The Christmas season is looking a little different for Rachael Ray this year.
The celebrity chef, 52, lost her Lake Luzerne, N.Y. home after a devastating fire broke out on Aug. 9. She and her husband, John Cusimano, have been living in a guest house on their property ever since. On Tuesday, she shared a peek at the way they decorated their temporary home for the holidays on her daytime talk show, above, and she couldn’t help but get a little emotional along the way.
“This year, we’re not putting up trees, because no families are coming to visit and we lost our main home, our big house,” Ray, who usually puts up multiple Christmas trees every year, explains at the beginning of the tour. “But we absolutely would not let the holidays come and go without some decoration.”
She shows off some of her own sketched out ideas that she doodled “in the pages of my notebook at 3 ‘o’clock in the morning,” of her dream Christmas decor for this “very weird year.” She shares that her friends from Finishing Touches Flowers in Bolton Landing, N.Y. helped her bring the sketches to life, keeping the holiday spirit alive despite the circumstances.
Throughout the home, each window and door is bordered with a handmade garland, which was strung with twinkling lights and dotted with partridge figures. Ray says she “hates cords,” so she used plaid ribbon to hide any wires from the lights.
In the screened-in porch, string lights are used again, with long strands hanging down from the ceiling in an effort to mimic “falling snow,” Ray explains. A long dining table covered in topiaries centers the room, and delicate paper lanterns hang above it.
In the center of the table is one of the only pieces of decor the New York native was able to salvage after the fire: a sculpture that reminds her of her childhood.
"[This was] saved from our house that burned; a horse sculpture that is exactly the same as one my mom had in our house when I was a little girl,” she says, pointing to the sentimental object. “I found it at a flea market."
Another sentimental piece of decor is a small potted Cyprus tree that Ray says they decorated “to look like Enzo, the tree we planted when we were married in Italy.” It’s covered in white birds and bright white lights.
"I've got to tell you, I don't know where I'd be without friends, a community, and people so dear to me that helped me bring Christmas to life, even when we're not at home" she says.
Looking back on years past the host gets a little emotional, appearing to fight back tears as she says, “It honestly makes me want to burst into tears how much I miss our trees.”
She continues: “It’s not a lot but these partridges and pears and sugared fruits and things, they do make me feel at home and nostalgic and grateful for the family I have and the life I’ve led.”
“And I love that you guys are a part of it,” she says directly to her fans. “Thank you for sharing the holidays with us.”
Ray recently reflected on the past year in the editor’s letter for the Rachael Ray In Season holiday issue.
“This year has been strange for us all,” she wrote. “But 2020 has also made me more mindful than ever of just how lucky I am.”
“Over the last 12 months, in addition to witnessing the crises that have gripped our country, I lost my dog of 15 years, then lost my home to a fire."
Despite the devastating incident, Ray says she gained a deep sense of appreciation for her life.
"I’m grateful to the first responders who saved my life. I’m grateful for the opportunity to rebuild. I’m grateful I had a place to stay when my world caught fire, where I could take sanctuary, and that I learned, in a way I hadn’t really understood before, the difference between a house and a home," she wrote.
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