Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Do you know how hard it is to attempt to describe all the wonderful things that are part of a very special holiday visit? Really hard, that’s how hard. There were so many things packed into our three night, four day stay, that I cannot begin to remember, but do let me try. The visit begins with our Christmas Day entrance to the enchanted “North Pole” that is my daughter’s home in, not the Arctic, but in semi-tropical Bluffton, South Carolina, just across the bridge from Hilton Head and the Atlantic Ocean.
Kim had decorated for weeks, partly in honor of Christmas visitors, but mostly because she just loves to make things beautiful—her house in particular. So, step with me inside her home, from top to bottom, a magical wonder land.
There stands a gorgeous 8-foot tree, dripping with ornaments collected over 17 years, many very familiar to us all, a mantle with a village ensconced in snow with miniature sleighs, people, trees, and skaters upon an ice pond, then three shelves next to the “fireplace,” (a large-screen TV with fake logs on a blazing hearth) and which house a dozen Nutcrackers all dressed in unique costumes ranging from a baker, to a fatigue-clad soldier, to the traditional nutcracker from the ballet of that name. Also there is a large china cabinet filled to bursting with gorgeous crystal bowls, biscuits jars, vases and punch cups with a magnificent matching cut crystal punch bowl that dates back to my mother’s time in Germany.
And to the right of the entrance is the kitchen where not an inch of countertop is wasted. A pottery camper cookie jar (painted with its own bright lights and colorful wreaths), several sets of Santa salt and pepper shakers, red, white and green ‘stuff’ everywhere! A plethora of embroidered towels in red and white checkerboard pattern hang from the oven’s handle, from over the edge of the sink, while some lie in wait of the next holiday meal to be prepared where more kitchen linens will be needed…”decorated” linens.
Step into the guest bath and you will be treated to a rustic theme of steel-antlered deer and the same red, white and green towel scheme as in the kitchen; but, it is when you enter the guest bedroom that your eyes glaze over and you believe you have been transported to another land. Santa land. Sparkling lights surround the headboard of the bed over which hangs a massive wreath plus silver balls hanging down from the ceiling above the bed at different levels; the bedding continues to carry out the red and white checkerboard theme, with pillow, upon, pillow, upon embroidered pillow. An elegant snowman waits for guests on the bedside table. It is over-the-top Gorgeous!
So, you get the picture. Well almost. The office next door has not been neglected. The room has large red snowflakes (I know, I know), and sparkling white snowflakes (better, right?) hang from this ceiling. In every room are large vases super large vases, and jars turned upside down; inside are miniature scenes of a Winter Wonderland. Just lovely. Transporting. Sigh. The two gingerbread houses that Kim and Courtney (her new daughter-in-law all the way from Texas . . . and our new favorite relative—sweet, kind, young woman!) created before we arrived, had pride of place upon the Dining Table. TaDa. Simply stunning. Who does all this stuff? I mean, WHO does all this Stuff? Certainly not me. I was lucky to get one big shopping bag of gifts, stuffed with smaller bags, and shoved into the trunk of our car in time to head out for Bluffton on Christmas Day.
Oh. What am I thinking? I forgot to tell you about the Conga Line of gaily wrapped packages which snaked around the room from the Master Bedroom door, across in front of the tree, along the “fireplace,” around the bookcases holding their twelve Nutcrackers, and ending in a stack at the base of the beautiful antique coromandle screen in the corner. A good thing we decided to have a “Stocking Christmas!” We all promised just to find little gifts this year, (since no one needed or particularly wanted anything); things so small and inexpensive that they could go into a stocking. What a great plan, don’t you agree?
Well. It looked as though someone had not got the message! Kim exclaimed, “But, Mom. I did not have your stockings and so, I just popped a few, inexpensive things into bags. Dollar store bags, she muttered.
Mostly, she was right. Christmas gift exchange this year was reasonable. No extravagant Apple watches, IPhones, or automobiles. Bill got ties and puzzles. Always favorites. I received fluffy slippers, a hand-me-up vest with a brand new turtleneck, lots of lovely little, and thoughtful gifts. I thank everyone for remembering our pledge.
Our grandchildren, 16, 20 and 20 years old, were given gift certificates to Operation Mobilization in order to purchase goats, cows, chickens or school supplies from their mission catalogue instead of the usual gift of money they receive. Bill and I were very pleased with their reaction to this unusual gift. They said “Thank you for this opportunity. What fun this will be, picking out something for these kids. Do I get a Cow?” No, Virginia. The cow is for someone else this year. Maybe next year, if you are very, very good!
Happy New Year, Friends. From Bluffton, South Carolina where we had a real fire outside tonight. Sitting beside the glowing coals with family was one of my favorite things this week. Really beautiful, Kim and Joe.