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In Our Own Backyard...I'm dreaming of a purple Christmas

One evening last week, when things were a little slow and there was no football on TV, I somehow convinced my husband to watch a television show called, "Celebrity Holiday Homes." It was about a trio of stars from the entertainment industry who a...

One evening last week, when things were a little slow and there was no football on TV, I somehow convinced my husband to watch a television show called, "Celebrity Holiday Homes." It was about a trio of stars from the entertainment industry who agreed to allow interior designers to come into their homes to decorate for Christmas.

And though the celebs took the time at the top of the show to fill the designers in on the types of things they like and don't like, the designers were pretty much given free rein to do whatever they darned well pleased. (I suppose that was because the producers of the television program were footing the bill!)

In any case, what ensued was an interior designers' free-for-all, resulting in the most non-traditional-looking Christmas decor that I have ever seen. One utilized baby blue chiffon swags flanking a wall of hanging birch rounds bearing photos of the family. A poinsettia-bedecked log took the place of the dining room chandelier, suspended by more baby blue chiffon swags.

Another designer transformed the entire home into purple everything - purple floral arrangements, a fake purple Christmas tree, a chandelier of purple glass bulbs, purple-frosted sugar cookies and strings and strings of purple LED lights draped over every square inch of the outside of the house.

The third designer chose to transform her celebrity home into a Hawaiian paradise, complete with shiny green banana leaves on the mantle, banks of scarlet bird of paradise plants and strings of seashells festooning the tree.

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Of course, when the big "reveal" came at the end of the show, the celebrities all oohed and ahhed over their transformed homes, using diplomatic terms such as "non-traditional," "so unusual" and "amazing."

After casting our own critical eye on the finished products, we both decided that we liked the home with the Hawaiian theme best - simply because it was done in red and green!

The whole mind-boggling experience made me second guess my own decorating taste and expertise.

As luck would have it, I had decided to do my Christmas decorating that very weekend. And when I dragged out the old, familiar boxes, I realized that I pretty much do the same thing year after year. The tree goes by the big picture window, the lighted garland drapes over the upstairs railing, the pinecone garland goes on the fireplace mantle, the nutcracker goes on the hearth, the porcelain-faced Santa goes on atop the stereo speaker in the corner, and my handmade Nativity scene goes on the windowsill of the dining room. It's just easier to do things the same way every year.

That's how I remember Christmas at my grandma and grandpa's house when I was little. I always knew there'd be bubble lights and silver tinsel on the tree and the electrically lit pyramid of candles in the window. That, in its simplest form, was Christmas.

I'm not certain, then, why I let that silly television program shake my confidence. I wondered if maybe I should change up this year's Christmas tree by decorating it with all shiny silver balls and lavender flocked poinsettias. But I couldn't imagine leaving out the little wooden cat ornament my kids made for me, signing their names on the back with the wood burning tool my son had gotten for Cub Scouts. How could I possibly leave off the felt mitten ornaments I had made each year my kids were growing up by tracing around their handprints? And there was no question of eliminating the tattered white dove with real feathers that my husband had used to decorate his family tree for many years....

I debated whether to forego the multicolored lights and go with something sophisticated like deep blue or dazzling white, but somehow that just didn't feel right.

I wondered if I should replace the simple pots of greens at the end of our walkway with illuminated penguins or sprays of metallic silver boughs.... Nah.

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By the time I finished decorating, I looked around the house and realized everything looked exactly like it does every year. I sighed, wondering if I had somehow missed the boat on Christmas decorating skills.

But on Sunday afternoon, my husband came back from a secret mission to the cluttered sun porch where we have all of our Christmas presents stored and waiting to be wrapped - the bicycles, the dolls, the toy cars, the Christmas sweaters, and the clouds of festive gift wrap and bows.

"You know, you ought to take a picture out there," he suggested. "That looks like Christmas!"

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