‘Tis the Christmas party season. Russ and I had to go to a black tie event tonight. Any event on a Friday is tough on Russ, especially if he is just flying home in time to change and go. I had a much easier day. My friend Hannah and her mother Jean came over for lunch and a good look at the Christmas all over my house. I was able to take a little nap after lunch, not that it was planned, just that Shay and I were snuggled together on the sofa.
I awoke just in time to look around my closets to find something to wear based around the shoes I wanted to wear. I have hurt the top of my foot and so they shoes were the only thing I cared about. Thankfully a few years ago I sprung for a pair of black heals that were made in Israel. They never hurt, but look fancy. I think they were made for female assassins.
As I was getting dressed I decided I should wear hose. I couldn’t remember the last time I wore hose. The only thing I ever wear are tights because they are warm, but this outfit was not a tights kind of thing. Since I had not planned ahead I had not purchased any hose. I looked in a drawer in my closet and miraculously pulled out a new package of nude panty hose. The price tag said $4.95. My god, when I had I purchased these. I turned the package over and the date said 1994.
When I put them on the 1994 date came fully to life. The stretch in the spandex had definitely gone the way of the new millennium. What could I expect from 25 year old hose. They were vintage after all and vintage is not what you want in hose.
Thankfully they stayed up through the whole party, at least the part we stayed for. We had a great time visiting with friends and enjoying our dinner. Then the “It’s Friday” hit us and it meant it was time for us to go. It’s just the start of the holiday party scene. We have to pace ourselves.
The big threat in our little family is, “Tell me what you want as a gift, otherwise you are getting a ceramic chicken.” I am not exactly sure when this threat took hold, but I am almost certain it was in relation to making a list for my father-in-law who is a world class early gift buyer. There is nothing more he hates than waiting until the last minute to mail you a gift.
Given the “chicken” threat it came as quite a surprise when I was devastated when I broke a chicken ornament while standing on the ladder decorating last weekend. Russ and Carter acted appropriately sad for me, but I thought that was just for show. Not that losing one ornament could possibly be noticed on my jammed packed tree.
Today, was one of my most fun Holiday celebrations where my friends Christy and Mary Lloyd and I have our friends Christmas. We went to the Carolina Inn where I ogled the sugar plum fairy Tree and garland chock full of pink, light green and baby blue ornaments. It is not a color scheme I am going to begin to collect, but that didn’t make me not covet it nonetheless.
With that tree on my mind I came home to a number of packages. Two from my father-in-law, which I know are Christmas presents and one addressed to Russ from an unknown sender. I texted him and asked if it was something I should open and he said go ahead.
Sneaky guy knew full well that it was a replacement chicken for the one that jumped to his death last weekend. How he found a chicken, completely different, but just a beautiful I will never know. Next time I get threatened with the ceramic chicken I am just going to say, “Go ahead, as long as I can hang it on the Christmas tree.”
Kindness should have no season. We should strive for it all year round, but somehow the time around the holidays seems to remind people to be kind and generous. The beauty of kindness is that it is free.
Yesterday I ran into a friend who has had a tough year. She related some things to me that people have said to her that added to her difficulty rather than alleviating it. I am certain these people were purposely trying to be mean, but at the same time they weren’t trying to be kind. Most of it was small talk where they were just filling an empty space of not knowing what to say with words that turned out to be extremely hurtful. Sometimes kindness means not saying anything at all.
Today 45 cut 750,000 people off the roles for a Food Stamps. The new rule says that if you are able bodied and don’t have a child under six you have to work to be able to get food stamps. There are many people who will have their food stamps cut who will be hurt, like the person who who takes care of an elderly of invalid relative and therefore can’t work outside the house. Or the people who live in rural areas where there really aren’t jobs, or the homeless. Cutting these food stamp benefits right at Christmas is the opposite of kind.
Food stamps don’t just help the people who use them for food. They put money into the local economy because they are redeemed at local stores which make a profit and employee local people who earn a wage. Food stamps are such a minor cost to the federal government but makes a huge difference to the individuals who need them. The stress of losing these benefits just piles on to vulnerable people who already are under stress.
I am going to work extra hard to be kind right now, knowing that I have no idea what people I encounter in the world are dealing with. It seems like kindness is my only weapon to combat the horrible things that are going on that I have no control over. Maybe we can work to spread kindness and it can go viral. I’m tired of the meanness.
Today a few of my needlepoint friends made a stop at the most prolific stitcher, Christy’s house to look at her Needlepoint Christmas tree. There is nothing more fun to me than looking at other people’s Christmas ornaments and hearing the stories those ornaments tell.
I saw a Facebook posting from my mother that she put her tree up today with ornaments from all her old friends through the years. Sadly some of those friends are no longer with us, but my mother gets to remember them fondly as she looks at her tree.
I would love to take a Christmas tour of my friend’s trees. It is so fun to see the ornaments their children made twenty years ago that they still display proudly. Or the ones that used to be their grand mother’s, or the ones they were given by Santa when they were children.
I could give an around the world exploration on my tree and tell you a story about every one of my ornaments. I may not remember what I had for dinner last night, but I know exactly where each ornament came from. I am certain I am not the only person who can do that.
So if you want someone to come look at your tree and quiz you about your ornaments let me know. Or send me a picture of your tree, and close up of your favorite ornament. I love to learn about my friends through their Christmas trees. If you are someone who does not have a tree just tell me a story.
The celebrating has officially begun with the annual needlepoint Christmas exchange. Always a highlight of my year. Since we traditionally gather the first Monday in December it heralds the start of the season. This year, with the the first Monday coming on the tail of the Thanksgiving weekend, I couldn’t get my house decorated as well as prepare the lunch so we opted to go to the Washington Duke for tea.
Everyone came right on time, filling the table with small gifts for each other, separate from the special ornament we each stitched for one secret friend. I have spent less time at the stitching table this year, so this gathering is an extra special to get to reconnect with dear friends.
After we ordered our tea we exchanged our needlepointed ornaments. Each one was lovingly chosen for the receiver and generously stitched and finished. I cherish these gifts from these friends as only another stitcher understands what a huge gift a needlepoint ornament is. Sadly Ann Hannon was missing from our ranks because she couldn’t make it all the way from St. Louis so close to Thanksgiving. Her ornament, lovingly beaded was beautiful.
We enjoyed our scones, tea sandwiches and sweets, but I will be hosting again next year since I think my food is so much better. I just can’t compare with the various offerings of tea, but my scones are hands down much better. I don’t think anyone will complain about coming back to my house, even if they don’t have ten different varieties of tea to choose from.
Nevertheless, it is not the food that we come for, but the fellowship and the common love of all things needlepoint. I can hardly wait to see whose name I pull from the hat next year so I can think of something personal to stitch for a friend.
Carter went back to Boston last night. She had planned all along to go back on Saturday fearing the Sunday travel and now that the weather is getting so bad I am glad she cautiously planned ahead. With Carter gone I pushed ahead to finish all the Christmas decorating.
Last night at seven I gave up on completing the tree with about a fourth left to go. The plastic hinged top boxes that I store all the decorations in were strewn about the house. With forty plus of them you can’t help but trip over them. Thankfully last year I labeled the boxes so at least they went directly from the attic to the correct room.
I got out of bed at seven this morning and went right back to work on the tree while still in my night gown. I wanted to get it done before church. I could have skipped church, but if I did I would have missed a good sermon on keeping things in perspective during advent. As the loudest laugher at church I got pointed out for laughing at the line about being aware that we might meet Jesus anywhere, even at church.
Chris, our wonderful minister knows he can always call me out when I laugh out loudly. I wasn’t dissing the idea that I might meet Jesus, just that I think church is the last place I would find him. Jesus is needed so many other places first. I may over decorate for Christmas, but I still honor the reason for the holiday. I figure I have met a lot of Jesus like people doing good works all over the world, even at church.
After church it was back to work cleaning up all the boxes and vacuuming up the mess I created. Finally the house is ready for the season. The shiny and bright helps with the dark and rainy of the day. My favorite month is here!
When you look at my tree from afar you have no idea that it has any ornaments on it because it is jammed packed. So here is a close up next to a far view
Today is the least favorite day of the year for Russ and Carter- the day we put the Christmas tree up. Russ and Carter are the elves that take the tree parts, all seven giant bags, out of the attic and assemble the tree, all fourteen feet of it.
My job is to plug in all the lights. My job sounds easy. It is not. Our tree has over 12,000 lights on it, but not all of them work. Every year new strings of lights get added and finding the male end of the cord to plug them in is a life’s work.
I never did find all the plugs and some of the lights stopped working even after I plugged them in. So I added another seven hundred lights this year.
Russ and Carter wish that my light Hunt to fix the lights was faster because they can’t move on to the next section on the tree until I have lit the last section. They were really good eggs this year just chilling while I untangled and restrung.
I really appreciate my tree elves. I never could decorate for Christmas without their help. I know they don’t care a thing about how the house looks at Christmas, but they humor me.