I said I was going on vacation with the writing and blogging and the minute I made that announcement I woke at 3:46 AM that next morning and wrote three blogs. I wrote another three the next day and now here I am at it again. It’s a sickness that some psychologist has labeled. Oh yes, workaholic. But it’s just so fun and I did take a bit of a rester and now I have all these ideas and stories.
I’m sitting here eating vegan cowboy cookies and sipping hot Sleepy Time tea. It’s early and I’m ready to snuggle into bed and watch a Hallmark Christmas romance. I had put the bedroom TV in the garage and disconnected it. Then November came and all the Hallmark holiday movies started up and I had Bali haul the TV back in last night and call DirecTV to reconnect. There is nothing, NOTHING, cozier than those movies that are all decked out in Christmas to the max and predictable love while in my King sized faux Posturepedic that I just sink into with my twenty pillows and many comforters. Even the boys love these movies and my husband has watched them with me since our first Christmas. He’s Indian and Bollywood movies are all pretty innocent and have predictable love. It’s what he knows.
A pot of herbal tea, in bed around 6:30 pm and a movie, even if it’s a rerun.
Today we drove up to Nevada City and had lunch at the Briar Patch Coop. They had all sorts of Thanksgiving food in the hot deli. I tried to be as vegan as possible while my family chose Turkey without flinching. You can only lead a horse to water right? It was a very expensive Thanksgiving lunch as everything is organic and made with quality ingredients.
And then we visited my favorite Hospice Thrift and I scored some amazing holiday decorations and a lovely dresser for the guest room. I have so many interesting and lovely tree ornaments now and a sweet hen cook jar. I even found 4 holiday cups. I spent a little over $100 for all of it, including a great framed photo of some old blue doors. I always buy my Fall and Christmas decor at the thrift stores. That way you get things that are antique, homemade, charming, or at least have character or were once very expensive such as my box of 34 glass ornaments that cost $3. I saw the same ones but a plastic version at Sam’s for $29.99.
Find a nice thrift store in a nice area. Preferable a wealthy area if you can. Do some foraging before and after the holidays. Store all your decorations in tubs and in a dry area. Once you have built up your holiday collection you are set for years. You can just brows every year and find that little extra prize.
I had a little, pathetic tub of holiday decorations due to moving, cats, and babies curiosity, along with experiencing some holiday wilt. This year I’m feeling the spirit moving strongly within. I found bags of ornaments that take years to collect for $1 each. Homemade and very characteristic of those funky and adorable family collections people have after 20 or 30 years of collecting. Now we just need that tree. We are splurging after years of a fake and scrawny tree. We are getting the real thing with that real pine smell and will be experiencing a tree farm for the first time.
I’ve been also enjoying a lot of free and natural decor such as colored mini pumpkins in that odd silver grey and rich orange along with the traditional pumpkin. Sammy and I have collected a few pine cones on our walks in Grass Valley. I have my big jars of red candles that I have lite all day in the kitchen and dining room.
Then there are other inexpensive and free ways to celebrate Christmas. There is always that local radio station that starts the Christmas carols the beginning of November. For the weak, this is too much but I’ve got Christmas in my veins so the Truck radio is tuned and I will start putting stations on Pandora very soon. The law in this house…and the truck is that no one touches the station until the day after Christmas. Bali tries to sneak his Punjabi radio now and then and incurs the wrath of the Christmas crazy person.
When I’m feeling inspired and moved by the season I will bake and make all sorts of Christmas goodies. Nothing fancy, easy things. I make homemade sugar cookies that you can make in huge batches with homemade frosting also made in mass quantities. A little food coloring and you have the Christmas cookie. Fudge is also extremely easy to make and if you crumble candy canes on top it has that festive look and taste.
I buy cookie tins at thrift stores for .25 to .50 cents during off seasons. I have a couple stacks in my pantry right now waiting. And I have neighbors and a mailman to bake for this year.
I have stacks of holiday cards I get from all the animal welfare places I donate to so I will be sending those cheesy things out soon. Every once in awhile I splurge on a pack of enchanting cards. I do not do holiday letters and photos.
As for gifts, the children get gifts and Bali and I might get an item or two that we’ve been fancying for the year. For example, I have a bedspread in mind along with a percolator. I’m enjoying combing the thrift stores for now but this might be a gift from Santa. Bali may get some man tool or the outdoor Indian bed he talked about all summer.
We don’t shop for others and that saves a lot of money and stress. You couldn’t pay me to do a Black Friday. We do free and community things like the Tree Lighting ceremonies or Festival of Lights. When we lived in Sacramento we would drive around the grand old neighborhoods during the Christmas season because the lights and outdoor decorations were so gorgeous and elaborate.
When I was single I spent one whole season volunteering for everything from buying gifts for children, following Santa to pass them out, wrapping on a mass scale, working the soup kitchens.
And this is why I live for this season. Yes, Thanksgiving and Christmas are a season unto itself. I don’t shop or run up the credit card. I keep it as it should be. To simply enjoy the music, the lights, the magic. I serve the less fortunate where I can, I send out the cards and bake the treats for neighbors. Everything we do is really just about fun and tradition and not anything about consumerism. I do indulge the boys because they are at that age and I love getting them things they will enjoy all year. I order it all online to avoid the hustle.
On Christmas day I have the Yule Tide log on the TV with the carols and we have a fabulous little spread on the table that we can snack on all through the day. The spread changes a bit from morning to night. There are Christmas movies and the boys play with their toys. That is about it. Sometimes we have a guest but Christmas has been just our little family the last few years with all the moving we have done.
Thanksgiving, I probably should have started with that being that is a few days away. But Thanksgiving is so simple. We always have friends and family with this one. It’s really just about having a big dinner. I either cook it all or designate dishes to everyone and do only the turkey. I have everyone help before, during and after. Or we go somewhere and bring a dish.
This year I shopped early to avoid the madness and I will be baking chicken and not Turkey as our group is small this year. I will make everything but the desert. We are having two Thanksgiving dinners this week, one with friends and one with Grannie. And I will have all my vegan fair but the chicken is for the guest. You can’t expect to convert people during a major holiday….nor do I care to.
As for traditions and religion, I used to go to a friends family’s for Christmas and we would read about the birth of Christ in the Bible before the meal. It was a wonderful tradition. There is a lot of debate as to whether Christ was even born in the winter or summer. It really seems that Christmas has more to do the story of St. Nicholas dating back to 280 AD and some German fable. We really focus on Santa Claus and all that Christmas magic. There are the movies and plays about the birth of Christ as well but are we celebrating two different things here? It’s confusing. You can decide what traditions to bring in based on your beliefs. I, personally, love Christ but I’m still unsure if he wasn’t perhaps born in the summer and this tradition was really a winter solstice celebration.
So, to wrap it up I will give this advice. Focus on decorating, music, good food, good friends, some volunteering or buying gifts for children in need, and some tradition that fits your families beliefs. Leave the rest behind and really enjoy this festive time of year.