When I was a little girl we lived on the desert. I had never seen snow. It was just something I read about in books or saw in movies; so Christmas didn’t mean snow to me. It got chilly, but there wasn’t any snow, not even any rain. Most of our trees resembled Charlie Brown’s tree. The variety that came to us from some magical land that was a mystery to me was sparse and small, but different from anything you could find in the desert so they were always beautiful to me and had a wondrous smell. Decorations were sparse as well; a few glass balls, some garlands and lots of tinsel. I love tinsel to this day, though it is not much in fashion any more.

My mother had a way of making things feel festive, even without a lush tree. One of things she liked to do was to take a drive into the desert to places she was familiar with where she would gather what she called ‘devil’s claws’; which were seed pods of a weed I don’t have a name for. When the seed pods would dry they would split at the tip and curl upward; two curls with sharp tips. The end that broke off the from the weed would also curl a little and they did look a little like a claw. She would take these dry seed pods and spray them with gold or silver paint and they would become shiny birds perched on the shelf.

Thistles could also be sprayed and used for decorations. Sometimes she would come across a pine cone or two and they would also be sprayed gold or silver. With all the gold and silver spread here and there, our house would take on a bright and cheery atmosphere. And it was so much fun to help her gather the materials and turn them into decorations. With the Christmas tree all lit up and all the ornaments reflecting the colored lights, and the shelves sparkling with silver and gold, our house was always full of the sparkle and glitz of Christmas.

I love all the decorations at Christmas but I think making them yourself, gathering materials to use to brighten your home, filling it with things you worked on yourself makes it all feel so personal and satisfying. Store bought is okay; I love walking through the Christmas section in the stores, but putting it all together in your own unique way; adding little touches here and there makes it all seem so much warmer, brings it all to life somehow and makes for happy memories.

I hope your Christmas is warm and lovely and full of joy.

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