A Merry and Meaningful Christmas With Ann Mashburn

For Ann Mashburn and her family, the sweetness of the season belongs to its simplicity.

Mashburn Family at home for Christmas
The owners and founders of two of the South’s most celebrated clothiers, Ann and Sid Mashburn cozy up by the Christmas tree in their Atlanta home with their five daughters (Elizabeth, Louisa, Daisy, Harriet, and Pauline) and new son-in-law, Sean. Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

Christmas looks a lot different now that we're all grown people. For one thing, we take up more space in the living room than we did before. But it has always included things that are homemade.

I had a tradition of making pj's for the girls and matching ones for their little baby dolls, because that's what my grandmother did for me. Sometimes, the handmade things wouldn't go over so well, like when I would try to make Barbie clothes. Of course, the girls didn't like those as much as the flashy stuff.

Ann Mashburn

"When I was young, my mom started the tradition of giving ornaments each year, so I love doing that for my girls. On Christmas Eve, they each get one, so we have collections on the tree. There's the year I gave everybody farm animals and the year each girl got a particular ball."

— Ann Mashburn

Now, we do a lot of homemade decorations. That's evolved out of necessity: Our Christmases are very last-minute. It's due partly to our business and how busy we are at that time of year, but it has more to do with my personality. We usually don't put up our tree until the week before or wrap gifts until Christmas Eve. So that's what kind of defines our holiday: homemade and last-minute.

Mashburn Family Christmas Cards
“I used to love making Christmas cards. That was really, really fun for me. The girls are getting old for this, so last year’s was my last one. I used a picture of all the girls with our new son-in-law, and on the back, it said, “It’s a boy!” We made it like a birth announcement with his height and weight. It was so funny.”. Peter Frank Edwards

Over the years, we've had different traditions come and go, but mostly we just love being with each other. Christmas is all of us together, always. Last year was the first time we had our son-in-law there, and I think everybody was really nervous, wondering, "What's that going to look like?" But it was so sweet and special.

We tend to spend a long time opening presents in the morning, so we got a bunch of silly ones for him to unwrap too. You must have the same amount of gifts for everybody! We'll spend about four hours in the living room on Christmas morning while everybody laughs and opens things. The girls love that. We all like thinking of something perfect to get each other or something clever to write on the wrapping paper.

For us, the gift is just as much about what's on the outside of the package—the funny, sentimental message or doodle—as on the inside. It's our way of telling everyone what is special or quirky or even irritating about them. Ultimately, it's a chance to show how much we love each other and how deeply we know each other.

That's one thing we all learned during the pandemic. You can take what you have and make it special, whether it's choosing a conversation topic for dinner or drawing funny clues on a gift. It's about being creative. And that's what our Christmas gives us a chance to do. We get to think up something special.

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