Our Christmas Tree 2011

Right now, upon entering our house, a sweet, woodsy smell of evergreen gushes out as soon as the door opens.  We have set up our Christmas tree, and it is making itself at home, filling our living room with its pine fragrance, my favorite smell of Christmastime.  Evergreen is the smell of comfort and nostalgia.  I associate it with friends, family, Christmas lights, fires in the fireplace, hot cocoa, snuggling, and Christmas carols.  It’s coming home from midnight mass to a quiet and dark house, solely lit by the tiny lights of the Christmas tree and a whiff of pine.

When Kris and I got our first tree, it was a little 3 foot tree that we set up on top of our coffee table.  We didn’t have any ornaments at the time, but I found some golden ornament balls near the dumpster at our apartment building.  One of our neighbors must have changed their tree color scheme and left them out for someone else to use.  Lucky us!  We went out and bought one pretty ornament each, a tradition we continue to this day, and that year, 2008, we had a tree full of golden ornaments and two random ones.  The simplicity of tree decoration didn’t matter though because it still filled the apartment with its pine smell.

This year we have a 5 foot tree, a stout Noble Fir with sturdy branches.  Last night we decorated it to the sounds of Christmas music.

Around the tree are various ornaments.  What I love about Christmas ornaments are the memories and stories they remind me of.

Various star-shaped straw ornaments that were my decoration last year.

A few first year ornaments as wedding and First Christmas together gifts.

These stuffed ornaments were made by my mom over 30 years ago.  I grew up hanging these ornaments, and my mom kindly gave us half of her collection for our own tree.  (Look I’m saying hello through the golden ornaments!)

She also gave us these cute snowmen from her accumulated collection of ornaments.

We have crystal ornaments from my mother-in-law, Pat.

And ornaments from Michele, a woman I call my second mother; may she rest in peace.

We can’t forget this ornament.  

Kris wanted to throw it away, but I told him that my neighbor from when we moved into our first house in Livermore made me this when I was in elementary school.  It used to have a cotton-ball handmade bear attached to a green ornament ball.  But, during our first Christmas with our dog, Titania, she found that low-hanging ornament, and then I found the handmade bear and green ball ripped to pieces by the backdoor.  I will keep shell though because now it has 2 stories.

Instead of getting an ornament each, we bought an elegant angel tree topper.  She’s playing a glittered lute and has a gold and white dress that drapes over the tip of the tree.  Kris arranged the last Christmas lights to go inside her dress so she lights up when the lights are on.

It is starting to feel more like Christmas as we put more and more decorations up.


The Case for Being Stylish Homeowners

Docket #CV 123

Case #987

Dictates of Society vs. the Ericksons

Domicile in question: single family home located in the stylish, hipster central-San Francisco Bay Area

Room in question: living room which, due to a lack of window treatments, gives passer-byes a clear view inside at ugly walls dotted with too many colors

Charges: disorderly stylish-homeowner conduct, excessive use of Behr paint samples, infringement on neighbors’ rights to see a pretty home inside a window, and style negligence

Plaintiff, please state your case and evidence.

Honorable members of hipster Bay Area society.  We of the San Francisco Bay Area have a style standard to uphold.  Around the country, the world even, people look to the Bay Area for innovation, style, panache, the next Apple product or Google acquisition, even Michael Pollan’s forthcoming book telling us how to eat.

The Ericksons are a part of our community only because of a geographical location.  Their outright rejection and refusal to participate in being stylish new Bay Area home owners has caused unprecedented torment to our aesthetically inclined community.  Their indecision in finding a color for their living room has motivated friends and family to say, and I quote, “They are a lost cause.”  Please note exhibit A, B, and C on the record as evidence.

Exhibit A: Living Room Wall- southside

Guess how many different paint samples are exposed on this single wall for the entire community to see?

Exhibit B: Southside living room wall with colors numbered

Additionally we have Exhibit C, the east-facing wall.  4 more colors for a total of 24 paint patches.  An obvious excessive use of Behr paint samples from Home Depot.

Many people retuning from a long day at work on BART have notified us of the eye-pain caused by the quilted paint look sported in the Erickson living room.  Due to the fact that they do not have curtains everyone passing by is subjected to this style negligence.  Truly this is a classic case of style unbecoming a Bay-Area homeowner.

Defense…state your case.

(looking up from reading Game of Thrones series)

Ms. Erickson?  (throat clearing in awkwardness) What do you have to say in your own style defense?

Oh.  Hi.  Ummm.  Right.  Style defense.  Ladies and gentlemen, upholders of the dictates of society.  I admit that I am a fashionably disadvantaged person.  My husband and I bought our house about a year ago, and we’ve been in a process of making this house a home.  Our home.

We’ve been having some difficulties, as the prosecution has duly noted.  We have this beautiful slate fireplace, see?

And it has such beautiful cool blue tones with splotches of terracotta browns and peachy-browns, and rich greys.  And the amazing thing about this slate fireplace is that it changes colors depending on the way the light hits it coming through the window or if it is morning or afternoon light.

Then we have these bright wooden floors, stained in a yellowy orange color with brown grain marks.  We didn’t choose this color because when we ripped out the carpet and got our floors redone we didn’t know that we could choose our floor stain color.  We just let our floor guy handle it.  Isn’t this a lovely rich warm tone though?

Please ignore the playful puppy in this photo.  Whenever we sit on the ground she thinks we are going to start wrestling.

So, our struggle has been how do we complement both a cool tone from the fireplace and a rich warm tone from the floors?

We made significant strides when we finally just went with instinct and chose a color.  Ironically one of the first 3 we put up, but that’s a story for another day.

Dictates of society: we may have mostly IKEA furniture bought from craigslist, a coffee table with a giant crack in the middle of it, and a CRV TV set that we put nick knacks on because it doesn’t work, but we have soul, and if style is anything it is instinct and soul.  This is not a case of style negligence.  I ask you to see our progress as a slow process of new, young homeowners learning to trust their instincts and discovering their sense of style.

Simple decor for a dinner party

We enjoy having people over, and I love to cook for them, but we are by no means fancy in our decor.  Consider our table, bought solo from a furniture store in an attempt to match the four chairs my godmother had given us.  Supplementing these four chairs are 6 folding chairs, two different styles, which get used quite often.  Using folding chairs, or our office chairs if we are really desperate for sitting space is actually quite common for our home.

Dinner Party recruits

At first I felt embarrassed.  Here we were, inviting guests over and making them feel celebrated, and we make them sit on folding chairs, eating on a card table extension.  Our friends, all graduate students or young working professionals, like us, luckily don’t care.  They come for the food.

On top of the table were simple yet sentimental pieces.  Our candle holders were forged by our friend Jocelyn whose hobby is blacksmithing.  The milk glass came from my late mother-like friend, Michele.  The roses were the first 2 that have come out this year.  Everything on the table had a story to tell which made for great conversation, especially when the woman who made the candle holders was a guest.  I came across a quote once: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  To eliminate the double negatives (I am an English teacher), think of it this way: everything in your house must be useful or beautiful.