Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vintage Holiday Style: Clark Griswold Eat Your Heart Out!

So hear me out. If you're like me, you're finally starting to come out of your turkey and mashed potato cranberry coma, and starting to realize Christmas is already coming rapidly around the corner. I typically allow myself to start to thinking about Christmas on the drive back to Charlottesville from my family homestead post-Thanksgiving (this is also the first time I allow myself to listen to Christmas music, although, I snuck a few tunes early on Pandora this year.) My family refuses to participate in Black Friday shopping, especially after watching the news and seeing some poor woman trampled in line trying to get in Best Buy at 4AM or hearing about some lady getting in a cat fight over the last cotton/poly blend twin set and 2 karat diamond ring at JC Penny. I love a good sale, but I'm not trying to buy a ticket for that hot mess express. Nothing quite dampens my holiday spirit like taking an elbow to the throat over sportswear.

That being said, what does get me in the spirit is starting to decorate the house and yard. I always like to start with the yard and get it out of the way. I was raised in a home with several Holiday decor rules, especially when it came to the outdoors. As a small child, I was obsessed with plastic blow molds, especially the nativity scenes. You know, the plastic light up Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. Mary is wearing blue, Joseph in hot pink, and Jesus, small in white. All is calm, all is bright. Occasionally someone would go all out and get the wise men, a few angels, some straw, making me even more excited. I don't know what it was, but I thought they were the coolest, prettiest things I had ever seen. I even asked for one from Santa one year. I used to force my parents to drive me around to look for nativity scenes at houses and churches. They were good sports. However, despite my neon Bethlehem fetish, my parents also thought having a light up nativity scene in our yard was somewhat sacrilegious and didn't match our classic, colonial, Cape Cod holiday decor. My dad's always had a rule about only using real greenery. He makes his own wreaths, real evergreen garland, and we always pick out real Christmas trees with white lights. If it's artificial it doesn't belong outside. Candles in the windows, simple bows, some old wood snow sleds, and we're in business. I have to say, it's a nice, classic, old Virginia look. Very pineapple Della robbia around the door, "I'll be Home for Christmas" playing in the car when you pull in the driveway, "come on in, y'all" kind of look. A lot of this style has rubbed off on me. I always get real garland for outside, real wreaths, and a real Christmas tree with white lights (I know it's more work, but I love the smell in the house and I even like going to pick it out and strap it on the car. However, I also like to have a little fun, and I figure now is my chance to live out my dream of a colorful display in my yard this Christmas.
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I do have to say, now that the time has come and I have the opportunity, I have no interest in the light up nativity scene (I guess my parents were right). I still get a kick out of seeing a nativy scene in front of a church or in someone's yard, but just not my yard. I'm also really, really, really anti-inflatables. To me, they're too big, they're random, and they deflate when you turn them off. It's the most depressing sight, looking at a sad empty sack of a Santa or Snowman laying on your lawn like he's been shot. Also, have you ever seen one of those guys in a wind storm? It's also equally as depressing to see Santa about to go airborne without his reindeer and sleigh, whipping back and forth like one of those "Come in here" inflatable tube men at a cell phone or Cash Advance store, luring folks inside to trade their car title for $500.00 and an unexplained interest rate.
Nothing quite says Happy Holidays like the cast of Winne the Pooh and a wheelbarrow, made out of wind breaker material.
Needless to say, I wanted something fun, spirited, yet classic and classy for my yard this Christmas. What I found was a wood, 2-dimensional, vintage inspired Santa and sleigh that mimics the cuts-outs of yesteryear that folks used to buy and paint in the 50's and 60's. The best part is this one comes already painted, meaning I won't have to try to paint by numbers this holiday season. All I'll have to do is stick these guys in the ground and put a spotlight on them. I think the wood cut outs are unique, festive, and will look great with the 1950's Cape Cod charm of my house. It's by Department 56, the company that produces those Dicken's Christmas villages people collect and put in their homes during the holidays. Sounds pretty fitting to me.
This is what I picked out. You may not like it either, but I think it's fun. Several of the families on my street have small children, and if they're anything like me at their age (minus the light up nativity scene fetish), they'll get a big kick out of the display.
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If you like the vintage look, I came across these fun blow-mold reproductions from Sundance. I know you can still buy plastic Santas and Snowmen in major chain stores, but these are based on vintage, original designs and add that unique charm at your house. They also have a lot cuter faces and expressions than today's versions. The old Santas always remind me of the classic Santas on the Coca Cola bottles.
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I'm excited to go pick out my Christmas tree and evergreen garland tomorrow. After that, the lights will start going up, then Santa and his red reindeer will take center stage. I think the holidays give us a great opportunity to showcase our homes, our style, and our creativity. Explore holiday decorations that fit both your style and the style of your home. It's difficult to pull off Colonial Christmas in your 1970's modern A-frame, but it doesn't mean it can't be done if that's what's going to make you happy this Christmas. Take inspiration from holidays of the past and incorporate the fun of modern design. You're certainly in store for a fun holiday season. Until then, have fun untangling your lights.



  1. I love your sense of humor! A great way to start the day. As a kid, I loved driving around and seeing yards full of outdoor decorations. There was one house in Cville that had a small nativity scene, with much taller Dickens carolers towering over it(as though they attended the birth!), with at least 4 different Santas displayed in their yard. I keep my decorations fairly simple outside, and don't feel the need for my own nativity scene, but I disagree with Eddie Ross (but love him!) that you shouldn't have a nativity because your Jewish friends don't want to see that. I don't get upset if my friends want a menorah in their yard, or whatever.
    Anyway, I love your vintage Santa. Maybe a picture of your decorations later?

  2. you know how my moms is crazy and loves tigger? well, my parents have a different tigger inflatable crazy for every holiday. Jack offered to stab one of them. also, they have a different eeyore, pooh, and tigger for christmas where eeyore is pulling a cart, and when it's windy, it doesn't look very "christmas-y." it looks more like things are different than we thought in the hundred acre wood. happy inappropriate blog comment christmas!

  3. Those inflatable things are a blight, I tell ya!
    They look like discarded condoms when not inflated.