Tag Archives | Christmas

On Taking Down the Tree

Taking down the Christmas tree is always bittersweet, isn’t it?  There’s a part of me that wants to unpack from our travels, clear out the clutter, purge the unnecessary, and get back into our “routine” as soon as possible.  That same routine I couldn’t wait to depart from just weeks ago.  Ironic, right?

But as soon as I start undressing the tree, removing each ornament, I’m overcome with a desire to savor, to treasure, and to remember.

I start with the simple ball ornaments.  They’re easy to find and easy to remove.  Most of mine are shatterproof, too.  They get tossed into a big plastic box that was labeled “ornements, ornements, ornements, Merry Christmas!” by an enthusiastic 7 year old.  Sometimes when I’m setting up the tree in late November, surrounded by flailing overly-excited children, I think I will leave it only with these.  They look pretty and bright. Easy to put on, easy to remove and pack away.  That would be much easier wouldn’t it?

taking down the tree 3

But I always continue.  The next layer for me are breakable ball ornaments.  I bought these because I like the color and I love how they shine.  They are more fragile, so I had hung them myself, a little higher.  This year, as I’m gently removing them one by one, my thumb goes right through one.  Just a tiny cut, no blood, and little thin shards of glass everywhere that are almost impossible to find.  Now an empty spot in the box that will remain.  I already know what it will remind of next year- the pain of an impending loss in our family.  My grandma whom we dearly love, awaiting her last breath in a hospital in another state.  That pain is much worse than my thumb and I feel the tears burn my eyes.

taking down the tree 2

The next layer of ornaments I can’t really fit into a category because they are all so different.  Every one has a memory and a meaning-  we have so many by now and we’ve only been married 11 years.  Many were given to us, some bought as souvenirs of travels or markers of big events in our lives.  “Baby’s First Christmas.”  “Our First Home.”  A framed ultrasound from 2009.  A blown glass New York City taxi.  Many were from Paul’s aunt and uncle as he was growing up, one for each year. His uncle passed away just two years ago, but his aunt continues the tradition now, one for each of the kids.   They will have their own collection of ornaments when they’re grown.  Some have their own boxes that must be carefully wrapped and returned.  Taking these down is the sweet and careful work of re-wrapping and remembering.

taking down the tree

Then there are the hand made ornaments: the pictures, the snowflakes, the preschool photos, the hot-glued reindeer.  Back when it was November, I was wondering did we really need this many?  I was in a rush to get a jump on the holiday season, get my house ready for the friends we would host, prettied up for the pictures we would take.  I just wanted to get it just right so I could enjoy it all and take it all in.  We take these down in a bit of a rush too, ready to be finished with this chore by now.  They go into a bag, stacked on top of everything else.

We remove the garland and lights, our hands pricked by the dry branches.  The once feathery cypress is now brittle and cracking, leaving evidence of Christmas past all over the floor.  I reach both hands in to steady the top while Paul unscrews the base and the fresh evergreen scent is unexpected and overwhelming.  It still smells like it did when we first put it up, even if it doesn’t feel it or look it anymore.

Now is the slow work that doesn’t end with a pretty picture.  There is no reward of cozy lights.  Only a pile of needles that blend with the toys as I reflect on the year.

taking down the tree 4

There has been simple beauty, for beauty’s sake.  There has been fragility, pain.  Maybe even a “shattering” or two.  There has been great joy and meaning.  Fulfillment and celebration.

And now, as I vacuum up the remnants of the once lucent tree, I know that there is also hope.  Because isn’t that what the New Year is for?  One of my favorite songs says about the New Year that it’s “another chance to catch a glimpse of what is coming true.”  Because He’s making all things new.  He’s already with us… Immanuel.  Its what we’ve celebrated and now cleaned up and put away.

And now, Lord, make us new.

Happy New Year.



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Merry Christmas from The House of Figs

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, from our family to yours…

In lieu of Christmas cards this year, Paul made a fun video of our tree cutting and decorating… be sure to watch all the way to the end.  Those crazy kids were so hyped up on Christmas cheer and at that point, I told them to take it outside, haha!

The other videos he’s made for this site can be found here.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

xoxo Bethany

Merry Christmas // The House of Figs

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Last Minute Gift Ideas

Do you have all your Christmas shopping done?  I’m pretty much finished, just have a little more wrapping to do.  I thought I’d share a few last minute gift ideas though in case you’ve got a few more people on your list to buy for!

For the creative in your life:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic

This one is on my Christmas list, so I haven’t read it yet but I’ve been hearing good things about it from several different sources.  I’m excited to read and share more but the tagline already has me hooked: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

For the kids in your life:

The Book with No Pictures

The Book with No Pictures

I bought this for my kids this year after reading it in the store and laughing out loud.  They still love being read to and I know they’re going to think its hysterical.

Ella Bella Ballerina

Ella Bella Ballerina

We have several of the books from this series and they are just dreamy.  I love the stories just as much as my kids do and the illustrations are beautiful as well.  They’re educational too because Ella Bella always learns the story of a famous ballet (in this case, Cinderella).

For the fashion lover in your life:

HUGG Bracelet

HandUp Global Goods has a couple of beautiful new bracelets including this new Lou-Lou chunky wrap bracelet that comes in black & silver.  All of their products are hand made in Haiti by artisans paid a fair wage.  I LOVE this company!!

Horn Lariat Necklace

Next up, I love this Horn Lariat necklace from Noonday Collection.  Its actually on my Christmas list this year.  Noonday is another company that I absolutely love and if you order today it will arrive by Christmas!  They also have the option for e-gift certificates.  Perfect if you’re just not sure what to get.

Slip-on Women’s Converse

Shoreline ConverseI just bought myself a pair of these and while I do have a pair of the traditional converse, let me tell you these are so much easier.  I love not having to tie them.  Maybe I should have titled this one “For the lazy person in your life.” Ha!  They’re perfect really for anywhere.  They look great with skinny jeans, leggings, my black sweatpants that I wear to the bus stop in the morning that I try to pretend like I didn’t sleep in…

For anyone in your life:

A gift from Compassion’s Gift Catalog

Compassion Gift Catalog

Earlier this season, we got a copy of this catalog in the mail.  I let my kids look through it and they each picked out a few things they wanted to “get” for Christmas.  I was then able to pay for them online and then personalize these cards for my kids that they’ll receive on Christmas morning.  It was so sweet for me to see their faces and glimpses of their hearts while they were picking out what they wanted.  They were each drawn to completely different things.  Compassion is a ministry near to our hearts and I love that its a way we can involve our kids.  I pray that they will always have a tender place in their hearts for others, that they will love God and love others, not just at Christmas, but all the time!

Compassion :: The House of Figs

Its not too late to still order something from their catalog online and then have a card emailed to you to print out and give to someone on Christmas morning!  My mom did this for us last year and it is such an amazing gift to receive.

So what are some of your favorite gifts to give and receive?  I’d love to hear!

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Christmas Tour, Part Two

Last week I shared with you our living room and today I’ve got just a little more to share.  I don’t do much Christmas decor anywhere else, but my big kids like to decorate their rooms a little.  They each have their own small trees and ornaments and we also do a little tree with colorful lights in the playroom.
Christmas Playroom // The House of Figs

After she decorated her little tree, my daughter kept saying, “I want it to be MORE Christmassy!!!” Ha!  I dug around my boxes and came up with what I had.  This seemed to make her happy.

Christmas Girl's Room // The House of Figs

Christmas Tour // The House of Figs

Here’s my oldest son’s room- a tree and some garland with twinkle lights.

Christmas Boy's Room // The House of Figs

One of my favorite decorations we have are paper snowflakes.  The first year I started making them, I stayed up super late on Christmas Eve trying to make an Elf-inspired Christmas morning for my kids.


Ummm, yeah I’m no Buddy the Elf.  I made about eight snowflakes and then went to bed.  But I saved the ones I made, and that winter, my oldest son wanted to learn how to make them too.  Ever since then, he and I have been making more and adding to our collection every year.

Christmas Tour // The House of Figs

Christmas Tour // The House of Figs

I love that these are the cheapest and simplest decorations that I have but they definitely have the biggest impact and were the most fun to make and hang.  Especially on our new black hallway.  There are a million paper snowflake tutorials out there, but we just usually cut willy-nilly and then are surprised when we unfold and see what we made.  There is a little technique in the folding though.  Here’s a great step-by-step tutorial (with pictures!) on how to fold your paper.

Snowflakes // The House of Figs

Thanks so much for stopping by!

To see the first part of the tour, click here.

If you’d like to see my house when its not Christmas time, click here.

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One Room Christmas Tour…

Twas the night before the blog tour and all through the web, I was searching and fretting; it was going to my head.

One Room Christmas Tour

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, “but they’re old, they don’t match, they’re not cute enough to share!”

One Room Christmas Tour

Christmas Decor

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, and I freaked about garlands and flocked trees dancing in my head.

One Room Christmas Home Tour

Away to Instagram I flew like a flash, “why did I enter this contest??” I asked.

Christmas Tour

“I don’t belong, I’m not as good, I need to run back to Target” the thoughts all say.  When what to my wondering eyes should appear?  But a tiny plastic baby nestled in fake plastic hay.

Christmas Home Tour

And then in a twinkling, my doubts disappear.  The decorations are fun and they’re meant to inspire.  But the true inspiration was there all the while.

Christmas Tour

He’s humble, He’s meek; His yoke is easy to bear. He invites me to rest and be at peace with him there.

I so often turn Him down for what I think will fulfill. But tonight, for now, I just need to be still.

Christmas Home Tour

True joy is in Him, and in my darkness, He is the Light.

So, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

One Room Christmas Home Tour

See the rest of my Christmas home here.

If you’re here from My Blessed Life, welcome, and thanks so much for stopping by.  I don’t always write in rhyme, I promise, haha! Next up on the tour is Decor Chick.  You’ll definitely want to check out her beautiful home.

You can find the entire list of links to all the rooms and talented bloggers at Just a Girl Blog.  I am so very honored and crazy excited to have been chosen from my Instagram picture to participate in this tour among all these fantastic and talented bloggers, many of whom have been inspiring me for years.  xoxo- Bethany

Christmas Room 1

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A Few Things…

First of all, thank you so much for all of you who have celebrated with me this week over the Design Mom feature!  I shared it yesterday on my Facebook page and Instagram but I wanted to mention it here as well.  Some of you are new here because of that feature and some of you may have no idea what I’m talking about…

Our home was recently featured here and I share about my philosophy on living with kids, creativity, and my job as a decorator.  Gabrielle Blair, aka Design Mom, was so kind through the whole process and y’all she is absolutely the real deal.  I’ve been following her blog so closely since I submitted my pictures for a possible feature and I have to say I’m learning a lot from her about this whole blogging thing.  She posts so regularly and I don’t even know how she does it, but she also posts so authentically and personally.  Even though she didn’t have to, I felt like she spent time reading my blog and getting to know us before featuring my home.  Anyway, the whole thing was just one big gigantic happy exciting thing.  I’d love for you to check it out- you may have seen all the pictures here before but the words I shared may be a little something different.Design Mom // The House of Figs

Next, I just wanted to briefly mention Christmas decorating! I’ll be a part of a Christmas homes tour next week that I’m very excited about so I’m saving the “glamour shots,” for that day, but I did want to share a little glimpse with you and show you one of my favorite traditions we have.


I grew up doing a weekly Advent wreath with my family and this is a tradition Paul and I have decided to continue with our own kids.  Throughout the years we’ve tried a few different things, including some short daily devotions beginning Dec 1st, but honestly those are hard for us to keep up with.  This year I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to do when a Facebook friend posted a link to this weekly Advent devotional.  Its so simple and perfect for the ages of my kids (2, 5, & 7).  There are additional activities for during the week but I think we’ll mostly be sticking to the Sunday evening devotionals.  We already had the wreath and I just set it on the table along with some candles stuck into glass candle holders.  While the candles aren’t the traditional colors, its what we already had, so I think it will work just fine.


 Lastly, I’ve said it before, but I’m just not a big seasonal decorator.  I like to design a room well and then just leave it alone.  I don’t like to rearrange or tweak very much and I know this makes me a bit of an oddity among home-decor loving people.  But I do have to say, as far as Christmas decor goes, I think the reason is just that it stresses me out a bit.  I end up sort of feeling like I’m only doing it for the sake of other people or to create this elusive magical feeling. I find I’m more overwhelmed than joyful and more focused on all the stuff than on anything that actually matters.  A little like my new hilarious friend Gayle. Have you seen this yet?

We have been quoting and laughing about Gayle for days around here.  I mean, she’s just hilarious.  But of course the reason it’s so funny is that there’s a little piece of it that I can relate to.  This is my first Christmas having this blog and being on Instagram.  So while I am doing the usual decorating and I’ve pulled out the twinkling lights and added in a few new ornaments for the year, I want you to know that I’m doing everything I can to stay true to what I came here to do- for both beauty & purpose.  I’m taking part in this big Christmas tour of homes next week and I’m so very honored to be joining in with some blogs I absolutely love and admire and have looked up to for a long time, but I’m approaching cautiously and tenderly.  I do feel the pull toward crazy-Gayle-ness sometimes.  I feel the pull toward “I’m going to be in a big blogger tour so I need to show everyone a perfectly decorated Disney on Ice home tour!!!!”   But then I remember that you come here for a reason and I never intend to take that lightly.  I want to share with you my home and our traditions and maybe even a few ideas, but I never want to lose sight of the purpose.

Thank you so much for reading.  Hope you’re having a great week!

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