12/09/2010 06:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Bavarian Spirit Unleashed in Napa

Vintage Home is a store I could write about all-year long, but it is my favorite store in America come December 1st, when it is transformed into an Austrian wonderland, giving the fabled Christmas market of Vienna a RUN for its money. Laura Rombauer is the proprietress of Vintage Home and has curated the most enchanting old-world Christmas emporium, loaded to the gills with brilliant, thoughtful, and elegant gifts and tree ornaments that haunt a woman like a pair of Louboutins... but what makes me the most nuts is the extraordinary inventory of wooden crafts she carries -- all those Christmas pyramids of all sizes, nutcrackers, candelabras, and smokers.

Every year my husband + I collect a new wooden heirloom, after having wildly anticipated this new purchase for months leading to December 1. On that day, we arrive to inspect all the wooden loot -- mercilessly analyzing which new prospect would fit-in best with our house/ family/ other wooden friends -- and then bring it home as if it were a Picasso. From there, we assemble our entire collection on a table in our front foyer; and then we all congregate around the table to light all the colored candles + marvel at the magic illuminating the room, and on to the small faces and hands of our children.

This spectacular extravaganza is what indelible memories, ceremonies + rituals are all about -- and some day these wooden friends, who have brought my family such joy, will be my children's heirlooms.

photo credit: nicole mcintosh bruce