Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sharing the Season...

...because it's been a cold, miserable rotten day, filled with cold, miserable rotten people. So, instead of whining about that, I thought I'd show you guys how pretty part of my house looks. I've been decorating a little haphazardly as thoughts and ideas come to me, and as I think of new ways to use my dollar store finds.
You guys have all seen the chandelier, right? The lovely, classy, elegant chandelier? Coll covered it in that awful fake spider-web stuff for Halloween, so I retaliated this Christmas by covering it in garland and some fake light bulbs. We're very mature in this house, and we show it in our elegant, refined decorating scheme. Martha will be bringing the photo crew later to do some shots for the spread she promised me...

This is my endtable, which in and of itself is not particularly exciting. But look, it has a book on it! That is my very own Christmas book! My parents have a book that they write in every year after the holiday to keep track of what treasures were given and who we celebrated with and to capture the feel of that particular year's Christmas. We love to go back and read it, remembering past holidays and special moments. When I officially moved out for real this time, Momolla and Dadumms gave me one. Apparently, Dadumms picked it out, which touches me.

I found this little guy at the dollar store, and he makes me smile. He's so round and happy looking! The perfect Santa. The fake pine garland behind him came from the same place, and I'm really impressed with how well it looks sitting coiled up with my lights. Not bad for a buck!

My banister was just begging for some decorations, so I wrapped it in more of the pine garland and some ball ornaments I purchased at the dollar store (yes, i bought a lot. the fumes in that place, they make me lightheaded. i go in to browse and come out with a dozen shopping bags and no memory. it's probably better that way). And to cap it off, there's a nice big red bow wrapped around it. Guess where that came from? No, go on, guess!

And this lovely exhibit is my desperate attempt to cover what could be called the world's ugliest coffee table. I took the odd scraps of wrapping paper we had lying around and put them down on the mirrored surface (jim's mom trash picked it for us, we're pretty sure it used to belong in a coke house, and we don't mean the soft drink) and taped it. I added my usual tea lights and TA-DA! Instant holiday cheer. Martha will love this idea, but remember, you saw it here first! Oh, I almost forgot to mention the loveliness that is my centerpiece. I took a glass vase and filled it with the rest of the dollar store ornaments, some dollar store pine bits, and some other dollar store garland. Actually, the whole thing probably only cost me five dollars to make. I feel pretty frugal and smart now!

All right, I'm feeling better, and it's definitely getting on towards time for bed. I wanted to mention that these pictures are only possible because I cleaned the front rooms again. The kitchen is still waiting for me, but it'll keep for another day. I realized about a week ago, we've been living in this house for a year next week. Mike has never yet cleaned the bathroom. Or the front rooms. And I think he's taken the trash out once. He's never mown the lawn. Somehow, this offends me. I'm thinking of going on cleaning strike until we can establish a fair way to divide up chores. Any thoughts on how to present my feelings without being evil? I had an evil roommate for a while, I don't want to be her. Anyway, here's hoping your week goes smoothly and your weekend is lovely. Dadumms and I will be shopping Saturday, I'm excited!

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas... least around my house. To be entirely honest, I wasn't quite feeling the whole Christmas Spirit thing until sometime today. Theoretically, I knew it was coming. Logically, I was starting to plan. And yet, I didn't have that special feeling.

I am, by nature I suppose, one of those people that love Christmas. I love the class, the kitsch, the smells and the excuse to buy everyone presents. I love the exquisite agony that is waiting for Christmas morning. I have heard rumors over the years that Christmas is for children, and I think it's a lie. Children aren't the only ones who can feel wonder and joy and anticipation. They're just cuter and less jaded (usually. there are some pretty jaded kids out there) and less affected by all the pressure and the noise and the stress. I have come to believe that Christmas is what you make of it. If you are spending time with those you love, surrounded by warmth and light and laughter, what's not to love and be excited about? If you are listening to the messages around you that if it isn't perfect, it's not worth doing, then you're bound to be stressed. One of my favorite Christmases was the one we all had the flu. We were all exhausted and muddled. But the day was peaceful and joyful in its own way. Sure, there was some puke. But I think it says something about your family when you can remember the less-than-perfect holidays fondly.

I don't mind the bustle of the mall, I don't mind the pressure to find the perfect gift. I am painfully broke, so I just ignore that. Most of the people I know are a little strapped for cash, and we're all on the same page about buying or making something small to let one another know we're all being thought of and cared for. I have knitted/am knitting scarves for my Jersey girls, who I'm hoping to get together with for the first week of January. I guess, when you don't have a lot of cash to spend, it's easier to tune out the messages about perfection and how you have to buy the it gift for everyone or they'll hate you for ruining their holiday. Truth be told, I wouldn't buy the it gift if I had money. Colleen and I went to the dollar store today and came away with some great finds. Who says you need to spend a fortune on tree trimmings and such? We bought toys for our landlady's holiday party, which they have to raise toys and funds for Toys for Tots. How can you say no to that? Everybody deserves a surprise, something special, at this time of year. I just took a little of the money that I'd meant to use for Christmas supplies and re-directed it. I will get by with fewer ornaments on my tree, especially if I know that I made a difference for somebody out there.

And call me naive, but I love that this is the season of light. Sure, people are greedy, selfish, angry buggers. But for a month or two out of every year, most of us can suspend that and believe that magic really can happen and that there really is room for kindness and miracles in our hearts. More than any other time of year (unless you're a knitter; the generosity of knitters knows no bounds and no time constraints, i have found), people are willing to open their hearts and their homes and to try to love and understand one another. That, dear friends, is magic. And there is hope, for peace and for safety and for all the good things that seem so far away the rest of the year. How can you argue with that?

And besides all the mushy stuff, there are Christmas lights, and giant inflatable things and reindeer that light up and move and trees that blink furiously through the night. And there are cookies. Who doesn't love a holiday with cookies? Personally, I'd get behind National Word Problem Day if there were cookies involved. Especially Momolla's cookies. And there are all the wonderful traditions we have. I almost prefer Christmas Eve to Christmas, because we get to trim the tree. Something about putting the lights and the tinsel and the ornaments up is magical and precious to me. When we were small, we were told that Santa decorates the tree every year. Just a little more magic for the season.

So, sorry to dump on you all. I think I've been feeling the need to defend the holiday to myself a little. There are a lot of folks I've met through work, both customers and co-workers, who think I'm not quite all there because I love this time of year. I maintain, Christmas is not just for children. It's for anyone who can still open their heart and feel the wonder and the joy and the and the magic and the possibility.

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll'd along th' unbroken song
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair, I bow'd my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of Peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men."

That's what I wish you all this month, this Christmas, this year. Whatever you celebrate, wherever you go, whoever you are with. Peace on earth, good will to men. And the wild, sweet music and freedom to feel wonder and joy and hope.