Assorted beauties from European Christmas Markets.

Rocky plans his next move.
Everybody has to have a helper (Pippi) decorate the tree.
“Come-on, I know there are cat-treats in this bag!” (Ziggy)
“I want more.” (Pippi)
“Get this damn hat off me!” (Ziggy)
“My work here is done” (Pippi)

Angels. The topper for many of our Christmas trees, angels are a big part of holiday traditions. I’m always drawn to them, and love the Nuremberg tradition of Christkind, the symbolic golden angel that is the gift-giver there and is a showstopper attraction when she visits the Children’s Christmas Market.

Beautiful and mystical, real or elusive – we can’t have enough angels in our lives right now.

This week, Leya is hosting Lens-Artists Challenge #128 – And Here Comes the Holiday Season. Another opportunity to share my 12-day run-up to Christmas Eve.

Darling angels at a Strasbourg Christmas Market.
Vintage angels that belonged to my Grandmother.
Watching over a square in Lucerne, Switzerland.
One of four angels watching over the Baroque-styled Christmas market in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Christmas Card Poster

I had a few requests to see the final result of my poster made from scans of family Christmas cards. I used Shutterfly and selected the layout giving me the most options, then just had to whittle down my choices. Easy to display and store in an inexpensive frame. It was so much fun to put together!

The best souvenir from the European Christmas Markets – mugs! At least in years past, each market had its own distinctive mug. You can purchase your Gluhwein or hot chocolate in a mug to keep, or just get a clean one (about 5 Euros each, easier to stick in a purse or backpack and pack to take home). When I use them at Christmas they are quite a conversation-starter and no one forgets which mug is theirs.

Nothing is more festive than Christmas lights and nothing is more fun than a visit to NYC during December. I’ll miss hanging out with the crowds to marvel at the fantasy and artistry this year. But if you want to see the windows and city lights virtually the secretnyc site has the 411. Here are a few of my favorite pics, and memories, of holiday lights and displays.

Munich stars during Christmas Market season.
Annual Christmas Boat Parade, Balboa Island, California
The wonderful talking tree at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami. I bet he’ll be back next year.
Strasbourg lights every street in old town, this tree is in the main plaza.
BVLGARI, Fifth Avenue, NYC.
Bergdorf Goodman windows are always my favorite!
Rockefeller Center, NYC.

What gets you more in the holiday mood than all the delicious sweets, treats, and concoctions. My Father’s fudge was the best ever, he had a magic touch, I can’t do it justice. Just writing this – I can smell the holiday goodies baking. Chocolate, almond, gingerbread, and cinnamon . . .

Just don’t try to get me to drink any Gluhwein, eggnog, or syllabub – I’m a hot chocolate gal (a little added bourbon doesn’t hurt). What’s your favorite holiday treat?

We wore ugly sweaters while we made some to eat.
I forgot the name of these German goodies. Does anyone know?
So many treats at the Strasbourg Christmas Markets.
The Swiss really know how to do hot chocolate (in Lucerne).
Santa and his reindeer need sustenance along the way.

Today’s blog is kicking off a 12-day run-up to Christmas Eve. Mostly visual, I hope you enjoy the spirit of the journey.

Every year, for more than 40, my family’s Christmas card reflected a visual involving a map or globe. Dad was a geography professor and Mom, as the family’s ‘creative director’, came up with this plan, made it happen, and kept it alive. In those days it was sometimes a hard job to find the perfect card, but she prevailed, with never the same card twice.  A few years ago, while helping Mom downsize from her home of many years, I found a box with one of each card, carefully dated and saved.

So many of the cards remind me of the Christmases with my family and, of course, my Father – all precious moments; lens-artists challenge #127. I decided to scan them all and create a poster for Christmas 2019. We can’t all be together for the 2020 holidays, but I can share a few of my favorites through this blog. I hope they make you smile.

Strasbourg, France

We are on the move (driving) around the southeastern USA this holiday season and it’s the first year I have not decorated my home for the holidays. This year, it’s all up to our daughter. I think I love the decorating as much as I do everything else associated with the season, so it’s tough to give up. It’s the atmosphere I crave (thanks for the prompt, Lens-Artist #126 – A). Fortunately, my photos of past Christmas seasons offer some solace. These selections are reminders of some of my favorite seasonal memories.

Let the decorating begin!

Nuremberg, Germany
Mainz, Germany
Frankfurt, Germany
Cologne, Germany

I won’t be visiting any European Christmas markets, seeing the fabulous NYC shop windows, or enjoying the boat parade in SoCal’s Newport Beach this year, my endeavors will be much closer to home. We are heading back to warm, sunny Florida and needed to get in the Christmas spirit. With that goal in mind, we visited a couple of mountain Christmas shops for some good-old NC hospitality and lots of festive atmosphere.

Avery County, NC is the Fraser Fir capital of the US and many of the Xmas trees we buy in Florida are grown in the area. It takes 7-10 years in the field to produce a 6-7’ tree, and they are carefully nurtured along the timeline. Avery and nearby Watauga County are covered with tree farms and choose-and-cut options abound. Through the years I have bought garlands, trees, and wreaths from suppliers here and I can vouch for how fresh they are and the fact they will last way past the holidays. Plus, everyone is so darn nice.

Our first stop was the Sugar Plum Farm (off 19E in Plumtree) with choose-and-cut trees, all sorts of greens, and a large ornament and décor shop. Carolina BBQ is on-site for those who need to take a break and refuel, and there are hayrides the kids will love.

Not far away, in Crossnore on 221, The Snowy Mountain Christmas Shop & Sweets is one of my very favorite places for beautiful ornaments and decorative items as well as all sorts of trimmings. They also sell choose-and-cut trees, garlands, wreaths, other greenery, and delicious treats. Chilly days, smells of fresh-cut greens and delicious baked goods, sparkling lights, and the vibrant colors of Christmas decorations; I love it all.

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