Effortless Christmas Home Tour
Today, we’re sharing our Effortless Christmas Home Tour as part of the Christmas Homes Tour Blog Hop hosted by the always sweet and creative, Cindy of Cloches & Lavender and Terrie of Decorate & More with Tip!
If you’re new here or popping over after touring Terrie’s festive Christmas bedroom, welcome, we’re excited to have you here.
All season long, I’ve been pretty upfront about the fact I have genuinely struggled to come up with a holiday theme for our home.
This is highly unusual for me because I love themes.
In fact, nothing gives me greater pleasure than finding inspiration and allowing my creativity to run wild with ideas revolving around a specific vision.
But this year, I couldn’t come up with a single concept.
Instead, all I wanted for our holiday home was to recreate a feeling I experienced several years ago while we were at the cabin.
This is a story I’ve never told anyone save for my bestie S who was there to witness it all.
It’s a story about the magic of Christmas moments and the wonders of His love.
And how I came this close to missing out on it all.
Shortly before Christmas, we decided to venture out for dinner at a place we had only ever seen on a billboard while driving up to the cabin.
I should note here I come from a family of notoriously picky eaters.
So, I have no idea why I said yes other than the fact S is a foodie and loves to try all sorts of things I would never even consider tasting, and I didn’t want to disappoint her.
The restaurant was a few towns over, so late one afternoon, we got all dressed up, put the GPS coordinates in the car, and set out for a “culinary Christmas adventure.”
I should also note here, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at 19. Most of the time, I’m able to manage it on my own thanks to a lot of therapy and hard work.
But there have been entire seasons since then that have been so debilitating, I’ve needed intensive medical treatment and care.
I share this because while I love to travel, being in the car can be extremely difficult. The coping strategies I’ve learned over the years are never more present than when I’m in the car.
Strategies, I continue to utilize to this very day.
The ride to the restaurant started out uneventful driving down one side of the mountain to get to the other. And since the sun stayed behind the clouds nearly all day, the gray skies made it easy to lose track of time.
We drove through winding roads and tiny towns while listening to Christmas music and as I do every year, I wished for a magical snowy holiday.
It wasn’t until my thoughts were interrupted by the prompt, “At the next road, turn left,” I realized our surroundings were no longer familiar.
In fact, there were fewer cars on the road and the lanes were getting smaller and smaller with each mile.
Always up for an off-road adventure, S assured me we were headed in the right direction.
But as the minutes passed, I was not buying it.
The “road” had turned into what can only be described as a cow field that had given way to a footpath in the mountain.
Still, we forged ahead.
With trees and thick brush all around us and our cell phones no longer working, I could feel my fear give way to panic.
Next came the white knuckles around the door handle, the pounding heartbeat, the labored breathing, the sick stomach, the clammy hands, the migraine halo, the hot sting from tears spilling over, and the guilt I had not been able to keep it all in check.
S gently stopped the car and said, “I’m sorry. We’re lost. I know I can get us out of here, but you have to trust me, ok? I need you to do your best to pull it together because the fog is about to set in, and we can’t stay here.”
I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath, and steadied my gaze to take it all in.
It was literally a scene straight out of The Hobbit series with dense forest, patches of snow covering large rocks, ice nestled in the crevices of the mountain, icicles hanging off tall tree branches, and steam rising up from the river below.
In the distance, I could see a large family of deer making their way through the wintery and frosted terrain.
There wasn’t a single car or house in sight. In fact, you could barely see an ATV path.
As terrified as I was at the thought of moving forward, I knew S was right, we had to keep going.
Over the next series of minutes (which felt like hours), we drove over rocks, downed tree limbs, and aging roots as thick brush hit the sides of our car.
The engine was whining, the tires were bouncing, and several times I feared the car would stall out entirely.
I could feel the temperature dropping outside and by the time we reached the ridge, the fog had set in completely.
Two turns later we were back on the highway.
Three stop signs later, we were pulling into the restaurant.
To this day, we have no idea how long we were lost in the woods.
“Can you walk?” S said.
“I don’t know, I feel like jelly right now,” I replied tearily. “This was not the culinary Christmas adventure, I thought it was going to be. And besides, I’m pretty sure I know where the Yeti lives now.”
“I know,” she said, “And I feel awful about it. We basically just stared down one of your biggest fears – getting lost in the woods while stuck in the car – and you handled it like a champ. For what it’s worth, I’m proud of you. Your family is not going to believe it when we tell them! We can wait out here or go inside any time you’re ready, ok? No rush.”
We sat in silence for a while as the weight of everything that had just happened washed over us.
Truthfully, I didn’t want to go inside. I just wanted to go back to the cabin, grab a hot bath, and call it a night.
But I was so cold and emotionally drained. I figured if nothing else, a cup of hot chocolate would help lift my spirits, so I reluctantly got out of the car.
The restaurant’s exterior was unassuming save for the giant wood-carved black bears, arms held high holding up the pitch of the roof.
As we opened the glass doors though, it was anything but ordinary.
Thick cedar garlands complete with tiny white lights and large sugar pinecones were draped on the tops of the floor-to-ceiling shelving units that lined the room.
And on the shelves were jars upon jars of jellies, jams, butters, anything that could be pickled, and cellophane-wrapped bars of fudge.
Next to the cash wrap was an elaborate gingerbread house created by a local pastry chef that was set to be raffled off on Christmas Eve for charity.
In the distance, a 12-foot-tall Christmas tree loaded with white lights was decorated with gobs of red velvet ribbons, gold ornaments, and glittering snowflakes.
The lodge-style fireplace was already roaring and, on the mantel, hung a red felt stocking for every employee.
As we waited to be seated, I couldn’t tell if we were over or underdressed, early or late for dinner, which made me fidget even more.
After a few minutes, we were greeted by a friendly staff member, who took one look at us and said, “It’s fun to get dressed up for dinner, isn’t it? We’re so glad you’re here.”
She sat us next to a large picture window beside the Christmas tree with a full view of the fireplace.
I don’t know how it happened, but I immediately felt my defenses melt away. It felt like we were being welcomed into a stranger’s cozy living room and as I looked around the room, I noticed there wasn’t just one large Christmas tree there were 5.
Our waitress shared the dinner and drink specials and then gave us a few moments to decide. The restaurant was quiet which is exactly what I needed to salvage the rest of the night and my Christmas cheer.
The tables were filled with couples, groups of friends, and several families celebrating the holiday season.
Next to the fireplace was an older man seated alone dressed in a bright red sweater, red and white checkered pants, a red belt with a shiny gold buckle, and bright white orthopedic shoes.
Around his neck was a thin red scarf that made him look part French painter and part cowboy.
About halfway through our meal, the waitress was at our table checking in when the older man shuffled up to hug her.
“I can’t thank you enough for the meal tonight, Linda. It was just what my heart needed,” he said, “The kids have all gone home now and I was feeling a little lonely.”
“Oh, it’s no problem at all. I’m glad you came in. It’s so good to see you out again. How you doin’?” she replied.
It was at this point I gave S a stare only a best friend would understand because I had no idea how to give them privacy without interrupting their reunion.
Sensing our uneasiness, he quickly clued us in, “My wife just died,” he quietly said, “She was the love of my life. We were childhood sweethearts and married for 64 years. She wrote to me every day when I was in the war and she’s the only person I’ve ever danced with or kissed.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss. 64 years is a long time, and it sounds like she was a real treasure.” I said.
“Oh, she was! We were poor when we first got married. We didn’t have a lot of money for things like this,” he said motioning around the room at the Christmas trees and swags of greenery, “We didn’t really need a lot because we had each other though. We created magical Christmas moments every year and we always marveled at what we had been blessed with, the wonders of His love we liked to call them because Joy to the World was her favorite song.”
As I listened intently, I could no longer hide my feelings and before I could catch them tears started running down my face.
He pulled out a well-loved handkerchief, handed it to me, and said, “I didn’t mean to make you upset, honey, I’m sorry.”
“You didn’t make me upset, I’m sorry I’m crying on you,” I replied.
“You have nothing to apologize for, you don’t owe me an explanation,” he said as he patted me on the shoulder. “The heart is more tender this time of year, as it should be. I completely understand.”
He hugged Linda once more and as he was leaving the table he said, “I appreciate you letting me tell you about my wife. She was a good lady, a real firecracker, and I miss her every day. Christmas is hard because she loved it so much but I’m going to keep creating magical moments and looking for wonders of His love until I see her again.”
And with that, he shuffled away.
I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve thought about that encounter over the years. To most people, it probably wouldn’t have even been significant.
Yet every time I struggle to come up with an idea be it a Christmas theme, post to write, or room to design, I think about that old man, dressed in his Sunday best creating magical Christmas moments despite his grief and loss.
There’s a good chance your holiday season looks nothing like you thought it would this year. I can completely relate because mine doesn’t either.
But what I learned that day from the encouraging words of a stranger is that we have the ability to create magical moments whenever we want.
Maybe magical for you is to finally give yourself a break. Perhaps it’s carving out time to bake Christmas cookies or make ornaments. Maybe it’s donating your time, energy, or resources to those who’ve had an exceptionally hard year.
It might even be as simple as adding pops of red to your neutral décor because red feels like Christmas to the people in your pod more than ivory and champagne does.
Whatever the inspiration for your Christmas magic, my wish for all of us is that we’re able to hold onto it despite the circumstances around us.
Because when we really look back on this wild ride of a year, we’ll see the wonders of His love have been right there with us all along.
And that, my friends, is worth celebrating.
Up next on the hop is Tammy from Patina and Paint. Once you’re finished there, be sure to check out the rest of the talented ladies on the Christmas Homes Tour Blog Hop:
Other Holiday Home Posts to Enjoy:
- Soft and Romantic Farmhouse Christmas Tour
- A Christmas Message & Holiday Home Tour
- Blue and White Christmas Home Tour at Bliss Barracks
- Effortless Christmas Wreath Ideas
- Soft and Romantic Farmhouse Christmas Porch Tour
Oh, my goodness. That story had me crying. You home is absolutely beautiful. I love your use of greenery in your Christmas decor. It just screams Christmas to me.
Thank you so much, Tammy! It’s been fun to share a bit of Christmas cheer and decorate with lots of greenery and festive pops of red this year. We usually keep a very neutral color palette so it’s been a fun change. I hope you and your family have a blessed and happy holiday season, CoCo
What a beautiful story, thank you so much for sharing!
You are so welcome, Patti! I hope your day has been a special one, CoCo
Oh CoCo…what a beautiful post. You touched my heart and tears with your Christmas story. I understand struggling with anxiety and the courage it takes to be open to new experiences. You encourage me to take a chance and try more things out of my comfort zone. Thank you for sharing your story, sweet friend! What a gift you were given that day…
Your Christmas decor is so welcoming and cozy…I loved it from the first touch of plaid in your entryway. It is beautiful!
You’re so sweet to me, Linda, thank you. It’s definitely not an easy feat to open yourself up to new people, places, or experiences while dealing with anxiety. I’m thankful for friends like you that not only understand but do their best to work through it while lifting up others as well. Some of my best breakthroughs have come from people willing to share their stories, even the hard ones, like that sweet old man did that day. He was definitely a gift I didn’t know I needed. Sending you lots of love and hugs for a joy and peace-filled holiday season, CoCo
This was a beautiful story you shared and brave of you to speak about. I suffer from depression and mine is anxiety driven so I get it. I too have learned to cope through years of therapy. Depression needs meds and I take them to make my life safe. I have bern down some dark paths and having genetic depression and MS causing depression it was a tough battle and sacry for my husband, family and friends.
I’m proud of you for getting through a very scary moment. In the end you went to a fairytale restaurant and met a wonderful man who loved his wife, the best love.
Your home is decorated so beautifull I love all the trees mingled about and your snowflakes you made look beautiful. Your table is stunning with the garland down the center of your table.
Thanks for joining the tour my friend.
I appreciate you sharing this too, Cindy, I know it’s not an easy road at all. It definitely takes a toll on us and our loved ones because it’s hard to articulate sometimes what it feels like and why it’s happening. I’ve learned to understand my triggers better and like you have had lots of extra education through medicine and therapy. While it can feel extremely uncomfortable to talk about, I’m thankful our society is starting to talk about mental wellness more and more. It’s really easy to think we should just be able to “pull ourselves up by the bootstraps” and move on. Thanks for all your love and support throughout the year and for including me on the tour. I know it’s extra work for you and you are very much appreciated. Big hugs and Merry Christmas to you and your family, CoCo
I absolutely loved this story. You should almost write a short story book about it. I hope you have a Merry Christmas.
Such a sweet thing to say, Mary, thank you. I must have written and re-written it a hundred times trying to capture the moment. It definitely gave me a new appreciation for writers everywhere 🙂 I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a joy-filled holiday season, CoCo
I’m all for limited, traditional decor…and your home is perfect for that! Love all the greens and natural elements…Everything is just simply lovely…hope you have a peaceful holiday! Snadi
I really appreciate it, Sandi, thank you! It was definitely fun to change things up from our usual neutral palette. I mean, if there ever was a time to pull out the festive pops of red, it’s this year 🙂 Big hugs and happy holidays, CoCo
You have me teary eyed- what a precious story and experience! I was on pins and needles, well written and thoughtful♥ Merry Christmas!
Such a kind and thoughtful compliment, Barbara, thank you! I really appreciate it. It was definitely a special experience and I’m thankful to be able to share it with you. I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season, CoCo
CoCo, your post has the ability to touch all of us in a powerful way. Not only was your story of that one Christmas you had moved me but the view of your home caught my attention and sparked the emotions in my heart and soul. How touching, thanks for sharing. Happy Holiday my friend!
I really appreciate it, Terrie, thank you so much. It was really hard to admit I couldn’t find any inspiration to decorate for the holidays this year. Especially, because you guys are all so talented and I didn’t want to let you down. Looking back though, I’m thankful for the experience. I learned that sometimes even when you don’t have a plan things still have a magical and unexpected way of working out. Thank you for putting this all together. I appreciate being part of it all and all your hard work. Big hugs, CoCo
You have touched my heart in a special way! What a wonderful story. I forwarded it to my husband of 55 years so he can enjoy it, too. Christ and family ARE Christmas! God bless you!
So sweet of you to pass this post along, Cheryl, I really appreciate it. My parents are about to celebrate 50 years together next week so I can’t wait to tell them about you guys at 55 years. They’ll be so excited too. My Dad was in the military for most of our life so it’s been quite an adventure. Without a doubt having Christ at the center of our family is what kept us all together 🙂 Sending you both hugs and congratulations on 55 years! Merry Christmas, CoCo
What a lovely story. I appreciate you sharing it with everyone. I am of course crying at my desk. I hope you have a very blessed Christmas also.
Speak to my heart, Tracy, I would be right there with you holding a box of tissues for us 🙂 Thank you for your kind words. Sending you hugs for a richly blessed holiday season, CoCo
CoCo, another magical post I teared up when reading. Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your family!
Thank you so much, Anne. I can’t even express how much your sweet support means to me. I appreciate you so much. Sending you lots of hugs and happiness to you and your family for a Merry Christmas and festive holiday season, CoCo
Thank you for sharing your story and “the wonder of His Love” in action .
Merry Christmas .?
So enjoyed your lovely home also .
Such sweet and thoughtful words, Joyce, thank you! It was a powerful reminder we’re surrounded by love even when we can’t see it or feel it. And yet, love shows up for us when we need it most and at just the right time. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a peace-filled holiday season, CoCo
Thank you for this beautifully written post. It brought me to tears with gratitude for the wonders of His love.
So glad you enjoyed this, Cindy, thank you so much for your kind words. I really appreciate it. I hope your holiday season is filled with all good things and you find the wonders of His love when you need it most, CoCo
What a Beautiful Story and so well written! I am now crying as i write this because as he said “The heart is more tender this time of year”.
Bless you for sharing.
Thank you so much, Joan. It was definitely a sweet moment I’m thankful to have been able to experience and pass along. His words immediately taught me that while this is such a special time of year, it can also be a hard time of year for so many people. I love that he celebrated despite his grief though because I know it’s not always an easy thing to do. Sending you hugs and many blessings for a happy and healthy holiday season, CoCo
Thank you for sharing this lovely story. Brought tears to my eyes not just for the beautiful love story but also for explaining your panic attacks in a way my son has never been able to. I’ve learned that the only way I can help him is to sit quietly until he asks for help but as a mother who wants to make everything easy for him, it doesn’t feel like enough. Wishing you all the peace of the season.
I appreciate this comment so much, Char, thank you. Sitting with him and letting him come to you is such a loving and patient thing to do. It’s very hard to articulate how it feels to go through one sometimes. It’s like your brain and body become so overstimulated and with such intensity, it is physically and emotionally draining. I was never able to articulate mine to my parents either. While I’ve gotten better at understanding the triggers over the years, I still struggle feeling guilty that I’m able to handle it in a better or different way sometimes. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by lots of mercy, love, and grace and it sounds like your son is too. Sending you both hugs and wishing you peace and unexpected blessings this holiday season, CoCo
Wow! What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing. I love “the wonders of His love,” I’m hoping to use that phrase, if I can remember it. Hugs and blessings to you. Merry Christmas!
Thank you so much, Renae, I really appreciate it. Isn’t it so cool out of all the lines in ‘Joy to the World’ that’s the one they held most dear? It made me love that song even more 🙂 Sending you hugs right back and hoping your Christmas season is richly blessed, CoCo
I just cried happy/moved tears reading this story. Thanks for sharing it.
PS: Weirdly, crying HAPPY tears has been one of 2020’s gifts to me. I’m letting myself be moved–REALLY MOVED–whenever I read or hear something beautiful.
PPS: I think you “nailed it” with your decor. It feels just like your story. Merry Christmas.
Such sweet and thoughtful words, Corrie, thank you so much. I love that happy tears have been such a gift for you this year. I’ve been trying super hard to be more aware of not dismissing uncomfortable feelings and it defintely takes a lot more work to sit with them than I ever imagined 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration to keep trying, CoCo
What a lovely post. You reminded me of an encounter I had some years ago. I was a tour guide for architectural history. i often gave two hour tours for 100-200 people. In an old ballroom in need of historic restoration, this very elderly gentleman kept interrupting m tour with his memories of dances in the 1940s.. I could see that many of the tourists were getting very annoyed with him. I couldn’t figure out how to politely silence him. So, I curtly asked him to hold his questions until after the tour ended. When my tour was completed, he asked me to sit in a very particular booth. I was apprehensive but I accepted his invitation. He held my hand and then I really got nervous. He told me that this was the booth that he proposed to his wife 49 years ago. She had died two months previously. He read about my tours and decided to visit the ballroom one last time. We talked and laughed for two hours. He poured his heart out to me and told me wonderful stories about the dances at the ballroom. That man changed my life forever. I became a better person and a better tour guide. I learned to combine personal anecdotes with architectural history. I gained a great reputation for having the best tours in the city. To this very day, whenever I hear a big band song, I think of him and his wife dancing in heaven.
You are totally giving me the chills with this sweet story, Nancy, what a special way to connect with others! I love that he wanted you to sit in the same booth they had been in and he felt comfortable to share his heart with you. It’s such a testament to your gift of putting others at ease. I’m constantly amazed at how a kind word and taking the time to reach out makes such a huge difference. I’ll always think of you both when I hear big band music now too. Big hugs and thanks so much for sharing, CoCo
Such a sweet, sad story, CoCo. I cried, too. I can see him telling you his love story. Thanks so much for sharing with us. There’s always so many people who struggle getting through the holidays but this year more than ever before. It is a choice we make to acknowledge “the wonders of His love” during such difficult times. You are one very special lady! Your home is absolutely lovely. Hugs to you & your family.
I appreciate you so much, Patty, thank you. Even though I only met him those brief moments, he made such an impact on me. Especially, with how he celebrated her love and a season that meant so much to her. As you and I both know, it’s not always easy to do when you’re grieving those you love and lost. As you say, it’s a choice we can all make to see the wonder and love all around us. Even in this wild and crazy year 🙂 Sending you big hugs and lots of love for an extra special holiday season, CoCo
Love all of your Christmas ideas and tour but the story almost brought tears to my eyes too! Thank you for sharing that. It was a blessing today. Big hugs.
Thank you, Cindy! It was such a sweet moment it didn’t seem right to keep it all to myself 🙂 Sending you lots of hugs this holiday season, CoCo
What a sweet story! Thank you for sharing!
So glad you liked it, Shelly, I’m happy to share. It was definitely a sweet moment. Hope you and your family have a fabulous holiday season, CoCo
You know how I love your stories, CoCo. and isn’t it funny how some of the most important moments and memories are found in the most unlikely places. It’s been quite a year and I am looking forward to a brighter future for all of us. Merry Christmas!
Speak to my heart, Ann, yes! I’m so thankful I walked into the restaurant that day instead of calling it a night and going back to the cabin. It was definitely an unlikely place to receive such a sweet message of love during the holidays. Sending you hugs for a merry and bright season and a beautiful year ahead, CoCo
I’ve read amazing books from what many describe as the most talented authors the writing world has given us, and I just read one more. Every word, every detail, touched EVERY sense I have. And I understood completely the terror you felt. This post touched my heart in ways I’m not even able to put into words just yet. Thank you so much for opening your heart and sharing the most secret parts. It takes an amazing amount of strength to do so. Lastly, I really do think you should consider publishing your story. You are a true writer. P.S. Your home is absolutely stunning! For someone who didn’t have a plan, you turned your home into a Christmas wonderland!
You totally have me all teary over here, Christine, thank you so much for your heartfelt words. It’s definitely not easy to put yourself back out there especially after a panic attack but I’m so thankful I walked into the restaurant that day. While I’ll probably never see that sweet old man again, our encounter continues to inspire and encourage me. I’m happy his story has been able to encourage others too. He definitely deserved for it to be told. Sending you lots of love and hugs for a memorable Christmas filled with the wonders of His love, CoCo
A beautiful post CoCo. Thank you for the sweet and lovely reminder, and for sharing your heart. Merry Christmas to you!
Thank you so much, Barbara, I really appreciate it. I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season as well, CoCo
You have such a beautiful home, Coco!! I absolutely love your style! I love all the natural touches that you have added. So beautiful and so festive! Love it!!!
Thank you so much, Emily, I really appreciate it. I feel the same way about your home. It inspires me all the time. Hope your holiday season is merry and bright, CoCo
I am so moved by your beautiful story. Relating to the covid thing, I have ended up spending the month of December with my daughter and my granddaughters. There is not much more magical that getting to see this wonderful season through the eyes of children. First I browsed through the photos, and I am loving all of your decor. I think the simple and natural theme you have is beautiful! May your Christmas be a blessed one, and may you and your family stay safe and happy!
This was such a wonderful post CoCo! It just kept going on and on. Loved everything, pinned.
Your beautiful and honest story is very touching and SO well written! I can’t imagine what it’s like for you sometimes, but it’s clear that you’re determined not to let it get the best of you! You’re an inspiration as a person and as a talented decorator and DIY-er. I truly wish for you a blessed and relaxing Christmas holiday.And thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. Pinned!, xo Kathleen
Such a beautiful and personal post CoCo. Thank you for sharing your story along with your lovely Christmas home. I enjoyed both ♥
Thank you for sharing your effortless Christmas home tour at Create, Bake, Grow & Gather this week. I’m delighted to be featuring it at tomorrow’s party (it’s a day early this week) and pinning too.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas,
OMG, it’s five o’clock on Christmas morning and my heart is all in a knot from your story! But what a beautiful ending! I can relate to the gentlemen, my husband and I have been married 58 years and we’ve been there done it all and together! But I love all that you’ve done to your house and can’t wait to start following you on IG. Merry Christmas sweet lady
Such sweet and thoughtful words, Rebecca, thank you so much. My parents just celebrated 50 years together so I know what an excited milestone you and your husband have reached. I hope you and your family had a richly blessed holiday season and are looking forward to all good things this year. Happy New Year, CoCo PS: If you get a chance please DM me your account on IG so I’ll be able to follow you back. I don’t want to miss anything 🙂
What a beautiful memory. Started daunting, but ended in a lovely word picture. Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas and may you enjoy the Wonders of His Love.