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It’s nearly Christmas so naturally, we are going camping.

Yes, I know we live in Ontario, home of frosty windows and big, fat snowflakes and other wintery stuff (like -40 antifreeze for the car because we need that, yes, we truly do) but, camping in December is not such a stretch.

We’ve got trees in the forest on our property.

We’ve got a fire pit, around which to toast marshmallows and the like.

We’ve got the super-duper, flannel, camping sheet set and three or twelve duvets (and a partridge in a pear tree.)

Okay, fine.

We’re not camping.

That’s just Practical Man, driving around the lawn on your average Tuesday, towing our vintage Boler travel trailer.

I’m pretty sure the neighbours are whispering about me.  They wouldn’t blame it on Practical Man because they all know him.  I’m the mysterious person who drives up the driveway into the garage and disappears inside (away from The Nature).  He is the guy who is always out in the yard on one tractor or another, or on the roof, or in the forest, or building something or growing something.  Plus, he fixes things for the neighbours, regularly.  People who fix things don’t drive around the lawn on your average Tuesday in December in Ontario, towing their travel trailer, unless they are very sweet and have been put up to it by an annoyingly festive ELF.

Like this one:

me, dressed as an elf, standing beside our Christmas tree

Tra-la-la.

Or, as I like to say at Christmas, when I’m wearing an elf get-up that I made out of a green sweater, some felt, and a pair of socks:

Fa-la-Tra-la-la!

Aren’t you glad you don’t live with me?

(The socks are at my wrists, in case you can’t concentrate, after my costume-making teaser.)

It all began when I joined one of those groups on Facebook–or maybe, I can blame the Facebook algorithm.  You know the algorithm:  it thinks I need bifocals and wrinkle cream.

Evil algorithm.

Yes, let’s blame it.

Anyhoo, I kept seeing pictures from some group foisted on me by the evil, mind-reading algorithm.  Disturbing, provocative pictures–you know the kind–pictures of pretty barns and burlap all swirly-dirly and bells and thing-a-ma-bobs that bring out the inner decorator dictator in me.

Mere minutes scrolling through these groups and I get obsessed with teeny, insignificant details…like angels and angles.

Now that sounded a bit confusing.

That is to say, I’m obsessed with whether the angels on our shelves are at a 45 degree angle to…I’m not sure what.

They looked so good on Pinterest.

There are evil algorithms there, too.

Algorithms and angled angels anon.

(That’s called festive alliteration.)

Lest you think I’m reaching, I’ll have you know that “anon” is the festive word for “and other junk that I feel the need to copy, for reasons that must be based in my primitive, lizard brain because it is un-explainable, even to me, why I would care about this kind of fluff”.

To get back to my point, I was on one of those groups and there were other vintage trailer weirdos like me and well, they don’t live in Ontario.  They live in warm climates where there is still green grass visible on the ground, not to mention palm trees (public service announcement:  it’s very un-Christmassy to blatantly display aka gloat about your palm trees at this time of year to a Canadian).  Then, to add insult to palm-tree injury, they post pictures of their vintage trailers all dicky-doo’d up for the holidays.

I do love a little festooning and such.

So says the evil algorithm.

Insert lizard brain here.

But, I live in Ontario, home of frosty windows and big, fat snowflakes and other wintery stuff (like -40 antifreeze for the car because we need that, yes, we truly do).

Year-round festooning.  What luxury is this?

The luxury is living in San Anbambino or some place where they don’t know what long underwear is–that’s what.

Still, all I see is post after post of cute, vintage trailers with Christmas lights and mistletoe and plaid blankets and stuff.

Sometimes with snow (why oh why doesn’t our snow fall when I have a camera in hand?)

Sometimes without snow (and avec the aforementioned gloat-y palm trees.)

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

Or, as I like to say,

‘Tis the season to be jealous.

At any rate, before I knew it, out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter.

The clatter being due to the fact that I had batted my not-insignificant eyelashes (Rimmel’s Extra Super Lash mascara) and asked Practical Man to hitch up the “sleigh” (aka vintage Boler travel trailer) and move it to a more photogenic location so I could get my festive festooning underway.

On the one day we haven’t had snow in the last 2 months, yessirree.

Practical Man is forever granting my Christmas wishes.  Year round.

But, even he can’t summon the snow where the snow won’t be summoned.

Palm trees, either (although with enough notice, I have no doubt he would have grown something from a pineapple nub he got at the grocery store).

The point is, there I was, in the front of the front yard’s brown-ish grass, throw cushions and wreathes in hand, decorator dictatorship rearing its ugly head.

Cue the whispering neighbours.

green and white boler decorated with red chairs, ,pillows and a vintage metal cooler

My lizard brain was desperate to decorate and I love our tiny Boler but, its figurative chair (or vintage, metal lawn chairs, as the case may be) is never at our Christmas table, on account of it’s always put away for the winter at this time of year.

It’s kind of the Tiny Tim of our yard.

Sob.

But now, joy of joys!  Thanks to Practical Man and my lizard brain, here was my very own Tiny Tim, in the front yard.  So, in the repentant manner of Ebenezer Scrooge, I got busy with the festive festooning while also reflecting on the 2016 ghosts of past, present, and future.

  • Practical Man had a near record maple syrup crop in the Spring.
  • I learned more songs on the guitar from musicians too-soon taken.
  • We met new friends who joined us as I twirled my way through our first Bolerama.  And, Practical Man survived!
  • We shared wonderful memories (and mosquitoes) with family and friends in the summer.
  • We worried about people fleeing violence around the world and here.
  • We cried for Practical Man’s Mutti, who died in October.  She will be cried about for some long time to come.
  • I made a snowman, tobogganned and shovelled snow with some English sweeties, before Winter was really due.
  • We are trying to be advocates and people of hope in the wake of an earthquake-y election, even though it wasn’t ours.

I feel so lucky to have a small, safe place like a Boler.

It’s a little nest.  A place to curl up and take a nap or maybe just stare around the inside or pretend you’re Laurie Partridge for a while (because when you’re a Boler geek like I am, that’s a fun afternoon).

Of course, the Boler is not my only blessing or refuge, by a long shot.  I am sheltered and fed and loved and safe.

Occasionally, I have useful eyelashes.

I am so, so lucky.

I hope you all are, too.

Except for the evil algorithm.

Sorry.

That was my lizard brain again.

A Very Merry Christmas and Happy Everything from our house to yours.

Green and white Boler travel trailer decorated for Christmas, with 2 red chairs in front, a vintage, plaid cooler, red wreath, bell wreath and "Santa, I can explain" sign.

 



vintage bulb reflectorsDie Hard is Practical Man’s favourite Christmas movie.

Fa-la-Tra-la-la!

Maybe you didn’t know that Die Hard—the Bruce Willis/Alan Rickman shoot-em-up extravaganza—was even considered to be a Christmas movie.

Oh ye of little festive imagination.

We have a broad definition of “Christmas movies” at our house, partly on account of the fact that one of my favourite things to do during the Christmas holiday break that I’m lucky enough to have, is to lie around all day wearing my PJs.

ALLLLL Day.

Wearing PJs, as I mentioned.

Preferably brand new, cozy PJs that Santa has brought me because I’ve been SO good all year!

Or, maybe, because they were On Sale (Santa is a bit of a coupon clipper) and he knew they would make me happy and cozy for a week of lolly-gagging around.

Yes, that’s it.

When it comes to Christmas—as in many things—I don’t act my age.  Give me some stickers and some gold, coin-shaped chocolates in the toe of my stocking and I’m four years old again.

Many four year olds get new PJs for Christmas, you may have observed.

Fa-la-Tra-la-la!

Ah yes, it’s days and days of PJs and Turtle chocolates for breakfast (and maybe some Toblerone triangles and Christmas movies like:

  • Elf (I love it, even though it has Will Farrell).
  • The Holiday (makes me homesick for England and old movies).
  • Love, Actually (possibly the best Christmas movie of all time, except for Die Hard, of course!)

Oh, I know I should be all Joy to the World and Peace on Earth about the festive season and the prospect of getting together with family and friends.  I do love all the “goodwill towards men” (and women) stuff but if I’m honest, at the twilight of each year, it’s kind of more about the PJs.

Who says we can’t have good will towards men (and women) and PJs?

And, good will toward movies like:

And, I can’t forget that whole extravaganza that is:  Chocolate For Breakfast (totally legal)!

It’s a Christmas thing.

Maybe you haven’t heard about it, but I BELIEVE.

At this time of year, that counts for something.

Haven’t you seen It’s a Wonderful Life?

But, with limited number of days available for such indulgent loafing about, I have a hard time deciding.  Should I watch:

Then again, why choose favourites?  Someone always feels left out, like:

  • A Muppet Christmas Carol (Muppets are awesome but I’m not a Dickens fan).
  • Mickey’s Christmas Carol (Mickey’s voice bugs me and I’m not a Dickens fan).
  • A Christmas Carol (the scratchy, slightly sinister Alistair Sims version that my dad liked to try to make us watch every Christmas eve and I did it sometimes, because I love him, but, really, I’m not a Dickens fan).

Yes, with only The Twelve Days of Sloth at my disposal and the requisite social events sprinkled throughout, it’s sometimes hard to choose which movies will grace this year’s Christmas season.

I feel the same way about Christmas socks.  If I choose the red and white stripe-y ones, the green and red stripe-y ones might feel left out.   Try as I might, I just can’t quite reach the level of equal opportunity movie watcher and tacky Christmas sock wearer.

As they say in that not-Christmas, famous, book/movie (although if I ask Practical Man, he may be able to put a festive spin on it):

May the odds be ever in their favour.”

As you would expect, Practical Man has no difficulties carefully choosing his (restrained) festive touches at this time of year.

He eschews the gregarious socks and opts for the plain grey sports variety, thank-you very much.

Fa-la-Tra-la-la.

And, once Die Hard has been watched, it’s on to his next favourite Christmas movie:

Die Hard II.

Do you not recall the snowstorm outside the plane on the runway?  It’s a Christmas movie, plain and simple.

Yippee Ki-Yuletide, everyone.


I went to Disney World, for the first time, on my 40th birthday.

As you do.

That year, they had a “Come to Disney for Free on your Birthday” promotion.

We were already going to be in Florida and it was the perfect excuse to go.  Disney isn’t cheap and as you may remember, Practical Man loves a good deal, yes indeedy.

He’s just not a huge fan of Disney.

Or crowds.

Or mouse ears.

mickey mouse ears

“You’re not going to wear those when I’m with you, are you?” I could already hear him asking at the prospect of my dreamed-about Mickey ears.

Umm…

SIGH.

I knew this would be the question he would ask because he asked it when I came home with rubber boots that had large, purple and pink flowers all over them.

And when I found the perfect artsy-hippy-dippy-trippy shirt.

He also asked it when I made the first large-ish felt flower for one of my hats.

my eyes showing underneath a blue hat with a large, red, felt flower

But, 20 or 30 large-ish felt flowers later, he’s kind of getting used to me now. I think he’s realized that he can still maintain his preferred position “under the radar”, even when I’m wearing something attention-grabbing, because people are too busy gawking at a 40-something woman wearing items normally associated with 4 year olds, to pay any attention to him.

I don’t mind the gawking.  Adults don’t smile nearly enough so, anything I can do to help in that area is right up my street.

My festooned, childlike street, of course.

(You may recall how much I love a bit of festooning.)

Back to my point, which is that we were going to be in Florida for my birthday, visiting my aunt and uncle.

My first hint that Practical Man didn’t really want to spend a festive 40th birthday day with his dearest at Disney was, well…okay, I married him, so I like to think I know about some of his likes and dislikes.

(I’m always studying, in case we we end up on one of those newlywed games, even now that we are 20 years into our romance.)

Anyhoo, the second clue was that for most of the drive to Florida, Practical Man kept saying to me, “Don’t you think you’d have a better time at Disney with your aunt?”

I tormented him through Pennsylvania and both the Carolinas and Georgia, but knew that, yes, I would have a great time with my aunt Feather at Disney.

She has no problem with Disney, crowds or mouse ears.

And, she encourages things like staying overnight in the Herbie the LoveBug themed Disney hotel (Hurrah!) and eating Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bars (Yum!) and not minding when her niece wears Mickey Mouse ears all day long over her sunhat, even though she’s 40.

I am 40ish going on 4.  Yep, that’s me.

As if it could get any better, the Magic Kingdom folks gave me a giant button at the gate that said “Happy Birthday Christine!” in two foot letters on it and every time there was a parade or a character going by (which was a lot), they would lean down from their stilts with a giant smile and yell, “Happy Birthday, Christine!” which Practical Man would have hated, but which I love-love-loved.

But, my favourite part was the parade that started, right after the sun went down.  All the floats were lit with thousands of coloured lights and it was warm and beautiful with my Aunt Feather and there were fireworks all for me, I’m sure, on my 40th birthday.

SWOON.

The Magic Kingdom really is just a festooned, childlike street, after all.

Have you noticed how “festoon” rhymes with “swoon”?

Last night took me right back there.  It was the Santa Claus parade in my hometown and I was invited to join Fairy Godson and his family and friends at the big event downtown.

lit up train float

Even though there were shades of Magic Kingdom in this festival of lights, Florida it was not.  I was wearing down-filled everything with an added layer of neoprene on my feet, thank goodness.

Brrrrrr.

My magic kingdom for some down-filled undies.

Even though the weather is finally turning a bit more wintery, just for the record, it’s still a bit too early for Santa.

Practical Man has rules about these kinds of things:  no Christmass-y stuff until December 1st.

Or, maybe that’s the earliest date I have cajoled him into.  We definitely follow the “out of respect for our veterans and their families, absolutely nothing festive until after Remembrance Day” rule.

Even though it was early, it felt like the festive season at the parade.  All the kids lined up to catch their candy canes and stickers and wave at Rudolphs with blinking noses and Elves and that giant marshmallow guy from Ghostbusters.

parade float - giant balloon marshmallow man

Who knew that Ghostbusters were festive?

My friend Grover, that’s who.

Fairy godson was taking it all in, with a line of other kids his age.  They were, like me, wrapped in down-filled everything, from head to toe.

Little boy wearing winter clothes

Sucking on candy canes, naturally.

I was jealous of their ear flaps.

It was 16 degrees Celcius yesterday afternoon, my friends.  The climate changed just in time for the parade and our recent rash of Spring-like-weather-in-November had done nothing to harden us for standing out in the festive wind coming straight up Princess Street, off Lake Ontario.

Did I mention I’d like someone to invent down-filled undies?

But, it was still as lovely as that time at Disney.

elf village, lit up

I had no mickey ears last night but, just look at all the pretty lights!

We waved at baton twirlers and gymnasts (there were a lot) and dancers and pipe bands.  We yelled Merry Christmas at passing elves and tigers and snowmen.  Float riders reminded us that “Santa would be coming soon” and we jiggled to the assorted Christmas tunes emanating from the passing parade.  There was even a ferris wheel float!

I’ve decided I’m a night-time parade kind of a girl.

No matter the season or the location, this kind of joyous, sparkly, celebratory event is right up my street.

santa's float

My festooned, childlike street, of course.

With a side of down-filled underwear.

Copyright Christine Fader, 2016.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet