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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Christmas crazy

HI Everyone! 

I hope you had a lovely week. Once again ours was busy and involved moving furniture and boxes. I keep telling myself it WILL end eventually. My back is sore and stiff from three days of moving stuff. I should have lost weight and look like a body builder by now!

I’m not sure I have much to report that is news worthy or all that interesting, but for the sake of consistency I will fill you in.  

We got the Christmas tree up and all was good until two days ago. We now have a half lit tree (no alcohol was involved). My other lights are in our storage unit. I was planning to go get them today but now it is SNOWING and I lost all motivation for leaving my cozy wood stove. 


Did I mention it is SNOWING? I’m one of those weird people who like snow. I don’t like winter, but I do like snow. It’s even better when there is a ski slope under my feet! I’m hoping these two days of snow will bring in some Christmas spirit. It has been MIA and I am alternating between Scrooge and Grinch. I haven’t purchased the first gift yet and now the Christmas stress is setting in.  Ok, I know the economy supposedly would crash without the December buying frenzy, but I really think most people would enjoy the holiday sooooo much more without all the gifting pressure.  I like the decorations, limited amounts of Christmas music, a hefty amount of Christmas goodies and visiting with family and friends, but I hate to shop. I especially hate to shop for gifts that I know people don’t really need or often want just to be giving a gift. I don’t want to receive something I don’t need or want just to be given a gift.  I am then stuck with gift guilt because I either keep it and it takes up valuable space or I give it away and then live in fear that the person who gave it to me will ask about it. I’m a terrible liar and then have to confess. LIFE SHOULD NOT BE THIS COMPLICATED! 

Miss L. and I are making gifts for the people on her Christmas list and I do enjoy that.  She is learning how to sew and seems to be enjoying it most of the time (the machine sewing is good, but she is not into hand sewing). We have had a few pretty comical moments during our marathon sewing sessions. We have had two machines going at once and the time I accidentally stepped on her pedal could have been a bad moment, but luckily it left us in laughing stitches instead of emergency room stitches!  I know that many people don’t like or appreciate handmade gifts, but I personally think they are the best. Someone really cares about you if they make you something and often the supplies that go into them actually cost more than store bought. I have to wait until after Christmas to show you our projects.

I am going to wrap (pun intended) up for today because there is a good chance the school will call for us to get the kids out early due to the snow and I need to be set up for more sewing when Miss L. gets home. Hopefully I will have more Christmas spirit and shopping done by next week.

Keep southern California in your prayers. Those folks are in a bad situation. 

Christmas came early

Window

I’m sitting here watching it rain buckets, but the town’s “Blinkie” lights and the Moravian stars are keeping my mood festive.  I am not a big celebrator of holidays.  That probably comes from the whole commercialization aspect that has taken hold of our celebrations.  I hate shopping and dislike the obligatory gift giving.  I would much rather buy a gift for someone at a random moment that would actually be special than having to figure out what they might want or need at the end of every year.  And who doesn’t like an unexpected gift? That is much more fun for the giver and the getter than the Christmas gift gluttony.

Having been the Grinch/Scrooge many times over the years I finally decided I needed an attitude adjustment.  I quit beating myself up for not having a budget for extravagant gifts.  I discovered Etsy and Amazon (no affiliates here folks) thus ending the need to fight through crowds.  I simplified the decorations to what I really liked and took little time to put up.  I stopped trying to cook ridiculous amounts of goodies that none of us needed.  Instead I perfected my Chex party mix recipe and live off of it for one month, once a year.  I quit trying to win Most Beautiful Package of the Year with my gift wrapping. Now I don’t even put on bows. They just get squished.  Most importantly, I quit looking for Christmas “cheer”.  The expectation that all was wonderful and bright about the season.  Ok that sounds pretty Grinchy but let’s be real.  It’s stressful not cheerful most of the holiday season.

All these changes had the effect I wanted.  I’m rarely stressed now at the holidays. Instead, I get to appreciate what Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year should be about in my opinion.  If you thrive off the hustle and bustle, go for it and celebrate on!  I’m a low-key, introvert, borderline hermit.

Yesterday my Christmas came early. Not the gift giving, but the Christmas spirit.  We celebrated the life of my uncle Chester who passed on Saturday.  I know that sounds strange, but bear with me a few more minutes.  First, Chester was 88 years old.  Most of those 88 years he was the life of every party and a prankster extraordinaire. For about the past year he had been confined to life with a feeding tube. I don’t think any of us wanted him to continue on that way for much longer.

His funeral was more laughter filled than tear filled as just a drop of his many antics were shared. The Christmas spirit part for me was the time I got to spend with family and old friends.  I rarely get to spend more than a couple of hours Christmas day with my aunt, uncles, cousins frantically trying to catch up on each other’s lives.  Many have stopped coming to the family gathering as their own families have grown and new traditions are made.

The funeral was held at my home church in the community where I grew up.  Thanks to Facebook I manage to keep up with some people there but so many others I don’t.  Though very brief, the hugs and conversations were wonderful.  I even discovered a couple of them read this blog.  Thank you, my highly patient and tolerant friends and cousins! I left the funeral with those all too rare warm and fuzzy feelings that come from tears, laughter and love.  I think uncle Chester was enjoying it immensely too.

Have a wonderful hug filled week!