Holiday decorating is a ritual Michelle Reeder has been doing for years and one that has clearly marked the start of the holiday season for the family of six. The decorating takes place every year sometime after Michelle’s birthday celebration in November and before her husband’s annual work Christmas party in early December. Michelle usually recruits the help of a friend who has a flair for interior design and they spend hours reworking lights, bows, faux presents and greenery around the home.
“It’s kind of nice because it forces me to get everything done before the season starts and then I can relax and just enjoy it,” she says.
The home’s living room is where Christmas traditions come to life most. It’s here where the family displays the tree they cut down together at a local farm. The tree, which often stands up to nine feet tall, is filled with homemade ornaments and topped with an angel. It’s this tree under which Michelle places the manger her mom passed down to her and on Christmas morning places all the children’s presents.
Candles, greenery and ribbon paint the room in hues of red, gold and green, and one of the home’s eight fireplaces spreads warmth and light from the wood burning inside. It’s a room that often draws the family together. “We spend a lot of time in this room,” Michelle says. “It’s where we open our presents and where my husband often plays the piano and we sing carols.”
The dining room is also an important gathering room for the holidays. It’s where the Reeders host Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners to extended family who come to visit. While the visitors may change each year, the menu is always the same. Michelle cooks beef tenderloin on Christmas Eve and a traditional turkey dinner on Christmas Day. It may seem like a large undertaking, but Michelle says it never seems that way. In fact, it is something she looks forward to each year since her mom joins her in the kitchen to cook.
The dining room carries the same colors over from the living room but utilizes different decorations. Gold is seen in the chargers sitting under the holly china settings and also in the soft fabric tied around the backs of the chairs. Red is sprinkled in the greenery centerpiece and on the mantel, and a seven-foot artificial tree stands in front of the window decorated with white poinsettias, gold gift boxes and glass ornaments.
The family’s third Christmas tree stands in the family room. The nine-foot Frasier fir is artificial, but doesn’t appear that way. It’s on this tree that Michelle likes to create a theme, which often changes every couple of years. Over the years, popcorn strands, pine cones and bows have been among the things she has used to decorate. Most recently, she has created a woodland theme with birds, snowflakes and twigs appearing on the top.
The decorating may be what people first see when they enter the home, but it’s the little things the family does that really makes the season feel like Christmas. Baking Christmas cookies, watching holiday movies and reading favorite seasonal stories is what marks the holidays for this family every year—regardless of how old her teenage children get.