A House Adorned for the Holidays

A lady I didn't know stood in my house and asked me, “Do you mind if I give you a helpful hint?” 

Somehow I was sure that I probably would mind. I was also quite sure that whatever she was about to say wouldn't be all that helpful. 

Her comment came a few years ago when I agreed to host my house as part of my historic neighborhood’s annual holiday tour. 

Although my house wasn’t historic, it was built in the style of a 1920s bungalow, with arched doorways, hardwood floors and a big front porch. Tour organizers wanted to show how a new house could still look old and settled, and they wanted some holiday cheer in every room. I wasn't sure I was up to the task but I agreed to do it since the tour raised funds for improvements to our neighborhood.

While it was still summer, I started shopping for holiday décor. 

I studied decorating magazines for ideas. 

Before it was even Halloween, I started decking the halls. 

It was a huge undertaking to adorn every room inside the house, swag both of my porches, and have my landscaping not look dead the weekend of the tour. 

I hung wreaths on mirrors, lit dozens of candles, adorned tiny trees on tables, and was still tweaking and rearranging right up to the last minute. 

I had more than 500 tour-goers parade through my house the weekend of the tour. Many were complimentary but what I remember most was the lady who was intent on giving me some decorating advice with her helpful hint. 

“Next time,” she said, pointing to a cord from my lamp that was dangling behind a table and trailing along the baseboard. “Use a cord cover. It looks so much better and gives everything a finishing touch.” 

As I stared at her, she added, “But you have a lovely home.” 

Her last comment was lost on me because all I heard was her critique. That she might have kept to herself. Or shared with her friend after she left my house. 

But her comment got me thinking. 

Of the incredible power words have to uplift or deflate. 

Of how many times I feel compelled to share a comment that would have been better left unsaid. 

Of how often I feel the need to show my superiority or share what I feel is my expert knowledge, oblivious to the effect it will have on someone else’s feelings. Of the conversations when I need to listen to the nudge to pause instead of rushing ahead to say something I think is witty or catty.  

This weekend, I'll be heading back to my old neighborhood to tour this year's homes decked out for the holidays. 

I'll see some old friends and neighbors. 

I'll get to peek inside a few secret gardens and I'll poke around the houses of the brave souls who put their homes on display. 

I'll ooh and ahh over their homes and wish I'd thought of some of their clever styling tactics. 

I'll gush and admire and compliment. I might even steal a dazzling idea or two. And I'll be sure to tell them. 

I now realize the monumental work involved to have the homes show-ready. Although every home won't be decorated to my style, our shared experience gives me a new appreciation of their decorating endeavors and their willingness to share their homes during the holidays. 

Now, that’s a helpful hint I could really use all year round.


  1. I absolutely love how you decorated your mantel -- so beautiful! I love the idea of sharing the positive instead of focusing on offering advice or critique. I will try to remember that this year :) Looks like I already have my New Year's resolution!

    1. Mantels offer so many fun options for decorating! I love to change mine every now and again.

  2. Your artistry in writing speaks for itself...but have you ever considered a career in photography?? Seriously!

    1. Thanks -- but I'm still very much the novice with taking photographs! :)

  3. Very festive and beautiful - so cheery for the holidays! All your pictures are so bright and cheery - a lovely place to live!!! You're right - words are powerful....and how we choose to use them says alot about us and our relationship with God. Another great article!!! Seeing the ice skates reminds me of your article on skating!

    1. One pair of skates belonged to my Aunt Terri and the other ones were my first pair as a teenager!

  4. Your writing perfectly describes your experience! You craft a story wonderfully.
    I agree with the other post, your photography is always so p,easing to the eye.

  5. Beautiful story and beautiful pictures. I wish I had your decorating style!

    1. You are well on your way with your own artful sense of style! Remember, I have about a 20-year advantage on you!! :)

  6. I love your fireplace decorations with the skates! JoJo would certainly approve! :)


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