Christmas Dreaming & Flea Market Finds

I love this time of year–these few weeks before Christmas with all the anticipation and beauty and wonder of Christ’s birth. As a kid it was almost unbearable. I mean honestly, everything about Christmas was magical. But when it was time to open the presents I remember the excitement in the room was palpable. Nowadays, it’s not quite as exciting, but I still find it magical and appreciate its significance more.

Our tree is decorated, most of the presents are bought and we are enjoying listening to Christmas music. (For some reason “Carol of the Bells” is a favorite song this year. My youngest daughter and I always seem to be humming it.)

Here’s a sweet rendition we like.

Last year we had to move our tree location from the family room, where it had been usurped by a rowing machine, to our living room. Turns out we like it here better! It seems more at home.

The small child’s chair belonged to my Aunt Janet and the silk tiger picture was bought by my dad in Japan when he served in the Korean conflict.

And a few days ago my youngest daughter and I even decorated a tree outside–the first time in all the years we’ve lived in this house! No lights but a few shatterproof baubles that do bring a certain minimalist glam to our front stoop.

And thankfully this year more in-person holiday activities are available. On Saturday I popped in on a neighborhood posada (loved the dancing and tamales) and on Sunday we are attending a free organ recital of “seasonal songs” at the Stanford Memorial Church. This is a gorgeous church with a huge pipe organ that will be played by the gifted Dr. Robert Huw Morgan.

This time of year also lends itself to delicious food, including hearty soups and stews. I was a bit under the weather a few days ago so I made a chicken stew with onions, carrots, mushrooms and potatoes with rosemary sprigs. It was the perfect antidote!

Chicken stew simmering.

Next week I’m looking forward to baking some cookies…I’m thinking some gingerbread men (love all those spices) and maybe Russian tea cakes full of buttery goodness.

And I did get to the flea market yesterday! It was cold (frost cold) but sunny and there were quite a few vendors. Some are the new product/plant/craft folks and I typically pass them by and hone in the secondhand/vintage sellers. Now some of these sellers are downsizing and have good prices while for others it’s an ongoing business and their prices reflect that.

I was super excited to go (as always), but it turns out reluctant to spend money. This is my smallest flea market haul yet ($33), but I’m okay with that. I like what I did buy.

One vendor had four tables full of interesting vintage/antique bits and he was popular, though he wasn’t giving stuff away.

I was interested in several of his pieces but was most intrigued by what turned out to be an 1800s Italian leather box according to him. You can still see bits of gilding. He wanted $30 and I decided to negotiate and offered $25. He said with a frown “I guess I’ll have to take it” as though I was twisting his arm. That kinda surprised me and I replied, “Well, no you don’t have to accept my offer.” Honestly, I didn’t think I was out of line making an offer. It is a flea market! He backtracked when he thought I might walk away and said “No, $25 is okay.” Curious!

I’m debating whether to give it a light cleaning/conditioning. I don’t want to rub away any more of the gilding.

I couldn’t resist this small, old composition boy doll/figurine, even though he was damaged, or perhaps I liked him because he was damaged. Missing half a foot and recovering from decapitation, still I thought he was something. Maybe my brain is addled.

Paid $4.

My last find was this tiny polychrome Native American Pueblo Acoma pot signed “JBS.” I love this sort of thing and they sell for me. The couple who sold it to me were the more serious folks. They come in a big truck with lots of stuff every month and things are priced up. But surprisingly this wasn’t.

Paid $3.

I did feel bad for one vendor. She was a woman in her late 70s who had brought a lot of good vintage stuff. We got to talking and she told me that in the first few minutes of the flea market her “booth” had been mobbed and she had sold about half her stuff, but the experience had rattled her, overwhelmed her, and she said sadly “I know I sold stuff too cheaply.” I wanted to tell her it happens to all of us.

I’ll close for now wishing you health and happiness and joy in however you celebrate this time of year.


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