In the early 1990s, my kid sister, Meg, had a year-round obsession with a Claymation Christmas special starring The California Raisins, a quartet of animated dried fruit who sang Motown songs. Needless to say, Christmas with the California Raisins did not surpass It’s a Wonderful Life to become the country’s most beloved holiday classic; however, Meg’s affinity for offbeat holiday programming struck a chord with me, and ever since, I’ve enjoyed the alternative approach to seasonal decorating. Take, for example, my rustic modern weekend house in the north Georgia mountains.
When I bought the 1,700-square-foot cabin in the fall of 2013, I was hell-bent on whipping it into shape just in time to host my immediate family for the holidays. Well, that didn’t happen. And not because I blew my timeline or budget or anything, but because my kid sister refuses to drive on the highway outside the city; my big sister’s kids have soccer almost every day of the week; my mother is terrified of the steep incline up to the house; my dad ends up wanting to hunt squirrel, which is never a good idea; and my environmentalist older brother makes a massive production about carpooling. So this is what I did for the holidays my first year in the house: I lit scented candles, ate frozen pizza and watched Netflix.
This year, well, it’s an entirely different story, one involving fully decked-out interior and exterior living spaces, and family members who’ve cleared their calendars, at least for one or two days in late December. Because the cabin is all about rest and relaxation, I wanted a holiday decorating plan that could be executed in one or two hours, max. There would be no adding lights or ornaments to trees. Nothing in the house would require more than a quick snap or click. My Jeep would not be hauling anything up the mountain.
Two sides of me led the overall aesthetic: The designer in me loved the idea of sticking with the modern maker’s movement, outfitting the spaces with one-of-a-kind, handmade creations made from rustic materials, many of them reclaimed. The writer in me turned scripts from modern-day Christmas movies into abstract fireplace art. This year, everybody has been invited and has, for the most part, accepted. It will be like the early 1990s all over again, except this time without The California Raisins. I’ll just tell my sister they couldn’t handle the altitude.