Duke Chapel in Christmas Dress

I darkened the doorstep of the Duke Chapel today expectant to see greenery, poinsettias, and bows. Sure enough, I saw greenery, poinsettias, and bows.

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A peek into the nave from the narthex revealed masses of poinsettias near the front (chancel).

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A panoramic view of the nave: Duke Chapel is a “cross-shaped church” with a long isle down the middle and perpendicular sections near the front that are called transepts. In this photo, the nativity is on the back wall of the left transept and is framed in pine garland.

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My favorite ‘ornament’ was the Advent wreath. For those unfamiliar with the Advent wreath (suspended from the ceiling in this picture), it is comprised of five candles. Four of the candles (often purplish in color) are lit one each week leading up to Christmas. The white candle in the middle is the Christ Candle, which is usually lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

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The circular evergreen upon which the candles rest represents the eternity of God.

Also on display in the Duke Chapel until December 30th is a collection of nine paintings by Robyn Sand Anderson that explores the visual interpretation of scared choral music.

Christmas Decorations ‘Inn’ Trinity Park

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The King’s Daughters Inn at Trinity Park in Durham, NC

The Trinity Park district, near Duke University’s East Campus, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Durham, North Carolina. The King’s Daughters, a 1920s brick Revival along Buchanan Boulevard in Trinity Park, stands as a bridge between the past and the present. In former days, this two-story structure served as a retirement home for aging, single women—a safe haven made possible through the generosity of the Duke family and the Sheltering Home Circle of Durham, which is a local, non-denominational Christian chapter of the International Order of King’s Sons and Daughters.

With the rise in popularity of large-scale retirement homes in place of the dormitory-style living offered at the King’s Daughters Home, the Sheltering Home Circle of Durham closed its doors in 2006. The white-pillared Colonial beauty reopened in 2009 as the privately owned, 4-star King’s Daughters Inn. The 17-room hotel also serves the Durham community as a place for meetings, weddings and afternoon teas.

Last year around this time, I stopped by the historic Inn hoping that it would be decorated for Christmas. It was! I returned again this year to take pictures of anything I might have missed. (Staff informed me that the Inn is generally decorated in the same manner every year, but I did see a few things I’d overlooked last year.)

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The Inn consists of an eclectic mix of antique furniture and decor–all faithful to the styles of the 1920s. The Christmas decorations blended in beautifully.

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A wing on the second floor bore a 1920s art deco vibe.

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I captured a little more of the wall art this year.

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The Inn is designed to feel like a welcoming home, and as such, I found the doors to all the unoccupied rooms wide open last year. My favorite accommodation was The Trinity Suite, a second-floor getaway overlooking the Trinity Park National Historic District and offering a sun porch (through these french doors) for both relaxing and dining.

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The Christmas tree and poinsettias on the sun porch of the main floor were classic and beautiful. The afternoon light made the scene even more spectacular.

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The King’s Daughters Inn captures and holds for our attention a bygone era tracing back nearly a hundred years. Seeing the halls decked for Christmas added to its charm.


Joyous Christmas

His arrival had been anticipated since Genesis 3. The Old Testament prophets foretold His birth in accurate detail. The self-existent, second person of the Godhead “became flesh and dwelt among us.”[1] …The long-awaited Christ was born!

“Peace on earth and mercy mild; God and sinners reconciled.”[2]

I hope that you join me in proclaiming, “Glory to the newborn King!”

May the peace of Christ be with you this Christmas season and always.

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[1] John 1:14; See Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6, and Micah 5:2 for examples in the Old Testament of Jesus’ anticipated birth prophesied.

[2] Lyrics from Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, written by Charles Wesley, published in 1739, and adapted by George Whitefield.

Photo taken at the King’s Daughters Inn; Durham, NC.

High Time for Afternoon Tea

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Afternoon Christmas Tea at The Duke Inn’s Fairview Dining Room – Durham, North Carolina

I consider tea one of the good gifts God has given us to enjoy. At Christmastime each year, I look forward to a formal afternoon tea—a special celebration I usually indulge in at The Washington Duke Inn, (with some exceptions).

For me, afternoon tea at this time of year is as much about the festive decorations as it is the brew, the savories and the sweets. I’ve written about and photographed The Duke Inn at Christmastime before, so this year I tried to take pictures from new perspectives.

For instance, I snapped the entry hall Christmas tree from a different direction:

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Honestly, it looks pretty much the same from every angle. But this year, I also took a picture of one of the ornaments on the tree—proof of the fine details that might be missed when looking at the whole:

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I believe I spotted a new tree this year. It was quite a hit—several folks stopped to get their pictures taken in front of it:

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I also tried a different flavor of tea. With a bit of hesitation,  I chose the vanilla almond black tea. It was delicious. (Shew!)

After the tiny sandwiches, cheeses, bite-size sweets, a scone smothered in clotted cream and lemon curd, plus two pots of tea (restraint begins tomorrow), I ventured to the other side of the Inn where the Golf Shop is located. I’d never been there before, (Have you seen me play golf? It’s not pretty!), and found Christmas decorations there as well:

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Finally, to prove that I was actually at the Inn, not just stealing pictures off the Interwebs and claiming them as my own, here I am in the lovely sitting room that’s between the dining and the conference center wings.

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(photo credit: B Sullivan)

The Duke Inn never disappoints; and I’ll look forward to next year when once again—Lord willing and the creek don’t rise—it’s high time for afternoon Christmas tea.