A Nice and Easy Holiday
A couple of weeks ago, I wondered if I should put up a tree or not. Could I be bothered? Years ago I’d deck out every room and window and doorway with garlands and trimmings and lights and bows, and on and on. Presents would be wrapped in gorgeous paper and bows, gatherings would be large and lavish. It was expensive and exhausting and ultimately unrewarding. And of course it would generate resentment, since the skill sets needed for that sort of holiday were not shared by the other members of my family. This is usually the case in most families: one person “puts on” Christmas, the rest lay back and enjoy it (or run and hide).
Ma and Pa Snow
So then I asked myself, what would I do if I was completely alone, without worrying about anyone or anything else? The answer: some sort of tree, to symbolize the solstice; “winter” decorations as opposed to religious ones; lots of white lights on everything because they are like starlight and moonlight on snow, the pretty side of winter; things like pine cones in baskets, bird feeders, candles, mulled wine, soup and bread gatherings, small gifts of food–things that are not specifically Christmas, yet don’t leave out Christmas. Thus I was able to just focus on what I liked best, to make the kind of holiday I really wanted.
I decided that I wanted to put up the “big” tree for a change. It’s an inexpensive fake tree that my son bought at Walgreen’s drugstore back when he was a kid to put up in his room, and since it is relatively lightweight and portable I used it myself after he grew up. It’s only been up a couple of times since we moved here, because I’ve usually been too busy or tired to deal with anything more than a table top tree. A recent rearrangement of the living room meant that only a potted plant had to be moved to make room for the tree, so that was one big hassle out of the way.
Quite a few holiday decorations were tossed or donated during the big stuff purge a couple of years ago, but there were still two heavy boxes of various things that I’d kept. I went through them again, getting rid of a few things that didn’t work or were more fuss and trouble to set up than they were worth. The tree got most of the keeper ornaments (including the cheerful snowman couple) and loads of little white lights, dozens of white handmade clay stars, and the whole thing was propped up on a small table so that the star at the top of the tree is mighty close to the ceiling. The tree skirt is a loden green wool poncho I made over thirty-one years ago to keep me warm during those last two gigantic weeks before my son was born. How’s that for repurposing?
During the tree-decorating, I felt inspired to have a gathering for the Winter Solstice. I’m not pagan, but marking the seasons and the passage of time seemed like something I really wanted to do. So we made contact with a handful of people, set the doorbell chime to play “Jingle Bells” (it doesn’t offer “Deck the Halls,” darn it all), and I made a big vegetable soup, sundry buffet items, and a chocolate yule log with a coffee/cream cheese filling. There was lots of beer, lots of cheer, and enough leftovers to take care of run-and-grab meals and dinner with the kids through Christmas Day.
And we even got a bit of snow, enough to make the ground white, which is really all anyone actually wants outside of ski resorts and sledding hills. We’ll take a drive around town this evening or the next to sip hot chocolate from travel mugs and get a kick out of all the holiday lights, especially in the blocks where the neighbors are obviously competitive with one another. The lights are always more magical when there’s snow on the ground and rooftops.
It’s turning out to be a lovely holiday, done with a light hand. There was no gift-buying; instead, I made little bags of homemade benne wafers, our new favorite cookie. This is the sort of holiday I honestly prefer–no frenzy, nothing to prove, no expectations, laid back and cheerful, and fun for the rest of the family, too, because the Christmas-putter-onner isn’t stressed out.
Happy Holidays to you all!
Love and hugs,