Saturday, December 10, 2011

In Which Melanie Goes Just a Little Bit Linus

I've been really busy, but that hasn't helped the feeling of disconnect I've been having lately. I think perhaps it is because I have been so busy that this is happening. Things had been working so well for a couple months, everything was falling into place, and now, the last couple weeks, whamo. The Chief's been really whacky, inflexible, and not able to communicate with others. Not all the time, but just enough where I am getting really frustrated.

I think part of the problem (maybe all?) is that our rhythm is just GONE. Another thing is that Christmas is coming, and of course, the Chief is totally obsessed over that. Along with Christmas is the Christmas clutter. Decorations in every corner. I think we really need to simplify this. And we need to push our decluttering to the next level. BAM, kick it up a notch, and all that. So I think the focus for the next month is going to be simplifying our environment, and getting a good schedule into place. When I read this post on the Simplicity Parenting blog, it really rang true for me. A couple months ago, my husband and I decided to have a very simple Christmas, and for the most part, that is what we are doing. Almost all our gifts are going to be homemade (the Chief had a couple ideas for me that he simple HAD to buy, I guess, though), my husband and I are not planning on exchanging gifts other than our time together, and even the decorations we are TRYING to keep to a minimum, but it is strange how they just seem to sneak up everywhere. We really want to focus on what matters in this season, and not what commercialism tries to TELL us matters.

I have some things, decorations, etc, that are from family members who have passed on, and I feel that dread of giving them away. But really, what's more important? Keeping the Cabbage Patch Kids statue, or keeping the spirit of the person who gave it to me alive by having a healthy, happy family and home? Why should Christmas be about rushing and noise, and lights? I hear people every day talking about how they dread the Christmas season. "Oh, no, there are only two weeks until Christmas!" Isn't Christmas supposed to be a happy time, when, even for the non-religious of us, we celebrate the birth of the Christ child and celebrate giving and family? Peace on Earth, good will toward men? It's not supposed to be about overspending and overscheduling and overreaching. So why do we all feel that we need to do those things, that Christmas won't be Christmas without feeling harried? Well, in part, it is because we are told we should by the mass media. By the stores who, because they want more sales, start Christmas before Halloween.

Let's start a new tradition. Let's start thinking for ourselves. If something doesn't feel good--DON'T DO IT! It you feel stressed, SLOW DOWN. Christmas is supposed to be happy and enjoyable. Don't let other people/corporations tell you what you should be doing. You know your family best. You know them better than anyone else, and you know what they need. Make it so! And if you feel pressure about giving presents, like a handmade gift might not be good enough for certain people, ask yourself what exactly those people are celebrating or exchanging gifts for. Because it certainly is not Christmas. Maybe they should just call this season what it has become: National Going Beyond Our Means Quarter.

It doesn't have to be that way. Join me on a quest to make Christmas about what it should be. A mother and a father, and a baby in a stable with animals. No blinking lights. Joseph wasn't freaking because he didn't buy Mary a fancy bassinet. Mary wasn't mad because she couldn't give birth in the Marriott. They did what they could with what they had.

If we were all content with what we had, wouldn't the world be a better place?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

O, Christmas Tree...

With the holidays upon us, I have been... strangely busy. I'm not usually this busy. I did a crafter's open house last weekend, selling sock monkeys. It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work at the same time. Now it is time to start making Christmas gifts. So far I am off to a great start. Unfortunately I can't share very much about them because of obvious reasons.

I have collected 29 books so far for the book drive (see my Monkeys on a Mission blog). I'll be collecting through December 31st, so anyone who is interested in donating new kid or teen books, please email me or leave a comment!

We bought our Christmas tree from Hillcrest Farm this year (in Auburn, MA. I'm not sure if they have a website, but their storefront is The Farmer's Daughter. We get all our plants in the spring and summer form them as well). It cost a little extra, but not nearly as much as a real tree would have gone for about ten years ago. I didn't mind the extra $10 (versus Lowe's) because it was from a local farm and they have such friendly and helpful staff. There was a baby calf named Spooky there helping to sell trees (and I love nothing more than to cuddle with a calf!), as well as a gray Rex rabbit. There were lots of trees, as well as wreaths and arrangements and gifts.

This year we wanted a homemade Christmas. My husband and I have grown so tired of plastic and mass production. So we set the tree up, and got to work making ornaments. We let my son pick out a few of our old ornaments that he really liked, that were special to him, but the rest is all going to be origami, felt, kids' crafts and beadwork. Our neighbor is an artist, and she has painted a few ornaments for us over the years as well, which we treasure. My son put all the ornaments on the tree himself--it seemed to be something he was proud of so we designated him the official tree decorator. There are no lights, but that's fine--it saves electricity and the tree won't dry out as quickly. We do need a skirt for the tree, but I think I will just grab some pretty fabric and arrange it around the bottom.

I've been posting sock monkeys on my Etsy page. Remember, a portion of the proceeds of all my handmade goods ALWAYS goes to charity. This month it is for the Youth and Family Services book drive, next month, it will be something different.