My grandmother Norma Robb Thomason has been decorating “over-the-top” Christmas for over twenty years. What began as a Christmas party in Midland, TX is now a family tradition that brings me joy to be be a part of. Her love of creating a well-loved home is part of the reason that I started my own home decor shop, From: Susie.
Did you see my Grandmother’s four rustic Christmas trees? Find them, here. But first, here are five elegant Christmas trees that my Grandma Norma has decorated in her homes. It has been my honor to share these images and her stories with each of you.
The largest of all the Christmas trees is located in the formal living room with 727 ornaments adorning the branches. This extraordinary tree includes many special and sentimental ornaments. For instance, spinning ballerinas represent her granddaughters who danced ballet. Susie’s little sister had an ornament made with their grandfather’s handwriting. “All my love, Horace” was taken from a love letter he wrote Norma and is forever encapsuled in this glass ornament.
In addition, there are ceramic dolls, hats and mirrors from a trip to Bath, England with Norma’s sister Joyce. Then, a San Francisco street car ornament represent her brother Sammy who lived there. Plus, a miniature luggage rack ornament remind her of a cruise she took with her entire family on in 2004. Lastly, turquoise and silver peacocks embellish the mantle and coffee table to put the finishing touches on this elegant wonderland.
The Low Country Tree is a collection of all things loved in the southern part of the United States. Specifically, 420 lovely ornaments tell stories of my Grandma’s travels. This tree is primarily adorned with greens, whites, and touches of pink. Then, a special ornament hangs with a picture of all 4 of Norma’s granddaughters. I actually named a collection of handmade clay dishes in the shop, Low Country Collection, from my Grandma’s inspiration.
Real Spanish Moss from Jekyll Island was brought back home to decorate the tree. Norma was told it might be full of bugs and to microwave it for safe keeping. Later, Susie picked up oyster shell ornaments from Savannah, GA, one of Grandma’s favorite cities to visit! On a birthday trip with her three daughters, Norma visited ‘Lady and Son’s,’ Paula Deen’s restaurant in Savannah. As a special treat, they came out of the kitchen to sing Grandma “Happy Birthday.” Then they visited ‘Bubba’s’ which is Paula Deen’s brother’s restaurant on the river.
All 97 of the ornaments on this safari themed tree were purchased from Miss Cayce’s in Midland, TX. Norma bought two more of everything on this tree so two of her daughters could have their own tree just like it! Fur garlands, feathers, zebra striped and leopard print ornaments pop against the green branches. Norma lived in Midland for 55 years. If you ask the girls at Miss Cayce’s, they still remember Norma’s trees and her extraordinary parties. Last year, Susie took her grandma back to Miss Cayce’s to tour their magnificent warehouse.
New Orleans has a special place in Norma’s heart. For example, she’s visited seven times, including a trip with Susie after her high school graduation. The city, the trolleys, the plantations, the cemeteries, breakfast at Brennan’s, Café du Monde, Pat O’Briens and Emril Lagasse’s are among her most loved places to visit.
All decorations on this tree were purchased on a trip she took with her daughter two weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit. One year, Norma hosted “A Cajun Christmas.” All the women and girls wore boas and masks while the little boys threw candy during a makeshift parade around the living room. “When the Saints Go Marching In” blared through the record player in the front room. Cajun turkey and chicory coffee were on the menu. If you don’t know, chicory coffee is served “black as the Peacocks, trollies, masks and devil, strong as death, sweet as love, and hot as hell.
On a trip to England with her sister, Norma bought these ornaments at Henry VIII’s castle. Stuffed dolls represent the king and his six wives! Grandma and her sister Joyce met two dear men on their tour of England. The girls struck up a quick friendship when they began to poke fun at the sisters for saying “Mama this” and “Mama that”. The men would say “Are y’all gonna tell mama?” after every conversation. Later, Norma found a painting inside the gift shop of an ugly, old lady and told the boys, “There’s Mama.”
I hope that you love seeing my Grandma’s elegant Christmas trees, as much as I love sharing them. Lastly, be sure to read the blog for FOUR more rustic Christmas trees that my Grandmother has decorated in her home.