27 December 2009

A Tale of Two Religions

                                                         

image Last year Hanukkah and Christmas collided:  Elisabeth lights the Menorah in the shadow of the Christmas tree. 

Marrying someone from a different faith certainly has its advantages.  Although Ben converted to Judaism before our marriage, his family most definitely did not.  Growing up, Elisabeth celebrated Passover with matzo balls and gefilte fish – and a few days later, at Meemaw Webb’s house she hunted for Easter eggs in a pretty pastel dress.    During December – after lighting the menorah and reciting the prayers in Hebrew, a week or two later, at her aunt and uncle’s ranch, she would put out cookies and milk for Santa Claus.   Was it confusing for a young child?  Perhaps.   But even when our future children were still an abstract thought, Ben and I made some decisions.   Our children – if we would be lucky to have any (and in retrospect, we were lucky only once) – would be raised Jewish.    Ben felt deeply there should be only one religion in the family, so his conversion came easily to him – though not to  his mother who ended up on a psychiatrist’s couch over it (which we laugh about today, 22 years later.)    Another decision we came to in the early years of our marriage, was we would send our children to a Jewish day school.   Hopefully, their immersion in their religion would be intense and they would never have any doubts of “what” they were.    Elisabeth’s first day at a Jewish school was when she was just 10 months old, and her last will be this May after spending a month in Israel with her senior class.  In between those 18 years, she has never stepped foot in a public school.  Sheltered?  Probably.   Assured of her religion?  Of that, there is no doubt. 

 

  image  The invitation to  Elisabeth’s Bat Mitzvah.   I loved the colors and the bow – with hydrangeas petals! 

 

But, having a Catholic grandmother is fun.   Jewish holidays are mostly morose and serious.   Passover is the story of the Jewish people escaping from the Pharaoh and slavery – wandering through the desert for 40 years, surviving plagues – locusts, lice, boils and even the killing of their first born – so festive!  Hanukkah is the story of  the destruction of the temple and oil miraculously burning for 8 days.   On Yom Kippur we pray to God that he will forgive us our sins of the past year and let us live for one more year, but only if he writes our names in his Book of Life for another 365   days.   We don’t have lovable symbols like an Easter Bunny, all pretty and fluffy with pink and lilac eggs filled with chocolates and pennies.   We don't have Santa Claus, a jolly fat man with a white beard and cute elves who brings us toys through the chimney on a sleigh driven by reindeer.  No, our holidays aren’t filled with candy canes and gingerbread houses, we eat kugel and  Hamentaschen and corned beef.     So getting to celebrate both faith’s holidays is wonderful  - serious and fun at the same time.  In the end, holidays are really about one thing, spending time together with your family. 

 

batmitzvah 007Elisabeth, 13, at her Bat Mitzvah luncheon.    My mother and father sent her this beautiful urn of roses, peonies, and just about every other pink flower for the center table.   

 

 

The Webb Family Hanukkah:

hanuk09 019 My Living Room:

In December we get to celebrate both holidays.  First, I host my family’s Hanukkah dinner.  It’s basically the same menu each year, beef tender, salad, potato latkes and some kind of vegetable casserole and a pie.    The only thing that changes from year to year is the color of roses.   Here is my living room, the first room you see when you enter my house.

 

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My only festive decorations I added in this room were a new orchid and a few votives. 

 

 

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Past the entry hall and living room is the dining room on the left and the stairs on the right.   Since my dining room is relatively small – I have to set an extra table here for six.   Our immediate family is growing!   One nephew is now married with a little daughter, and my other nephew’s new girlfriend goes everywhere he goes.  Once we get a few more babies and Elisabeth starts her own family, I will have to set up another table in the living room.   For now, this arrangement works perfectly.  

 

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On Hanukkah, I always use my wedding china and mix it with my Pottery Barn green glasses.  This year I added white roses in mercury glass vases. 

 

 

hanuk09 002 Right across from the smaller table is the dining room – set exactly the same way. 

 

 

 

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A close up.  I liked the white roses against all the white linen and creamware.  But my first choice were pink roses – unfortunately the flower shop was out of them.

 

 

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In the family room, where everyone hangs out and we exchange gifts – I put out more votives and another orchid.   No one really decorates for Hanukkah.   The only time you might decorate is when your children are really young,  and even then, it’s all very subdued, not anything like Christmas decorations.  

 

 

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I was busy getting the dinner ready so I wasn’t able to take too many pictures. 

 

 

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Our Hanukkah gift giving is very civilized.    On Thanksgiving we exchange names – one gift for one person.  There’s not really a limit, but we all stay within a reasonable price range.  Of course the little ones get gifts from the whole family.   In this picture - my nephew gives his niece and my great-niece a new tricycle.    She is such a cutie – I could just eat her up!!!     

 

After Hanukkah is over (occasionally Hanukkah falls during Christmas which makes it an exceptionally hectic time)  we start working in earnest on Christmas.   We spend days wrapping all the gifts, packing up the cars (one car isn’t enough to hold all the loot) and head out to Chappell Hill, Texas, a teeny tiny town a hour (and a world’s) away from Houston.   Ben’s brother Kirk lives there on a ranch called, originally enough, the KW.    Almost all the Webbs come for Christmas at the KW – and all the Wills are there – Kirk’s wife Shannon’s family.   And, there are an assortment of other families that join in.   It’s an extravaganza, from the food to the presents to the wine to decorations – all of it is very over-the-top and tons of fun.    We don’t exchange names with this family – instead everyone gets everyone a gift.   Close family members get more than one gift – two, three, sometimes four!     Each year we swear to each other we didn’t go overboard, yet everyone always does.  Ben, Lizzy and I stay in Chappell Hill way past Christmas, sometimes even past New Years – it takes that long to get over the excitement. 

 

The Webb Family Christmas:

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Recession?   What recession?    Christmas Eve, 2009. 

 

 

 

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Just remember – these are all for three families with children, plus a few more families that stop by.    My gift wrapping theme this year was Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Tiffany Blue bags in polka dots or black houndstooth.

 

 

Xmas09 025We open the presents on Christmas day.   Ben, his mother, and Elisabeth – along with one of the five English Springer Spaniel dogs take a moment to breathe.   My nephew got the talking, electronic globe on the coffee table.   What will they think of next?

 

 

 

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Santa left archery equipment for my nephew and his cousin.

 

 

 

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My niece got her own personalized Snuggie in hot pink.

 

 

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So did Elvis Costello – I mean, Ben’s brother Kirk – and my nephew.   They can have their own Snuggie party now!

 

 

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Awwwww!!!  Look who else got his own Snuggie!  AND it’s in University of Texas burnt orange.    Awwwwwwwww.  He’s so sexy!   The beard is a whole other story (it has to do with UT being in the BCS championship game.)    My sister in law Shannon is responsible for all the Snuggies – of course she didn’t get herself one!

 

 

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The Princess cleans up.   After 8 days of Hanukkah gifts – she got Christmas gifts too.   Santa went Louboutin’s just for her, I’m sure.

 

 

 

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Two terrorists invaded our peaceful Christmas.    Their first real rifles!   That’s my nephew on the left.   He literally followed me around asking for his picture to be taken with his new rifle.   I was too scared to tell him “No!!!”    The cutie on the right is his first cousin.

 

 

 

Xmas09 040The Country Girl:    My niece Caroline got the best present of all – a new horse named Surely, a two year old very frisky paint.    Isn’t she a beauty?   They both are!

 

 

Xmas09 066 The Galleria Girl:      My niece isn’t all country.   The Louie bag was her second favorite gift!   

 

 

 

Xmas09 059 And her parents built her a new tack room for all her horse accessories – blankets, saddles, brushes, etc.   She painted it bright turquoise with hot pink accents.  Of course!

 

 

Xmas09 068 The two terrorists switched from their guns to their arrows during Christmas afternoon.

 

 

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We had a green Christmas!  All the boxes, ribbons and wrappings that couldn’t be reused for next year’s festivities were burned in the fire pit rather than go in the garbage.  

 

 

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Plotting their next move, the terrorists switched their attention to the Christmas tree pinata! 

 

 

Xmas09 096 New rifles in tow, the tiny terrorists head out to try their guns:   target practice down in the river basin.  They are in their camouflage jackets, which actually work – you can just barely see them on top of the jeep. 

 

 

 

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The sweets:   well, what can I say?   Shannon made the two gingerbread houses which are adorable.  

 

 

 

 

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Everywhere you look, there is candy!  

 

 

The Day After:

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All cleaned up.  Everyone’s gone except for immediate family.  Now the fun really begins.  Meemaw will start sweeping the floors and Shannon’s mom will do the laundry – excessively.   The rest of us will eat.

 

 

xmas2 005Meemaw Webb tries on her new Christmas gifts:  the outfit and the necklace.  Looking great Meemaw! 

 

 

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Shannon shows off her two new purses!    She couldn’t decide which one to use first.

 

 

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Aww- hahaha.  Gotcha!    Caught in our warm pjs – Meemaw and me looking at blogs together one morning.  Quiela (who is my dog Georgie’s litter mate) keeps us company.   It’s all over for another year.   Next holidays will be so different.  My child will be in college, home for winter break.  Hard to even think about that and what other changes there will be – hopefully all great changes.  

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday – no matter what you celebrate!!  And here’s to everyone  - wishing you a happy and healthy New Years!!!!

304 comments:

  1. OMG! I'm Jewish, but if this is what Christmas is like, I want a piece ;-)

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  2. Wishing a wonderful and safe New Years to you, Joni and Family!

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  3. Joni, what a beautiful post!! I loved hearing about your families traditions and seeing it in action. I have two grandsons and I had three sons so I could totally relate to the terroist, I had to laugh. I loved seeing picts of Elizabeth, she is grown up but she still has that sweet little girl look. I think we all can become child like at the Holidays. What a wonderful time you all seem to be having. We call our grandparents Mima also. Thank you so much for sharing this was truly great, Hugs Kathysue

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  4. Happy New Year Joni! You are still the best of the best. Thanks for this holiday look/see, I am exhausted! I bet the shops love to see you guys coming. I have never seen so many gifts in one home. Fun fun fun! Enjoy the rest of the holiday with Lizzy because next year will be so different as you said. Love, laughter and good health in 2010.
    xoxo

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  5. What a beautiful and thoughtful post, Joni. Every time I see your living room I drool! It is elegant to the max. I also noticed your pretty new sconces in the dining room. You are blessed indeed to have such a beautiful family to enjoy and celebrate with.

    Sue

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  6. Gosh that looks like so much fun:0) It's really cool how ya'll get to enjoy both holidays! Both homes are soo lovely!! I hope you and your family have a really blessed 2010!

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  7. Joni, I'm still wondering if you've gotten to see "It's Complicated" yet. I can't think if there's a movie theater in Chappell Hill--probably not!

    And you're right, next year will be so different with Elizabeth home from college. Enjoy the time you have now!

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  8. I am so glad you celebrate both. Very beautiful pictures.
    Debbie

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  9. Your home is beautiful! Thanks for sharing it and your family celebrations.

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  10. Aw Joni It's A Wonderful Life!
    Thanks for letting us in.
    xo xo

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  11. Before I really comment, I MUST see the SHOES!!!!!

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  12. I saw It's Complicated today and thought of you!
    We loved it... it was hilarious! Happy New Year!

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  13. I love your house! Your Holidays seem as hectic as mine... I celebrate Christmas but half the guest for our Christmas lunch were jewish...we actually had a mix of a few religions, catholics, anglican, jewish, muslim and buddhist....and nationalities...texan!! US, french, Senegal..
    Don't you love the Holidays?

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  14. Joni... all of the very best holiday wishes (no matter which one you celebrate!) to you and all of your family.

    xoxo

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  15. Thank you for this post--very uplifting.

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  16. Joni, I loved your post! I love your home; the living room, entry, family room, dining, everything is just gorgeous. Makes me want to re-do everything. Really enjoyed hearing how you celebrate the two holidays. My friend just hangs a bagel on her potted "Christmas tree" and calls it a day. I love how you really get in to the whole wonderful traditions of both holidays. In the end, it is all about family. Thanks for sharing. --Delores

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  17. Aw--conspicuous consumption at it's finest! What a haul-- and where is the picture of you in your snuggie?:) And how, exactly, do you feel about the rifles?

    Your living room is stunning-- just stunning. I am going to spend a lot of time studying that picture!

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  18. Joni, thanks for sharing your holiday celebrations. I was the one who converted to Judaism in my family, but luckily by then my Mom was used to the idea, since my oldest sister had converted before me. We also sent our kids to Hebrew day school and many an Israel trip. Over many years we have celebrated the dual holidays with my sister who is still Catholic and we enjoy both celebrations. BTW, I showed my 20 year old daughter the picture of your daughter's room (which I loved), but she was more interested in her BOOTS! She wants to know where she got them...Ariel goes to school at the University of Michigan and lives in boots! Don't worry about her going to college, since last week we have been invaded by assorted college and grad school friends crashing at our house. I love it, but my house looks like a wreck.

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  19. Happy Holidays, Joni! Loved seeing all of your pictures. Am coming up for air after a wild few days, and I've enjoyed playing catch up on your posts. Wonderful pictures and fun celebrations all.

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

    P.S. I plan to see the Meryl Streep movie tomorrow with a good friend!

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  20. Thanks for sharing all of the pics, Joni! It's always fun to see your festivities. Happy New Year to you and the whole clan.

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  21. Awwww! Joni! The ivory roses came out beautifully......I knew they would!

    The bash at KW looks like a BLAST!!! I want to go next year. No, seriously that is how I envision our house for the holidays when we have a family......I want everyone to come over and stay with us while we live in our pj's for days :)

    xoxo,

    Andrea

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  22. joni!
    how beautiful it all is.

    it's all coming back to me now....
    ah ...to be jewish and from texas!!!
    you had a packed house for sure.

    i love it all!!

    and caroline's new pony is quite an event.she must be thrilled.

    your daughter is such a beauty.
    i wish you and your whole family nothing but happiness for the new year.
    xxx

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  23. Hi Joni,

    What a wonderful post! It's good to see that someone is out stimulating the economy - it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it! I want those Louis bags and a Snuggie.

    It was my Mom's cat's first Christmas and she was fascinated by everything - the tree, the ornaments, the gifts, the paper. But her two favorite things were ribbon and the fire in the fireplace. She'd never seen fire before. She was so cute!

    I'm glad your family had such a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for sharing it.

    Denise and The Girls

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  24. Joni, it looks like both holidays were beautiful, and, most importantly, filled with family! I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday break and wish you a very Happy New Year too!!

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  25. May I introduce you to one of my favorite epsiodes of "The OC"

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/32094/the-oc-the-best-chrismukkah-ever

    What wonderful family traditions you have.

    ::: HAPPY CHRISMUKKAH ! :::

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  26. A beautiful family story, thank you for sharing! Happy New Year! Pamie G.

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  27. Happy, happy EVERYTHING to you and yours, Joni! You're the best!!!!

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  28. Whoa..........what a celebration! I have to say my favorite pics were of Kirk and Ben in their Snuggies (ohmygosh, Snuggies - that's a whole other conversation!!) and of you and Mary in your PJs reading blogs. Was that when you left the comment on hill country house? You can tell Mary that her memory is good - those white plates are Coalport Countryware, chosen as one of my china patterns in 1976 when Pat and I married. I still love the pattern and it mixes well with other china on that rare occasion when we have more than 4 for dinner.

    Your china is beautiful and your house looks just perfect! I love seeing shots of it and seeing what changes you make and what you add....always fun to see!

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful new year and I look forward to more fabulous blog posts!!

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  29. Where is your snuggie? haha -I actually got one for my mom thinking she would like it as she's always cold, but I think she hated it! oops!

    You got it perfectly when you said both holidays are about family -so true!! I wish people would concentrate on the similarities and not the differences (with all religions). Looks like you had a great month!

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  30. A wonderful post about the meaning of the Holiday Season. It involves lots of people with different ideas, thoughts, religions and opinions.
    Thanks for sharing! I am a Christian, but do not represent the "Christians" who do not welcome everyone.
    God bless you and your family.

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  31. Hi Joni,
    Thanks for sharing. I now know the meaning of hanukkah and passover. Always love seeing photo's of your beautiful home and Shannon's home is gorgeous too. Happy New Year to you and your family. 2010 is not too far away!!
    Take Care
    Janine
    XXOO
    Tasmania, Australia

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  32. In the aftermath of Christmas frenzy, it is so wonderful to sit down and read your wonderful post. It had all the elements to sweeten my day!

    Thank you for sharing your special moments with us.

    PS. Loved the Tiffany gift bag theme!!

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  33. Joni,
    I love your Christannukuh celebration! Wowowowers did everyone rake in! Love seeing all and the best is your Mr. Slipper Socks Man...he's so cute. I had to go back and see how to spell "Louboutin", what a lucky princess!
    Blessings to you now and through the new year.
    I look forward to more good things from Cote de Tejas!
    xo

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  34. Hi Joni. Looks like a similar raucous event as at our house...sans the horses and rifles! (you'll put your eye out!). And all tidy by the next morn! Love all the while slipcovers...esp. on dining chairs with scalloped edges. Beautiful old rose paintings at sideboard. Thanks for letting us visit! XO Trish

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  35. Great post Joni. Have I ever told you how much I love your joie de vivre?

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  36. thank you joni and fam for boosting our economy! WOW were those some gifts. loved it all! happy new year:)

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  37. I have followed you for sooooo long, though I am new to blogland officially, having just started my blog at the end of November.
    Everything you do is so masterful...such amazing attention to detail!!! And this post is no exception. How amazing of you to include both traditions and to write so fondly of both, even if Christmas isn't your own personal tradition. I have both Jewish and Christian relatives and dear friends across the gap...but it's hopefully not a gap. Even though I personally have more of a Christian heritage, I hold my Old Testament beliefs close and love the Jewish traditions, which in many ways are my own and not just because of the family/friends who share those with me.
    My mother in law is an interior designer in NC and I have written about interior design for newspapers and magazines for YEARS before the "habit" kicked in full gear and people started asking me to help with their homes. So, after years being a writer/musician, interior design has sung ITS SIREN SONG and oh how I love it so! I'm only 38, but I treasure my antiques, my Horchow recamier or the simple new votives from HL....I adore it all!
    And you inspire so much...enough so that my husband might be calling you a dirty word (just kidding) since I've been insisting that we get a seagrass rug for the dining room now ;)
    If I lived closer, I'd take you out for your beloved Starbuck's.
    :)
    MANY blessings to you and thank you so very much for your magnificent blog,
    Lana

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  38. Joni, thank you for sharing your wonderful holiday season, both in the Jewish and Christian traditions. Your family is great and what is better than spending this time with all of them.

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  39. Joni, I love the ways that both members of both faiths have embraced the other's traditions in such a loving way. When my husband was in the military, we had very dear friends who had lost any comunication with their family members when they married each other, because she was of the Catholic faith and he was of the Jewish faith. I always felt so badly for them and felt that God would not want families to be torn apart because of their faiths. Your families both have such wonderful traditions, and it looks like the traditions of both faiths were honored and enjoyed by your families. (By the way, I'm loving Meemaw's pj's, but I wanted to see you in your Snuggie!) Wishing you and all of your beautiful family a wonderful 2010! laurie

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  40. What a wonderful set of holidays for one and all. Thank you for sharing your family and celebration with all of your followers. I love your sister-in-law's country home. Please do a blog on her furnishings. They looked so pretty.
    nancy

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  41. Lovely post! I enjoy your blog (mostly lurking) all year long but had to chime in as the year closes..So glad you shared your beautiful holiday celebrations with us!

    And although I feel like a pauper whenever I get a glimpse of your life, I'm just happy someone so nice gets all those goodies!


    Happy New Year!

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  42. Hearing about everyone's individual holidays is always fun but I'm sorry...those were a ridiculous amount of gifts. I think the most shocking part was a 17 year old getting a pair of Christian Louboutin's and two individuals (one who is a child) with designer purses that cost $400-600 each. Maybe my distaste is due to my family's middle class income or maybe I'm just shocked because of this recession but people are out there starving and there is a child with $500 shoes, a new horse, and probably over $1000 worth of purses. Is this really how people celebrate Christmas?

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  43. Joni - that was such a fun post :) It's so fun to get to see some of the "real life" side of you and your sweet family!

    And, girl, did you get a new lense for that camera? I thought a couple of posts ago that one of your photos looked really great and this post is just full of good shots. I know you've been working on your photography skills... I can really see a difference in your photos. Good job!!!

    Happy New Year :)

    ~Jacci in Ohio

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  44. ha - Love the personalised snuggies - great gift, not so much for someone you like tho!!! hehe

    I hope my xmas tree looks like webb's soon in our new home too!

    Great tiffany idea!

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  45. Wow, rifles for children? You hit it right on the nose "terrorist". If I had $ like that I guess I would spend thousands also, but rifles? Come on, the Laboutin shoes was pushing it, rifles is ridiculous.

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  46. Joni~I can't believe it! Another Sarah Elisabeth out there! I am Sarah Elisabeth with an "S" too! Looks like ya'll had soo much fun. Love the little paint, she is precious.

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  47. Not to be disrespectful or anything Joni, but the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are not religious symbols. They do not, in their present form, represent Christianity in any way. Yes, Santa Claus originally was a saint, but modern commercialism has morphed him into a marketing tool.
    Christmas is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, who we as Christians believe to be our savior. It is a joyous time, but giving obscene amounts of gifts, Christmas trees and snowmen have absolutely nothing to do with the real meaning of the holiday. As I said, this is something it has developed into. As for Easter, we celebrate Christ's rising from the dead. It is another joyful holiday, but there were no bunnies or eggs or chocolates or baskets involved. Again, modern marketing has taken over and commercialized our sacred holidays. The insinuation that Passover and Hanukkah are sacred religious holidays and that Christmas and Easter are less so is a little offensive to me, although I am certain you didn't mean it that way.

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  48. Hey, anonymous....this is Texas! If a child learns how to use shotguns early, he learns how to use them responsibly and safely. My son has been hunting with his Dad since he was 6 years old and he is now 25...and as close to his Dad as a boy can be. We also freeze and eat everything they shoot.

    Joni, thanks for sharing your holidays. I loved this very personal post. I would have been Caroline if I were a couple decades younger (okay, maybe more).....a horse and a Louis Vuitton handbag....how lucky can a girl be!!

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  49. beauty, blended family, traditions and humor made for an entertaining AND insightful post. thanks joni.......your home is yummy!

    a wonderful 2010 to you and family!
    debra

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  50. Thanks for sharing your celebration(s) and your family with us Joni, what a fun post!
    Here's to a happy and healthy 2010~

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  51. Happy, Happy New Year to the entire Webb family!

    Love the family photos- what a great holiday spirit y'all have!

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  52. You're sweet to share and I'm sure your family appreciates the documentation of family traditions! You know, it's a lot of fun to see such beautiful rooms beings used and enjoyed!!! They look even prettier with people in them! :)

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  53. Wow...how embarrassing...I wonder why others think Americans are vulgar and excessive? The photos of the child terrorists were particularly touching as was the "green" sentiment of burning the trash from "the loot" in the fire pit.

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  54. How fun Joni! Thank you for sharing your holidays with us as well. Your home is stunning and I absolutely love what you did with your daughters’ room…lucky young woman! Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy New Year!

    Debra,

    P.S. Those boxes, colored wrappings and ribbons you burned have carcinogenic particles and emit carbon so not green when you burn, recycling is better but you get a point for trying!

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  55. Unfortunately, You too have bought into the “commercial” aspects of our sacred Christian holidays.

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  56. We are excessive... it's the greatest country in the world! We are also a very generous nation because we are taught in both religions to be so.

    I thank you for sharing your families celebrations...I enjoyed looking at your beautiful home. I also loved the scalloped slip covers.

    Looks like both faiths are very blessed.
    Lee

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  57. Thanks for sharing the best of both Holidays. I have to say the display of all the candy was amazing......
    As always, a fun read with wonderful pictures.
    Here's wishing you the best in the New Year.

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  58. Dear Joni,
    LOVED your tale of the religions! I'd say you & yours are blessed to the brim. BTW, "It's Complicated" is hysterical and more on the ppl. than the house. Run...go see it!
    Happy 2010! xoxo

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  59. Joni,
    Thank you for sharing your lovely family and your wonderful traditions with us.
    Happy New Year!

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  60. What a happy post! The photo of 'Mr. Slipper Socks' is pricless along with Caroline & Surely (love the turquoise tack room) and the delightful pic of Mrs. Webb (beautiful necklace). Thanks, Joni, for sharing your holidays and making us all smile with joy.

    Shannon - your home is picture perfect. Love the mantel decorations and dream-like candy buffet - how fun! Wishing all the Webb's a Happy New Year!

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  62. What fun with the family, Joni! I always love to see pics of your house, it was just beautiful. You really have a big family to celebrate with, that must be a lot of fun. Gorgeous house too. Happy New Year to you, it's been so much fun blogging with you this year & I can't wait for another one.

    PS My hubby really loves the Jewish people and Israel, has done a lot of studies on it all. God's chosen people!

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  63. I think if someone has an opinion about something they should not sign in as "Anonymous" that is being a chicken sh>t...Dear Anonymous ...
    Mothers purchase special, expense gifts for there daughters at Christmas...that is just the way it is, get over it!
    My girls got too many..wonderful and great gifts...and then at the end of the morning of opening gifts.... a Tiffany's Necklace, you should have seen their faces! That is what mothers do, point final!
    Dear Joni, Loved the post, great holiday you had, loved the picture of you at the laptop...
    Regards,Carol Ann x

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  64. Joni, some things are probably not meant to be seen. First of all, if the only thing that one of the Jewish faith can identify at Christmas is Santa Claus, candy canes, over the top decoration, excessive spending and parties, then perhaps your mother in law can enlighten you. Could you not associate even for one blog entry the birth of Christ as the reason we celebrate Christmas? For a 13 year old, the shoes are over the top at best but I suppose one must be born with taste - it isn't acquired. I see even the relatives are into sleppey linen slips.

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  65. This is without question the tackiest blog entry that I have read anywhere. Why would you take a picture of your nephews with the identification as "terrorist" and post it on the web for the entire world to see, which post will last forever unless you have the good sense to take it down (not likely after seeing this that you do). I now understand all of the cliches the rest of the country hears about Texans. Take some advice for your own blogging reputation and take this crap off the web.

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  66. Joni - just had a few minutes to read the many "comments" of others. Heaven knows, I believe in the rights of the First Amendment - but all the critical evil blogging comments are really annoying and toxic. I realize you can take these mean-spirited jabs. However, as one of your ardent fans, would you ever consider the "moderation" oversight for comments?

    For those naysayers who conveniently hide behind anonymity, there's an old adage "if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all". Those who wish to remind us all about the "Christ" in Christmas could practice being a Christian by holding back their Christian fingers on the keyboard. Guess I'll get pounded for this one, huh?

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  67. Carol Anne,what is really "chicken sh*t" is this entire post. It's really sad to see someone bare their ass in the way this blog has done today, especially the little miss hot sh*t shoe horse and the would be terrorist.

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  68. What a lovely post, Joni. You have a big, fun and loving family, and it's great to see that you all enjoy the holidays together.

    comment moderation. it's just a thought for the new year. xoxo Lidy

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  69. How do know the purse was even real ???? And the daughter with the shoes purchased half ofl btw is almost 19, not 13. Yes I know the shoes might be expensive but did I have to say they were half priced????? Does that bother you less??? And yes I understand the
    holiday is religious but
    this was meant to be a light hearted look at how we celebrate both holidays. No offense meant about Jesus or his birth. It was just a fun peek Into out night. I knew a
    few would be
    offended at it but try to have a sense of humor about it. It was meant to be comical. I'm on the road going home. More later.
    child getting gifts. Should i post my tax filings to show that we do give our share to charity?

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  70. Joni
    Happy New Year and thank you for sharing your Christmas memories. Loved your beautiful tables & the fab slipcovers on the chairs. I couldn't help noting the lamb & crown in one of the photos...two items we both share!

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  71. If you have an ounce of self respect as a blogger and "interior designer" you would take this entire blog post down and learn a valuable lesson from it. Visit some of the other blogs linked to your site and see if anyone else came close to this epitome of self indulgence and shameless lack of knowledge of why we celebrate Christmas. I suppose the holiday had little meaning to your husband or his family which is why he so easily ditched it for a faith that doesn't recognize Jesus other than as a Jewish prophet. This post takes the "ugly American" to an all new level.

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  72. Who cares about the excessive consumption? How do you know what Joni and her family paid for things? I know I can get a Louis bag marked way down over 50%, how do you even know it’s real? Joni and everyone else who was able to spend this year was doing our country a good deed by keeping people in JOBS and keeps our economy going. If they can afford it who cares how much stuff they bought? Besides which did you not read where there were three families involved and not one? As for the rifles I know a lot of boys received rifles in NH because there’s hunting here. If taught how to properly use, clean and care for the guns what’s the big deal? The “terrorist” comment of Joni’s was meant to be a joke or do you not get Joni yet?

    Joni it looks like you and your family had a fabulous Christmas Day. Thank you for sharing all your joy and mostly your family. Ignore those nay Sayers since they obviously have no idea what they’re talking about.

    Happy New Year and thank you for your blog, keep up the fabulous writing!

    Debra,

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  73. Anonymous here - gosh, who am I?

    Whoa people! Computers and cell phones have "footprints" which are dead-end audit trails even if you go the often believed "anonymous" route. It doesn't take a professionally licensed hacker (aka the FBI or CIA) to trace comment posts. Better to bite your tongue than be 'outed'. You think Google is protecting you? Then, you all need a reality check.

    Joni - will contact you by an e-mail for just the system that can 'out' these venomous comments.

    I'm with the others, consider the moderation option. It will stop the deadbeats in their tracks.

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  74. Joni, I love it when your two worlds collide! Love the simple beauty of Hanukkah in your beautiful home, and then the lavish Christmas at beautiful Chappell Hill with the other side of your family. What fun on all accounts! How about a give-away next year of experiencing both celebrations with you! I can just imagine it now. Oh, and I do dishes and wrap presents very well. Hint! Hint!

    And let's all pray for the Anonymous people who can't find joy in anything. Must be a very sad, lonely people with big chips on their shoulders. Lighten up, people! If you have those convictions, that's your business. Joni's family and their way of doing things is their business. I believe God is happy that their families respect each other and live in peace.

    Many more happy holiday posts, Joni!

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  75. If you are curious about "excessive consumption" visit little princess' blog "this card is maxed out". The apple does fall far from the tree.

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  76. Oh Joni,Beautiful just beautiful,
    thanks for sharing all your Holiday traditions with us. I love
    your blog, please continue!!
    Peace and Health in the New year!
    Cathie

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  77. My husband is a Jew and for that I am thankful or I would have never known what a wonderful religion it is. He calls me a jap, of which I guess I am. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. Hope you and us all have a wonderful 2010!

    http://wwwbeenblogged.blogspot.com/

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  78. To the mean anons: What a surprise! I'm so shocked you left a comment - not.

    Actually - all the gifts shown were for much more than three families. More like six, plus friends and workers, etc were included. I said that. BUT - the point is this: i PURPOSELY make it all look excessive - that was THE point!!!!!

    it is funny! how can you not laugh about a "tiny terrorist" - that's a joke. get a sense of humor! if you think i was serious about this post, you really can't see any humor. The picture of the snuggies - that was all for fun, for laughs.


    Of course I could have NOT shown one gift, I could have made it all look very serious and humble, but I saw the humor in a teenager who lives in the country and rides horses but still wants a designer purse. That was the one thing that got my mind started on writing this story humorously. Then - watching two little boys getting into mischief all day long with their new rifle and the bow and arrow and the pinata. Do i have to explain the humor? And making my sister in law pose with her new purses - I could have not shown that - but it is cute!

    I knew some wouldn't understand and would choose to be ugly and nasty. And what's with the slipcover jab?? (i assume you are the same anon who was positively horrid and rude to the Aichlers, how nice you must be.) Why are you even reading my blog - you know i write about slips? Do NOT read it!

    I didn't show all the REAL gifts: the inexpensive gifts like the wall calendars, soap, hand lotion, balls, the lipstick, the tshirts, the slippers. how boring!

    I MADE Shannon pose with her two purses! And - how do you know, like I said, that they were even real and not purchsed on Harwin for $50??????


    The Webb family LIKES to give each other gifts at Christmas. It makes us HAPPY to see each other get excited. Even if I beg my husband not to buy me a thing, he always will - he's generous to a fault. It makes my husband HAPPY to buy his mother a new outfit for Christmas and Mother's Day! He LOVEs buying something nice for all his nieces and nephews. And why shouldn't he? He works very hard for his money, he gives to charity, why not buy something nice once a year for his relatives?


    theh end is on next post:

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  79. rest of comment:

    I'm sorry that you don't understand it was written to make you giggle at the mischievious little boys or at the teenaged girl living between two different worlds. I was just going to write about the strangeness of celebrating both holidays - but as the day went on - and I was laughing at my nephew, my daughter, my niece - and I saw that I could write something funny - so sue me.



    To those who feel I don't understand there is religion in Christmas - yes I know there is. I'm not an idiot and I'm not a crusader. I don't need to write about the meaning of Christ in Christmas, I think everyone is aware of that. Some families though, don't go to church on Christmas and they don't pray all day. For a lot of people, Christmas isn't a religous holiday, but a time to get together with family. They eat, they open presents, they laugh, they have fun just being together, regardless of their religion or lack of religion. And no, I will never take this post down. It's a glimpse into my life - this is my blog - and this was the day my nephew got his first rifle, which he will use with his dad to go hunt and together they will put food on their table. For that is what they hunt for - food. And this was the day my niece got her new horse, because her other horse is too old to barrel race now - and maybe one day she will be a championship rider or barrel racer on Surely. and we will remember this day - Surely's first day in the KW pasture.

    so, while I wrote it humorously - there are a lot of memories here.

    Memories not of presents or shoes, or clothes - but of a day that was filled with laughter and the fun of us being together.

    so sorry - I don't apologize for a thing. in fact - my family read this story yesterday and roared with laughter over my nephew posing like a tough guy, and my sister in law posing with her new purses, and my family in their snuggies. Sorry that you can't join in the fun.

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  80. Okay, now I am pissed! Just read the anon. comments and I am ashamed of them! How sad that all could not have had what you have, but you worked for it. I get so tired of people that are jealous and hateful. I loved your home and your family sharing it. Thank you for it all and as for the anon. to hell (mean it) with them.

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  81. Joni and C.J. a/k/a "jap" no one is jealous here. There is nothing I have ever seen on this blog that I cannot afford and most probably have better. This post is offensive on many levels and Joni is now trying to make it appear that it was all some sort of joke all the while taking a dig at those who celebrate the true meaning of Christmas as sitting around praying all day. More than 300 Americans almost lost their lives this Christmas to a terrorist attack and yet Joni in her inimitable ignorance has zero sensitivity to that. Does she really think we want to see Meemaw in her pjs or "little princess" posing as a j crew wannabe? Some things are just too tacky even for the web. The joke about the terrorist is more than tacky - it's outright ignorant. No Joni, I don't know the Aichlers but I do know dirty slips when I see them.

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  82. C.J.- I do not believe the anon's are jealous and this is a free country(thankfully)to state opinions. C.J. - your "to hell" comment is equally terrible!! I like this blog, but I always wonder why bloggers feel the need to show their "wonderful and expensive" gifts to the world??!! It does seem like a form of "bragging"to me. I much more appreciate families who are blessed and humble at the same time. (And to Cote de Texas - we do not need to see your charitable tax filing as you posted - I thought Jesus (and in fact all religions) taught one to be humble??). You probably didn't mean this Christmas/Hannukah post to be boastful, but I am sorry I think to many, many people it did come across this way!
    Happy New Year.

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  83. Joni - loved seeing the large urn of roses your parents sent. Such a classy arrangement. Totally expected from your mom though. They way you talk about how she influeced you, it's now wonder it's so fabulous! Also love the picture of you reading blogs one morning...typical after the crazy rush of Christmas. What a fun family you have. Thanks for sharing pictures of your home too. It's so inviting and comfortable.

    Ruthie

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  84. oh my goodness - happiness all around. All kinds! I must admit that I recycled one of your decorating styles in my own dining room this year. I had a collection of green loveliness on my very large dining table and added granny smith apples in individual crystal bowls, each nestled with sprigs of fir. Truly an inspiration from your photos! Thank you!!

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  85. Joni, I'm going to try to be a constructive critic here lest you label me "mean." Your post isn't funny at all. I felt icky after reading it. It's a crass display of materialism. If you think that a teenager getting both a horse and an LV bag for the holiday is "humorous," then you have a strange sense of humor. The fact that you're digging in your heels about it disturbs me, and I've unsubscribed from your feed.

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  86. I read a lot of blogs, some on interior design, some political, food, etc. I find them enjoyable and informative. There is a difference between writing on the spirit of Christmas and writing a blog post that is totally exhibitionist. There is absolutely nothing that I have read on this post that is the least bit redeeming in form or substance nor have I seen anything that a reader would need to be jealous of - on the contrary. So please, C.J. a/k/a/ "jap" give it a rest.

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  87. I agree with the anonymous comment at 1:33. The fact Joni, that you are digging in your heals is something. I do understand however, your need to defend your post. You seem offended in your rebuttal that readers would take exception to your post. You have obviously been blessed into a family who does not know the meaning to "go without". Do tell your readers (were the purses "real" or were they from Harwin for $50 as you hinted). You have portrayed a loving and generous family, but to anyone who had a sad, lonely and poverty stricken christmas, this post would not make ANY of them feel warm and fuzzy about Christmas. I recently read articles about families who volunteered at soup kitchens and the Salvation Army. That to me is a warmer message than designer purses.

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  88. this is a funny post mom.

    too bad some people don't have a sense of humor...

    before you make a rude comment... wait... just don't, no one likes a grump.

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  89. Hi Joni

    I've been here awhile reading all the comments!

    I enjoyed your post, very much, as a Protestant,married to a Catholic, with a multi-culture and multi-religion family..yes Jewish, too!

    Great photos and story.

    Wishing you and your wonderful family an amazing 2010!

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  90. So glad you posted "lizzy". Could you reiterate here for the other posters who have not visited "this card is maxed out" your little Hanukkah wish list which you posted there at the beginning of the season. Perhaps mummy can tell us how she purchased your high end wishes at bargain basement prices just to keep it real around here.

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  91. Joni thank you so much for sharing your wonderful holidays with us! I really enjoyed the peek into your family life. And what a wonderful family it is! Your home and your SIL's....FABULOUS! Ummm I know my Louis and that one is real! *winks* Oh... and I'm also dying to see those Louboutins! Vanna

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  92. Joni

    I loved this post. I thought the whole point was to show the difference between the Jewish celebration which has remained low key and respectful and the Christian religion which has somewhat lost its way but is fun and a way to gather the family. I love the fact that in a secular country (I think of the US this way i.e. as a mostly hardline Christian country -this is how it looks from the outside I can assure you!) you and your family happily celebrate both religions. I note that, yet again, the nasty anonymous bloggers here chose the cloak of "Christianity" to justify their protest. Ironic, no?. I'm an ex-Catholic, now atheist and think that you made the right decision to raise your daughter Jewish - it makes total sense.

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  93. Typical nouveau rich. I'm a bit surprised at this entry. I enjoy reading your blog, however this entry is really in poor taste on so many levels. Even more ironic, is your penchant for European decor. You could stand to have a little European sensibility rub off on you and your family.

    Your daughter seems to be the only one who exhibits personal style without the cheesy and gaudy logo bags and the mentality that you can wear a god awful outfit and throw on a LV bag and suddenly be stylish. Maybe you could all take some cues from her.

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  94. No one has cloaked their comments in Christianity. Perhaps you should reread the post where we are given a history lesson in the Jewish holidays and their holy meanings and then we get to Christmas and all of a sudden we have Santa, candy canes, snowmen, parties, trees, etc. and absolutely no mention of why Christmas is celebrated. Follow that with one of the most self-indulgent exhibitions of materialism possible with big, bad and the ugly posing with their Christmas loot. This part should have been entitled Texas Redneck Christmas. Gaudy doesn't begin to describe this post.

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  95. You don't know me, but I have been reading your blog for some time because I love the French style and your presentation of it. The photo of your beautiful daughter lighting the candles sends a message, and the whole posting was wonderful! Thank you for sharing your life; now I feel I know you!

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  96. My husband is Cathelebrate both Catholic and I am Jewish. We both grew up being more focused on the traditions of our religions than on formal observance. Neither one of us converted when we got married and our children celebrate both sets of holiday traditions.

    Thank you for sharing how your family has successfully blended your different traditions.

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  97. Nouveau rich rednecks. I felt embarassed for you reading this entry. You have a wonderful blog. Please edit this post, you are losing a lot of credibility with this trainwreck.

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  98. Joni- Your home looks gorgeous all decorated for your holiday dinner.
    Lizzy is a doll! And I (on behalf of the American people;) thank you and your family for jump-starting the economy!!;)
    I sooooo wanted a LV bag when I was in college- and that was 30 years ago:0! Never got one though, so lucky them!!
    Happy New Year!
    joan

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  99. My daughter's 1st grade teacher also celebrates Christmas and Hanukkah - they call it Chrismakkah. :) (Lots of socks and underwear for her kids!) It looks like you had a great time - happy holidays Joni and thanks for making blog reading so much fun!

    ps.Your daughter's room is gorgeous! She'll be back visiting often, I'm sure!

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  100. Joni, the terrorist are not only coming after Americans, but as a Jew why are you not sensitive to the fact that they are coming after your people or can we assume that some Jews simply don't care. The Christians, whom you have decided can be identified with Santa, candy canes, trees, parties, etc., happen to be the only people that seem to care about the future of the Jewish state and you have marginalized them in this post as being materialistic consumers of Christmas crap. I really don't believe you are intelligent enough to get it.

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  101. Joni,
    Love the glimpse into your holidays and family!!!
    No need to explain anything about your humorous post....please just delete these anon commenters- no one cares to read their communist rants. Clearly, not a joyous bone in their bodies.
    Happy and healthy New Year!

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  102. Joni,
    Love the glimpse into your holidays and family!!!
    No need to explain anything about your humorous post....please just delete these anon commenters- no one cares to read their communist rants. Clearly, not a joyous bone in their bodies.
    Happy and healthy New Year!

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  103. Joni-pay no attention to comments that can be viewed as negative - I think you all looked like you had a ball - and what is wrong with having nice things??? NOTHING! I think if one has the means we need to stimulate the economy anyway! I hope you hvve a wonderful 2010 with your family and by the way the monogramed snuggies were particularly cool!

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  104. Communist rants - really now Linda. How on earth did you guess that I had visions of Mao dancing in my head at Christmas? No Linda, no Communist here, just one who finds this post insulting to Christians, those whose families have lost a loved one at the hands of terrorist (you know those little dark guys with rifles that Joni thought so cute and funny) and those who celebrate by thinking of others, especially those who cannot go on the web as exhibitionist showing how much excess they have while others got a meager stocking at the Salvation Army. This post is utterly tasteless and if you were not a co-blogger and friend of Joni, you too might be honest enough to speak the truth. This has been a joyful and wonderful Christmas for me, not for what I got, but most importantly for what I gave. Coming from the Northeast, you should know a lot about Communist since you helped elect one.

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  105. Joni-pay no attention to comments that can be viewed as negative - I think you all looked like you had a ball - and what is wrong with having nice things??? NOTHING! I think if one has the means we need to stimulate the economy anyway! I hope you have a wonderful 2010 with your family... and by the way the monogramed snuggies were particularly cool!

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  106. That lovely urn of roses sent as a gift? Was the urn part of the gift? Is it iron?

    If so, what a fabulous idea. A gift to last a lifetime.

    And I think you took one of the pics just for me. You had a fabulous Vanishing Threshold, taken from inside, of a dining table and the backround view flowed into the landscape, thru a glass door, beautifully.

    Happy Holidays Joni !!

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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  107. To the reply from Linda:
    Wow-to suggest that the anonymous comments be deleted is ridiculous.I am commenting anonymously.Furthermore, anonymously or name attached to me seems irrelevent.All views deserve fair publishing.Joni's post on this blog did portray how this family celebrates 2 holidays, but it also did more than that.It was offensive to many!!Also,to use the term "terrorist" even in a joking manner, has no place on a public blog for all to read.

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  108. To Linda's reply - Your suggestion to delete comments because they don't fit a certain "opinion mold" seems communist don't you think?(seeing as you wrote about communism). Joni, I'll bet you never imagined that your post would evoke so many comments.I do hope though, the next time you decide to post, you will consider a little less exhibitionism. Many readers who had far less than you this holiday will see nothing meaningful in the display of all the gifts and candy.

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  109. Well, I'm glad I gave the anti slipcover lady a whole new forum. I just reread this post and showed it to my husband to see what he thought. I wonder if all the anons would be willing to share a photo of their Christmas - with six families worth of presents. Yes - we had three families with children and three families without. Six in total. so yeah, it looks like a lot. but to see one little girl with two nice presents and you feel that gives you the right to be so ugly to her and her family - well, what can I say? I'm not digging in my heels.

    And to the anon who wonders why I don't discuss Christianity since I talked about Judaism - I dont' feel right talking about the meaning of Christmas - I'm not Christian. How pretenious would it be for me to talk about Jesus? I talked about MY religion and tried to explain the difference between holidays as I see it. As a child, this concept was VERY obvious to me, the only Jewish child on my block. On Easter, my brother and I would watch with envy as our neighbors were all outside looking for pretty easter eggs in their pretty Sunday dresses, while we ate matzo balls. On Christmas, I couldn't wait for the pretty trees to go up that my friends had, while our house remained dark. You have to understand that it's a thrill for me to get to celebrate Christmas now and Easter!!! It IS nice! It IS exciting! I understand that is a religious holiday to many - but Ben's family isn't like that. They don't center the holiday around the religious aspect of it. I don't know why - they just don't. The holiday seems to be more centered around family, food, decorations, and yes gifts - my family enjoys the pleasure we get from giving to each other. Is that horrible? There's nothing I love more than giving my mother in law something she will like! Why is that wrong? I don't understand that.

    And no, I am not politically correct. If I can't call my 10 year old nephew a tiny terrorist - then the terrorists have won. And leave my daughter out of this. Really, how dare you? What kind of a person would talk about someone's daughter like that?


    I showed you pictures of one family that draws names and I showed you a picture of a family that doesn't draw names. And it makes a huge difference when you don't draw names. Actually - the Webbs tried drawing names one year and it didn't work - my MIL got presents for all of us anyway, so we went back to the old way of doing it. We discussed trying it again next year and we might. But that is up to them, it's not my decision. I'm just an in law.

    If I have offended you, truly offended you - then I apologize. It's not my nature to offend anyone. EVER. It's not my agenda to offend, nor is it my agenda to brag or to be boastful. I really don't think I have too much to be boastful of except a wonderful caring, loving husband and a daughter whom I consider my miracle from God.


    I honestly wrote this with humour on my mind. I'm not sure why you think I should be writing about the averted terrorist attack on my design blog. I am not a political writer, nor am a newsperson. I write a design blog. I am NOT going to be writing about terrorists being arrested - nor will I ever. I leave that to the Huffington Post and the DrudgeReport.

    But, if you truly feel offended, why not just email me and we can talk about it? I'd be more than happy to talk about your issues, one by one. OK? I feel it's more respectful on a one to one basis than calling someone a Hillbilly with no class, or making fun of how someone looks, or insulting one's daughter, or mother in law, or husband. Just email me - I'll be happy to talk with you and listen to your concerns. Email me at mrballbox329@aol.com.

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  110. In addition to the wise advice given above, it would be appropriate for you to couch Christmas in it's religious meaning. If your family has no knowledge of it, perhaps you could ask a friend to put you in touch with a Christian minister to explain why Christians celebrate. A person of the Jewish faith is both a Jew by birth and by faith. That is not true of Christianity which includes people born into families of all nationalities and backgrounds. You don't seem to have an understanding of that and just believe it's about all of the vacuous displays that we saw in this post. Maybe that's where your husband comes from but it does not represent everyone who celebrates this holiday. One has the right to spend every cent they have earned, but I question whether it is in good taste to put it on display on the world wide web.

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  111. Joni, I really enjoyed your blog. Looks like you had a festive, fun holiday! Your table setting is beautiful. I am going to remember it for next year! Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

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  112. Joni-thanks for replying and I wish you had not received all of these ugly comments. I do not see anything wrong with your recent post despite what others have said - they are entitled to their opinion but if they object then they do not have to read your blog. Just like you, I love giving people gifts that I know they will enjoy - contrary to what some may think - people do go hunting and yes they hunt with guns! Is that so wrong? Joni-I will continue to look forward to your next blog! Keep your chin up!

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  113. Joni says: I write a design blog.

    Yes, most of the time you do except this post. You seem to think the use of the word "terrorist" was somehow cute, but what if one of your readers had lost a loved one in 911 or was on the flight last week from Amsterdam? There are a number of design blogs linked to this blog. The difference is none of them stooped to the crass display of the holiday as you did. Not all people are like your husband's family. Some people actually give more away than they receive and they don't have to have a bonfire to rid themselves of the debris of the holiday. Joni, if the shoe fits, wear it. Oh my, did dare say "shoe". Some little princess is going to get more ideas if she reads this.

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  114. Oh Joni, What a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah tradition. So much fun and laughter. Thank you so much for sharing your blessings. You were so smart to get the family religion decided early on and to persevere when times became tough. I failed to do that and it did become a thorn in my side. Have a wonderful next few days with family and love. (Jones is actually crying to go to the park at this point) Many more blessings.
    Mary

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  115. Joni,
    I love how you have blended both your husband's family's traditions/religions with you own. I have many jewish/Christian friends (blended families if you will). They let the children experience both. Some day, it will be up to their children as grown adults to decide for themselves. Isn't that what we want? Children thinking for themselves in a world of peer pressure? I salute you for giving her an anchor, without denying her where she came from--from both you and your husband!

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  116. Ok don't you "anonymous" people have names or don';t you want to use them because you are being so rude...

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  117. By the way, i was never offended by your post as some others. I don't think others will ever understand unless they have celebrated the holidays has you do!!! It must be difficult trying to blend and make everyone happy. Joni, you have done great with this post!!!!!!!!

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  118. I love this blog and Joni seems like a wonderful person with a great sense of humor. I hate guns but the little terrorist remark did not bother me. I think maybe the problem here is that there are so many people this year who have lost their homes, jobs, savings, etc. It's much more widespread than the media is reporting. When I first read this post it reminded me of our Christmas's that we celebrated a few years ago. Then I thought uh oh, it's only a matter of time before the bashing begins. People who can't afford to feed their family a nice holiday meal, have been evicted from their apartments because their unemployment check arrives two months late, etc. are apt to strike out when they see so much material consumption when their children are going without.

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  119. Thanks for sharing your Holidays with us, Joni. Looked like great fun. It's unfortunate that some readers feel so offended at this post. Since when do we have to apologize for buying gifts?

    Please nasty Anonymous: Refrain from spewing your rage at someone for sharing how they spent their holidays. Everyone has a right to their opinion but if this post ticks you off, then move on!

    I spent Christmas alone with my 2 dogs and no material gifts, but it was good fun reading about how your family spent the holidays. Joni, you don't have to apologize or defend anything (just be grateful for such a loving family).

    Happy New Year to you & yours!!!

    Chris W

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  120. I am not on welfare, unemployment, do not live in an apartment and my children did not go hungry this Christmas. Quite the contrary. No one is striking out here because of envy, or having fallen on hard times. It boils down to one thing - old money vs. new money, don't you think? Classy Christmas vs. Texas Redneck Christmas. Joni prides herself in studying design pictures from magazines. Remember those "coneyak" chairs, a/k/a cognac. Well, I would invite each of you to look carefully at the pictures in this post and ask yourselves if posting this on the web is classy or redneck?

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  121. What lovely holiday traditions on both sides of your family.

    The new horse is a beauty!

    xo,
    cristin

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  122. Joni...sooo much fun seeing your family and how you celebrate the traditions on both sides. Mr. Slipper Socks is such a good sport...love the pic in the snugglie. LOL Elizabeth is so lucky to be surrounded by such a loving, fun family. I got a giggle seeing you and your MIL checking out the blogs...too funny! Happy New Year to you and all your family!
    Susan

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  123. Anon- enough, ok? I know you have had your fun for today, but you have outlived your welcome here. you have left dozens of messages here, you have insulted 1. my daughter, 2. my husband, 3. my husband's family, 4. my sister in law, 5. my niece, 6. my nephew, 7. me, 8. my mother in law, 9. my brother in law, 10 my family.

    enough. I can very easily delete every comment you leave and am about to start doing it. it is boring.


    there is nothing wrong with using the word terrorist. i do not need to get in touch with a minister to learn about Jesus and his birth and death. Feel free to start your own blog and spread the word there, yourself. I am not a religion blogger. Also, i am not a hillbilly, i live in the city. i am not old money nor am i new money - i am no money. my blog is my blog, anonymous. you don't like it - don't read it.

    i am tired of your insults. i have patiently tried to talk with you all day long and i am done with it. you must have such a huge chip on your shoulder to sit here and write comment after comment after comment with your snide remarks about my daughter because she got a pair of shoes or whatever else you don't approve of for some unknown reason. you are so judgmental while hiding behind the anon protection. why? you put me down for giving my family presents, yet you brag about your old money? HUH? What have you been drinking tonight?

    Did you donate any money to Woodbourne? With all your concerns about if I donate money, I would be curious to know if you gave anything to that charity like so many of my generous readers did?

    I have no clue what coneyak chairs you are talking about. you sound drunk.

    if you don't like my house, and it's not old money enough for you - so be it. I have never met someone as rude as you are. You are a very rude person. If you don't like my house, fine. Show us your house so we can judge it. Send me the pictures and I'll post it for everyone that has been forced to read your insults today so that they can judge your refined, elegant old money house.

    please, put down the liquor for the night. I'm afraid you are going to have a massive hangover tomorrow. I hope you are not going to drive tonight - you might kill someone!

    For all the other readers out there who have been considerate and nice, I thank you and I apologize that you have had to read the rantings of this drunk person talking about coneyak chairs and hillbillies??????!!!!!

    It takes all kinds I guess.

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  124. Anon 8:18

    yes - you are probably right. you know - i must say this, on the design blogosphere, it doesn't seem that too many are out of work. or are complaining of being out of work. there were a few, one did get a job. so did another. but i haven't heard too many - actually i have never gotten an email (and I get thousands from readers) with stories of being out of work. Perhaps people who like design are working? I don't know. Might be an interesting topic for someone. Thank you for being supportive. And, I don't like guns myself. either. at all. But, some people like to hunt. I don't judge them either, like you don't.

    Joni

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  125. You go Joni!-I am tired of reading anonymous's comments too and I have probably only read half of them. As always look forward to your next blog.

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  126. To Anon @ 8:46 Old money vs. new money? What is the difference? Old money is inherited and new money is earned (unless you won the lotto). I'd rather have earned money than inherited it. Although I would take either haha.

    A more troubling point is that the boy's guns look like AK47's, not like typical rifles :-O

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  127. Anon at 8:46, you wouldn't know a "Classy Christmas" if it bit you on the ass. Have another eggnog and take two Advil in the morning.

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  128. anon 8:46
    nah - it's just a 22 rifle. for hunting. i don't care for guns either. never had one, never went hunting either. Ben doesn't hunt either. But my brother in law really likes to hunt and shoot target. believe me it's not a ak47

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  129. Mary, thanks!!! I appreciate (you have no idea!) all your support today.

    Joni

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  130. THIS IS RIDICULOUS! It's Joni's blog and she can post whatever she wants. If you don't like it, leave her page & don't come back! DUH??

    Someone has TO MUCH time on their hands! To sit here and hate over photos and writings of a families personal experience at Holiday time...YIKES! It takes SO LITTLE to get you going! People who are attacking her daughter are tasteless and rude. Hate to mention it again, but do you perhaps have...TO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS???

    Joni, my family celebrated Christmas in the exact same way. We love to spoil each other with gifts, big and small. Looking at the Christmas Tree, you would have never know there was a recession. Maybe it's called shopping THROUGHOUT the year, or saving money THROUGHOUT the year. Maybe it called credit..GUESS WHAT? It's nobodies business, even when you decide to share it on the web. That's what a BLOG is, your personal story, shared on the web. Yes, you are putting yourself out there, but only a tastless, classless person would bother to spew their hate continuously throughout the day.

    Yep, my family did Christmas the exact same way. My 2 year old opened about 20 gifts, both big and small. Oh, and did I mention I'm from Texas too? Sign me up on the Hillbilly sheet! Guilty as charged, by some anonymous people who spend too much time on the web!
    Hugs,
    Angela
    smellykatmail@hotmail.com

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  131. Believe it or not, Joni I haven't had a drink today so I don't need your hangover advice. Please refer to the SRT and your interview with Suzanne Kassler and you will understand the "cone yak" comment. I suppose that's how Texans pronounce it, but you sounded like you just fell off the turnip truck. I often wonder how Suzanne Kassler kept a straight face.
    From the looks of your tacky pictures from Christmas, I would have suspected a few rounds of Jack Daniels might have been passed around the room. I am not planning to write a blog on religion, but most educated people know the tenants of Christianity.

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  132. Ok Anonymous-I have had just about enough of your rudeness for one day-I truly cannot believe that one person has so much jealousy and hate in their heart. Get over yourself and off of Joni's blog. I am not from Texas but LOVE visiting there and hope to make it to some of the places Joni has mentioned over the year that I have been reading her blog. You are about as tactless as they come and I am giving you way TOO much attention which is apparently what you are craving so goodbye and good riddance.

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  133. Anon @10:12pm I'm not familiar with the tenants of Christianity and have no interest, but I am familiar with the blustering, angry musings of an angry person with an axe to grind.

    Please take your Evangelical Christian musings elsewhere and leave our dear Joni and her family alone. If you were truly a Christian, you would do so. Thank you.

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  134. Your niece's horse is Surely a beauty-what a great and neat looking tack room and a great gift too. Happy holidays, Joni. Wow generating all those comments too, is this a record on all counts?

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  135. Joni-sorry that I have had to post so many comments today. Believe it or not your blog is the only one that I have ever posted a comment on, but today has nearly sent me over the edge. I was really bothered by how a few bad apples were treating you and your family. I think I will have to go to bed now.. I am exhausted from all of this as I am sure you are.

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  136. ...most educated people know the tenants of Christianity.

    Hello Educated Person.

    You mean "the TENETS of Christianity."

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  137. " tenants of Christianity."

    BWAHAHHAHAHAAAAAHHAA!!!!!!!!

    The best half-sentence I've read on a blog thus far!

    It's tenets, boo. Not tenants.

    Christianity for rent. 1 year lease, no pets. Call Jesus for more information.

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  138. http://www.wordcentral.com/cgi-bin/student?book=Student&va=cognac

    hear it pronounced here.

    Pronunciation: kon-yak

    not sure why Suzanne Kasler would be laughing at me.

    she probably would be laughing at tenants of Christianity though. ahahahahhaah!!!!!!!!

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  139. It is said to be "in poor taste" to discuss religion, politics, or money outside of your family, friends, or group that chooses to have such discussions by mutual consent. Ultimately, the only purpose of etiquette is to assure the comfort of your fellow human. The contentious discussions here have only served to create discomfort, and it is doubtful that anyone's beliefs have been changed. There are 6 billion of us on this small planet. The pursuits of life, liberty, and happiness (a state to be defined only by the individual seeking such, as long as it does not infringe on another's similar pursuits)are deserved by each and every human being. Those practices or injustices that we as a group or society find deplorable are best changed through coming together in our efforts, no matter our individual religious beliefs or economic station. Joni, I thought your post was full of the joy you and your extended family find in each other's company, and I believe how you choose to celebrate is for you and your family to determine.

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  140. I am bothered by your distorted view of Christmas. And I'm further saddened by the very first comment.

    I'm a bit confused as to why you chose to write about the holiday from that view. Either you know about Christianity and chose to focus on the commercialized and materialistic "Christmas", or you don't know about the true meaning of Christmas? I think I've seen you say both, now, in rebuttals.


    The other thing that really bothers me is the guns. Those are not typical hunting rifles. They might be .22 rifles made to look like assault weapons...which, in itself, is disturbing.

    Not only that, but those boys went out into the woods, to shoot, wearing CAMO colored outerwear?!? And you wrote humorously about it? Thank God they came back in one piece.

    Do the hunters in your family not wear "hunter orange"??? http://homestudy.ihea.com/hsafety/13blaze.htm


    Really, this last point of mine is a a safety thing...not a difference in sense of humor or religious faith.

    Gina...

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  141. Good grief people... get a handle! You Anon. folks are so out of line... talk about Christian/Christmas spirit!

    Joni,

    It looks like you had (a) great family holiday(s). So Texas in a good way... big family, big giving, big fun. Loved seeing your family in action. A very fun post.

    We also have a mixed family, more so since it is a divorced/remarried/new kid mix. My Jewish ex SIL celebrated with us in NJ and has come to VA for Christmas and frankly it was our best time ever. My semi nephew always decorated my Mom's tree and celebrated with us.

    We shop all year, mostly thrift. I scored big on Am Girl doll stuff and a great castle for 2 of the kids. The twins got tae kwon do sparing gear that made a big pile but was from the group. No rifles, but nerf guns. Pretty funny in hoods chasing around. Same image that you posted. I'm anti gun, but I don't deny others the experience. In PA they shut down for huntin' opening.

    And I surely wish I'd gotten a "Surely" in my day! If only, just never lived the right place. Nice tack room.

    Have a great New Year.

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  142. Many thanks to those erudite posters who pointed out my spelling/typing error of tenets/tenants. I certainly didn't think it would take so long for some of you to notice nor for someone to play the Evangelical Christian card. My comments were never to interject religious faith into the discussion, but merely to point out that the post languished over the Jewish celebration of Joni's family and the references to the celebration of Christmas was all about gifts, candy, Santa, snowmen, trees, ornaments, etc. Joni appears to be totally ignorant of the meaning of Christmas and to observe this does not mean that I am a flaming evangelical as some of you contend. It simply means that Joni in addition to not being able to pronounce cognac without sounding like a Texas bull horn, also knows little about Christmas tradition other than the secular side which was in magnificent display among those attending the GumshoesAreUs Christmas celebration. The title of the post was about Two Religions - one Jewish, the other Christmas. For some reason I never knew that Christmas was a religion. It must be all that "cone yak".

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  143. Pat's Additions: if you are addressing me, I signed with my real name and you are free to use it. I do not have a Google account and have no desire to create one just for my relatively short, first and last visit here. lol

    Gina...

    p.s. I think it goes without saying that I don't think I'm out of line nor being unChristian by expressing my concerns. *shrug*

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  144. p.s.s.Pat's Additions: I am in VA, also, my twins (b/g) take taekwondo (we already have sparring gear, though), I enjoy thrifting and love horses (have had them)...wanna go out for lunch, someday? lol

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  145. Gina - WHAT first comment bothered you so much?

    Do you HONESTLY think I don't know that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ? I mean, please. I am not an idiot. This post was written to describe how WE celebrate Hanukkah AND we go to my husband's family's Christmas. BUT we do NOT celebrate Christmas in a religious way. If Ben's family chooses to go to church - we will go with them if we want to. But, most times they don't go. I described my religion celebrations vs. Ben's family's celebrations. They are different. My family draws names - you get one gift. Ben's family doesn't drwa names - you get many gifts. many gifts is more fun for a child than one gift. WOW - what a revealation. Does your family draw names? Or do you not exchange gifts? Why Do YOU exchange gifts?

    What distorted view do I have? NO - I don't give gifts on Christmas in honor of Jesus. I don't believe in Jesus. I am Jewish. You are the one who is showing ignorance here. do you not realize that Jews don't believe in Jesus? And it really is absolutely none of your business how I write about my holiday. You really don't need to be "saddened" by anything in my life. ok????? I don't need your pity. If I wanted to celebrate the birth of Christ - I would. OK????? Do you not understand the difference. let me put it this way. Should I go to my husband's family celebrations and sit there on my hands not join in? would THAT make you happy? should I say, no, I can't give you a gift because I don't believe in Jesus?????????? Is that what you are getting out? I really do not understand what you are getting at. What distorted view? My view of how MANY people celebrate Christmas is not distorted. MANY people celebrate Christmas by giving gifts. unless they are Jehovah's = then they do NOT exchange gifts. But I shouldn't know that becuase I am so distorted. EVERYBODY - THIS IS HOW ONE FAMILY CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS - WITH GIFTS AND FOOD AND FAMILY AND LAUGHTER AND LOVE AND TOGETHERNESS AND THEY PLAY CARDS TOO AT NIGHT!!!!!!!!! HORRORS!!!! I really am at a loss as to what bothers you? Maybe, you and the other anon that has commented 100 times today you are bothered that I am Jewish and I dare to go at all and I dare to have fun. Maybe I should be morose. Maybe I should stay home - would that make you happy?????? Maybe you are angry Ben converted?

    And I NEVER said they went into the woods. I said they went to the river bottom. a huge, wide open area. we don't go into woods to hunt. we only hunt on private leases that you rent for the season. and they weren't hunting. they were shooting targets. and I can't stand guns, or hunting, or killing, but that's me. I asked you to email me to discuss this if you really wanted to. I guess you just wanted to lecture me about how I sadden you becuase I am Jewish. Whatever.

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  146. The true beauty lies in the appreciation and respect of both religions.

    Wish the middle East would read your blog. :)

    Be blessed.

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  147. Not bothered a bit by the lack of piety or the consumerism. It's all fine. Prosperity is good for everyone (including all the workers who kept their jobs making the Louboutins, the rifles, the wrapping paper, etc.).

    But Joni: Burning ANYthing is not "green." Especially paper, which is so easy to recycle.

    OK, lecture over.

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  148. "the post languished over the Jewish celebration of Joni's family"

    Not sure what you're trying to say, but it most definitely cannot be "languished."

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  149. Loved this post. As a Christian who wishes she knew more about her Jewish grand-roots (is that a word), I was delighted that you shared. A beautiful holiday, a beautiful home, and a beautiful attitude. Happy New Year!

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  150. One of the definitions of "languish" is to "suffer under".

    While I don't believe Joni suffers under being Jewish, she appears to suffer under the customs of Hanukkah so therefore enjoys that other "religion" called Christmas so that she and her family can indulge in conspicuous consumption.

    Thank you Madam Webster whoever you are for being such a great editor.

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  151. The best of both worlds... everything looks so beautiful. I loved that paint horse too. I used to have one almost like that...thanks for sharing.

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  152. "she appears to suffer under the customs of Hanukkah"

    Then why did you say "THE POST languished"?

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  153. Sweet Joni!

    I hate that there are all these "annonymous" commenters with such terrible manners. Even if people don't agree with your post, they should be respectful. And there is no greater offense than insulting someone's daughter and husband. Shame on them!!

    This season I have much to be thankful for and you are included on my list. You have been such an incredible blessing to me. I look forward to all of your new posts and am always inspired and have an better understanding about design afterward. I truly appreciate how much you have taught me.

    Thank you darling Joni!!

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  154. "the references to the celebration of Christmas was all about..."

    You mean:

    "the references to the celebration of Christmas WERE all about..."

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  155. Anonymous at 9:54 - "the post languishes" - - -

    The post is an essay if you wish. The essay is filled with the words, emotions, etc. of the writer. This post and the writer are interchangable.

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  156. She's baaaaacccckkk!!!!!

    How do you feel today? hung over?

    Honey, I don't suffer my religion. if I suffered my religion - why would I go to such efforts to raise my child in that religion? To compare holidays - does not mean I don't like my own. I was just saying - as a child watching Easter egg hunts and Santa Claus - looked like fun to a child. we don't have those symbols. We aren't ALLOWED to believe in Santa Claus. That is why I wrote this - to say, it is great marrying someone of another faith, you get to celebrate their holidays too, but you don't have to BE that religion. Got that??? I could have converted instead of Ben. Ever think about that?????


    Celebrating another holiday is especially fun when they involve Santa and the Easter bunny. I'm not going to believe in the other religion, I am going to enjoy the other religion's symbols. I would never believe in Jesus Christ - it's against everything that I am. But I enjoy celebrating the holiday that my husband celebrates. My child got to enjoy the holidays that I never did. She had fun on easter egg hunts and waiting for Santa (though she never believed in Santa or the Easter bunny.) That's it. Don't tell me that I suffer my religion. You have no idea what you are talking about. I hope you aren't already drinking this morning!

    And please, - go to another blog today and wreck havoc there. I was reading one this morning where she was talking about the laptop she got and all the other gifts - can you please go bother her and lecture her today, ok? she got much more gifts than i did.

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  157. Joni,

    No, I am not offended, bothered, angry nor anything else at you being Jewish (or Ben's conversion lol). Let me say that, right off the bat-I do not have a problem with "non-Christians", be them Jewish, Muslim, JW, Wiccan, atheist, or anything else.

    You "asked" (in your ranting reply to me) so I will try to explain, as simply as I can...

    There are 2 extremes of "Christmas" in the US. There's the religious aspect and the commercialized version. Many families celebrate a mix of the 2.

    What you described was a very elaborate, over-the-top (you even said so, yourself in the blog) celebration of the COMMERCIALIZED Christmas...but you titled it as A Tale of Two Religions and even mentioned Christianity and the fun of having a Catholic grandmother.

    This is where you clearly have a distorted view of the religious Christmas (and Easter, BTW).

    Let me assure you, there is very little (angel atop the tree) in what you show and describe that is religious. That could be the celebration by a family of almost ANY religion (save JW, as you said), with lots of disposable cash (lol).

    Now, before you get your knickers in a knot, please realize that I am not saying there is anything WRONG with your celebration but referring to it as a Christian celebration is simply incorrect (and hurtful).

    I know you did not mean to offend us Christians; but you did so by describing the extravagant non-religious celebration as Christian and I struggle with how to explain it any better.

    Little do you know that Christian (especially Catholic! Where's the Advent wreath?) Christmas is more closely related to how you describe Jewish holidays...somewhat low-key (compared to the commercialized celebrations), calm, peaceful and yes, joyous with some decorating, singing and gift-giving (The 3 Wise Men and Little Drummer Boy).

    But the center of a Christian Christmas is Christ's birth...if that event is non-existent in your celebration, then I'm sorry, it is not a Christian celebration. And that's fine, but please, I respectfully ask you...don't mis-label it as Christian and put it out for the general public to see.

    Gina...

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  158. Oops, you posted something before I did. lol

    You said: "Celebrating another holiday is especially fun when they involve Santa and the Easter bunny. I'm not going to believe in the other religion, I am going to enjoy the other religion's symbols."

    Honey, Santa and the Easter Bunny are NOT religious symbols. Jesus is. Jesus Christ is the center of both Christmas and Easter...with or without the jolly elf and bunny.

    Jolly elf and bunny, along with hunting for eggs and so many other things are NON-religious symbols and activities for everyone of all/no religions to enjoy. :-)

    If you were not allowed to enjoy them, as a child, that was your family's misguided ideals-not the fault of Christianity.

    Gina...

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  159. Shoot, I didn't see you're use of "honey". Sorry, copying you was not intentional. lol

    Gina...

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  160. I am curious about one debate issue being tossed around. Why all the distaste regarding slipcovers? What is wrong with slipcovers?

    Joni - your blog continues to be the best part of my morning coffee routine! If you tally the positive versus negative comments, your approval rating is rocketing!

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  161. OMG Joni - I can't believe this continues. You poor thing! Anon Aja Gina please stop your nonsense and move on.

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  162. "This post and the writer are interchangable."

    Excellent logic. So you could write:

    "Then the post got in the car and drove to Chappell Hill..."

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  163. This comment forum about Joni's holiday celebration has now evolved into dysfunctional remarks without logic in several 'anonymous' instances. Certainly, a few are just obviously meant to be unkind and hurtful. A few are steaming with jealousy. Definitely, dragging an innocent teenager into the debate is victimization of a child.

    Gina - you would be a natural for either The Jerry Springer Show or Dr. Phil. Girl, you really need to loosen-up! Life's too short for so much anger. You seem to be taking this as a blood sport as opposed to a healthy debate. Your own personal rants are destructive and demeaning. As a purported Christian, give us all a break and go clean house or bake or Heaven forbid - go shopping! As your freedom of speech has certainly outworn its welcome here!

    Joni, you are abundantly well-loved. You need not answer feel obligated to respond to the comical, senseless opinions of a few. Looking forward to your next post!

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  164. Gina, your post was excellent. You, and many others who have posted here have a much fuller grasp of the Jewish traditions than it seems Joni has of Christian traditions even though she claims a Catholic grandmother and a family of in-laws who are "Christian". The entire post showed her lack of good taste and knowledge. That she chooses to leave these hideous pictures up with Meemaw wear flamingo pjs should tell us all something. Perhaps too that's a Jewish thing? As I said earlier, check out the other blogs' Christmas postings and you will come to understand that Joni was at war with "tacky" and "tacky" won.

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  165. Thanks for your advice, Mary, I think I'll choose to ignore it, for the time being. :-) Have a great day, though!


    Anon @ 12:28;
    Wow, you are completely reading your own attitude into my post. I'm not angry at all but thanks for your concern and suggestions. I am done shopped out...we had a pretty prosperous Christmas, ourselves. :-)



    Anon @ 12:38;
    Thanks; there is more I wanted to say but had to weed things out. lol

    Personally, I don't much care if her tastes clash or jive with mine...that's pretty subjective. lol

    But, I do care about people's perceptions of religion and I'd try to explain someone's mis-understanding of the Jewish faith, just as quick as I will Christianity.

    That being said; I don't know of flamingo pj's being a Jewish thing but I suppose it's as possible as jelly beans being a Christian thing. (<--said in humor, too! lol).

    Gina...

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  166. Joni-- I LOVE your blog and I love that you had the courage to share your Christmas with us. Mean-spirited and critical comments like those posted above cause others to be self-conscious about sharing anything personal. It's also moved our society into one of overt "political correctness" that has paralyzed us in fear of offending someone with whatever we are doing. I'M SICK OF IT. I didn't agree with everything that you wrote but I didn't CHOSE to be offended by it and neither will I try to BULLY you into fitting my mold. It's another attempt at regulation! Be yourself, sweet Joni, and don't apologize for being you. God has blessed you with many talents that are apparent to all of us readers--hold on to that.
    *Brandi*

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  167. Joni, as one of avid your readers thank you for giving me a glimpse into your Holiday CelebrationS.

    Hopefully you will not mind me sharing with you something that I found in a Christian Bookstore and enclosed in a few of my Christmas Cards this year. It is titled 'Santa's Christmas Prayer' and goes as follows:

    "On Chrimas Eve the other night I saw the most amazing sight, for there beneath the Christmas tree was Santa kneeling on his knee.
    His countenance was different than that all-familar, jolly grin; his head was bowed, with hand to breast, and slightly tucked into his vest.
    For there in a nativity was Jesus and His family, and as I heard him start to pray I listened close to what he'd say.
    "Lord, You know that You're the reason I take pleasure in this season. I don't want to take Your place, but just reflect Your wonderous grace. I hope You'll help them understand I'm just an ordinary man, who found a way do do Your will by finding kids with needs to fill. But all those centuries ago, there was no way for me to know that they would make so much of me, and the gifts beneath the tree. They think I have some hidden power granted at the midnight hour, but it is my love for You inspiring the things I do. And so when they begin to open gifts for which they have been hoping, may they give You all the glory., for You're the One True Christmas Story".

    I hope you enjoyed it and as for the readers who were so critical of your mention of Santa, etc.; perhaps next time when they choose to use Political Correctness and/or Religion to serve their own 'personal agendaS' they will reconsider doing so.

    WISHING YOU AND YOUR FAMILY .....
    A VERY HEALTHY, HAPPY and PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR.
    -Brenda-

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  168. Ooops, shud have read "as one of your avid readers"..... I think I got the typing of the poem correct.
    :) -Brenda-

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  169. Joni, you better hurry over to your little lapdog Valorie's blog- she's having all kinds of fun attacking Habitually Chic, and we all know how you love to participate in a little Heather bashing!

    http://visualvamp.blogspot.com/2009/12/good-riddance-to-vexing-personal.html

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  170. You don't say, girl. Joni would actually participate in a "little Heather bashing"? Can we say, jealousy that Heather is a NYC girl and Joni. . . is well Texas?

    For the Anon. who asked about slipcovers. Please look at Joni's last photo. A picture is worth a thousand words.

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  171. Anon 3:26- please don't blame Texas for anyone's trashiness. I live in Texas and I don't buy Louboutin's for a child, have nephews with guns, a horse, or any of the other distasteful things mentioned in this post. Not all Texans are rednecks.

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  172. Wow... the comment above mine is rude... I don't think it is trashy at all... it looks like a fairy tale Christmas to me!! Props on those Gingerbread houses :) I make one every year, and those put mine to shame. Looks like the perfect end to 2009, and a great way to begin 2010 (which was very strange to type, by the way:)

    On a funny note, I got a garbage disposal for Christmas, and totally freaked out I was so excited.

    Don't worry about next Christmas... I swear the first year back from college is a great Christmas, because you really have to squeeze in as much togetherness as you can in those two weeks... also, all those old arguments you have in high school are completely gone at the first post high school Christmas... It's a cool feeling :)

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  173. I would suggest that the two Anons, including Gina GROW UP. You have taken this to a new low. Are you participating in some experiment or are you on drugs or are you a jealous design blogger??? Joni-I will only support you more as a result of this stupid behavior. By the way have you seen "It's Complicated" yet? I have not but after seeing all the pics you have posted on the house I am hoping to see it before it comes out on DVD.

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  174. To: This Photographers Life:

    I only hope and pray that Elisabeth will be here to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas, I mean, excuse me: The Holiday With Evergreen Tree, with us next year. She is probably going to Year Course for her freshman year all the way to Israel. She'll be gone for 9 months and won't be home for the holidays. Makes me too sad to even think about not seeing her sweet face for that long.

    And yes, you are right, our Holiday With Evergreen Tree is like a fairy tale. My sister in law Shannon, her sister, and their mother are all extremely talented and work so hard to provide us all with fabulous memories of family and love and good food, too! Thank you for noticing that - along with the gingerbread houses that Shannon made for all of us to enjoy! Did you notice that over one front door she even put the KW brand?????? Too cute!!!

    Mary - thank you for all your support today and yesterday. I did see It's Complicated. I laughed for the first hour, outloud, but it's not The Holiday. That one made me cry too! And it's not SGG - THAT house will never be topped. Still, it is def. worth the price of admission.

    Sally Wheat told me today that The Blind Side was so terrific, it just might be the best movie she has ever seen! what an endorsement. I may have to go run out and see that one too!!!!! Thank you again Mary for all your support and friendship today - much appreciated!

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  175. The two Anons, including Gina are Grown Up which is why this Christmas post is so offensive. I have taken a lot of time today to look through the archives of this blog, and I really have to say that it amounts to no more than a lot of downloads and borrowed commentary from others about architectural and interior design photos. There is not - with the exception of the "little princess" (your words Joni, not mine) new bedroom post that is original and yet many who read this blog take Joni's words as "style gospel". Joni, in past post, many who have commented have asked that you actually show your own work - not that of others. So far, I have found nothing except the recent bedroom and something called "Tanglewood House". How do you purport to be a designer without showcasing your own work? Every other decorating blog I read does so with great pride. Certainly you don't have to identify the client by name, nor the location of the house/condo/apt. Stop using the work of other "successful" designers and your commentary on their work as a substitute for your lack of a portfolio.

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  176. I have learned that people who judge others do so in order to make themselves feel better. Unless you know the exact circumstances of anothers life and their collective experiences, you are in no position to judge. The author of this blog does not have to justify or explain her views, traditions and beliefs. You have a choice, read it, or not. If you do not agree, respectfully voice your opinion and open discussion, but not under the veil of cowardice that an annoymous post allows. I enjoyed the post. Life is all about the mix of people in this world and how it goes around. I see joy, laughter and a family sharing time together. That said, as a Canadian, the images of the boys with guns did startle me. Not something we would see here in Canada, but we are from different cultures and I respect that. The risk we run in deleting posts we dont like is that are not being true. How can we accept the positive comments as true if we fear the posts have been censored. Good job in holding your own and not backing down.

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  177. At random, I read a blog post by Joni on Lee Radziwell), the sister of Jackie Onassis. I also read a blog of Joni's on Hickory Hill, the home of Ethel and Robert Kennedy. Joni may assume that none of her readers have libraries, but while I did not have the downloaded pictures from the Hickory Hill entry, the commentary was clearly a transposition of the authors' words into Joni's blogs. What do we call that? This is much of what this blog is about. That is not what the readers want. Real, live and current post of the blogger would be in order were it possible to find any. Joni doesn't post her own design work because it is easier to comment on the work of others and assume a mantel of knowledge when knowledge isn't present. Perhaps a commitment to originality would be in order for Cote de Texas in 2010. You owe it to your readers to not take the words of others and transpose them slightly to make them appear to be your own, but create your own commentary, if possible. If you don't understand this post, check out the archives and if any of you read books on popular culture, design, personalities, history, you will not have to read much to get the meaning of this entry.

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  178. Correction: The last name is Radziwill. I would not want the spelling police to show up for their prompt correction.

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  179. Joni,

    As one other poster said: "you are abundantly well-loved. You need not feel obligated to respond to the comical, senseless opinions of a few."

    Ignore everyone who says mean things to you anonymously on your blog; if they truly had your best interests at heart they would share their concerns in a private email and they would include their real name and contact information.

    I love you and your blog!
    Jane

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  180. Joni,

    First time commenter, long time reader. THANK YOU for the hours of design entertainment you've provided via your blogging.

    And thank you for your graciousness in apologizing if you had offended anyone. As a Christian, yes, I did cringe at the characterization in the post, but understood the humorous spirit in which it was written. Thank you for clarifying, although it's YOUR BLOG and you don't have to explain anything to anyone.

    I loved the post, I love all your posts, and think your enthusiasm for design (and life) is infectious!

    B.

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  181. i'm eating this shit up...

    joni = a kiss from god.

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  182. Wow!

    I just looked at all the comments since I submitted mine yesterday. I can't believe the remarks about "rednecks", "hillbillies" and "coneyak". There certainly are some nasty people out there! They've got to be pretty narrow-minded to insult someone because of the way they talk. Or the kinds of presents they buy.

    Thank goodness I'm not religious, or I might have turned out like Anonymous!

    You're a class act, Joni, both in general and as a designer. Thank you for a wonderful post. You're the best design blogger out there.

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  183. I only hope and pray that Elisabeth will be here to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas, I mean, excuse me: The Holiday With Evergreen Tree, with us next year.

    Mockery...nice.

    I didn't say anything about not referring to the holiday as "Christmas", I simply (and nicely, I might add) asked you to not describe your families' celebrations as Christian or religious as you, yourself said...

    BUT we do NOT celebrate Christmas in a religious way.

    So why would you even want to pass it (celebration) off as something it's not (religious)?

    Accept and embrace it for what it is. Leave the religious part to those that believe and observe the birth of Jesus.

    Gina...

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  184. squeak, jane, b, gayhooker ?!! hehe, mary, and everyone else - thank you for your support!! please be aware there is really only one negative anon that has posted over and over and over today and last night for some unknown reason. she defines the word "troll." but still - thank you for your support - it means the world to me! On days like this it makes me wish I had comment moderation on - but I think letting her spew her anti semitic rants shows her for what she truly is. I hope you all have a truly safe and happy and heathy new years!!!!!!

    p.s Anon- email me, I'll be glad to share my portfolio with you since you have trouble finding my work on my blog. But, understand - my blog is not my web site, it is NOT my portfolio. I do NOT post pictures on my blog of clients who don't give me persmission to. Email me though - i'll be glad to show you all my pictures of my work that you want! Thanks!

    Joni

    Joni

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  185. B. Could you please point me to the apology post that you mentioned, I can't find it. I'd much appreciat it.
    Gina...

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  186. Oh my!!! I dont even know where to start. First Gina and anon get a life you must have nothing to do , to spend so much time on bashing other peoples holiday, you clearly have no class and you should be the ones called hillybillys or rednecks. Joni is the most talented designer, writer and the kindest person you could ever meet. I dont know how people like you sleep at night. I really dont care if you like my slipcovers or not. I have two of the sweetest children you could ever meet. One likes to hunt and the other rides horses, nothing is redneck about either one of these activities this is true Americana. Furthermore, to attack a 80 year old woman in her flamingo pajamas, what is that all about? You are truly a sick person.

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  187. Joni, the Jewish card doesn't play here. Don't go the persecution route with this blog. This isn't the wilderness and you are not Moses. I really hate the persecution card because when you trump that, you don't have to stand up and defend the use of other people's material on your blog. You are attempting to stop anyone from disagreeing with you in their tracks, much like racist do with the race card. It won't work here. How about publishing on your site (really, a logical place don't you think?) some of your OWN WORK for a change and comment on it rather than using the work of others. A little honestle goes a long way.

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  188. HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA
    HAHAHAHAHHAHA
    HAHAHAHAH
    HAHAHA
    HAHA
    HA

    all of the anonymous posters, it is really sad that you keep checking my lovely mother's blog to see if someone has responded to your nasty comment. Three words to you... GET A LIFE. Seriously. I hope that you are a High School student, if not you are a pathetic excuse for an adult... this is stuff that mean girls would do at my school! My mother and I tried to be gracious and brush your nastiness off of our multicultural shoulders (that's a joke incase you still couldn't understand what one is), but it seems to not be enough. This is outrageous and uncalled for. Just stop posting. This is comment to all of the rude comments- who happen to all be Anonymous posters. Feel free to come and attack me back. Because I know what kind of person my mother and I are and apparently none of you ANONYMOUS people don't.

    None of you know the hard work that my mother has put into this blog and to our family. She is a loving, giving, and beautiful mother, wife, sister (in law), and daughter. And everyone in her life supports her in every kind of way, in every situation. I am her only child. If you knew anything about my parents and their struggles in life, you wouldn't have made any snide remarks to this post.
    I don't need to explain our personal lives and pasts, because it's not so much of the point. The point is- if you don't have anything nice to say then don't.

    I also want to thank all of you posters for teaching me a valuable lesson.
    1. Not to make any kind of rude comments over the internet.
    2. Not to sound like an unintelligent person over the internet.
    3. Build thicker skin
    4. Not use swear words over the internet.
    lastly
    5. Never take my mother for granted.

    Thank you all again
    OH... and if you want to continue posting rude comments.... bring it on. thanks... xoxo

    feel free to look at my blog maxedoutcard.blogspot.com !!!
    (i'm quite the brat if you didn't know ;)) jokes.

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  189. Correction: A little honesty goes a long way.

    Also, citing your sources goes a long way also. Ask any college freshman.

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  190. Cote de Texas posted a gracious apology on December 28, 2009 7:16 PM. It read:

    "If I have offended you, truly offended you - then I apologize. It's not my nature to offend anyone. EVER. It's not my agenda to offend, nor is it my agenda to brag or to be boastful."

    Scan back-up the comments and read for yourself. The apology was sincere. I am hopeful you will be equally gracious in accepting Joni's written expression of regret and resist fueling any additional toxic dialogue.

    Gina - I wish you a calm heart and quiet thoughts. Your reflections and convictions are obviously hearfelt.

    Joni - At any point over the past few days, with a simple keystroke you could have stopped all this madness of commentary. However, you continue to give Gina and others a platform to spin their thoughts without censorship. That alone displays moral character. Of your own volition, you have been the blunt of some very disrespectful verbiage. That's gutsy. You are a real 'Steel Magnolia'.

    I could not agree more with you on the 'It's Complicated' design set. SGG still reigns supreme for me!

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  191. Joni- great post - obnoxious comments- use the delete button more often in 2010- these people can not be reasoned with- keep up the great work- love your blog- Happy New Year!

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  192. JONI,
    Shake these haters off. Delete that foolishness. It's messing up my holiday cheer. Lizzy, you go girl!

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  193. No swear words used here, Lizzy unless by you.Yes many have been to your site and I would attest that "brat" is a proper description. Can't say much for those attempted knocked knee poses a la j crew, but keep trying.

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  194. Wow - i dont get why the blogosphere has turned into such a bunch of bitches this week! Everyone is name calling, saying people arent "real designers" and making seriously out of line personal attacks on people.

    As a jew growing up in bklyn (a near ghetto) my knowledge of what xmas is was based mostly on TV and movies... I am still kind of unsure what goes on...Reading this post, I saw that Xmas was more in line with the TV version of the holiday... Not gonna lie, i raised some eyebrows here and there... but all in all, there is really no excuse to stalk someones blog and attack them and their family!!

    To the mean anons... you guys made your point. You are more religious and you feel your holiday was misrepresented. You also just made yourselves look like asses. Bigger asses than people who buy loubs, guns and horses for kids. Congrats!

    Oh and by the way... I am only anon because I dont want you to find me and attack me too.

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  195. haha. you really don't bother me. and thank you for the last comment.
    hope you feel good about your self for insulting an 18 year old. pathetic old hag.

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  196. Btw Evil Anons... Extremists of all religions have more in common with each other than they do with everyone else. Intolerance sucks.

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  197. I had to detox with a Sonic Route 44 Cranberry Limeade after reading this...

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  198. This is a delightful design blog---crazy anons please take your craziness elsewhere...there is nothing joyful, uplifting or elegant about your rants.

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