The “perfect” Christmas 

Hi Everyone! Hope you are warm and safe and dry. If I have any readers in Alaska, I hope you are safe and suffered minimal damage up there.  This was another week where on Monday I thought to myself, ” I will finish my blog post tomorrow”, which somehow turned into Saturday!  

I have finished the Christmas decorating and been subjected to hours of non-stop Christmas music by Miss L.  As always happens right before or just after Thanksgiving, I began to feel my inner Grinch seep out. This time I decided to stop and get to the bottom of this yearly phenomenon and to POSSIBLY exorcise it once and for all. If you are lucky you won’t have to read about it here next year and maybe I can redeem myself to my kids and future grandkids. Put your seat belts on because I’m down to about 10% of my original filter and have reached the Age of Honesty. This may turn into a series before the season is over.

First, I think somewhere in my lineage there is either Scandinavian or Shaker ancestry. Our modern Christmas is overwhelming to me. Too much stuff, too many lights, people, food, traffic, etc.  I’m pretty sure I can trace that back as far as my teenage years and at heart I am a minimalist that can’t seem to shake (but by George I’m trying) literal and figurative baggage. My idea of decorations for Christmas is a green tree with white lights and white ornaments, white candles on the mantle and some greenery. Boom. Done. Simple. Elegant.  When we get the new house finished  I will probably add a Moravian star on the porch. I have been told more than once that I don’t get the Spirit of Christmas. If it involves the above excess, then I don’t want it. The only Spirit of Christmas I have any desire for is the company of friends and family and the candlelight midnight service at church. 


Second, the expectations of what Christmas “should” be have been blown so out of proportion that there is no wonder people are depressed during the holidays. My parents tell of getting AN ORANGE as their treat for Christmas. My guess is that they savored every bite of that orange. What do we really savor during the frenzy of shopping, cooking, parties, ripping open piles of gifts? How the heck are we supposed to Martha Stewart our way through the holidays with a spotless house, hundreds of cards mailed, perfect hair, gourmet home cooked goodies and angelic (though sugared up) children? It’s a myth people. Concocted by marketers who each year are expected to out tear jerk last year’s Christmas advertising. I spent my whole career in advertising, marketing and retail. That is where Grinches are born! 

Gifts. In my perfect Christmas there would be no gift giving. The financial burden and stress that this causes so many people every year is the antithesis of what Christmas should be about. Gifts should be given spontaneously during the year and only to show thoughtfulness and true affection or appreciation. I can tell you that in my years as a young parent and later as a single parent, the cost of trying to gift everyone at one time AND make them HAPPY was nothing short of a horrendous burden. I worked two jobs for years just to pay the bills and tried to squirrel away money all year long just to try to have enough to buy gifts for my kids that would come close to what their friends would get so they would not feel different THEN prayed my car didn’t break down or an appliance quit on me and I would have to spend the Christmas money. 

Pay attention to the people in your circle. Is there someone who gets sick or has a conflict with that party every year where a $25 gift AND food is expected to be brought? Do they “conveniently” miss the meeting where everyone is expected to pitch in for the bosses’ gift? Do they “forget” that they needed to bring items for underprivileged children? Guess what. They are struggling to keep THEIR kids’ names off that Christmas tree! People, give up the gift and money expectations. Do what you can and leave everyone else to do what they can…AND DONT GOSSIP ABOUT THEM. They are losing precious sleep wondering how they are going to DO Christmas AND pay the freakin’ power bill. If you can’t understand why someone isn’t out fighting Black Friday crowds or throwing lots of Christmas Spirit money in every charity  pot that gets passed around, then appreciate how blessed you are not to be counting every quarter and give some grace to those who have to. When I say “grace” I don’t mean a handout. I mean understanding. Understanding that people deal with many different challenges during the Christmas season. Depression and grief don’t leave much room for joyous shopping or giving. Caregiving can suck the lifeblood out of others. Single parents deal with financial burdens, social stigmas and loneliness during the holidays. The Christmas Spirit should be giving understanding, support and non-judgement instead of expecting Starbucks cards, extravagant gifts and constant holiday enthusiasm. 

I practice the Christian faith, the teachings of Jesus Christ, who didn’t do much of anything that was a societal norm. He was born in a dirty barn. The only ones who brought him gifts were three wealthy men. The shepherds and the Angels simply worshipped a miraculous birth and savored the moment. That was the perfect Christmas. 

Wishing you a week of miracles. 

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My Pinterest addiction

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Two years ago this month I cut the cord of cable tv. The only reason I did not do it earlier was because I still had one teenager at home who thought he couldn’t live without it. As I watched him play hours of video games with his friends and grow to the sofa, marathon watching a series on Netflix, I was pretty sure he could survive without it but indulged him for the last year I had him at home. Ok, I admit to a weak parental moment.

With him off to his first year in college and me having downsized for the second time, I finally bid goodbye to the 150 channels of which I only watched two. I bought a Roku and a digital antenna, kept my subscription to Netflix and Amazon (I use it primarily for the shopping/shipping but it’s there for the watching) and waited for my HGTV withdrawal symptoms to start.  That was my only real concern about giving up cable.

As a lifetime maker/diy-er I got endless ideas from HGTV. I wasn’t sure I could live without it. But, like any addiction, there are many ways to get your fix. Pinterest entered my life. I blame my daughter for my newest addiction which has completely surpassed the HGTV problem. I am a HEAVY user.

Check out the number of pins I have. I think it's safe to call this an addiction.
Check out the number of pins I have. I think it’s safe to call this an addiction.

So why is Pinterest a problem for me? Because it has not only invaded my home improvement life, but my cooking, gardening, art, design, hobby and pet life as well. Forget Google. If I need to find something I do a search on Pinterest, then I have to start a new board to keep all that new info. I have given up reading novels before bed (what had been one of my great loves since I learned how to read) and Pinterest myself to sleep now.  As I write this I have over 15,000 pins!!!

I use Pinterest to inspire my design work when I am stuck on a work problem and to keep up with current trends. I find new recipes to perk up my cooking when I’m in a rut. There is the Art board, the Mixed Media board, the Mosaics board, the Fabric board, the Travel board, even the Critters board. In total I have 40 boards right now. Heck, I have recently culled a few  boards and deleted many pins that I decided were highly unlikely to ever be done in this lifetime.

How could you not just love something when you can find things like this! (Hey, I did some serious research to find these 😉

Facebook does not corner the market on bad jokes.
Facebook does not corner the market on bad jokes.
No explanation needed for this one.
No explanation needed for this one.
I think I had this same outfit back in the 70's.
I think I had this same outfit back in the 70’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have started to dip my toes into the Pinterest business marketing, but still have some learning to do.  I would love suggestions or information about how you or other businesses you know have used it and if it has worked.  I should at least try to make some money with all that time I spend on there.

With my most serious warning combined with my highest recommendation, if you need some inspiration, motivation, instruction or amusement I suggest you check out Pinterest if you haven’t discovered it yet. And now I have stepped into the realm of Pinterest pusher.

I think I know what I will need to give up for Lent this year 😳.