There's nothing fancy on our Christmas mantle, but it warms my heart just the same.
My mother in law made the pine cone wreath. One of my kids made the wooden star for me. My husband and his father made the candle holders. I remember the pleasure and pride and eagerness in their faces when I lifted their gifts in my hands and proclaimed them beautiful.
I gathered the rest of the pine cones from trees around our property on the first wintry day of the year, the first where my own breath followed me in a mist, and the sky was impossibly blue, and I was so glad to be alive.
The cast iron dogs came from my grandmother's house. I remember lying in front of her fireplace on cold winter days and playing with them, and they always remind me of her. (I think Gran would be baffled and amused to see how many of her cast-off and commonplace things have pride of place in my home.)
For me, Christmas isn't about gifts. Christmas is about the gift of memories. Memories of loved ones and of times gone by. Memories of our own childhoods and those of our own children. Memories of Santa and candlelight services, and cookies. And it's about making new memories that may, if we are lucky, live in our children's hearts when they, too, are old.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. And I wish you beautiful memories to keep you warm.