We prepare our hearts and homes for Christmas. My prayers are more reflective now, my gratitude expands. It’s the season of Advent, the weeks before Christmas.
We also decorate our home with memories of those we love. Each activity, each object reminds us.
Like the year I proudly set the table — and my husband decided it was blah. Out came red and green candles and Christmas glasses instead. Now it’s tradition.
By early December each year, the memories start nudging: it’s time to decorate.
Older daughter and son-in-law couldn’t make it from the US, but memories of the whole family together always return on the day we decorate the tree.
Husband, younger daughter and son-in-law haul in the fresh Fraser fir, haul out the boxes of decorations, string up the lights and we all sip hot cider. The family room’s a happy mess.
We laughingly remember previous Christmas trees: too small, too thin, or lopsided. But this year, we got it right.
The ornaments also bring back memories.
My mother’s gratitude and wishes for the following year are written on a scroll in this cylinder. How we all miss her!
My times working in S. Africa, where these Ndebele dolls were made.
Some ornaments are just for fun. Like “the disco ball”, that always makes us grin, with memories of the disco days.
Memories upon memories.
Tiny Mr. J.C. finally gets tired of all the activity and lies down to sleep, paws up. *Can you see him on the sofa below?* It’s our first Christmas without his best friend Dawson, who would have been asleep at this point too.
Do dogs miss their companions? We do.
All is calm now. Extra-special thanks are given.
And, as the fire glows in the hearth…
Santa and the angels look on approvingly, I think. They, too, have kept us company through many a Christmas.
From our home to yours, wishing you peace this Advent, good memories, and joyful times at Christmas.
“I ‘get’ the house,” he said. “And I also feel a connection with the family who lived here.”
“What’s the spirit of this home like?” I asked.
“The house is very nurturing. Not just for me, but also my friends who visit. It’s a very nurturing home.”
“But there were also tragedies”, I said. “Doesn’t that affect the house’s vibe?”
Ron replied: “Most old houses have seen tragedy. But this was also a very happy home. Over the years there were births, christenings, weddings, dinner parties, children playing, picnics on the lawns… And I feel that joy here.”
Acres of land surrounded the Farncomb family home. Fruit, berries and vegetables grew in their garden in the early to mid-1900’s.
I imagine summer days at Ebor House. Children sent to pick cherries and having fun doing it….
Adults picking raspberries a bit more intently….
A family member trying to teach the pet dog new tricks.
And I imagine wedding parties.
A newspaper story about a wedding at Ebor House in the 1890’s said:
“After the service, which was performed by the rector, the Rev. Canon Farncomb, the wedding party were entertained at a dejeuner given by the bride’s sister, Mrs. Alfred Farncomb, wife of Newcastle’s popular physician.
“… The bride was a picture in her traveling costume of broadcloth, the chapeau stitched and trimmed with grey wings and tie to match. The wedding presents were costly and numerous. A great deal of silver came from friends in England.
“Among the gifts was a massive loving cup, lined with gold, upon which was engraved the family crest, it being an heirloom for many generations: a solid silver teapot, tables, dessert and tea spoons, a silver soup tureen from Dr. and Mrs. Tom Farncomb (Trenton) , a handsome china dinner set from Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Farncomb (Newcastle).”
And another story about another Farncomb wedding:
“….There were vases of pink and white carnations and antirrhinum on the altar and the coloured rays of the afternoon sun streaming through the stained glass windows of nave and chancel made the scene one of entrancing loveliness. ….
…The bride, given in marriage by her uncle… wore a princess dress of white satin brocaded with lilies of the valley in velvet. She wore a long net veil and carried a bouquet of white lilies and carnations. She wore a gold locket, a gift of the groom….
A reception was held at Ebor House, ancestral home of the bride’s maternal forbears.”
Faith and family were important to the Farncombs. Church was a family-affair. Frederick and Jane’s son John was the rector at St. George’s, Alfred taught Sunday school, and Alfred’s wife Hannah was the church organist.
But no family is immune to tragedy. Despite all the success and influence, all the joyful family events, all the involvement with their church, the Farncombs also experienced heartbreaking sorrow.