From the mouths and mind of babes
Santa Claus is coming to town …

A very merry mess

A very merry mess

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register


A very merry mess cover

A very merry mess screenshot

You can view the PDF version here.

It's a pretty safe bet you won't see any of my do-it-yourself projects gracing the pages of national magazines targeting women looking to beautify their homes and gardens.

In fact, as I write this, it occurs to me that my editor was perhaps being ironic when she approached me with the idea for writing this particular column. Or, perhaps, she wanted to offer readers a little comic relief in case they too can relate to things not turning out like the picture. Ever.

One of my time-honored traditions this time of year is flipping through those aforementioned magazines and admiring gorgeous Christmas decorations — thoughtful touches like wreaths hung in 17 windows with candy-cane striped ribbons, or a charming old-fashioned sleigh propped against the wall below a pair of leather ice skates, or a homemade advent calendar that looks as if it could have been purchased at Pottery Barn.

I covet this kind of craftiness. I want ours to be the family in coordinating flannel pajamas and matching mugs of nog.

Instead, we're the dairy-free, flannel-free version, drinking our cocoa out of chipped cups collected from Dairy Queen back in my childhood.

As lovely as those fancy foyers and mesmerizing mantels strike me, something seems missing. Like, say, children.

Mine, I am certain, would want to take that sleigh for a ride — down the stairs. And I can only hazard a guess as to how long the other decorations would look so perfect with my eager little elves running about.

Yes, yes, I do let them run in the house because. Boys Oregon winter = some indoor roughhousing. It just does.

I reckon that's true for girls, too, but I can only speak to my experience. And that can come to include use of cushions as mini-trampolines.

But back to decking the halls:

I delight in the little details, I really do.

At the time of this writing, before Thanksgiving, I already had red and green bulbs on my outside lamps. "She's really on top of it," one might think. Except that those are from last year. So, for the last eleven months it lent a brothel-esque feel. Which I suppose is it's own kind of festive.

I am in awe of decadently decorated trees with coordinating ornaments. I simply adore the look of themed trees.

For the last seven years, we've rocked with the "we have small children" theme. With the bottom third not decorated at all, lest little hands take advantage, I'd say we've pretty much nailed it.

I'd be happy to send you a glossy photograph of that awesomeness if you like, as it doesn't appear to be making the rounds in popular magazines.

Something else I'm surprised hasn't taken off is my do-it-yourself draft dodger, the kind that stops chilly drafts from sneaking under the door.

After seeing a slew of darling ones online, I wanted to craft one of my own. And I was able to whip up a version of my own without a second thought. Really.

As I stepped over a pile of laundry between the kitchen and "laundry room" — really more of an outdoorish closet, truth be told — I noticed how well the mound of clothes kept the cold air out. Suddenly, I had a draft dodger using nothing more than materials immediately at hand.

Then I invited friends over for some warm food on the darkest night of the year. And I think the inspiration I had for this one makes me a contender for the Pinterest fails hall of fame.

As is usually the case, the original picture inspiring my solstice candle display was lovely. I crafted my own version, using lentils to hold up the candles.

I don't recall an actual fire in the picture. Nor do I remember a warning that a glass jar holding flammable legumes would get hot enough to set them ablaze.

In retrospect, maybe that went without saying. In conclusion, don’t try this at home.

For next year's trick, I should see what I can burn with an iron.

Flames and failures aside, the point is that I rolled out the welcome mat, however crumbled, for friends to gather. And we celebrated something that matters more than what is, or isn't, on the mantel: our ability to bring light where there is darkness.

This year, I'm trying to remember that making merry is a verb. However that looks at your house, I'm wishing you joyful moments this season, and always.

Since she's not busy ironing napkins — or anything else, for that matter — Nathalie Hardy has more time to write in the margins of motherhood. Something else will have to give, as she'll be marketing her new book, "Raising the Hardy Boys: They said there would be bon-bons." Members of her family are supportive, provided dinner is still served. After all, they didn't specify by whom. Feel free to drop by, preferably with food. To contact her, visit or find her on Facebook at Nathalie’s Notes.

Lentils on Fire