Christmas Tour of Homes brings the season early to our house

Dec. 13, 2000 — With the close of the Christmas Tour of Homes on the first weekend in December, we felt like Christmas was over. Since our house was on the Bruce Fine Arts Club tour this year, our Christmas tree, as well as a number of displays,  has been up since well before Thanksgiving. For several days prior to the big event there were table settings that had to be researched in “Joy Of Cooking” to determine the order of beverage glasses, but there was no real food in the house.

I had picked up a big package of baby quiche pastries a while back for some occasion, so we used these as a food substitute for several meals, inter-mixed with “smooth” peanut butter sandwiches on wheat bread.
Jo Ann usually gets the “crunchy” kind, but relented for the “smooth” for smearing the pine cones for outdoor animal treats. The peanut butter was smeared on the cones and the cones were rolled in casserole dishes filled with wild bird seed and such.
She mixed some vegetable oil to make it easier to ladle on the pine cones, but fortunately, for me, she did it after removing it from the container.
Incidentally, the birds and squirrels were a big hit at the open house as they scampered out back in full view through the windows.
And the outside cats, along with their guests, provided afternoon drama as they stalked the feeding wildlife. But they were too well fed to make much of a showing.
Anyway, the peanut butter sandwiches and quiche did very well, thank you, even if we did have to take turns sitting on the kitchen stool or leaning up to the counter.
PK, the inside cat, was a bit disconcerted as she saw her food, water and litter box moved to the laundry room, along with all the other contraband gleaned from its usual places.
Frances Brown threatened to open the door, but I advised her it would take a second and much higher priced admission to go there. And, I warned, if she ever got out she might never be the same.
Several asked where we ever found the circa 1880s planters desk in the den that just fit in the opening in the shelving and cabinet units on the east wall.
“You wouldn’t believe how long we had to look to find one just that size,” I claimed before admitting that the walnut desk, made in Columbus, MS, had belonged to Jo Ann’s aunt’s family and Ellen Jeffrey Houston had designed the units to accommodate it.
She had also designed the north end of the room to accommodate a ceiling high two-shelf mirrored mahogany mantle with Corinthian capitals on two columns each side.
Cousin Earl Gillon had found the mantle in a load of antiques from Whitewater, Michigan.
We had more than a hundred folks come through, which we thought would have sent PK into hiding for days. But, before the afternoon was over she was out on the piano bench letting favored tourists pat her on the head.
As soon as we shut down she came to the kitchen and demanded a dish of tuna, a treat for those times when she has been neglected for a long period of time or some other such human frailty.
As our last guest was leaving and PK was finishing her tuna Miles and Paula Jeffery, whose home was also on the tour, came by with Ellen to see our house — Ellen didn’t need to see it again, but she came anyway — and then we all went by fellow tour host Suzanne Oakley’s house.
It was the end of a good day, but we agreed that after cleaning, redoing the yard undone by the neighborhood “armadiggo,” dusting and finally emptying the mystery boxes in the corner of the bedroom resulting from a remodeling of the den several years ago, and decorating, Christmas will indeed be anticlimactic.
Then the grandchildren in Tupelo called and we felt the spirit of the season reemerging.
Samantha was singing to new brother Eli and Zachary had refused the spaghetti and meat balls and prepared his own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. His mother said he was so proud of himself he had made two more in the course of the day.
The big news is that they plan to spend Christmas Eve night with us and come Christmas morning there will be a happening that will far surpass the tour.
It will be a Christmas to remember, even if it did start before all the left-over Halloween candy and such was gone from the great pumpkin on the kitchen counter.

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