The holidays are upon us, and I’ve been planning and prepping in every free moment. It’s amazing the difference this time around; last year at this time, we were debating and discussing, wondering what traditions we want to create in our family and how to mesh them with those of our parents and siblings. If you were following last year, you may remember me fretting over the why’s of Christmas. This year, I’m much more relaxed and going with the flow. I’ve realized that we don’t have to lay it all out and plan for years at a time; we can just focus on the now. We are still doing things differently and building our own traditions, but this year I’m less concerned about the “why’s” and the impact the varying traditions around us will have on Nora’s understanding of the holiday.
There are still many things that will likely change through the years, but this year, we’re celebrating winter. We’ve been enjoying Christmas Carols and Nantucket traditions as just that, fun forms of entertainment and nostalgia. We will be spending Christmas with my family and will celebrate with them out of love and respect for their beliefs. But, in our immediate family, we decided to put more emphasis on the longest night and to celebrate the slow returning of sunshine, with a big breakfast and small gift giving before Chris heads off to work on the 22nd (winter solstice). Then Nora and I will play winter fairies and deliver a few small, homemade gifts on island before going to the solstice celebration at the Unitarian church. I’m really excited about our family gift exchange, because we agreed to not spend any money, which means relying on our own creativity and imaginations. Chris is going to love his gifts and I can’t wait to see what he came up with for me!
Around the house, we decorated with a touch of greenery, candles in the windows, and a small simple tree.
After last year, we said we weren’t going to get another Christmas tree. When we lived in New York, we had the an artificial tree that I very narrowly rescued from a dumpster. The fact that we didn’t buy it, but saved it from the landfill, made it feel all the more environmentally friendly; we ended up selling it, though, before moving to Nantucket because it was just too big. Last year, we purchased a real tree from Marine, but I felt bad about it. Though it looked beautiful, it felt like more trouble than it was worth in our small house and just felt wrong to kill a tree for a single month’s enjoyment (and then there’s the cost of buying a tree, and the fact that we’re not really Christmas celebrators anyway). This year, we weren’t going to have a tree at all, until I remembered this little rustic one in the attic.
Adorned with a single strand of white lights and my upcycled tree skirt (made from clothes I wore in high school), it made a nice addition to the living room coffee table. We skipped the ornaments, but did put out stockings, a Santa and some carolers, and Christmas books.
I debated about the Santa paraphernalia, since we’re not really pushing Santa. (For those who missed last year’s discussion, neither Chris nor I are into using gifts/Santa as behavior modification, nor are we into the huge commercialization that he represents.) Ultimately, I realized that just because we aren’t intending to tell Nora Santa comes down the chimney, etc., there’s no reason why she can’t enjoy him as a story. We’ve been reading ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas over and over (she practically has it memorized!) and we did go see Santa in town, which I decided wouldn’t be any different from taking her to see any other storybook character. We do have stockings and they will be filled, but without fanfare or discussion of by whom (at least for this year).
Speaking of stockings, notice how there’s only two? This is Nora’s third Christmas, and until now, I never got around to making her one! I was intending on cross stitching/sewing one similar to the one I made for Chris when we were engaged, but I never managed to do it.
Then, yesterday, I was flipping through the Crate and Barrel catalog and was inspired to do something completely different. Since I’ve recently discovered how easy it is to use felt (you don’t have to finish the edges), I took one look at this adorable snowman stocking and decided to try to copy it with what I have.
This sewing project was clearly meant to be — not only did I have all the fabric I needed, but I also had quilter’s batting for stuffing and, surprisingly, every thread color I needed to do it right (where that brand new spool of orange came from, I’ll never know, but my snowman’s nose would have been much less cute without it!). I’m so pleased with how the stocking came out and can’t wait to see Nora’s face when she discovers it on solstice morning.It’s not a bad homage to the original, especially considering I dug everything out of my rather random sewing stash!
I’ve been doing other sewing as well, and I do promise to share, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone who reads my blog so the other gifts I’ve been making will go up after they have been opened.