If you've read the blog the past few days, you know our friends are sharing what Christmas means to them. (If you missed Marin's Kentucky Christmas you can read it here and here.) Today, the always beautiful and gracious D'Andra Simmons shares the traditions that make Christmas special year after year with her family. Enjoy her essay and this special time with family and friends.
Christmas Traditions by D’Andra Simmons
Being an only child and only grandchild, has always meant that Christmas was focused a lot on me as the youngest member of the household—how fortunate am I? Even now at 43 years of age, my mother still hangs my Christmas stocking, made painstakingly by my grandmother, Mom Belle. My name is emblazoned on the white stocking in red sequins with the year I was born—1969. Also on it hang little plastic charms (the kind you used to get in a bubble gum machine), from dolls to musical instruments and other handmade items sewn expertly by her. She was Martha Stewart before Martha Stewart was even born. Mom Belle taught me needlepoint, crochet, embroidery, flower arranging, origami, and ceramic birds. Unfortunately, my crafts have ceased and passed with her. My mother hauls my stocking anywhere we are in the world so that I can empty it on Christmas morning. It has been to the Caribbean many times, Europe and Hawaii most often. It is almost as well traveled as Santa himself! To this day, I always leave a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa.
|Left to right: Cookies left out for Santa / Reindeer tracks / D'Andra's original stocking / Inset: A special Santa from a special artist|
Both of my grandmothers and my mom made sure that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were beautiful and special events that were about more than just gift giving. Christmas Eve is traditionally the night we open gifts after attending the evening church service. My other grandmother Mickey was always in charge of the “Christmas Program”, which included reading the Christmas story from the Bible, singing Christmas carols, opening gifts, and eating a casual but delicious meal of hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and wassail. I remember one Christmas Eve at my aunt’s house the jingle of Santa’s sleigh bells were heard and reindeer footprints were found in the yard in an effort to get me to bed so that Santa could come and deliver his gifts. Fearing he would not come back, I ran and jumped into my bed and shut my eyes tightly, thinking that Santa had passed me over that year. It must have worked, because all was okay the next morning when I found that he indeed came back for me!
|Wassail / A P.O.S.H. place setting with Arte Italica and Gold Lace / D'Andra's mother's beautifully decorated home / Inset: Cobalt Blue Murano Medici goblets|
Some of the unique decorations in my mother’s home are her collection of Santa Clauses that were made by a designer that was previously at Disney, and left to branch out on her own. Mom probably has more Santa Clauses tha anyone else in Dallas! So the house is most often Santa themed, which transitions over to the table theme in her home. Tabletop décor at Mom Belle’s always included her beautiful flower arrangements, and most often a very pretty hand embroidered napkin and homemade gift for each of us that was placed in the center of our plate at the table. There were miniature stockings, wreaths, and sleighs. Every woman in my family cooks, including me, so the food and table are always a part of every occasion, and china, crystal and linens are first and foremost in our mind when it comes to preparing for special occasions - and Christmas is the biggest of them all in our house!
I have these lovely cobalt blue and gold Murano Medici glasses that I use during the holiday season because they are festive and beautiful. I collect glasses, colored glass dishes and most uniquely oyster plates (not that we eat a lot of oysters here in Texas, but I just love those darn plates). I have several types and patterns and can create a unique tabletop starting with the glassware and working to create a theme from whichever color and style I choose. I also have a penchant for table linens, especially napkins, and I am always purchasing unique napkins when I travel to take home for my next dinner party. I have several napkins and table runners that I purchased in Africa and Asia that are quite unique and match the décor of my home which is eclectic and worldly.
|D'Andra's mother's entry way / One of many Santa Clauses in their home / Reading the Christmas Story from The Bible|