Kelly Tarleton's portrait

Welcome to my blog! I am a Houston portrait and wedding photographer,
and I also custom design wedding and special event stationery.
This is where I share photos of my latest portrait sessions, design assignments,
and personal projects. Take a look around to see what I've been up to and
be sure to let me know what you think. I love comments!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Slice of Life Sunday: my favorite Christmas traditions

I'm alive! I had the flu last week and spent this week still recovering while also navigating the demands of work and the realization that, oh my goodness, Christmas is 2 weeks away and I have done no shopping or decorating. So I started this week and reminisced on all the wonderful memories I have of childhood holidays, Secret Santa exchanges, white Christmases (I can count on one finger), and the embarrassment I felt of being "that girl" at one not-so-long-ago office holiday party. You know, the girl who drank too much. Yeah, that girl.

My apartment limits me to a few choice selections from my boxes of stacked away decorations, so I chose wisely. Each represents a holiday tradition I've grown up with or newly adopted in recent years, and I love the warm feeling I get when I think of what they represent.

My top 3 favorite Christmas traditions:

1. Stockings! (Please don't judge me that Barley's stocking hanger has filthy finger prints.)

Ever since I can remember, I've had a Christmas stocking from Santa. There was always an orange and an apple in the very bottom of the stocking, and the rest would be filled with Hershey's kisses and miniatures, lottery tickets, mints, and little trinkets like a pair of earrings for the year I first got my ears pierced. My Dad worked for a company called Unisys forever and ever and my favorite stocking surprise was the collection of office supplies slapped with the Unisys logo. "Daddy, Santa makes your office supplies?" I can't remember his response, it was something along the lines of oh, well Mommy and I add a little something to your stocking each year. The best part: the office supplies were scissors, a pencil, a calculator, and a passport cover. Not sure where Daddy thought his little world travelers would be running off to. Dad was always in charge of the stocking and in later years, it outgrew the actual stocking and was presented to us on Christmas morning in a large plastic storage bin. Man, I miss those stockings!

2. The Christmas tree

One year while in preschool, I was taken on a field trip to the Christmas tree farm. And it started a new tradition of the annual family trek to cut down and carry home the family tree. We would stuff it into the mini van and Kim and I would have to strategically arrange ourselves on either side of the tree in the back seats of the minivan, trying to avoid poking our eyes out or sticking ourselves to the sap coated seats. When Kim and I went away to college, this was the ultimate "Christmas" item I missed. We managed to rig a pathetic $2 two-footer we bought at the Salvation Army one weekend in our apartment and to this day it's still used by one of us. I however, have chosen to display the fiber-optic mini tree in recent years. Yes, it is as tacky as it sounds. Little plastic stars and sticks spread out from the center and light up in different colors by the second. I think it cost Dad all of $10 from Big Lots, back when it was MacFrugal's. It says everything about Christmas to me!

I've recreated the sentimentality of the tree, but I could never get past missing that evergreen smell! I tried candles and air fresheners, but never could get it right. Well, I have found it, the perfect accompaniment to the fake Christmas tree. It's a homemade candle made by Wick it Accents. The scent is called "O' Christmas tree" and it is amazing, filling my entire apartment with the scent of Christmas. Check out the other scents at

3. The regifting party

Okay, I can't take all the credit for this one, it was originally Kim's idea. But then she moved to Australia, and someone had to follow through on the idea, it was just too good. After Christmas, I gather a small group of girlfriends and tell them I have one request: to bring the tackiest, most awful what-were-you-thinking-when-you-gave-this-to-me Christmas present, wrapped up. Then we play a little game and the laughter ensues from there. Every year at least someone takes home something they love (trash to treasure, right?) and it's always interesting to see what people contribute to the pot. The photo above is of a wreath I acquired at the very first regifting party we had. It's made of recycled US dollar bills that were removed from circulation. My aunt brought it, thinking it was ridiculously tacky, but I thought there was something kind of cute about it! I've hung it from my entertainment center every year since.


Anonymous December 14, 2009 at 8:36 AM  

I love this post! It makes me think of all the wonderful things about Christmas. Gosh, I really miss those stockings in the plastic tub. And I am thinking, maybe I should host a re-gifting party in Jan for my Aussie friends. PS, I love the wreath. -Kim

Anonymous December 17, 2009 at 9:26 AM  

REGIFTING PARTY. It can't come soon enough. :)

- Holly

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About Kelly Tarleton

I've always been a creative person, and the one who always had a camera on-hand at a moment's notice for any occasion. Photography and graphic design dominated my life in school and I loved every minute of it. I miss that constant creative outlet and want to share more of it with my family and friends through this blog.See more of my work at my website:

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