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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Favorite Christmas Carols

Friday, December 14, 2018

Favorite Christmas carols take us to the Christmases of our dreams, and to our treasured memories collected over the years.  

Favorite Christmas carols flute mantel decor
Christmas carols are among the first things that signal the beginning of the Christmas season long before the tree is trimmed, presents are wrapped, and cookies are baked. 

When you hear them on the radio, in television commercials, and in department stores, you know the Christmas season has arrived. 

Welcome to A Merry Musical Blog Hop hosted by Amber at Follow the Yellow Brick Home where I am joining fifteen talented bloggers in sharing how music is part of our Christmases and how music signals Christmas has arrived. 

If you are coming from My Thrift Store Addiction, weren't you inspired by her post about the beautiful Nutcracker Ballet? For more inspiration, there are links to all of the merry musical blog posts at the end. 

F A V O R I T E   C H R I S T M A S   C A R O L S 

Favorite Christmas carols on James Galway Christmas Carol album
Everyone has favorite carols, and James Galway's Christmas Carol album is mine. Do you know James Galway's music? He is a virtuoso flute player from Belfast, Ireland. 

Of course, he can play a feisty Irish jig, but his Christmas Carol album takes me to the Christmas of my dreams. A Christmas filled with beautiful carols, visions of period costumes, figgy puddings, and laughter-filled celebrations. 

Favorite Christmas carols mantel decorated with flutes
This year, I decorated our living room mantel with flutes as a celebration of merry musical events throughout my life. 

Favorite Christmas carols mantel decorated with flutes and seeded eucalyptus
More than Christmas dreams, my love for Galway's hauntingly beautiful flute carols has roots in my childhood, and beyond. As a school girl, I played the flute in our high school band. 

Favorite Christmas carols mantel decorated with flutes and seeded eucalyptus
Early training to become a flutist was blowing across Coca-Cola tops to produce shrill whistling sounds. 

Yes, Coca-Cola came in glass bottles in my childhood, and we had great fun playing Coke games. There was always the ever-popular game of "Who has the Coke bottle manufactured the farthest away," since we could read the bottling plant's location on the bottom of the bottle. 

And, we all pursed our lips and blew across the bottle top to create the ear-splitting whistling sounds. 

Favorite Christmas carols mantel decorated with flutes and seeded eucalyptus
From those years of practicing Coke bottle whistles, I learned how to purse my lips and how to adjust my blowing angle to create a wide variety of tones ranging from low to high. 

Thus, I was deemed a "natural flute player" by the band director when we students auditioned on the variety of band instruments in junior high school. Not everyone could produce a sound on a flute, much less a variety of low tones.  

Favorite Christmas carols mantel with flute in blue velvet lined case
Thus, my musical instrument adventures began. When I went to college I took a woodwinds course to fulfill one of the general music courses required for all students, regardless of their majors. 

But, this flute on my mantel? It belongs to my younger sister, not me. While I was in college, she joined the high school band, and to save money, my parents gave her my flute which they later traded in for a newer one, the one on my mantel above. 

Without asking me. 

Which caused me to be sad. I missed my flute. Part of being the oldest . . . belongings passed down to siblings. And, I often reminded my sister she got my flute. Sigh . . .  

Favorite Christmas carols mantel with French flute from Paris flea market
But the story has a happy ending. Two Christmases ago, my sister gave me the flute on the right above. 

Favorite Christmas carols mantel with French flute from Paris flea market
When I opened the box, the flute was disassembled, lying in its three sections.  

No blue-velvet lined case. 

The detached mouthpiece was scotch-taped to the top opening hole. 

One of the fingering levers was broken off. 

Doesn't sound much like a Christmas present. 

But, it is a precious present, treasured for all that it entails.

Favorite Christmas carols mantel with French flute from Paris flea market
This flute has a story. 

Don't all happy endings have a story before the ending? 

LAUBE  Couture Boussey (Eure)  BREVETE   S. G. D. G. 

This flute was made in France, sometime around 1900. The maker engraved the copyright information to each of the three sections of the flute. That is all I know of its history. 

But, that is not all of the flute's story. 

Favorite Christmas carols mantel with French flute from Paris flea market
My sister and I went to France on a special sister trip two years ago. Just the two of us. 

We visited our favorite restaurants, beloved Chateau Chenonceau, beautiful flower gardens, and favorite museums/landmarks. 

And, hit every brocante and flea market we could find. 

My sister found this damaged flute at a Paris flea market on that trip and bought it for me as a Christmas present that year. 

Favorite Christmas carols mantel with French flute from Paris flea market
This Christmas it hangs on my fireplace in a place of honor in remembrance of my sister's love. 

On the mantel, the flute on the left and the piccolo on the right, in their cases, belong to my sister. The two hanging flutes belong to me. 

The hanging flute on the left also has a story, but not for telling yet. Maybe never, for that story is even more heart-rending. Flutes have always been a part of my life story. 

The hanging flute on the right symbolizes my, and my sister's, love for the flute, our history of a shared childhood flute, our love for France, our shared memories of traveling together, and our bond as sisters. 

Favorite Christmas carols on James Galway Christmas Carols album
Christmas never really arrives at my house until I play my favorite carols on James Galway's Christmas Carol CD, upgraded from my original album. 

And I listen to the beautiful flute solos. 

๐ŸŽถ ๐ŸŽถ ๐ŸŽถ

Yes, my sister was forgiven for trading in my childhood flute . . . with the gift of a French flute with a few dings from a Paris brocante. 

(To be fair, it was my mother who traded in the flute. ๐Ÿ˜‰)

๐ŸŽถ ๐ŸŽถ ๐ŸŽถ

Next on the Merry Musical Blog Hop is Itsy Bits and Pieces with her merry musical Christmas. 

Favorite Christmas carols with flutes
P I N  ⥣ to your Christmas Boards

What is your favorite Christmas carol?


  1. Judith. I adore this story. So fun. What a sweet and thoughtful gift. If it can be repaired, Rivard Brothers is where I took a trombone when it got broken during my son's Jr. High years. They do amazing work. Your pictures are amazing! What a precious gift.

  2. Oh the story of the flutes was truly heartwarming. I adore the blue ribbon! Your home has truly put a song in my heart Judith.

  3. You musical decor is so beautiful and what a great story! So fun to join you on this hop. Have a Merry Christmas!!

  4. Judith, I love how you've added your flutes to your Christmas decor. They are just lovely and are the perfect accent for this musical tour. Excited to be joining this holiday hop with you. Merry Christmas! Blessings, Cecilia @My Thrift Store Addiction

  5. Judith, this was such a sweet story. At first glance, I noticed how stunning your mantel looked with the beautiful ribbon, garland, and flutes displayed. However, the story you told to go with it makes it even more beautiful! It has been so much fun being on this tour with you. Merry Christmas!!!!

  6. Wow, Judith, what a cool story! It's really sweet your sister would give you such a sweet and thoughtful gift - what a treasure. I love how you've decorated with all the musical instruments and how they have a special meaning too. Your home is always so beautiful. I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas, CoCo

  7. This is so lovely, Judith! And the story behind it all makes it even better! Wonderful!

  8. Judith, everything looks so beautiful! I love the way you've decorated using the flutes...and those great and so sad! I love the way happy and sad memories are interwoven into the bits of our lives! Have a great weekend! Love and hugs!

  9. This is gorgeous!!! I love how you have incorporated the flute and decorated it with the seeded eucalyptus! Just beautiful!!!
    ~Emily @

  10. Judith I truly loved this post! The story of you and your sister is very heartwarming and I loved how she bought you the flute from France when you two travelled there together. Such a special keepsake. You displayed your flutes so beautifully on your mantel. I look forward to following your blog! I was so happy to be a part of this blog hop with you today!
    merry Christmas!

  11. Judith how I love your story about the flute. Your musical decor this Christmas is so pretty. I love the blue with the silver instrument. Great job.

  12. I loved the stories of your flutes and I greatly admire your ability to get any sound out of a flute.

    You sound like you and your sister have a similar relationship to the one I share with my sister

  13. Judith, what a sweet story and a stunning display! I love to hear a flute, especially with a piano. Merry Christmas!

  14. What a lovely post! I heard James Galway in concert and I'll never forget watching and listening to genius. Thanks so much.

  15. What a gorgeous mantel and sentimental journey with your history of flutes, Judith! Opening that gift had to be a tearful, joyful moment. The blue velvet of the those encased flute and piccolos are stunning against the blue ribbon and silver-greens. Of course, the untold story leaves me wanting to hear more.
    Merry Christmas to you, my friend. It's been a joy getting to know you better this past year.

  16. I love your flute stories, Judith! First chair floutist in high school, here;) Moved on to singing the high notes in college. But it's so fun to pick it back up once in awhile and play; I should get it out of the case this Christmas season! My favorite flute story? Playing a duet Christmas eve and realizing the end had fallen out somewhere and none of the right notes were coming out! oh, vay...that was quite the experience! Thanks for triggering many good flute memories! Merry Christmas!

  17. Judith--What a great story! I am a professional flutist who has been playing since 4th grade (some 56 years ago). I found all the flute "details" very interesting. The Laube flute looks intriguing! (I hope all the instruments displayed on your lovely mantel are safe from being inadvertently knocked off and onto the floor.) My favorite Christmas-time music consists of Bach and Handel oratorios (specifically, Handel's "Messiah" and Bach's "Christmas Oratorio"), as well as medieval English carols. Happy holidays to you and your family.

  18. Judith, I love the stories about the flute and Coca Cola! I can't even whistle blowing out. I have to suck in. YUP, pitiful! I would never have been able to play the flute. They all are simply gorgeous!!

  19. Judith, thank you for sharing these stories and memories. Yes, I remember the coke bottles from our childhood too. You left out spin the bottle! ๐Ÿ˜ I was a flute player as well, but dropped out of band my Junior year. I was never very musical. I did love the flute though and the picallo too. I have no idea what happened to my flute. I think my mother may have given it to a budding musician. Thanks for a beautiful music inspired Christmas post. Merry, Merry!

  20. Oh Judith what a delightful post!!! I was unfamiliar with this artist and album, so before I even proceeded with reading your post I went straight to youtube, and found James Galway's "I Saw Three Ships" and I am hooked! I love Celtic inspired Christmas music and listening just added to the enjoyment of this wonderful and heart felt post. I love your gorgeous photography, highlighting the beauty of your flutes and the stories you shared.

    Thank you so much for joining this hop! Have youself a "merry musical' Christmas!

  21. What a sweet story! Love it! I have heard that album of James Galway's and I agree, it is the best!


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