It happens every year. And still I find myself caught awestruck and humbled every single time. As the glitter settles, I catch up on some much-needed sleep, and the days seem to scream by in a flash of tinsel and twinkle, the realities of oh-my-world-what-just-happened sink in.
I wish I could tell you that the days and even hours before the shop opened for Merry & Bright 2014 were lighthearted and easy. That everything fell into place as if in some Disney movie sequence. That I didn't have to call poison control because I drank out of a plastic cup I'd used to measure out cleaner for mopping all my floors and baseboards by hand. I wish I could tell you those things, but I can't. (Though the poison control story now ranks right up there with one about the time I drove a 4-wheeler into the side of my uncle's brick home.)
What I can tell you about is the sense of calm and peace that anchored me this season more palpably than ever before. How my plans and leaps of faith in the weeks prior were met with providence and provision in huge God-sized heaps. About the kindness and grace I received from my brother and sister-in-love, who gave up portions of their vacation to come down to the shop and help. About my grit-and-glam sister-from-another-mister Jodi who gave up her day off to come down and help me behind the cash wrap and in those frenzied final hours before we opened. About my mother who stood shoulder to shoulder with me throughout it all and let me push her to the brink of exhaustion with late hours and early mornings.
I sent her home at 1:30 Thursday morning, with the intention of working all night in the building. And as she pulled away, it seemed insurmountable. So much felt unfinished and scattered. But I squared my shoulders and started to the task at hand. We were opening our doors in 16 hours. At 3 am, I sat down in a chair to rest for 15 minutes and the next thing I knew, my eyes were opening at 5:30 am.
Yet instead of panic, I remember praying that God would help me to be more productive in the next 8 hours than should be humanly possible. I left the shop silent and just kept praying as I worked. And He is so good and so faithful to answer in huge ways. I'd glance down at my watch and expect hours to have passed, only to find minutes had. Vignettes and displays just flowed with a sense of ease that I can tell you didn't come from within me. At 9 am, my brother came down to the shop with coffee for himself and a couple bottles of Cherry Coke (and a large cup of slushy ice) for me. The adrenaline I was running on needed a large jolt of caffeine. And pardon me while I brag for a moment on my baby brother who let me direct him with boxes that needed to be carried into storage, mirrors and glass that needed to be cleaned so that it gleamed, and vacuuming the shop spotless. He'd even worn an old work shirt from his days as the warehouse manager of our family furniture store.
When Mama arrived a little before noon, her reaction to the shop's transformation is one I shall carry with me always and replay in my heart at those moments when doubt and worry threatens to creep in. Even just thinking about it now, the tears start to well up.
I'll spare you the rest of the play-by-play, because really, the rest of it flew by in a blur. My talented friend Barb, of Barbara Jo Photography, showed up right as I ran home to get ready and captured these gorgeous photos of the shop before the doors opened. To see the entire gallery, check it out here.
As the season has continued to unfold, the gratitude has just continued to swell. A shop without custom (I love that phrase, don't you? I've been watching The Paradise and Mr. Selfridge too much), is just a museum. New merchandise has been brought into the shop daily to refresh pockets and displays as so many dear faces and new faces found treasures they just had to take home.
Alice Adair & Co. is the sum of my passion, my heart's joy, and a physical expression of the story and journey my life has taken to this point. And as I've said before, design and display is tangible storytelling. That someone would want to incorporate an Alice Adair & Co. find into their home and tale is exhilarating. I am always asked how I can bear to part with all the things I've discovered and brought into the shop. Honestly, that is the most fun part! When I find an object, I know that I love it -- but to then see someone else who loves it? Icing on the cake. (Or whipped cream on the pie!)
So as you gather today with you're dearly beloved to reflect on the gifts and blessings you've been given, I wish you every happiness and bright blessing imaginable with a heart full of thanks. My cup has been filled to overflowing with all of your support, encouragement, compliments, and excitement. I am immensely grateful for each and every one of you.
The very happiest of Thanksgivings, lovelies!
All Images: © 2014 Alice Adair & Co. and Barbara Jo Photography. Images may not be used without express permission.