Friday, October 21, 2011


I usually feel ambivalent about Christmas. I love the holiday crowds, ice skating at the Civic Center (which I have yet to participate in) and hot beverages and good books on cold nights.  I love being off of work and resting. Watching the snow gently fall on a winter night through the glow of a street lamp is a particular pleasure, especially if I'm wearing soft fuzzy slippers.  I love giving gifts to children and people I really care about as a token of my affection and good will.  I love watching the Nutcracker performed life. I love Christmas music playing on the radio between Thanksgiving and the big day, and being good for goodness sake. I love making pumpkin pies and sweet goodies and tofurkey and sweet potato casserole and producing all of the amazing tastes and smells that a happy kitchen can churn out in the winter months.

What I don't love about Christmas is the commercial and consumerist aspect. There are Christmas items out in major department stores now, before Halloween, and Christmas music playing in some places.  I don't love the idea of spending thousands of dollars so that others might think I like them or because I am expected to do so.  I hate shopping for Christmas presents. I dislike getting gifts that someone doesn't think about- fortunately for me that doesn't happen very often.

My sister Patti knows this about me and she goes out of her way every year to do something very, very silly.  She finds the craziest, silliest Christmas toy, something that barks or sings or somehow might freak out my dog, and sends it through the mail for me to open.  It's my favorite gift every year because I know she enjoys keeping an eye out and hunting for just the right one.  Now that the kids in my family are older, it's easier for everyone for me to send gift cards.  It's also less expensive if I send money to their parents and ask them to do the shopping, rather than go through the acrobatics of wrapping and shipping things that might not make it in time.  My job usually keeps me pretty busy until late in December, so there is that added pressure.

This year I also have a special concern. I don't want to give any money to corporate America.  The large corporations have enough money from the American people.  It's more than that, though. It's a conflict of values. The things I value in life aren't necessarily the expensive ones.  The gifts I want aren't the kind you'll find at Macy's. Don't get me wrong, I like expensive perfume once every three years or so. I like a nice scarf. I just don't want those things if the person purchasing them is going out of their way and far out of their price range just to make me happy.

So this year I am planning something different for the Christmas season. I'm rekindling an older tradition and Christmas presents. I don't want to give it away, but I am talented in some aspects and can create a few things of beauty for people I truly love. I get this from my mother, who is probably more talented than anyone I know.  Over the years she has made me quilted potholders, crocheted slippers, flannel nightgowns, aprons and other amazing homemade goodies, all at my request. When I use those items, see them in my kitchen or snuggle in bed with the heavy feeling of warmth, I feel loved and think of the happy memories from my childhood.  I cannot buy that feeling and I cannot help but value those things over any trinket purchased on my behalf.  Don't get me wrong, I love jewelry. Jewelry is always appropriate for any occasion, but for Christmas, I prefer you to think of me, make me an ornament with the year and my name, or throw some macaroni and glitter on a paper plate and say "Ho Ho Ho!"

For the children in my family, I recognize that they may not have the same wants as do I.  I will continue in the tradition I have followed for them their whole lives and find something appropriate through the regular channels.  But for those of you who I care about, I'm going to find time to create something thoughtful that you may like.  Or you may throw it away or recycle or regift as you desire.

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