[Photography by Maria Killam]

Just a little background in terms of my style preferences.  I traveled extensively as a young adult with two singing groups.  One in particular, did a lot of performing in the southern United States and along the eastern sea coast.

I was captured by the beauty of the traditional homes that I had opportunity to stay in while on the road.  I was particularly drawn to the two storey Georgians with their classic finishes and elegant flourishes.  I fell in love with crown molding and panel molding and dreamed of the day I would be able to make that a reality in my own home.

I sometimes feel I am out of place here on the west coast - Vancouver leans more toward modern décor. I am a hopeless traditionalist and at Christmas time more than any other time of the year, you will see this in the choices I make.

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I dress our classical living room mantle in a very symmetrical way. It is adorned with varying heights of brass candle sticks and a mix of fresh and faux greens. Using an artificial garland for my base, layering fresh assorted greens for texture and lushness, I complete the look with a beautiful malleable gold ribbon, weaving it throughout. The sprigs of glimmering gold and silver add another layer of elegance and sparkle and with the white lights running through it all, it literally glows.

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The dining room linen, sourced a number of years ago from Williams-Sonoma, never disappoints with its quiet understated lustre enhancing the classic paisley design. It lends itself beautifully to the layering of tableware, flatware and stemware.

Again, a faux green garland is my base, augmented with varying seasonal greens, ribbon and sparkle. Three shapes of classic red and gold ornaments are placed throughout. The gold glass votives in varying sizes add another level of warmth, drawing friends and family to the table with their seductive glow.

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Our family room tree tells the beautiful story of love that weaves throughout the years.  Some of the ornaments…many in fact, are homemade and have appeared on our trees throughout the 43 years of our marriage.

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The violin that rests on the Duncan Fyfe table in the living room bay window is a reminder of a time in past years when we had more time than money.

The violin had been stored in the basement of our Toronto home. One day, a rather foul smell in the basement caught my attention. Upon further investigation, we realized that it emanated from the violin case. When the case was opened, the neck lifted to greet us. Jon’s violin literally lay there in pieces. The dampness and mold had softened the glue. That was 1986.

We had moved back to the Vancouver area in 1993. To say the move had enormous impact on us would be an understatement. Several years later, still recovering from the very difficult financial setback and looking ahead to Christmas, we decided as a family to draw names; each one focusing on one member of our four person family. The year was 2001.

Jonathan, our son had drawn his father’s name. He decided that he would find a way to repair the violin. He had worked alongside an older friend and luthier who tutored him in the making of a guitar so it made perfect sense to him that it could be done..

If you could have been present in the room when the gift was opened, you would have seen the tears of appreciation and wonder as Jon Sr. saw his violin newly repaired and restored. Truth be told, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room that Christmas Eve.

It is not an expensive instrument to be candid, but it is priceless in terms of what it represents, so it rests on the table as a reminder of past days when the resources were slim but the love was enormous.

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As you gather with family and friends this Christmas season, may the priceless gift of Jesus given to us so very long ago, cause us all to respond with gratitude and JOY!

Merry Christmas to you all!