The Manse is ready for Christmas. Are we?

The Manse at night, all done up for Christmas: modest decorations on the front porch (including a fresh balsam-fir wreath all the way from Maine). And if you look closely, you might be able to see the (battery-operated) candle in each window.

The Manse at night, all done up for Christmas: modest decorations on the front porch (including a fresh balsam-fir wreath all the way from Maine); and, if you look closely, you might be able to see the (battery-operated) candle in each window, another New England-inspired touch.

Our Christmas Tree, all decorated up with ornaments we've collected from our travels over the years.

Our tree, decorated with ornaments we’ve collected on our travels.

Christmas draws closer, but I know I don’t need to tell you that. Who among us is not scrambling to get the last gifts bought, the Christmas dinner menu sorted out, perhaps the last cards written, all the while carrying on with our day jobs? It is a busy time of year, and if you’re anything like me, you find it stressful. Each year I say I won’t let it get to me, and each year I do let it get to me.

But anyway, this Christmas will be distinctly different for Raymond and me in one way: we will be celebrating it at the Manse, a totally new experience. In other ways, though, it will be familiar: we have transported all our Christmas ornaments and gewgaws and whatnots from Montreal to the Manse.

(One item of whatnot was the Christmas-tree stand, which I bought several years ago because it was identical to the one my family used in Queensborough all those years ago when I was growing up at the Manse. It is obnoxiously difficult to work with, and Raymond hates it. But being the very nice person that he is, he [somewhat grudgingly] agreed to use it for one more [and only one more] Christmas, in honour of its Manse-relatedness. I think that my mum and siblings will give a smile of recognition when they see it on Christmas Day.)

This lovely little crèche scene comes from Guatemala originally. We bought it at a funky collectibles store in Stonington, Maine, where the collectibles are mostly things the owner has picked up in her own travels. It's atop a bookshelf in the Manse's living room.

This lovely little crèche scene comes from Guatemala originally. We bought it at a funky collectibles store in Stonington, Maine, where the collectibles are mostly things the owner has picked up in her own travels. It’s atop a bookshelf in the Manse’s living room.

Cats bearing Christmas puddings. We found this in a cat-themed shop on a little street on the Left Bank in Paris a few years ago, and bought it partly because the cats look like our fat calico, Bayona. Now it's strung up on the French doors in the Manse's living room, and yes, those doors desperately need a scrubdown and a new coat of paint. Don' t think we don't know it!

Cats bearing Christmas puddings. We found this in a shop on a tiny street on the Left Bank in Paris, and bought it partly because the cats look like our fat calico, Bayona. Now it’s strung up on the French doors in the Manse’s living room, and yes, those doors desperately need a scrubdown and a new coat of paint. Don’ t think we don’t know it!

Something we both treasure about our Christmas ornaments and gewgaws and whatnots is that each one has a story. We’ve never gone to Zellers or Canadian Tire and bought a box of ornaments; all of ours are individual, and almost all have been picked up on our travels. There are ornaments that are mementos of France, of Maine, of Vermont, of Port Hope, of Massachusetts, of New Hampshire, of Texas (!), and of course of Montreal. And there are Boston Red Sox-themed ornaments, because one of us is Raymond, who is a diehard fan. As, actually, am I.

And there’s the one that’s probably my very favourite, a piece of baler twine from the Sedgwick family farm in Haliburton County, twisted into a circle and adorned with red and green ribbon. A great reminder of my father, long ago the minister at St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough (which is why he and his family – us – lived at the church Manse) and also throughout his life the person who worked the Sedgwick farm.

Finally, there is the tree of books! A few days ago I posted a photo that Raymond had seen on Facebook, a Christmas tree made out of books and strung with lights. It was a great idea for us, owners of many thousands of books, and Raymond was true to his word and built one at the Manse last weekend. And here it is:

The Tree of Books in the Manse's study.

The Tree of Books in the Manse’s study, a Raymond Brassard production. He wasn’t entirely happy with the end result (it could be taller and less stocky), but for a first effort, not bad!

So yes, the Manse is pretty much decked out and ready for Christmas. But are we? Poor Raymond in the past 36 hours has acquired a horrific cold, complete with brutal cough. And on top of that, there is just so much to do before we welcome my family to the Manse for Christmas! Good lord, will we ever get it all done?

5 thoughts on “The Manse is ready for Christmas. Are we?

  1. We had a lovely walk about town delivering our Christmas cards and as we walked by the Manse I must say the windows looked so inviting. The flicker of a suttle candle gave me the spirit of the season. I think your ready and if not do you care 😉 Whats important is the hugs and loved ones who will safely grace the Manse once more. Thank you by the way of the Christmas book tree. I still have so many books of my daughters which she never took with her when she moved away I just might put them to good use. Then when she comes for Christmas she will say “MOM” those are my books and she just might take them away! 😉

    • Love the image of you guys walking around the village delivering Christmas cards. How nice is that? To be able to deliver the cards to your neighbours on foot? We (you folks and we folks and all the other folks who have gravitated to Queensborough) have found a very special place, have we not? Thank you for the encouraging words about Christmas – and perhaps I will finally get to meet your daughter, the book girl and the writer, over the holidays!

  2. Katherine, (and Raymond), while I am sad that you two will not be spending Christmas with us this year, I am excited for you both that you are hosting Christmas at the Manse. Through your posts and pictures, we’ll feel like we are there too, as you bring everything to life when you write. Thank you, too, for posting the “tree of books”, because I had such fun building my own the other day (did Raymond show it to you from my Facebook page?) I hope you post many pictures of the family when you all reunite for Christmas. Best wishes for a very, very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!! Love you both.

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