december's entry for Fugue.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
i've already started planning and shopping for Christmas, which worries me a little. it also makes me happy. i'm a little worried that i'll get carried away with too many projects, and spend too much money, and wear myself out before Christmas even gets here. but it's been a while since i've felt happy about the holiday season, and it's nice to have that back.
after i picked up a little extra moola doing a focus group, i quite happily spent most of it during my lunch hour the next day. spent nearly an hour perusing WordsWorth Abridged, which is the gift shop run by my favorite bookstore. picked up a few big gifts, lots of little ones, a few stocking things, and a small treat for myself. oh, yeah - christmas cards, too, as there was one sweet little design that caught my eye.
i've always liked Christmas, mostly for the snow. huh. that's surprising. interesting, some of the things that find their way thru your fingers onto the keyboard, isn't it? snow just kind of snuck right in there. i would have expected 'family', or 'togetherness', or 'celebration', or 'presents' (c'mon... we all like presents). but no... snow. hmmmm. [mulls it over for a few minutes] i guess it really is snow that sets Christmas apart from any other holiday, makes it special. my favorite years ... snow. the years that weren't as much fun ... rain, or just plain cold and brown. it's looking like we'll have snow this year; the last few years have been pretty sparse in terms of the white fluffy stuff, but this year promises much snow angels and snowball fights. well, there you go. snow is sort of my personal groundhog for how well the holidays will go.
the key word for this year will be 'balance'. none of this over the top, Martha-Stewart-taking-over-my-soul, exhausting excess of attention to details. not everything has to be made by hand, or from scratch. i don't actually have to print my own Christmas and New Year's cards. who the hell sends New Year's cards, anyway? it's OK to use printed address labels; it is not required to do each and every blessed envelope in calligraphy. i do not need to feed the neighborhood. it's OK not to break the bank on The Perfect Present for everyone. i can choose who to see, and when. i can skip parties (after politely responding to the invitation). i can buy a fake tree. i can take the time to enjoy the holidays.
i think, without realizing it, that i was trying too hard to create my own holiday traditions when i first moved up here. making mini-fruitcakes for everyone, designing my own holiday cards... it was as if i needed something to establish myself, outside the family traditions. now, that doesn't seem so critical. part of that is having found a few things that i truly enjoy doing that people now look forward to around the holidays. while i realize i don't need to feed the neighborhood, i am planning the big Annual Cookie BakeFest™. Christmas cookies are a big thing with me. i've always loved them. and i love to bake, altho i don't often find time for it. but i figure the pretty much two solid weeks in December tides me over for a while. *g* there are about a dozen recipes in regular rotation, and i'll usually try two or three new ones each year. some make the rotation, some don't, but it's always fun. there are a few that people ask for now; my canadian pal loves the walnut cups, because they remind him of one of his mom's recipes, and my best friend usually has one or two in mind. little packages go off to family and friends, boxes are mailed off to people in other states (as in out-of-state), and some people on the lower end of the gift list get special baskets of cookies. lower end... you know what i mean, the people you want to gift, but they're occasional friends or office mates, and a smaller gift is OK. god, that sounds really cheesy. but we do - we all have the gift list ranking. parents and partners are right up there, friends are in the middle or so, and the guy you have lunch with once a week from your office is pretty much on the lower end. oh, feh... there's just no diplomatic sounding way to explain that any more without digging myself in further. i'll trust you get the point. *g*
one thing i really want to do this year is decorate my house. i missed having a tree the last few years. i honestly don't remember if i did a tree while i was married. probably we did. i do remember thinking that it was kind of pointless because we were going to have to spend so much time at everyone else's house that we wouldn't really get to enjoy our own tree. since i've had my own place, it's been sporadic. i did a tree the first year, which i planted outside and the upstairs neighbors then proceeded to use as a doggie urinal. the last two years... i think i skipped the tree both years.
this year, it's gonna happen. i've got a spot by the window in the living room, and stockings to hang up on the windowsill. the biggest issue is: live or fake? we had both when i was growing up. i think it went from fake trees when i was little, to live trees most years after grade school, to a cute little ferny-looking scandinavian fir that my mom liked the years when i was going home to visit, back to a fake tree last year in the new house. i thought i was going to go with fake, but then i saw an adorable potted pine for less than the fake, and i could plant it outside, and the upstairs dog is gone, so it would be safe... anyway, that's the big decision for this weekend. whatever i get, i'm looking forward to sitting on the couch nights with all the lights out except for the tree lights, and just staring at the tiny lights glowing on the tree. i used to sneak downstairs late at night, just to sit by the tree and enjoy the peaceful, quiet feeling.
i was lucky enough to have the chance to be part of my best friend's Christmas Eve last year... they have a recording of Dylan Thomas reading A Child's Christmas in Wales that they listen to each year. sitting on the comfy couch, in just the light from the fireplace, listening to Dylan Thomas paint word pictures, with a circle of friends is one of the warmest holiday memories i have.
may your holidays be peaceful and warm this year.