Martha's gilt-y Christmas.

Martha's gilt-y Christmas.

Martha's gilt-y Christmas.

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Dec. 5 2002 6:42 PM

Martha Makes Merry

Stewart's persistent gilt on Christmas From Martha's Home.

Martha keeps on craftin'
Martha keeps on craftin'

Martha Stewart rang in the Christmas season at 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday, on Home & Garden Television. Like a stoic colonial wife at a desert outpost, she had appointed her surroundings with no less care than if they were to be shown off on more civilized channels. Decoration-as-usual was Stewart's attitude, and as of this week I officially believe that her fixation on domestic good things—come hell, prison, or bankruptcy—will never, ever fail her.

Christmas From Martha's Home offered tips for making stockings from ingrained carpets, tree ornaments from gumdrops, and ominous-looking arrangements from tree branches. As the show opened, Martha spoke to the camera with a stalwart guest beside her: her brunette, hoarse mother. "Christmas Eve was always a very holy day for us; it was strictly a meatless repast, and we always introduced the meal by breaking the holy bread," Stewart's mother reminded her daughter. "Riiiight," Stewart replied, distractedly. I wondered at first if she were thinking of sin or redemption—of the complex commandments that prohibit a certain stock sell-off—but she was briskly clipping greenery, trimming a tree with hundreds of jingle bells, and ladling through a bucket of gilt—her beloved gilt—to be glued onto cute, cute stars for the tops of trees.

Later in the program Lorraine Bracco joined her. As the pair affixed tiny pine cones to light-colored wooden picture frames and then sprayed them with acrylic, Stewart proposed to Bracco that she start a therapy practice in life (in addition to on The Sopranos), so they could see each other once a week.

Stewart's weight gain was discreetly referred to only by the loose lines of her pastel blouses and sweaters. Otherwise, she appeared remarkably unchanged by her annus horribilis. "We love having children here at the studio, who will learn and accomplish really neat crafts," Stewart told the audience, as she was joined by two girls with honey-colored skin who instructed her, primly, on how to make heart-shaped tree ornaments. Afterward, Stewart turned to them and said, "You're perfectly able to take over the show."

What other fallen CEO has so gracefully appointed a successor? This is a woman who, if pressed, could twist a prison spoon and a Cheetos wrapper into a cheerful centerpiece. Shareholders may shriek, ethicists may tear their hair, but Stewart, who keeps her own house clean and bright, is going to be just fine.