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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Winter White Poinsettias

Sunday, December 31, 2023

One of the beauties of poinsettias is how long they last. Last year in the third week of January, almost one month into winter, pots of huge white poinsettias were still beautiful in my living room. 

Bought the week of Thanksgiving at a local home improvement store, these large white poinsettias were in my heated living room for almost two months when these photos were taken.

New Address Sign | Country House

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Addresses are hard to find for houses along rural roads in the countryside. Half of the mailboxes with house addresses are not on the same side of the street as the house since all boxes are on one side of the road. Our mailbox with our house number stands across the country road to our house. 

Seeing our house street number wasn't a problem for over 30 years since the only people visiting us were personal friends and family. Whenever someone new was coming to our house, we gave them explicit instructions and directions about how to find our house. 

But, with the explosion of online shopping in recent years, FedEx and UPS delivery drivers need to find our house. Unfortunately, the drivers sometimes deliver our packages to our neighbors across the street where our mailbox stands next to theirs or to neighbors down the road. 

Our cedar house sits on two acres. We are lucky some delivery drivers find the house and deliver our packages without a problem. 

Christmas Ivy Wreath

Monday, December 25, 2023

Fresh greenery is my favorite style for Christmas decor. And ivy topiaries in the shape of a wreath are at the top of my go-to Christmas fresh greenery. 

Every season during the year has specific flowers and plants that are synonymous with that time of year. Wreaths are one of the most recognizable symbols of Christmas decorations and often are the first sign of the Christmas holidays. Cities and businesses add wreaths to front doors, street lamps, and windows. 

Homeowners also hang wreaths on front doors and windows. And on gates, fences, car grills, fireplaces,...  EVERYWHERE. Wreaths are made of evergreens, pinecones, artificial berries, FEATHERS, but all proclaim Christmas. 

For me, a live ivy topiary in the shape of a wreath is Christmas. Some years I add a sparkly ornament dangling inside the wreath to add more Christmas. 

Z is for Ziva Paperwhites

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Just as certain recipes evoke memories of Christmas, specific flowers immediately bring Christmas to mind, also. Z is for Ziva Paperwhites is the final post in the series of Christmas traditions from A to Z since it's not Christmas at my house without paperwhites in bloom.   

is for Ziva Paperwhites.

Each year as I make plans for celebrating Christmas, I order Ziva Paperwhite bulbs to force into bloom in time for decorating for Christmas. The bulbs must be planted six weeks before the plant blooms. 

Therefore, it is too late to plant paperwhite blooms for this Christmas, but not too late to enjoy seeing paperwhites used in Christmas decorations. 

Y is for Yule Log Cake

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Christmas traditions add joy, laughter, sparkle, and continuity to the season. In the list of 26 traditions from A to Z, Y is for Yule Log Cake. No holiday season is complete without delicious signature recipes that represent the holiday.  

is for Yule Log Cake 

The origin of yule log cake stems from burning yule logs that once were part of celebrations of Winter Solstice by pagans. Like many Christmas traditions, burning a yule log first appeared in 17th century German writings. 

From the tradition of burning yule logs, the French created a yule log cake in the shape of a log during the 19th century. Now Bûche de Noël or yule log cake is a Christmas tradition in France. France is renowned for delicious recipes that gain popularity across the world, and Bûche de Noël is now a widespread Christmas tradition not just in France.  

X is for XMAS

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

X is for XMAS in the list of Christmas traditions from A to Z.  An abbreviation for Christmas is a definition of XMAS. However, there is more to the story of the tradition of using XMAS for Christmas. 

is for Xmas

X is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, and "mas" is taken from a Latin-derived Old English word for mass. 

In English, "X" was first used by a scribe to abbreviate Christ in 1100. The first known use of XMAS for Christmas was in 1721.

W is for Wisemen

Sunday, December 17, 2023

W is for Wisemen is the 22nd post in a series of 26 posts listing Christmas traditions from A to Z. Traditions we observe during the holidays add joy, love, comfort, laughter, and meaning to our holiday celebrations. 

is for Wisemen.

The Christmas tradition of the three wisemen is an important part of the story of the birth of Christ in the Bible. After the birth of Jesus, a star in the east led the wisemen to where the baby Jesus was in Bethlehem. 

Our tradition of giving gifts to loved ones at Christmas follows the example of the wisemen presenting gold, myrrh, and frankincense to the Christ child. 

V is for Vixen

Friday, December 15, 2023

Some traditions add deep felt meaning to Christmas. Other traditions add joy and merriment. In the list of 26 Christmas traditions, one tradition per letter of the alphabet, V is for Vixen. Guaranteed to bring smiles just by saying the name Vixen. 

is for Vixen. 

Reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh was first mentioned and illustrated in a children's poem, "Old Santeclaus with Much Delight," in New York in 1821. Only one reindeer pulled Santa's sleigh in an accompanying lithograph. 

Two years later, in Clement C. Moore's poem, "A Visit from Saint Nicholas," eight tiny reindeer with names pulled Santa's sleigh to deliver toys. 

U is for Unselfish Acts

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Individuals, civic organizations, corporations, and churches traditionally spotlight opportunities to help others during the holidays. Yes, groups seek to help others all during the year, but organized and random unselfish acts are Christmas traditions. In the list of 26 Christmas traditions from A to Z, U is for Unselfish Acts

is for Unselfish Acts.

Unselfish acts of kindness have always existed during the Christmas season by both individuals and groups, making this the oldest Christmas tradition for many.  

"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time." 
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

T is for Tree

Monday, December 11, 2023

Christmas trees to celebrate the season are the most common Christmas tradition in ways to decorate for the holidays. In the list of 26 Christmas traditions from A to Z, T is for Tree. Trees are so popular that many homes now have multiple Christmas trees.

is for Tree.

Decorated Christmas trees became popular in England during Queen Victoria's reign when her German husband, Albert, introduced Christmas trees in the royal family's Christmas celebrations. 

Shortly thereafter the new English tradition was copied by wealthy families in the United States. Each year the tradition spread to more American families. 

S is for Stocking

Thursday, December 7, 2023

One of the reasons Christmas is a wonderful time of the year is the scope and depth of Christmas traditions. Many traditions touch our inner souls while other traditions speak to the child in us. The list of traditions from A to Z includes the full range of traditions. S is for Stocking is one of the our treasured traditions that reminds us of childhood, of the wonder of Christmas, and of the mirth of the season. 

is for Stocking.

Leaving gifts in Christmas stockings reportedly began with Saint Nicholas. According to legend, three poor girls left their washed stockings on the fireplace mantel to dry overnight. Saint Nicholas knew the girls were poor and threw three bags of gold coins down their chimney. The coins landed in the girls' stockings.  

R is for Ribbons

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Christmas traditions add joy, love, sparkle, beauty, comfort, nostalgia, meaning, and laughter to the holiday season. Traditions from A to Z offer glimpses into how different traditions add to the season. R is for Ribbons is a light-hearted tradition that adds beauty, sparkle, and joy! 

is for Ribbons.

Ribbons on Christmas presents began in the 1930s by stationery stores to dress up gift-wrapped packages. Today ribbons play a bigger role in Christmas decorations than tied to gift  packages. 

Q is for Quiet Reflection

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Christmas is a time for many to contemplate the meaning of the season and of how we should live our lives. In this series of 26 Christmas traditions, Q is for Quiet Reflection. For many, Christmas is about deeper meanings instead of presents under a tree. 

is for Quiet Reflection.

Christmas traditions often include time to read, to ponder, and to reflect on how to make one's life better and how to make the world better by one's actions. 

Reading favorite seasonal books, watching holiday movies, and participating in religious activities are among the traditions that provide quiet reflection of our personal lives and of our society.  

P is for Pinecone

Friday, December 1, 2023

Christmas traditions add joy, sparkle, and beauty to our homes during the festive holiday season, and a primary tradition is Christmas decorations inside and outside. A list of 26 Christmas traditions from A to Z includes P is for Pinecones, a popular natural decoration for Christmas. 

is for Pinecones

Natural decorations are a Christmas tradition with origins in Roman times when pagans celebrated the winter solstice. Pinecones were one of the natural decorations for celebrating winter solstice. 

When Christians began celebrating Christmas, pinecone decorations continued, and are often used in Christmas decorations today.