A Christmas Home . . . with the Hill Family

by Aaron Wilson

The halls are decked, the aroma of balsam mingles in the air, and the fireplace glows underneath the stockings. Little feet patter across hardwood floors, and laughter resonates off the walls of our 1950s ranch. It’s easily the most magical time of the year in our home, when twinkle lights are aglow and the holiday spirit is so very tangible. With traditions and bucket lists, our little family comes to life during the holiday season. And we love spreading the cheer from the inside of our home out.
In fact, it was envisioning Christmastime while walking through this house for the first time that sold me on the property. I could imagine a Christmas tree by the front windows, a fire crackling, the mantle strung with garland. Picturing the way we could make a house cozy and Christmas-ready was carried in mind during our two-year-long house hunt. In the fall of 2016, my husband Pete and I made the home ownership dream a reality when we purchased this our first home. We were two young marrieds with an 8-month-old daughter.
In just two years, we have taken a house with good bones and turned it into our home, full of details that reflect our style. We dreamt of adding charm and more character, and with the confidence to tackle it ourselves, we set forth to make over each room, one at a time. We started with sanding and staining the original hardwood floors before moving in, and then quickly began painting rooms in a neutral palette to lay the groundwork for other projects. We saw so much potential in a house that had been sitting vacant for years, and our vision for transforming it was coming to life.
Next was adding board and batten throughout, followed by our fair share of shiplap, and then a bold decision to hang wallpaper in three different spaces. We bulked up the original fireplace and mantle to make more of statement in our large family room, and whitewashed the stone to achieve more subtle tones. The yellow oak trim became crisp and clean with fresh white paint, and the kitchen gained its very own built-in seating nook. As each of our projects was checked off the list, I began playing through how I would decorate the newly made-over spaces for the holidays.
We kick off Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving with our first tradition, heading out to cut down our perfect Christmas tree. There are certain requirements: It can’t be too short; must be plump and round; and any open spot in the branches must be able to be hidden by ornaments or the wall. We listen to Christmas tunes there and back and sip on a seasonal drink. Once the tree is up and decorated, the rest of the house will follow suit, and before you know it, there is pine garland, jingle bells and shades of red all around.
Amidst all the Christmas d├ęcor, what’s most important is to make sure we are present in the season. It gives more depth and meaning to our celebration. Now that we have two little girls to share the wonder of Christmas with, we have discovered a new magic all our own as adults, like the joy it is to create traditions for and with them and experiencing innocence and wonderment through their eyes. We love making each new time of year a delight for our girls. Setting forth the time to be immersed in the festivities, while creating your own, too, makes the month of December that much more extraordinary.
So, as the holidays come into full-swing, we’ll tuck our project list away for just awhile. I will still be scheming, if silently, what’s to come next, like perhaps we’ll paint the exterior brick, knock down a wall for a more open interior concept, add a screened porch out back, carpet would be nice for the basement. It’s seemingly the way my creative-minded brain works, and lucky for me, I married a guy who loves helping my design whims come true.
But right now, we’ll relish the holidays and all that they bring. This Christmas is a little extra special as we celebrate for the first time as a family of four, and we’re so excited for all those new firsts. That is one of the gifts of the holidays ~ every year brings something new and different. It’s all about how you receive it and what you do with it that matters. So whether we’re checking off our holiday bucket list, keeping traditions going or making new memories, we’re thankful we get to do that together. Like the passing year, December may come and go in the blink of an eye. We slow down to our best ability and look forward to plenty of merriment followed by a glorious new year full of more house projects.

Astleigh Hill is a New River Valley-based freelance writer and stay-at-home mom with a classy lifestyle blog at darlingdo.com.

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