Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The truth about Christmas

Our Christmas get-together turned out to be a good day. Just to prove it, here's an adorable picture of Dave (aka: chef) with a little red number his sister bought for him, LOL.

It had "Merry Christmas", written on the apron & "Christmas Cook" on the hat. He even liked the matching rubber gloves. His sister bought it as a joke, but then Dave has never been one to turn a challenge down. A lot of fun was had by all.

Having shared how wonderful the day was, I also feel I need to write about my changing feelings towards Christmas. Growing up, it was always a difficult time with separated parents. My dad would promise to see me on Christmas day, but then he wouldn't show up. Not even a phone call. Maybe three days later I'd get one, only to arrange a quick drop-off for presents. The older I got, the more I realised that Christmas was a day of fallen expectations. I tried to be brave for the day itself, then I'd get hit with all this sadness the day after Christmas.

I really thought I was over those sentiments this year. Certainly, I have come a long way. I wasn't filled with as much angst leading up to the day, or maybe I was deflecting that angst with all the cleaning I had to do beforehand, LOL. Nonetheless, I still experienced the after Christmas blues. But I don't think my experience is so unique now.

Even our daughter was more inclined to cry over something after Christmas. I'd asked what she was crying about, and she put on a happy face and said, "nothing". It eventually came out that she felt let down by the fact she didn't get a bedtime story for the second night in a row. We had a few late nights so we said their wasn't time for a story.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the whole lead up to Christmas. Is it an artificial state of happiness, we're all expected to take part in? If you're caught feeling sad, then you're the Anti-Christmas spirit! If you're caught not buying presents or eating copious amounts of food, then something is wrong with you?

We had a very subdued Christmas this year. I very much enjoyed it. But still - the after Christmas blues came. Even to my little girl who had a lovely time and was loved by all. It got me thinking that maybe Christmas isn't something we should save up for one day towards the end of the year. Maybe we should be focusing on making each day special and enjoying the people we meet, when we get the opportunity.

A present can be your smile and a genuine hello.

It's funny that we appear to borrow from the year, chances for happiness and community, only to be paid back on one day - and one day only. I realise now I think, it's not just about taking the commercialisation out of Christmas. It's also about bringing meaning to the rest of your life in between.

Anyway, I did manage to make a couple of gifts by hand, which I was very proud of. Each bundle consisted of 4 knitted cloths, a bar of soap and a Christmas themed tea-towel. Oh yes, and 12 hours worth of knitting time. Each cloth took me 3 hours to finish. But I'm glad I did it. I hope they work well.

I'm actually indulging myself now, and knitting my very own dishcloth, LOL. All those hours knitting and I haven't made one for myself.

To everyone, a safe and happy New Year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winding down

I've been absent from blogland lately, only just catching-up with blogs in my favourites list today! You see, we've had a sudden change of venue for Christmas this year. One of Dave's relatives who normally hosts Christmas for the family, decided to spend it in another part of the state. Which is okay, but then Dave stood up to the plate and offered our house for the next venue.

Which isn't a bad thing either. It means we don't have to travel an hour away in Christmas traffic, as we normally do. And we've been meaning to host a Christmas day, "one year" too. But I guess we weren't expecting to make the decision 2 weeks away from Christmas, LOL. So as you can imagine, it's been a little chaotic around here.

I probably won't be around much, until after New Years. We're still going through with our no spend year in 2010. In fact, the commercialisation of Christmas has made us all the more determined to change the way we do things. The stuff we have decided we don't need any more could fill a few wheelie bins. As wasteful as that sounds, it's better to have realised this now, than waste another year (or ten) being blissfully unaware. We will re-home what we can, but as I place stuff into the bin, I remember the waste - our waste - we still own it, even as we disown it.

This time of year though, I can't help but think about what's important. I mean, what's REALLY important. I grew up with a single parent who was forced to live green, purely for survival's sake. She used to make my dolls for Christmas - I loved them because they came from her hands. No one else had a doll like me. Even though it meant I got teased at school for being different, those kids had no idea the difference that went into making my gift, to the plastic ones they received.

I guess I learned to loathe plastic toys early, LOL. Yet how many am I giving away to the secondhand shop now, which our daughter has accumulated? I don't buy them for her, relatives do. Even my husband has no qualms picking up a plastic toy, as long as it's on sale.


But he's made vast improvements on how much he used to buy. And he's even agreed to the no spend year. Twelve months ago, he'd probably look at me strange - raising an eyebrow, wondering if I was having a laugh at his expense, LOL. Bless him! We're making progress...

Anyway, I just wanted to remember all those single parents doing their best for Christmas. All those fathers and mothers who may have to work on Christmas too. The elderly who may not have a family to spend Christmas with - or those who have lost loved ones before their time. I choose to remember these people because they have more to offer Christmas, than any present under the tree. They know what sacrifice is all about.

Bless you and yours.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas capers

A few days ago, we decided to pull out the stash of Christmas decorations from hiding, and get into the spirit of things. Guess what we ended up doing?

Yep, we put up the Christmas tree and some festive Christmas themed lights, as seen below:

This light (on top of the bookshelf) is a Christmas tree shape, and a glowing star will be hung above the chest freezer soon. Ooops...did I say chest freezer?

Sprung! Okay, we did get a chest freezer and new fridge recently. Our old fridge (after 11 years loyal service) wasn't keeping her temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius. So we decided to do a package buy, and hopefully I'll be able to give the old fridge away to serve as a cooler for someone. It still works, it just shouldn't be used for perishables like meat.

I'll do a post on how we came to our decision on the fridge and freezer later, and how we saved on energy consumption over all. But now it's off to make Christmas presents and all round festive activities.