In the Company of the Rich

On David’s day off, we went to Biltmore, the mansion in Asheville belonging to the Vanderbilt family. I remembered that the staff would be in the middle of removing Christmas decorations. David missed seeing the mansion decked out in Christmas finery, so he thought it would be interesting to see some of it. The entrance, dining hall, and breakfast room were back to normal, but many of the rooms were still decorated. The trees were lit on the second floor.

In the music room, cleaners were on scaffolding on wheels replacing drapes and dusting the walls. The industrial-sized duster was enough to give me nightmares. Several people were un-decorating trees in the gallery. I was amazed that they were in the same box stage as John is at our house, with storage boxes near the ornaments. Their setup was highly organized. As I walked toward this area, a woman dropped one of the round ornaments, easily six inches in diameter. It rolled out of the restricted area toward the feet of visitors. A man deftly retrieved it for the worker, and everyone laughed. Despite the ball’s delicate appearance, it was tough!

010919 Undecorating at Biltmore.JPG

Now you’ve seen how un-decoration is done with the rich, you can view John’s box stage at our house. The big difference is scope. I wouldn’t be surprised if John gets the job done before they do.

010919 Undecorating at the Mehrlings.JPG

48 thoughts on “In the Company of the Rich

  1. John seems to be highly organised. I think you’re right and he may finish first. I’m glad you were able to give David a glimpse of how the other half live before everything was packed away. I’ll bet their Christmas day meal would have been something to see. I wonder if they’ve still got a menu.
    xxx Hugs Galore xxx

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  2. As you are aware, we were once in the B&B business, 89-2000. During the summer of 89 we traveled to Michigan and made a stop @ https://www.bronners.com/category/about/bronners-trivia.do
    We purchased an artificial Christmas Tree of quite proportions that would be raised in the sitting room come the festive season. Epiphany, the normal day for our family’s undecorating, would not see the tree come down. Instead, Hearts, red bows, and ribbons and such would transform the tree for Valentine’s Day. Throughout the seasons, Easter, Spring, Independence Day, Fall and, Thanksgiving our tree took on a new look. We were even blessed to have returning guests bring ornaments to place on the tree. On occasion, we would strip the tree, take to our porch and hose the dust off. Were you to be a guest returning to Allendale Cottage, you would know to go to the Sitting Room and view what decorations adorned the tree.

    We have always had a special place in our hearts for the Biltmore, especially the Christmas decorations.

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    1. This is a great story on its own. We keep the Christmas tree without its decorations in our living room through the year simply because we have no place to keep it away, But your idea of doing the tree up for different occasions is great.

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  3. I think it’s always a huge job putting away the Christmas garb and you’re fortunate to have someone do it for you. John is a special one, he is. Rus doesn’t like Christmas trees so if we have one it’s because I put it up and I take it down. He does other things for me though, trees just not one of them. One of these days I would like to see the mansion at Christmas time, I bet it’s beautiful.

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    1. Biltmore is gorgeous at Christmas. Perhaps this year you could check your calendar in the fall and find a couple of days to come over. If you set out one morning, we could visit after you get here. We’d love to have you spend the night in our house. We’d get up the next morning and go to Biltmore early on so you could spend as much time as you wanted there. You could stay another night with us or go home from Biltmore. I-40 is close.

      You and John both love Christmas trees. If he were not here, I’d never have another one. I’d get out the mugs, dishes, and angels. Everything else would stay in boxes. I would love to loan you his tree skills.

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  4. I hate un-decorating. It’s sad in it’s own way. Maybe a harbinger of a long dreary winter. We are near Longwood Gardens and their Christmas decorations are fabulous but I’ve never been there during the taking down. Sounds like your day was fun.

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    1. David notices details, and he really got a lot out of our visit to Biltmore. He chatted with a docent, Jack, for half an hour. Jack told him their uniforms are supplied; all they buy are shoes. They change stations every half hour and know all the shortcuts behind the scenes. After standing for 1.5 hours, they get a nice break. Yesterday David was noticing doors, hinges, closets, and carvings.

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      1. I am neurotic to parking. If it’s someplace unusual I will write it down. If it’s my normal grocery store I try to always park in the same area. I have already buckled up in the wrong car only to wonder what a Led Zeppelin tape was doing there. Fortunately I casually sauntered out of it before the real owner came. Who leaves their car unlocked?

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  5. For years, I spent Black Friday decorating the house, and New Year’s Day taking it down. It is a small house and we loved looking for decorations that had a country theme. But to put them out, we had to tuck away the regular things in the Rubbermaid tubs downstairs, under the bed, in drawers for picture frames, etc. I never minded putting it up but taking it down I dreaded … the house was upside down for two days – I do say I will decorate some next year as I have had nothing Christmassy in the house for years, save the wreath, and I never see it except coming up the driveway after my walk. The Biltmore ornaments must be stored in a large area … they look all categorized.

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      1. The actual ornaments alone were huge, let alone their containers … amazing. Next year I’ll put up a few ornaments and take some pictures. Somewhere in the house, probably with the decorations, I have pictures of each room as it was decorated … it’s been probably 10 years since decorating.

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      2. I have at least one set of photos to show John’s decorations in NY. I took pictures of this house the first Christmas we were here. There would be more motivation to decorate if your mother were still with you. I’ll take a few minutes to miss her with you.

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      3. You’ll have to showcase it sometime Anne. Thank you for your thoughts and yes, you are right, if it was not just me, I’d likely decorate. Unbelievably, I’d decorate for every holiday, both here and at work – every holiday – so I have candy dishes and plates, baskets, bunnies, witches, all over this house, sadly … just like my work clothes – from another era in my life.

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      4. I’m so glad I don’t have to decorate the tree at the office any more. It sat in the reception area, and I had to look at it every day. Every time my eyes went in that direction, I’d see a branch that was crooked or an ornament that seemed out of place. I never see anything wrong with John’s trees.

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      5. I had my tree in my office at work, plus the reception area … Robb had two trees from his mother’s house – they were tabletop trees and they had to be decorated and stuff around the lobby, our stockings, and he had the Christmas cartoons. If I never mentioned it before, Robb collects cartoons.
        He gets them out of the newspaper, magazines, especially “The New Yorker” and had used to use students from The Center for Creative Studies – he’d give them a black-and-white cartoon, and they’d redo it and colorize it and he had the same framing gallery do all the cartoons so they are identically framed (black channel metal frames) … 90% are labor-related cartoons and there are probably 75 or more framed and hung around the office. The rest of his ornaments and photos are of Don Quixote … cartoons of DQ and statues, stained glass – walking into the office looks like a museum. At Christmas, all the holiday cartoons came out, and that was about 15 or so, so the regular cartoons had to be put away … it was a whole ordeal … this year I didn’t even take my little M&M elf my mom bought me about 20 years ago out into the kitchen for the corner cabinet … it sits on my dresser along with a Snoopy in an Easter egg … the candies are long since rancid … I never even took it out this year. Decorating is a pain, but it does not festive in the end.

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  6. Everything is away at my house. I miss it all. Everything looks too normal. I need to find a way to decorate a bit more for Valentine’s Day. The older I get, the more I love my Christmas trees and Nativity. I have had years where I have found a place for the Nativity and left it out all year. Maybe I should unpack the pieces again and find a place to set it up for all of 2019. Oh my…just writing this comment has put resolve into me. I’m going to do it!

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    1. Great! Do it! We have found a way to ease the pain here. John lets me keep an angel or so out all year. Additionally, as he puts away the Christmas ornaments, he gets out the snow things. Several of our nephew’s mobile creations are winter figures — snow boarders and skiers. We have a bunch of snowy mugs and some kitchen towels with snowflakes on them. In just a couple of weeks it will be time to get out Valentine things.

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      1. I am with you…I leave my cut snowflakes on the windowpanes until the end of January. We might get a dusting of the real stuff later on in the evening through tomorrow morning.

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  7. TeeHeeHee. Dear Anne, I now have a 4′ artificial tree (something I swore I’d never own) and the new decorations that I adore all fit into one box that slides under the bed. The Builtmore photos remind me I like my simpler life ❤

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