in our Christmas Stockings. I grew up with simple Christmas delights but our Parents always made it seem ultra Special, Magical and impressed upon us the True Reason for the Season... for which I'm grateful and have continued that Tradition so that our Children and Grandchildren fully understand why they are celebrating this Holy Day. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know you had Posted your Christmas at the House... I had been eagerly awaiting it as I knew it would be a visual Delight and so tastefully done!!!

Christmas Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

Pam B said...

Richard, your home and your Christmas decorations are absolutely lovely!

I agree, the commercialism of Christmas today has become obscene. I'm at the point I don't even care to exchange gifts any more because we usually end up trading gift cards...where's the fun of that?

It would be nice if we could (in some ways) go back to a simpler and less materialistic time...


Anyes K. Busby - Studio Vignette Fine Art said...

Wow Richard! I'm almost speechless. I'm up to date with all your amazing posts and you leave me in aw. A true artist.

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

Just do not need blinking lights. Your niece adds so much to the pictures. How fun for you to share the decorating of your home with them.

LANA said...

Oh Richard, your house looks stunning! Believe me, if I lived anywhere near you I would be at your door with cookies right now! (And a doggie treat for Sissy, of course). I so enjoyed your virtual tour and it must be so magical for you to actually live there! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, you seem to me to be such a warm and giving person. I wish you and yours all the best.

Priscilla said...

What precious girls! Oh, I want gumdrops. Those trees are darling.

An Historical Lady said...

Everything looks just gorgeous Richard. We would come for a tour if we could...
We also use no electric lights, and only greens, fruit and candles in our 18th century house in New Hampshire. Although when my children were young we had the tree and all the trimmings, Adam and I now have our own new traditions. We do not have a tree, and we do a lot of holiday events in 18thc. clothing. We try to have as 'commercial free' Christmas as possible, and normally make our gifts.
A wonderful, blessed holiday to you and Sissy,

Sweet Old Vintage said...

Stunning... That chandelier is just beautiful.... I have admired it before... and your homemade paper ornaments are so lovely.... You have really worked hard and now time to enjoy.....

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

How absolutley beautiful! Charming and vintage....lovely! I wish I could tour it in person!

Dreamgoddess said...

Richard, what can I say? Your post was so beautiful and your home is stunning. How I wish I lived close to you so I could tour your home. I love the handmade ornaments and would like to try my hand at making some of them. Your tree is gorgeous and who needs twinkling lights when they have all that soft candlelight?

I was wondering if I could ask a favor...on the top of my blog page is a contact button with my e-mail. Would you please send me an e-mail when you have a moment? I would like to see if you could possibly help me out with a question I have about an antique. I would so very much appreciate it!

Pamela Gordon said...

Richard, your house looks fabulous with it's beautiful trees, decorations and candy goodies. Have a wonderful Christmas! Blessings, Pamela

Olive said...

Richard, your tree is so pretty and you make many true and insightful points in your post.
Merry Christmas ♥ Olive

xinex said...

Your parlor is so beautiful, Richard. I love the Christmas decorations and your nieces are so pretty. Patricia looks like an angel in her pretty outfit. Love the gum drop trees...Christine

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Wow! Your decorations are so very pretty !!!!! I need to go back and take another look. I always enjoy reading your history lessons. Great looking family. The holiday treats look yummy. Not sure I have had cranberry pie but it sounds interesting.

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Me again! I realized I forgot to comment on how beautiful the young ladies are in this post!!

They are gorgeous!!


Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

Thank you for the invitation, Richard! I feel like I have had a lovely tour, and learned some things. Your tree is wonderful, and your evergreens too! So nice that you keep the tradition.

Heirloom treasures said...

Richard Hi. I've just popped over from House in the Roses for a peak of your home,and ooohhh how beautiful. I am so glad I came. It is lovely to hear, and be reminded what the true meaning of Christmas is. Lovely post. Merry Christmas. I am now a follower from Australia. jeanetteann

Heirloom treasures said...

Ps it's Jeanetteann again., I did say I came over here from House in the Roses of which I follow,but it was actually Cabin and Cottage. j

Sissysmom said...

So beautiful! You are truly talented. Thanks for sharing this with us. Give Sissy Dog a pat on the head from me!

My name is Riet said...

What a breathtaking beautiful house you have and I love how you decorated it in the old fashioned way. I agree that Christmas is all business these days. What happened to that old simple dinner and that little gift .
Have a wonderful restfull Christmas season.
Riet, Holland

Veronica said...

Absolutely gorgeous and full of charm and grace. Love your post!

Tassels Twigs and Tastebuds

Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

Beautiful! That tree is gorgeous! And the gum drop I want some! lol So pretty and festive! Happy week!...hugs...Debbie

Historical Ken said...

My gosh! Uncle Richard's House must be the place to go at Christmas time!! Simply beautiful!

Shelia said...

Hi again, Richard! I still marvel at your beautiful home and how you are so willing to share it with others! I know all who walk through your doors are transformed into another time and make wonderful memories!
Thanks for popping in to see me.
be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Rosemary@villabarnes said...

Stunning, of course. I love the subdued candlelight, and I want to take a bite out of your gumdrop tree. lol A very Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Honey at 2805 said...

Everything is so elegant Richard! I adore history and it's a pleasure to visit with you!

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

Hello Richard,
Oh my, I'm so glad you stopped by and introduced yourself!
What a wonderful home you have and the tree is fabulous!
I enjoyed your story telling and I have also shared wee bits of it here and there over the past while on my Christmas blog.
We have come a very long way since Christmas trees first adorned the English castles, haven't we?

Your nieces are darling in their frocks and what a splendid treat for them to join you to decorate the tree and make gingerbread goodies.
I must say, I would love to walk through your lovely home. I adore older homes as they exude so much charm and character.

Thank you for becoming a follower of my humble blog. I am your newest follower too.
Thank you also for joining me for tea today and it's very nice to meet you.

Merry Christmas,

Johanna Gehrlein said...

Hi Richard,

I am from germany and I am really impressed about the shared informations. Your house is breath taking and I love the way you decorated it in the perfect style. Your nieces are a lovely addition and I can imagine how wonderful Christmas will be celebrated in your family. Days, which will ever last in the memories. Have a wonderful Christmas time.
Seaon greetings, Johanna

Stacy Leigh said...

Wow!! Stunning! I love the food of course and the tree is so beautiful! It is like a dream :) Merry Christmas Richard and Sissy xoxo, Stacy

Rhissanna said...

It's so nice too see all your decorations together. The ribbon garland is wonderful and the tree trimmed with the paper decorations and glass ornaments is a marvel Thank you for letting us see how wonderful Christmas was back then,

Heather said...

That is just gorgeous! :)

Snap said...

What a delightful post. Your Old Historic House is stunning. Such wonderful research and what a beautiful family! Happy Tea Day!

Rose ~Victorian Rose ~ said...

Richard...beyond a shadow of a have one of the lovliest Victoraian Homes in the State of Missoui...not that I have seen them all..but gosh you know how to decorate my friend.

Thanks for dropping by my blog.. and is VERY hard to leave a pretty ANTIQUE dolly behind when I see them, but when I look at the price.....I am "over it" as my daughter says.
I can enjoy them via photo's now. just as we are able to ENJOY your OH SO...beautful home.


Usemeplz said...

Wow, I'm impressed!!! This is one of the best styles I've ever seen! Amazing work!

Ann from On Sutton Place said...

Love the gumdrop trees and the ivy on the door. What a magical place at Christmas and pretty fun for Patricia. I'd love to someday make my own garland...maybe after I retire! Happy Holdiays Richard and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year.

Cindy said...

The parlour is lovely, the tree is beautiful the most beautiful I think I have ever seen. Your post has taken me back, not as far back as the wooden stick and one orange and a shiny penny but back in time to a place of excitement. Thank you for sharing your elegant world, the girls are beautiful.
A Merry Christmas, thanks,

red.neck chic said...

Good grief... you just had me transfixed from beginning to end. ALL of it is BEAUTIFUL and I ADORED the Christmas/history in your post!!!

And of course - you're nieces are LOVELY!

;-D robelyn

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

What a wonderful home you have, Richard! Thank you so much for taking me on a tour through your blog. I know it would be even better in person.

Brandi said...

Oh my goodness Richard, where do I begin?! Everything is gorgeous. I love the garland and ribbon outside of your home and your decorations inside are stunning! Thanks for sharing your home for the holidays!

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

How gorgeous, Richard!! The tree is absolutely beautiful. I am enjoying seeing your fabulous home decorated for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Your decorations are stunning. Everything looks so festive and charming. I am still trying to learn how to make ribbon roses, but I tell myself that I'll have a garland by next year.

The gumdrop trees are too cute!

Merry Christmas,

lvroftiques said...

Richard I don't think I've seen a lovlier place for Christmas than your house. The Christmas tree is after all a victorian invention so it doesn't get better than Christmas in a victorian house!
The hubbs and I were just lamenting how magical Christmas used to be when we were young and decorations weren't allowed till the day after Thanksgiving! Then all of a sudden everything turned into a magical Christmas wonderland! We really miss being able to celebrate each holiday individually. Now it's Hallo-thanksgiving-mas!
On the plus side though I heard more people saying "Merry Christmas" this year and far less in the way of "Happy Holidays" Did you notice that too? Which made my heart glad! After all Jesus IS the reason for the Christ-Mass season. *winks* Hugs to you and that sweet Sissy girl. Vanna

Brigitte said...

Trying to catch up on your posts and I am so glad I did.This post is outstanding.What a TREAT !!!
Thank You so very much again and again for sharing your beautiful home,memories and your educational stories.I enjoy your blogs so much.

Anonymous said...

Richard: I adore Victorian and the pictures of your home are fabulous ... especially the whole room ~ it's lovely! Thanks for posting on your blog!!!

Anonymous said...

Richard: I adore Victorian and the pictures of your home are fabulous ... especially the whole room ~ it's lovely! Thanks for posting on your blog!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Richard--
A week or so ago, I saw a photo of your big Christmas tree in a national magazine. Congratulations! It's lovely.

I have a stack of pink ribbon and keep intending to make some rose garlands like yours, but I haven't gotten the hang of it yet. I have watched an online demonstration several times. Well, I guess it takes practice.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and Sissy,