Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Santa Pictures

One of my favorite things to display at the holidays is my collection of Santa Pictures with my girls.  It is so fun to take a trip down memory lane and see how much they have grown over the years.  The pictures remind me of not only what I see, but the stories behind the pictures as well.  Making our annual trip to see Santa was not always an easy task.

I had it in my head that the pictures should be taken at the same location every year.  Or if not at the same location, at least by the same company.  When I was little we had our annual Santa pictures taken at Fredrick & Nelson.  When my girls were born, Fredricks was gone, but Nordstrom took over and so Nordstroms it had to be!

Our very first Christmas we planned a very festive trip to Downtown Seattle, dressed our 3 month old baby up in her pretty Christmas Dress and stood in the long line to take a picture with Santa.  After about an hour of waiting in the cold long line, we rounded a corner to where we could actually see Santa.  Once we saw Santa, I decided after seeing him that he didn't look "authentic" enough for our baby's very first Santa picture.

So we marched back to the car, packed her in her carseat, and proceeded North to the next closest Nordstrom.  We went up to find Santa waiting with no line and candycanes ready.  PERFECT!!  We had found our new favorite place to get our Santa pictures!

The next year we went back to that store, went upstairs to find Santa, and found one of Santa's helpers sadly turning folks away.  We asked where Santa was and if he would be returning soon, but unfortunately Santa had just passed away.  Heartbroken over such sad news, we left and visited another store further North.  Santa never returned to that store, and it still saddens me to this day to think of Santa's family losing him over the holidays.

The next year we went back to the alternate Nordstroms, and it seems they had closed that Santa location and were down to just 2 locations in the Seattle area - downtown like we had gone the first year, and another location in Bellevue, just East of Seattle.  We made it to Bellevue, only to be told Santa is off duty.  Now remember, getting 2 girls dressed in their pretty Christmas Dresses, getting Dad off work and everyone together in rush hour traffic to go see Santa is no easy task.

I called Nordstrom and vented about my frustrating experiences with visiting Santa, and was invited to bring the girls in for a VIP Santa visit.  Our names were put at the top of  the waiting list, so when we arrived we would pass everyone else, visit Santa, take the picture and be on our merry way.  I have to say, it sounded like a good idea at the time, but when the time came and we were walking in front of all the tired, crabby children so my little princesses could get their VIP treatment, I felt a little silly.  It was very nice of Nordstrom to accomodate us like they did, but the dose of humble pie that went along with it left a bad taste in my mouth.

I decided the next year that we could branch off and try a new Santa.  I really wanted the brown mats that the photos were placed in to look the same, and fortunately we had collected a few extras over the years, so at this point, where we went really didn't matter (as long as the Santa looked authentic!).  We have gone to private photo studios, Macys and the Santa in the Mall (as long as it wasn't the one in his suspenders and work clothes - he MUST be in his Santa uniform!) Our girls are almost too old to visit Santa anymore.  Soon they will be setting their car keys on the counter next to Santa.  I figure as long as they live here and get presents from Santa, they will continue to keep mom happy by getting their picture taken with the big guy.

Merry Christmas to all~  Ho Ho Ho!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It takes a village...

And a Christmas tree, and some stockings hung by the chimney with care, but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

The bookshelf on the left is still a work in progress, but the mantle is done!

I made the stockings about 5-6 years ago.  They are made from fleece and felt.  There was no pattern, I just started cutting the felt and hoped it all came together in the end.  I think they turned out pretty cute!

The village was a tradition started in our family by my grandmother.  She did ceramics as a hobby, and had a beautiful village displayed in her home each year.  Over the years she made villages for all her grandkids.  I have since supplemented the initial village with a few pieces purchased from the store, but many of the original buildings and people were hand painted by her.

This year I added little rock walkways to the village.


My kids look forward to helping put the village together each year.  It's almost as much fun as decorating the tree!

Do you have a Christmas Village your family displays?  Please share it!

Happy decorating everyone!