In October we met our sweet 91-year-old neighbour Jan while we were out walking and she told us to be sure to visit her house around Christmastime to see all her trees. She sets up trees in every room of her house and thought the children would like to see them all (since when she was younger she would always see people's trees lit up in their windows and wonder how they decorated their trees).
I wasn't sure if she was serious about her offer (though she reemphasized her offer when we stopped by her house on Halloween) but decided that we'd just head over there this afternoon to drop off a Christmas gift and leave things up to her. So I whipped up a little crochet washcloth last night and Miriam made a Christmas card and we walked up the hill to her house.
We rang the doorbell and waited for her to come. When she opened the door we sang her a little carol and presented our gifts and then she invited us inside and began her tour. "I've been hoping you would come!" she said.
Her door was flanked by two little trees covered in homemade ornaments. She used to be part of a sewing group and every year they would do an ornament exchange and those trees showed off the ornaments from that group of friends, which, she noted, have all since passed away, leaving her the sole member of their sewing circle. But she still puts up their ornaments every year and thinks about them.
In her calling room she had a tree decked out in Christmas picture books. She let the kids pull whatever they wanted off the tree to read and helped Alexander with some pop-up books and then we hung the books back up and continued the tour.
Her dining room had a beautiful tree with gold and red and green ornaments—all sorts of musical instruments: drums and harps and flutes and violins and things.
Her kitchen had a tree dressed up with various fruits—a pineapple on the top and bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, and so forth adorning the branches.
Her sunroom had a tree decorated with holly and cardinals.
Her laundry room had a tree strung with dolls clothes pegged to the line with tiny clothespins and a miniature old-fashioned ringer washer at the top.
She had a poinsettia tree in a bedroom, a white dove tree in another (Alexander liked this one the best), and a children's tree in the play room with elves and Santas hiding all among the branches.
She had a gold tree in her living room with all sorts of golden woodland animals. She showed us the tree in her bedroom, the trees in her bathrooms (yes, in her bathrooms—all of them).
Every room in her house really did have a tree, so it was quite a long tour, but we didn't mind. On the way home, Miriam said, "I could see it was bringing her a lot of joy, talking about her trees."
And when Zoë was saying her bedtime prayers she thanked Heavenly Father that we were able to visit "the Merry Christmas tree lady, Miss Jan" this evening.
It really was an enjoyable visit (we'll just have to be sure to remember to eat before we visit her next time because she has a lot of stories to tell) and when we left she told us to be sure to come back to visit her again. Her family is a little far-flung (though she does have a son flying in for Christmas so she won't be alone) so we'll have to be better about stopping by to make sure she isn't feeling lonely.