seppalta, I edited the .config/user-dirs.dirs file as you suggested, saved the file, and then ran xdg-user-dirs-update.
After trying various combinations, including changing the Desktop location and eliminating that line from the config file entirely, I kept getting the same result. The files in my /home/user directory show up on my graphical Desktop.
I then got some clue, and created a proper 'Desktop' folder in my home directory, edited user-dirs.dirs to use that, saved the file, logged out, and logged back in.
Everything now works as it should. Thank you for the tip.