Friday, December 08, 2006

Kathleen: I Won't Bake; Don't Ask Me

Ah, the Christmas frenzy. It's time, and I'm under deadline, and I don't have time. No time to say hello, takes so much time! I guess because I've always been an over-doer. And if one is nice, why not a dozen?

When I was a teenager, I did the baking and gift-wrapping. A hundred kinds of cookies. (The fruitcakes were my dad's thing, and believe me, his were not the kind you'd throw away or re-gift--although back then, there was no such thing as re-gifting.) And the wrappings were all left to me because every package became a one-of-a-kind presentation. I've long since given up both tasks. My daughter took over the wrapping maven role, and now that she has her own home, tree, in-laws etc, my bows all come from the large economy size plastic bag. I've now moved on to covering every surface in the house with artfully (so I claim) arranged STUFF.

There's a page on my website ( from last year called "A Pack Rat's Christmas" with some of the creations you see here and more. Last year I got hooked on vintage candles. I remember the 50's, folks, and these little snowmen and trees and deer and choirboys adorned the shelves when I was a tot. Who knew so many people had saved them? E-Bay, that's who. And I overdid it on the candle acquisition. This is only one of my creations.

Last year I also discovered magnetic plastic in the craft store. I've never been a fan of refrigerator magnets, but the refrigerator is a surface and must be decorated for the holidays. A little holiday felt and that magnet stuff frame up the Santa photos of the grandchildren quite nicely.

And then there are my famous Barbies. They have their winter coats, their Christmas-motif outfits, their skating and ski outfits. They await their Christmas arrangements. Must go. Must do. Rest assured, this will all find its way into a book.

What are your Christmas crazies like? Or have you mastered the Zen of moderation?


Helen Brenna said...

Moderation in decorating works for me, primarily because I so much hate putting it all away.

Moderation in gift giving for my husband and kids, not so much. I go over budget every year, to the point I wonder why I even start with a budget!

And Kathy, I remember those candles well. I'm sure we had a couple of snowmen just like some you have pictured.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Argh! Putting away! Christmas usually gets put away by Valentine's Day here.

I go overboard on gifts for the kids. I ordered the granddaughters "My Twin" dolls last summer and hid them away. Had to smack my hands every time I was tempted to take them down just to look at them knowing the next thought would be, "I could just give them the dolls now and save the twin outfits for Christmas." But I resisted.

Trying to get Grandpa to build doll bunkbeds before Christmas. I might have to bribe him. Yeah, the usual way.

Debra Dixon said...

We've finally got the gift giving under control. That's taken years.

Hubby insists on a real tree so we rarely have it up before the 20th.

And I used to just go crazy with the decoration but the "putting away" drove me nuts. Mostly because I could never get it ALL put away. I'd be walking through a room in June. A room I had cleaned more than once since Christmas and there would be an angel overdoor or tiny snowman or stocking hanger or... Always something.

I also had a collection of old-time Santas I kept out all year round but during the remodel they got moved and now live with the Christmas goodies.

Candace said...

I confess. I am into excessive amounts of glorious excess at Christmas. I have 10-foot fake Christmas tree, prelighted with little white lights -- and my collection of ornaments fills up eight giant-size ornament boxes. There must be...oh, I don't least 800 ornaments. And that's just the tree. I collect Santa's and put them on every flat surface--mantel, bookcases, tabletops... Even my dogs get "decorated" with holiday collars.

Outside the entire roofline of the house is outlined with white icicle lights. And there's a lighted sleigh with lighted reindeer (only two), lighted Christmas packages, and a lighted, waving Santa on the front lawn. Oh, and a lighted snowman, too, but he's tucked back in the (barren) flower bed near the front steps. There's also a lighted evergreen garland draped around the front door. In the backyard is another lighted reindeer (his head bobs) and a polar bear (his head bobs, too.) It all goes up on Thanksgiving weekend and comes down (except for the roof line lights)on New Year's Day.

Oh, and I send cards with the dreaded Christmas letter and wrap presents extravagently. I bake, too.

I love Christmas!!!

Michele said...

Sigh... And I've just been lamenting my lack of desire to decorate at Xmas time. My son *pleads* for decorations. Something. Anything. I think I've agreed to put a movable lighted penguin in the front yard, just to please him this year, but it still hasn't been purchased, so who knows.
I love Xmas, but I agree that the whole 'putting away' thing puts me off before the decorations are even taken out.
What will I do when I don't even have The Boy around to nudge me into the holiday spirit? Can you hire a person to decorate for you? Hey! That's a good idea. A Decorate Your Home company, sort of like Merry Maids, but in reverse.


Helen Brenna said...

Michele, my 12 year old son did all the decorating this year. And he did such a beautiful job, too.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I like your idea, Michele! I'll bet somebody's doing it--I know you can hire people to do the outdoor lights--but inside? For regular people, not the type in the Strib article the other day who pay over $1000 for a real tree for their house. The size that drinks 5 gallons of water a day. I tried to imagine myself doing that every day. Nope, can't see it. Those people probably hire interior decorators just to do Christmas. But for regular folks who have a little extra cash, something like Merry Elves. (Are there female elves? What are they called?) This has entrepeneurial (sp?) possibilities.

Michele said...

Let's do it, Kathy! I'll send you out to houses, stocked with christmas galore, and you deck out all those plain, desperate living rooms with cheer and happiness and tinsel and Barbie and Ebay and...

I like this idea. And what I really like is that I'm still at home, not lifting a finger. ;-)


bkrahn said...

As a kid, I seldom saw a tree put up before the 23rd of December-- My mom was a teacher and just had too much to do to decorate or do much besides shop before Christmas vacation began. Then it was all out.

I could never understand my mom wanting us girls to decorate the tree-- I thought it was such fun. Now I understand. I used to do it with the boys. . . until Don died and the boys decided they were too busy for such stuff. for a couple of years I didn't have a tree. I specialized in candles and greenery arrangements for a few years. . . but I'm back to a tree and a 19 ft. inflatable snowman on the front lawn.

The most fun for me is draping garlands and arranging candles. . . love, love, love candles. I even buy special floating snowflake candles for the pool at Christmas. . . now that's Florida livin'!!

:) Betina

Helen Brenna said...

Betina, we didn't have a tree until the last minute, either, as I was growing up. My dad owned his own business and was always extremely busy.

When my kids were both little it became a family tradition to get our tree on Thanksgiving. As they've gotten older, we've gotten a bit lax with that.

I can totally see how a family tragedy can impact holidays and tradition. The fun goes out of it. Glad to hear you're back at it!