The Dining Room Built-In: 173's First Christmas Mantel! (Maybe)

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had as wonderful a Christmas as I did!  With Christmas on a Monday, there was actually time to spend Christmas Eve with my mom, dad and two of my siblings!  I can't remember the last time that happened!  It was so much fun I think there should be a law...let's make Christmas the last Monday of December rather than the 25th!  Whomever makes that happen gets my vote!
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more! - Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Like probably most of us, I love Christmas!  So much so that 2 of my top 5 favorite movies are It's a Wonderful Life, and The Bishop's Wife.  One thing I've always wanted was a fireplace, and a great mantel to go with it, one that could be dressed up for know - another attempt to create an atmosphere that conjures those Christmases of my idyllic youth.  Watching Bing Crosby and Andy Williams Christmas specials, and all those old movies always had a fireplace.  That's part of the reason I was pushing to get as much done with the project as I could before the holidays.  And it worked!

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: ‘Why, this is Christmas Day!’” ~ David Grayson

This is quite possibly the first Christmas mantel here at 173!  I say possibly because there is some evidence that there may have been some form of fireplace here in what appears to be the 1940s or '50s:

I'm not sure who is who in that picture, but I'm quite certain one of the boys is the father of my friend Mosher, whose grandparents owned 173, and whose father (one of the above?) grew up here.  The fireplace in the picture certainly was not an actual woodburning fireplace, as there is nothing here at 173 to show that there ever was one, but the interesting thing is, the one in the picture is in the same spot as the one I'm building!  If you look closely at the top left of the Christmas tree, you can even see the pipe that runs up the wall.

So here we are in 2017, and this much I can say with absolute certainty - 173 has my very first Christmas mantel!  A couple days before Christmas, I finished enough of the project to stop and put some things on the mantel.

There was a lighted garland, and just some of our nutcrackers, and it was ok.  Not great, but I loved it!

But I had forgotten that we had other Christmas decorations that haven't been brought out in awhile!

Next year there'll be more time to be more creative, but this is a great start for 173's mantel!  Of course, I had to get a little experimental with the camera and filters, so here's some mood shots:

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. - Norman Vincent Peale 

There you have it - a peek at the Christmas mantel!  Happy New Year everyone!
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