Sunday, December 1, 2013


According to my ancient Webster's, a vignette was a small picture, or a brief incident or scene. In the merchandising world, to create a vignette is to pull together bits of this and that in order to tell a story -- one that stops people in their tracks and leaves them wanting to be a part of that story. I guess you could say that building vignettes is my thing, and it matters not whether I build them with merchandise, photographs, words, plants, decor, or art supplies and ephemera!

I haven't really started my Christmas decorating yet, but as I sat in the dark this morning enjoying my tiny tree, bare but for white twinkle lights, it occurred to me that one of the things I love most about Christmas is this period right now -- the gathering up of all my little treasures from their various hidey-holes. I love spreading them out on the dining room table, and just playing with all the possibilities.

I think most people like arranging things the same way, and in the same spots, year after year. Not me. I couldn't, even if I wanted to! We were always changing houses, and one might have the perfect niche for displaying a Christmas village, while the next house might have no space for one at all. I'm okay with that. I begin each year with a clean slate, playing with different combinations and different locations until I finally hear a little voice say "Yeah! That's the ticket!"

We pared way back when we downsized to this house, with only two rooms that we actually decorate.

Then, last year, we gave half of what was left to our kids, since they finally had places of their own to adorn. Still, there is plenty left for me to have some fun with.

I used to go through a similar process with all of my everyday knick-knacks and gee-gaws, each time we got transferred to a new town or country. It was a lot like the thrill I got when a new season's-worth of merchandise arrived at the garden shop where I worked, and it was my job to figure out how to get the most bang for our buck. Should these pieces go in the gift shop? On the deck? Out in the greenhouse? And what other pieces might they enjoy spending time with? What secrets do they wish to share with you?

Once a merchandiser, always a merchandiser, no? So here I sit, pondering the possibilities -- wondering just what stories my treasures wish to tell this year!

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