Monday, November 21, 2011

confession: holiday decorating memories

Getting ready for the holidays can be stressful.  Oh, I'm not talking about all you Martha Stewart wannabes who love the challenge of creating a 6 foot Christmas tree out of the empty toilet paper tubes you have been collecting for a year.  You rise to the challenge, year after year.  Creating beauty out of thin air and magic.  You take the leftover turkey carcass from Thanksgiving and turn it into a Santa's Sleigh centerpiece.  You carve the jellied cranberry sauce into a wreath shaped side dish for your holiday feast, as you fill your homes with the sweet music of Christmas and mistletoe covered cat perches.

I'm not knocking you.  Oh, contraire.  I admire you.  Because I used to be just like you.  Well, sort of.  For about 35 years I spent the pre-Christmas season getting worked into a creative frenzy, so much so that by the big day I was a zombie and couldn't remember half of what happened due to exhaustion.  Some years do come to mind though.

There was the year I made stuffed animals.  Not just for my kids, but for the nieces and nephew too.  That adds up to about 10 big animals.  Bears and dogs mostly.  And let me tell you, sewing fake fur is no fun.  I broke so many sewing machine needles trying to sew that material that I kept at least one needle manufacturing company in business all on my own.  Not only did I have to sew those animals, but stuff every last leg and head too.  And animals always have four legs.  There were eyes to sew on.  Even though the kids were big enough to know not to chew the eyes off (I think they were all 5 years and older at the time), I always believed in safety.  Those legs and eyes weren't going anywhere when I finished them.

Then I discovered gingerbread house making.  My sister-in-law showed me how to make a precious little gingerbread cottage and decorate it with candy.  She had learned to do it while she and her husband were stationed overseas in Germany.  I took that little cottage to a whole different level.  The culmination of my gingerbread making career was a Noah's Ark, with pairs of animals on it.  I know, Noah's Ark isn't very Christmasy.  But it was all about design for me, what I could make out of gingerbread.  Good Housekeeping magazine had a gingerbread house issue every year that I drooled over, with gingerbread craft at a level of difficulty I could only dream of.  Noah's Ark was as complicated as I ever dared try.  I figured making all those animals made up for not being able to make a Victorian gingerbread house with real working electric lights in it.

Dessert making during the holidays was my niche too.  The others in the family would prepare the meal.  My contribution was always some special recipe or two or three that I had run across.  I think the low point of my career as a Christmas Dessert Maker was the German Chocolate Cheesecake that tasted like chocolate vomit.  After that I stuck to cookies and pies, cakes, that sort of thing.

So I pass my Martha Stewart hat to those of you who are more creative and better organized than I am.  I'll be spending my Christmas season with a glass of wine and Stevie Wonder, watching old reruns of Christmas Vacation and Miracle on 34th Street on television.

And thinking of all of you as you rush to make the perfect decorations and food.

As I sit and look at my thirty-five dollar, four foot tall fake Christmas tree with the twinkly lights.


~cath xo
Twitter @jonesbabie

16 comments:

  1. I'm completely craft challenged so I can relate to the failed projects, big time! lol I give you credit for trying things though. I don't even get that far! LMAO

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  2. Love it! I guess it wouldn't have been too warm and fuzzy to have made all the kids cyclops snakes that year.. Once tried to be all crafty and had the kids make homemade ornaments. My kids inherited my caveman-craft skills and made truly ugly ornaments. So they are stuck in a box somewhere and never see the light of day each December :(. What's on tap for this year? Happy holiday (this week's less crafty one...)! Take care, Karen :)

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  3. I don't have the patience for craft.... Credit to you for trying...can we see the finished product?

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  4. Well Cath I have to give it to you, I made only one stuffed animal, for a niece, and quit after that one. Oh yes the bear turned out beautiful complete with moving arms and legs. Like you though, I did not enjoy fighting with the fake fur material. I will not even list all the crafts I have tackled for the holidays, although some candles made in acorn squash come to mind, lol...fond memories of the delivery of those in person...love you xoxo

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  5. P.S. I threw away all my fake trees and am going to have a real one this year. Tired of my spinning Martha Stewart tree, :-D

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  6. Love your post! And I completely agree with you: let others be in the limelight and enjoy the winter night with a glass of wine, some soothing music and a good book!

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  7. I live in a Martha Stewart home - which is fine because I get to sip wine while others do the work. Best of both worlds.

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  8. I'm a Martha Stewart wannabee...until I actually start trying to create something and realize how impossible it all is! I've always dreamed of hosting a fabulous dinner, an intimate one, where everything will look perfect, taste perfect. But with my husband's family of 20+ people to feed, perfection is impossible. I go for the least amount of stress and then end up dreaming of the next holiday. Oh well....

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  9. @Lalia I wish I had been more craft challenged! I have spent a boatload of money on projects over the years, and some of them were spectacular failures. :D

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  10. @Karen Wanna compare ugly, kid made ornaments? I'll whip out the Lifesaver dolls, and the felt and aluminum covered styrofoam ornaments and we can see who has the ugliest ornaments. :D

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  11. @sparklemezen I was smart and gave everything away. :D

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  12. @Anonymous I still have the soap filled with loofah strings you made for me K-Martha, that would probably exfoliate the top two layers of my skin if I used them ...and they are still in the twinkly star holder you gave me...I may just have to blog about the crafts we've done over the years. :D

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  13. @Anonymous bravo to you Vix, I'll stick with the cheap four foot tree I just bought...because toddler John will probably pull it down when he comes to visit. :D

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  14. @Late Bloomers Absolutely! I'd rather be remembered at this point for being a couch slug, than for the chocolate vomit cheesecake I made. :D

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  15. @Thom Brown Lucky you Thom...I hope you appreciate your Martha. :D And the wine too of course. :D

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  16. @Joy Page Manuel My goal for holiday dining now is to get 'em fed without anyone getting food poisoning. :D

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