Kathryn O’Shea-Evans dishes on HOLIDAY TRADITIONS and how to start your own
WRITER. TRAVELER. Teacher. TV personality. Mermaid (that’s for another time). And recently, Kathryn O’Shea-Evans started an online retail business—Aspen Grange—curating American-made Christmas items with the intent of creating “the most Christmassy place on the internet.” We sat down with O’Shea- Evans to talk all things holiday traditions.
Why was finding American-made Christmas decorations vital to you?
I once read that everything in your house should be beautiful and useful, which is so true, and an inspiring way to live. If I’m worried about how a piece was made or the working conditions of the person who made it, I’m less likely to enjoy it. Plus, it’s often better for the environment to buy locally than to have items shipped from far-flung lands.
What’s one tradition that defines your Christmases?
Our main Christmas tree is solely decorated with ornaments we buy on our travels (plus the requisite fairy lights). The result may be sparse, especially when the evergreen tops out at 13 feet tall, as it has in recent years. But every year when we decorate it, we unwrap memory after memory … the glimmering peach from our stay in Savannah, Georgia, in a 19th century home under live oaks dripping with spanish moss; the glass ball hand-painted with the Yule Lads, the Icelandic answer to Santa, from our Christmas in Reykjavik and the surrounding countryside; the ornament of the steeples of Assisi, Italy, we purchased during our engagement trip to Rome.
Why should families create traditions if they don’t have them?
Time spent with loved ones doesn’t cost anything and is how we create the best memories! If you don’t have any fun family traditions, start your own that feel authentically “you.” Maybe it’s whipping up your ancestor’s dreamy cheesecake recipe each Thanksgiving or having everyone in your family put on their pj’s and drive around to ogle Christmas lights while sipping cocoa.
How do traditions and the “things” of Christmas intertwine?
The prettier your Christmas décor, the more memorable your traditions. Think about it: We rarely recall wistfully the meal we shared at a drive-thru window! But when candles are aglow, Eartha Kitt’s voice is casting its romantic spell, a sugary and buttery scent is wafting out of the oven … that’s when you start to make family memories you’ll never forget. Add the dusting of snow that so often comes with a Colorado Christmas season … it’s bliss.
What’s your top tip you would give someone wanting to create a curated holiday home?
Draw from your best family memories and you can’t go wrong. Visually, it helps to have a consistent color story, so you will want to wend that through each room when possible— perhaps cobalt ribbons woven through your trees and boughs, then picked up in throw pillows and a smattering of ornaments. When kids are old enough, I recommend allowing them their own small tree in their room, ideally something they decorate themself with baubles they make with you at craft time over the years. Even if the tree becomes adorned with something you might not have picked— like dinosaurs and neon string—letting them decorate how they choose is important. It helps instill a love for the season that has nothing to do with toys and everything to do with giggling together and making something beautiful!