I have had one heck of a day. No sewing, quilting or anything remotely close. The closest encounter I had with stitching was a bad event near the Walmart fabric department today. I can see eyes rolling now...what is she doing anywhere withing a 1 mile radius of the Walmart fabric department??? Well, I was trying to get some blue washout markers. They are a useful marker and seriously, Walmart has them cheapest. I was with my 12 yr old, and we were there for these markers, tape to use wrapping gifts, and the candy for this house. I left my cart (with tape and markers in it) for a mere 2 minutes to wander down an aisle looking, and came back to discover someone had stolen my cart! Talk about making me LIVID. Those were the only 2 markers Walmart had, and now I don't have them. On top of that, I got home to realize that the tape wasn't purchased either. 45 ridiculous minutes in Wally World for nothing but frustration and candy. Joy to the World!
So I was recently challenged or asked what would make a perfect Christmas for me, since it is really no secret whatsoever that I just don't like this time of year. I know I am in the minority since so many people just love the Christmas season. But I don't like it and haven't for a long time. It is a kid's holiday to me. For the adults, it is just trouble and more trouble. First off, I am not religious. It is nothing that I regret, or care to alter about myself; just a fact mostly. My parents never took us kids to church growing up. I figure they had their reasons, but really I just never thought about it long enough to complain. In college, I did try out different churches. Let's face it, most Southerners are regular church-goers. Some days it seemed right, but mostly I felt like I was trying to conform to someone else's beliefs. I was married in a church, and it was a beautiful one, and a heartfelt service. It seemed like the right thing to do since my FIL is a now-retired minister. Today, though, I would probably have done it on the beach or in the Caribbean. Anyhow, at a time of year when many are getting to the depth of their religious faith, I am not. Christmas does not signify the birth of someone key in my life, as it does many. I love and appreciate and look forward to celebrating my family's birthdays. They are what matter in my life. I love that they each get their own special day. I hate planning for a birthday of a baby without that special meaning to me, and needing to buy EVERYONE but everyone a present. It lessens the meaning to me, and it decreases the efforts I will put into selecting each gift. Christmas makes everything I need to do complicated. The grocery is always busier. UPS and the post office are just ridiculous to go to, and I have 2 trips a week to each typically. I dislike having holiday bills clear until February on account of all the extra purchases...tree, special meals, desserts, presents, packing things, shipping, etc.
For several decades, I really took the gift making to heart. I take pride in making a handmade gift for the most special of my receivers. To me, this is the most personal thing, and despite the fact that I almost never get anything handmade, I continued to make gifts -- usually stitched, but sometimes knit or crocheted, and more recently, quilted, personalized calendars, and more. I know that they say it is better to give than to receive, but there comes a time when I have just had enough with receiving things that had little thought. That is the fault of this holiday, where we have to get something for flipping everybody. It is too easy to have no personalization. It is so bad that I hate to even mention if I am looking at something because I know that someone will be waiting to hear that and just go buy it. I know they don't mean anything bad, but the lack of creativity is hard at an already hard time. This holiday has absolutely NO surprise for me (not counting the year 2 of my 3 mini-monsters unwrapped the tree before xmas morning). I wish people wouldn't email and ask what to get my kids and I. If they stopped long enough to think about it, they'd come up with something original. Gift giving has just become this "gimme your list" kind of event that there is nothing genuine or heart-felt about it. This year, I have made nothing, except for one small something for each of my kids.
We know that Christmas isn't supposed to be about the presents, but sadly that and eating decadent things are all it seems to be. Why do I need to have 5 different types of cookies in my kitchen just because it is a week before Christmas? I don't want sugared-up kids, and I spent too much time working to drop 8 pounds last year to eat them back on this year. I know that there are some that love food gifts, but not me. If I want a particular type of food, I will get it.
Most are too quick to call me curmudgeonly or Grinch-like, but they don't stop long enough to assess why I seen this way. I love the music of the season, so much so that my family now hates to ride in my car because it has been on 24-hour xmas tunes since Thanksgiving. I don't claim to believe in the words of all of these, as many are traditional religious hymns, but I enjoy the music all the same. The lighted homes and cities are pretty to see at night. Is it a joy to do at my house?...heck no....compounded by the fact that there is already icy snow covering all the electrical cords in the yard. I am typically the only one in my family that does the shopping. This is because I will do it before expedited shipping is required, and I will go to a different store if a lower price is available. My husband will not. I generally wrap, but I have been known to give him a pile of our Santa presents and the red paper and let him go to town. I don't so much mind wrapping, as much as getting gifts and ensuring that things are fairly done for all 3 kids. I would be much happier if all adults in the family just stopped getting each other gifts. I have had enough gift cards, and just feel shallow giving them to others. I do appreciate our simple traditions. We go as a family and cut down a tree, almost every year. The boys each get their turn trying with the saw. My most curmudgeonly year, when I decided we didn't need a tree (we were going to DC on the 26th), they went onto the woods and cut one down. My daughter enjoys decorating the cookies, so we make a batch of a couple types and every 4-5 days, we bake a few off. She decorates them. I try hard not to eat all of them. The younger two helped make an entire gingerbread house today from scratch. It took an entire 4-5 hours to make and decorate, but they love it. I love their concerts at school. Despite my complete lack of religion, for several years we have taken (aka dragged) them to church on christmas eve. There is sometimes protest, and usually the "sure am glad we don't have to go here the other 51 weeks of the year" comments. But it is done anyway. On Christmas eve, there is ALWAYS the photo of the 5 of us, and the possible cooperative cats, taken in front of the tree. It is something they know will happen, and in 15 years can tell their kids about.
My perfect Christmas does not exist. I want these moments with my kids, but the reality is that they happen every day, and don't need a jewish baby's birthday to happen. I can love and appreciate my family without needing to overspend and overeat to show it. Reality is, the buying of presents really just cheapens the feeling of the season.
There's my holiday rant...thanks for listening. I am not seeking suggestions for how to be more content with December each year, but just sharing why I may seem grumpier than usual. Have a good weekend~
I'm a semi-stay-at-home mom, full-time quilter, with 3 no-so-little wildthings, ages 10-12-14. I love to garden, sew, craft, quilt, scrapbook when they give me the chance. Needless to say, that leaves little time for housework & cooking. I am a longarm quilter. Won't you let me turn one of your flimsies into a fabulous finished quilt??!