Christmas Nostalgia

 

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It’s my favorite time of year, Christmas! Fun with friends and family, holiday baking, decorating…such a joyful time, full of magic. Come share a wonderful, nostalgic holiday season!

Since I was a child, the official “start” to Christmas for me happens when Santa rides his “sleigh” through the streets of New York City. Being in the Connecticut suburbs, we’re not far from the city, so this year, my family and I decided to do something we’ve dreamed of – seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade first-hand! My hubby, Kim, mapped out where we’d stand, paid parking in advance (discounted!), and made dinner reservations. I’m not big on crowds, but the city’s so big, it absorbs extra visitors easily.

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I was so excited to see those gigantic balloons coming down the street! My favorites were Olaf, Charlie Brown, and of course, the turkey first introduced when I was a kid.

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We then dined at Carmine’s in Times Square. Opened in 1990, this restaurant’s all about nostalgia, with big, family style dishes, golden-age decor, and swinging-forties music playing. I thought I’d be sad not cooking my traditional fare, but when that 18-lb. turkey feast came to our table, I forgot all about my oven!

I took this photo just as Carmine’s was opening. Within minutes, it was full and bustling!

I took this photo just as Carmine’s was opening. Within minutes, it was full and bustling!

Growing up, my parents made sure Christmas was magical.

Me, 1970-something

Me, 1970-something

My dad had a workshop in the backyard. It was his hobby to make things. Playing outside, I’d pop into Daddy’s shed as he worked to say hi or grab a hug. One day, the doors were locked! I wasn’t allowed in. For weeks, Daddy spent all his free time in that shed, doors closed tight. When I asked why I couldn’t come in, he’d smile like an elf, telling me I’d find out soon enough. Being a curious imp, I squished my face against the doors, peeking through the tiny crack where they closed together. Inside was a HUGE DOLLHOUSE! Daddy was building the dreamiest dollhouse!

That Christmas Eve, I couldn’t sleep. Tucked in my bed, the multi-colored lights from the tree in our family room reflected onto my walls, casting the shadow of the dollhouse above me. It was so hard to stay in bed until morning! That dollhouse my daddy worked so hard on was the best present ever. A saltbox style, it had shutters and a brass-hinged door, real carpet and linoleum. Daddy had hand-carved a chimney, painting thumb tacks to look caps. He even repurposed his cuff links that looked like streetlamps as porch lights.

Santa brought furnishings…not plastic but real wood with life-like details, and a family of dolls made in Germany. Sometimes Mama and Daddy would take me to World Toy and Gift shop, in the Houston village, to pick out something to add to my doll house. That was the same toy store my grandmother had taken my daddy as a child.

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I played with my doll house for hours on end! I only have one photo of it, with my then-teenage brother making a funny face in the window, which makes me laugh to this day. As a teen, my parents divorced, and we moved. My beloved doll house was accidentally left by the movers in the garage. (Sometimes, I still check eBay to see if someone has it somewhere). Though it’s been long gone, that Christmas magic has lasted a lifetime.

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We tried to create the same magic as my daughter grew up. Santa would leave sooty footprints on the floor by the fireplace, and those messy reindeer would drop half-eaten carrots from the roof onto our deck!

Santa rode through the streets of my town last Sunday. It’s hard not to have cheer when you see that!

Santa rode through the streets of my town last Sunday. It’s hard not to have cheer when you see that!

I love Santa’s magic, especially the cheer emitted from vintage versions. This year, I found a giant, antique cardboard Santa in an antique dealer’s barn. He had folds and a nail stuck through him, but his colors are bright. I bought him for $2.00, framing him with an old poster-frame we had in the garage. He hangs by the kitchen, greeting us every morning! Score!

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The illustration was done by Haddon Sundblom, who created the jolly depictions of the “Coca Cola” Santa from 1931 to the 60’s. Though I haven’t personally had a soda in years, vintage Coke illustrations make me happy. My Grandpa Ray painted signs for Coca-Cola for years. They also remind me of the dearest neighbor and family friend who lived across the street when I was growing up. Lucy, who was very talented and creative, was like a grandmother to me. Often, she’d have me over for a treat – a frosty Coke in a glass bottle. At Christmas, the bottles were decorated with Santa. She always told me she believed in Santa, even though she was grown up! Every child should have a “Lucy”. We stayed in touch through the years until she passed away after a very long life, when my daughter was a baby. I still have all the letters she wrote me after I moved up North. Lucy loved Christmas, always sending out Christmas cards hand-signed with “love and blessings”. Christmas cards also remind me of Lucy!

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This year, our cards feature a vintage Santa and a vintage camper on them!  If you love farmhouse/vintage camper style, this year is your year, as the decor trend is HOT right now!

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Speaking of vintage campers,  we glamped “Gidget” out for the holidays, using vintage and vintage-inspired decor.

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Too cute! A camper sign found at JoAnn Fabric and Craft

Too cute! A camper sign found at JoAnn Fabric and Craft

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Outside, I made a new wreath and sewed up a pillow using cheery vintage inspired fabric. Retro lighting warms things up.

Outside, I made a new wreath and sewed up a pillow using cheery vintage inspired fabric. Retro lighting warms things up.

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Our camper steps aren’t functional, so I found a vintage wooden step stool at my most favorite (and unique) antiques store, The Vintage Squire in Newtown, CT. This inscription on the bottom of the stool tugs at the heartstrings!

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A vintage tablecloth sets the stage in the dinette area.

A vintage tablecloth sets the stage in the dinette area.

Peppermint sticks in a mason jar look festive

Peppermint sticks in a mason jar look festive

My hubby bought me this very old felt stocking this year. Inspired...

My hubby bought me this very old felt stocking this year. Inspired…

...I made this felt stocking for the camper. Many of the vintage sewing machines I collect come with antique or vintage notions. All the sequins and trim are old, only the felt was new.

I made this felt stocking for the camper. Many of the vintage sewing machines I collect come with antique or vintage notions. All the sequins and trim are old, only the felt was new.

Vintage, retro, nostalgic – whatever you call it, period pieces and decor bring us to a simpler, more peaceful time.

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From our home to yours, wishing you and yours a holiday season filled with joy and magic.

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Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

 

Leave a comment 20 Comments

  1. Marlene Capelle says:

    Kids who grow up and quit believing in Santa probably spend their whole life wondering what is missing from their world and all they have to do is keep believing.
    Your glamper is fab.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marlene, Well said! I believe in Santa!
      Decorating the glamper has been fun. We will be putting her cover on soon for the rest of winter, but I will be enjoying her through the holidays! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Ramona Puckett says:

    Oh my goodness! How pretty are your pictures! Thank you so much for sharing this! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Ramona, thank you so much…so glad you enjoyed the post. Merry Christmas and Happy New year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Shirley says:

    Thanks for sharing such good memories! Blessings!

  4. Rebecca M. says:

    I read a comment earlier this week that made me chuckle….”When you stop believing in Santa, you get underwear for Christmas.” I love your pictures and all the vintage decorations. And your little Gidget is adorable. I found an old sled at our local florist a few weeks ago and was so excited to be able to use it in my decorations. Merry Christmas!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rebecca, Wasn’t that cute, the “underwear” comment? Made me smile, too. How exciting to find that sled! They are such wonderful ways to decorate! Enjoy!Merry Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Denise says:

    Merry Christmas! as usual I love seeing your “old” decorations, they are beautiful!

  6. Diane Ryan says:

    Thanks for sharing your nostalgic Christmas. Loved it!

  7. Donna says:

    I always enjoy your posts, such a positive message. Love the pictures of you and your family and the dog looks so sweet. Merry Christmas : ))

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Donna, Oh thank you so much! I am so glad you liked the post. The doggie is my sweet boy, Odin, who is just a year old. This will be his first Christmas and we can’t wait for Santa Paws to arrive this year! 😉 Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Joan says:

    Nostalgia is one of my favorite things, this was great fun! Merry Christmas to y’all! God bless

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joan, Merry Christmas, sweet farmgirl! Hope you have a wonderful season. Thank you for being such a loyal reader! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Beverly Battaglia says:

    I love this blog and happy your memories were so good as my little girl. Carmine’s looks like a beautiful restaurant! Your camper looks so inviting. Great family picture.

    Love you.
    Mother

  10. Krista says:

    I am so jealous right now! I love the Macey’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! We watch it on TV every year and I have for as long as I can remember. My oldest enjoyed watching the balloons, but really thought it was cool to see Santa. I would love to take a trip there in the future sometime, especially while my babies are still kids. All your Christmas decorations are perfect. I love the older style of Christmas decorations including the colors. All the new pinks, bright blues, non traditional Christmas colors just don’t work for me. I love sticking with the traditional dark red and greens. I even have a few decorations that use to belong to my grandmother. They add the perfect touch and sentiment to my holiday season. May you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Krista, Thank you! How special that you have some of your grandmother’s decorations! How wonderful. I agree, I like the “old” colors and “traditional” style of decor for Christmas. If you do make a trip to NYC, you must also see the Rockefeller Center tree and try to go see the Rockettes Christmas show. After the show, Santa greets the children. Merry Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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