December 5, 2008
In which I realize what to do
This Christmas is proving to be a difficult one for me. Joe told me this morning that I am both sensitive and resistant to change, and he's right. I notice everything and then take it all way, way too hard, and then, once I'm upset, I start looking for corroborating evidence for my thesis (because not only am I sensitive and resistant to change, I also like to be right) so that I can prove, to anyone who might be trying to cheer me up, that all is lost and things are hopeless. I usually wind up this sort of thing with a rousing game of "and if you're happy, you just don't understand what's happening and you're all in on the plan to ruin Christmas."
This is not my best trait.
Usually my best trait is my enthusiasm and stick-to-it-iveness, and I'm proud of that. I can really get behind an idea and stay behind an idea, no matter what it is or how absolutely stark raving mad it is, and I think what I'm feeling this year is some sort of perversion of that, where I've managed to really get myself behind the idea that Christmas (and I know this is a rather vague sort of complaint) "isn't working." It's true that this Christmas is going to have challenges. I've never really adjusted to the loss of Janine at this time of year, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do when the whole family doesn't go to my Aunt Helen and Uncle Don's for Boxing Day for the first time in my life. Amanda moved out (though I'm sure she'll come home for Christmas... right?) We had to cancel our annual Gingerbread party due to scheduling problems, and my brother has (hopefully temporarily) separated from his wife...whom I adore and feel the absence of rather keenly. (There's also the fact that this makes my brother a pretty miserable guy at present, which I respect - poor buddy, but it brings down the Christmas cheer level substantially.) To top it all off, this is the year that Joe's parents are making a wonderful trip to Spain to visit Joe's sister Kate (she lives in Spain) which you can hardly begrudge them for a second... but that means they're gone for the holidays too.
All of this together has me moaning around, whinging about our crappy Christmas and how every thing's changed and too many people are dead or gone, and all of my attempts to connect with the parts of Christmas that really do it for me, like family and friends and all of the traditions I adore are totally arsed, and being one big misery case until this morning, when I realized that I have got to get a hold of myself because I'm pretty much guaranteeing that I'll suck what joy there is for me to find in this Christmas right out of the world of possibility and there won't be anybody to blame for that except for me, a big whiny, ungrateful, overly sensitive crybaby, and frankly, I hate people like that. I really do.
I got to thinking this morning that there has got to be a way for me to find the joy in this season again. That I have got to put on my big-girl panties and pull myself together. I thought not just about the traditions that aren't going to be possible this year, but about the chance to really enjoy the ones that remain, and to embrace and generate new ones to replace the ones... like Boxing Day with Aunt Helen, that really aren't ever coming back. The world turns, I'm on it. I should try harder. Change is inevitable. I thought all of that in the dark - because frankly, in Canada right now it feels like it's dark all the time, and that reminded me of this post- The Return of the Light, and I started thinking that other than the feeling I have when I am surrounded by my family during the holidays, the Knitters Without Borders work has filled me with a joy that is almost unsurpassed. The feeling I get as yet another knitter drops an email in my box that says "I'm really broke, but I'm grateful anyway. I found a few dollars and I gave." lifts my heart up. Another knitter. Another, and another - I've never not been entirely awestruck by how much knitters will do, understanding as we do that a whole monumental effort is made up of one simple thing... repeated many, many, many times.
Knitters, in my experience, are not an easily defeated bunch. Tasks that would daunt other mortals look like child's play to us, because we've learned from knitting that accomplishing big things isn't really all that hard. You just have to stick to it. One stitch is small. One stitch is almost nothing. One stitch is hardly worth doing... unless you put it with hundreds, and then thousands and then tens of thousands of others.
Knitters know this without being told, and this is what makes Knitters Without Borders a force to be reckoned with.
Starting today I'm going to begin re-updating the total - and brace yourself. Dudes. We're going to do it again. Bigger. Better. More karmic balancing gifts. More changing the world. The world needs us, MSF needs us, and we're the best people to do it. One stitch at a time.
The instructions in the Return of the Light post still work. Let's make a little more history.
PS: Still working on the beautiful brown socks, which are a cobbled together pattern of my own, created by ramming the traditional "sailors rib" onto my plain vanilla sock recipe (in this book, thanks for asking) and Shibui Sock yarn in the elegantly named colour " 7533".
I'm thinking of calling it something else in my head - like Mocha-Swirl or Bittersweet Chocolate. (This is likely why my job is not naming yarns.)
Oh. Wait. I just checked the Loopy Ewe page while I was adding the link, and apparently it's called "Bark." Fair enough. Much better.
PSS: I'm still working on a hat too, seen here in the light of the setting sun. At 4:00. I told you about the dark:
100 stitches on a 4.5mm needle, round and round in 2x2 rib. I'm knitting it with some beautiful Corridale from Lyman's Sleigh Bell Farm, bought two Rhinebecks ago. It's lovely stuff, and the knitting of it is remarkably restful and calming, which is probably safer for everyone.
PSSS: I'm starting to feel badly for mentioning it, but the final round of the Canadian Blog Awards is winding up tomorrow, and if, after you see my competition you think I deserve your vote, I'd love to have it. I'm nominated in two categories, Best blog here and Best Activities blog here ... and while you're there, Lene's nominated for best Disability blog here, Knitnut's up for best local blog here and best Local blog here (us knitters gotta stick together.) Happy voting, and thanks for even considering it.
PSSSS: Today's gift for knitters? These knitting paintings (if you've got the coin.) Thanks for the link Lene.
Posted by Stephanie at December 5, 2008 2:29 PM
All right! I'm ready to share my very limited resources again.
I happen to know just what you mean when you say "sensitive" and "resistant to change"...although in my case, I usually term it "over-sensitive". It always takes me awhile to get my "big-girl panties" on and buck up and make the best of things...not that I don't realize from the outset that I'm causing my own set of problems (and making everyone else miserable around me, almost as if to make sure I have company), but it just takes me awhile to act on my realization. Luckily, my husband knows that the best policy is to just let me get there when I'm ready, as prodding tends to make me dig my heels in harder. Just because. Obstinate? I think so. Virgo? Yes. Oldest child? Maybe.
Anyway, good for you. A very Happy Happy Holiday Season to you, and may the MSF total expand fantastically.
Thanks for the wake up call to appreciate the ones we have now and not think about what we could be doing.
OK, I'm off to the MSF website to make my donation.
I hope you're able to connect to the joys of Christmas, despite the challenges life is throwing at you!
Hopefully those beautiful signature needles that you are knitting with will give you more added joy!
Which book is the Sailor's Rib in? I think you missed a link. ;o)
And I'm off to read the KWB post again. I love changing the world. Here's to a little cheer . . . even here, where the sun is shining today, I could use some.
I think you should start a new tradition for Boxing Day this year. My family's Christmas really melted down a couple of years ago because of a sibling's addiction and the resulting fallout (it's been terrible, and we don't talk anymore). I started a Christmas Eve tradition of listening to a recording of 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' read by the author with my parents. We've been doing it ever since.
The point I'm trying to make is that family strife or changing circumstances don't have to engulf special occasions. You can create your own new ways of observing holidays and celebrating them without having to feel guilty or sad.
Life, sadly, is full of changes. Some of them are bad...but there are still good ones, too.
Do I have to come over there? 'Cause if I do, the Hurricane and the Tornado are coming too, and the minute they meet Hank, it's all over.
My advice (seriously): Don't try too hard to fill in those huge gaping holes. You'll end up feeling resentful and still sad. Acknowledge the losses (both permanent and temporary) and then find something completely new to raise your spirits.
lovely. and thank you.
it's easy to feel like one's drop in the bucket is too tiny to be meaningful, so thank you for taking on the massive task of organizing this and reminding us all just how powerful we are together.
Great timing to start up MSF drive again! I received a solicitation call from them last night, and told then I was in when the Harlot was ready.
Hang in there. *hugs* I know how it is, looking around the Christmas gatherings and remembering those who are missing more than those who are still with us. My family lost about half its members over the course of a few years, and it leaves a massive hole that you just can't ignore. It is enough to make holidays a maudlin experience.
Find new traditions. Focus on something different, something new. Remember the people who are gone, but don't dwell on it.
I'll be donating a something in my brother's name this year, since he isn't around to get a present any more. A new tradition. :)
The best way to enjoy Christmas is to make it special for others: knit hats and gloves for the homeless or folks in shelters, volunteer, give to MSF (a very worthy cause - our daughter works for them also), create good memories this holiday for the family you still have around you. Those things will perk you up in no time, and you don't need a lot of sunlight either, altho getting outside when the sun is shining is a good thing.
Good for you - there are real, live scientific studies out there that show without question that helping others makes us happier people. (See, you don't even have to go looking for information to back up the theory, I did it for you!) And so, so good for MSF - how grateful the recipients of their help will be!
(Hate to ask, but are you going back through the year to update the totals? It hasn't changed in a long, long time, and I know my contribution from earlier this year didn't up the numbers. That might do some instant gratification for you!)
One last thing... "bark?" I'd take mocha swirl over bark any day.
you are an amazing person and i am grateful everyday that i can read your blog. sometimes it cheers me up, sometimes it teaches me something, makes me think about the interconnectedness of life
be the light others need :)
I get so grumpy and stompy when traditions don't work out, when plans change, when I don't feel "The Christmas Spirit". I've been pretty good so far this year, but I can already feel the Black Cloud of Holiday despair on the horizon.
Thanks for reminding me that Christmas doesn't have to be All About Me.
PS - do you see The Colbert Report in Toronto? He interviewed a woman this week who does knitted art and got stopped at the border from Canada to the US. She did some wild, wild stuff. I think this is the link for the show: http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/full-episodes/index.jhtml?episodeId=211982
My husband and I had already decided to start a new tradition in which we don't exchange goods. We still get gifts, but any money that would have normally been spent buying a gift is instead given to a charity. The economic downturn has hit my town quite hard, and there's been lots of home foreclosures and food banks have run out of food on several occasions. So the christmas funds are going to the food banks and to shelters (including animal shelters since they are also affected).
I don't want any trinkets knowing that my neighbors lost their house and had to give up most of their pets because they couldn't afford the pet deposit on the apartment they have had to move into. (We took in two of their dogs to foster until we can find them a good home.)
But I'm still going to make Gingerbread cookies. :)
I have in memory one Christmas that forever changed how I feel about the holidays. It's not that bad now, and I'm so grateful I got back on my feet. I believe, having seen the downside, that the only way to keep anything is to be willing to share. So I've gone off and made a donation.
Thank you for all you do!
If it makes you feel any better, I live in Florida and the sun sets here by 5pm, as well (in the panhandle where we are on the eastern borders of the central time zone).
Ah, yes, the big-girl pants. I have to pull them on too - there's just us for Christmas this year. No family. Maybe we should travel and visit friends. Christmas has not been the same since Mum died but we've tried to make it new again. I love change but I hate it too.
(BTW my $20 a month to MSF in Oz has ended as my visa card turned into a mastercard)
I mention your "Return of the Light" post often to my fellow knitters and non-knitters. It's very dark here in Minneapolis too this time of year and I find the phrase "Return of the Light" comforting. Brighter days are ahead! Have fun inventing your new holiday traditions. Perhaps you should start hosting a Solstice celebration chez Harlot. I promise if I'm ever in Toronto I'll bring beer.Here comes the sun!
Great idea! I'll be sending off a contribution. $1,000,000 here we come!
Holidays are a time of traditions and when we can't have them it's hard. I hope that you create beautiful new traditions this year that will continue for many years.
PS: I blame you that I am knitting a scarf for the first time ever. I'm loving every minute of it.
Sometimes I wish that I actually knew you, instead of just thinking I do, because then I could go over there and give you a hug and it wouldn't at all seem stalkerly. We'd hug and cry and knit and drink, maybe not in that order, but they'd get done.
In a nutshell, losing people is hard, be it through geographical separation or other. Death sucks. Sometimes you just have to go somewhere and cry. For as long as you need to. Then you can get back to whatever normal is. Then maybe go cry again the next hour. Or the next day. My thinking is, dealing with the death of a very close person never gets easier. There. I said it. All those folks out there who try to console grievers by saying that, sorry, I think you're wrong. It doesn't get easier; it's just that you get used to it. You learn to live with it. Which sucks, but, considering the alternative, it's worth it. And with any luck, you find something that you can throw your grief into.
Stephanie, hang in there. This Knitters Without Borders thing? You're doing good there. Real good.
By the way, that brown sock? Sort of looks like tilled farm land. With the rows. It'd be cool if it smelled earthy.
I definitely understand how you feel about not wanting things to change at Christmas. Ever since I was a little kid, I've been the one in my family who insists on keeping every little tradition just as it's always been. The one year that I was abroad over Christmas and couldn't come home just about killed me (but my husband was sweet enough to decorate our apartment with lights and a little Christmas tree just to make it feel more like home).
And I definitely agree that this is the time of year to focus on giving. I hope we can set a new record for Knitters Without Borders!
well, maybe you need to get out of town for a few days of fun and rejuvenation. you know you are always welcome here, where there's nothing new, but there IS lots of knitting and peace and quiet. maybe you'll miss your real life after a couple of days??
thank you for the wonderful work you do in knitters without borders; i need to drop you an update email.
Everyone tells us to love change - not always there.... I hear you.
Hope you caught my post the other day. I'm already in for MSF. Woohoo! We'll do it again.
Changing the number of our contributions - that's change I can live with! Thanks again for counting/collating/encouraging.
Take heart, Stephanie! You are truly blessed. You have a great family and you make your living doing what you love. Those are enviable gifts. As a divorced woman with no children--who will never have any children--and no wonderful Joe or wonderful anyone to love, I'd give anything to have your problems.
Gorgeous socks, as always!!!
As I was reading, I KNEW that you were gonna figure out how to cheer yourself up, and I suspected it was a "Stephanie is gonna do it AGAIN!".
Thank you for bringing us all back into the light. People talk about the economy here, and then I see emails from MSF, about saving little girls in Ethiopia from malnutrition, and I realize just how rich I am. My wallet and I are ready, and when I see my kids tonight, I'm going to talk to them about giving, too.
Well, sometimes you need to step back and look at the whole picture...appreciate what you have. I've been reading your blog for quite a while (without comment, which isn't really like me) and I think that while you have lost some things, your life is full of good things too. You have wonderfull memories which no one can take away. I don't like change either but it's gonna happen! Just keep going and something will trigger your "joy in the season" again.
Lovely socks. It must be an artifact of the screen, but all your brown pictures look purple on this end.
I hope you'll find your Christmas. I know it's hard-- I have no family left, myself. This year, we cancelled our annual party, for lack of interest among our prospective guests. Instead of having 50 people over to the house, we're taking half a dozen out for dinner and a show. I'm hoping that it'll be so much fun that it'll become a new tradition.
I'm sorry things are sucking for you and your dear family. I'm wishing for you all the best possible outcome, whatever that may be.
I'll be contributing this weekend, after I manage to balance the checkbook!
As soon as the baby stops squidging around I'm finding the credit card and making a donation. I'm having such a sad day. Maybe we're being affected by the same phase of the moon. I have no reason to be sad. It's probably the short days--I'm right there with you on that one. Anyway. Thanks for the kick in the butt.
My grandmother has been gone 11 years come Jan. I miss her still. My aunt Rose Anne has been gone 15 years and I still see things to get her for Christmas, my grandfather's been gone a lot longer than that (and wasn't really here a few years before he actually died).
I get used to having them not be around, to not talking to them at least once a week, to not seeing them frequently... but it's a lot harder at Christmas.
This year, however, I have my brand new Granddaughter (1 month and 1 week old today) and, while I wish my grandparents and my aunt RoseAnne could see her in person, I know they'd be harassing me about being old :) and nothing is going to dim the joy of having Jackie here and healthy. WOO HOO! I have a grandbaby to spoil! (And I get to see her a lot because I watch her while her mama and daddy are working. Even joblessness has a purpose.)
Pain and joy are flip sides of the same coin; a person can't hide from one without denying the other. You are facing it head-on and turning the coin over. Well done.
I've had a few Christmases when we had to deal with loss and changing long-held patterns (like Boxing Day at Aunt Helen's). In my experience, the anticipation of these events (or absence of them) was always worse than the actual day because we still got together and enjoyed each others' company. Also, the young people expect that Christmas will go ahead and having them around always makes it ok (well, usually). Finally, some traditions can change due to too little time or too much work and the world doesn't fall apart; this year, I just said 'no' to a few things that I always get stuck with (like outside lights), and nobody is complaining!
You work very hard and I hope that you and Joe can have some quiet time to enjoy the season together. Does this sound preachy? I hope not; just trying to help.
Years ago when my eldest (almost 20 now) was a toddler and when I was pregnant with the next, my husband and I moved from Ottawa to Washington, DC. He was promptly sent off by the IMF to Moscow, where the Soviet Union was literally falling apart and I was left behind, pregnant and with a 2 year old, in a strange city and strange country with no extended family or friends. As Christmas approached, I found myself in tears from the stress, loneliness and, probably, too many hormones. That first holiday away from home was awful, but the next year I suddenly realized that, with no family obligations there was a marvelous sense of release. I didn't have to "perform" and I was free to craft whatever kind of Christmas I wanted to. Over the years our activities have changed as our family has grown, but I have tried to retain that feeling of freedom from pressure by thinking carefully about what my priorities really are. Change can be stressful and difficult, but sometimes good things grow from it.
P.S. I know you live reasonably near U of T, so I am recommending Trinity College's Service of Lessons and Carols this coming Sunday at 4:00. It might help to set the mood.
Thank you for the reminder. My family has decided to go with simple and inexpensive gifts this year too, and we also have my brother and his wife who have passed on heart-breakingly young. I will donate to MSF in their name on behalf of my family.
Hang in there.
I set up a monthly donation this time. It feels so great, thanks for the reminder. :)
Steph, When I was 15 my family lost my Mom in a horrific car accident in May, that December my Dad lost his Mom, very suddenly. She had been an anchor, encouraging my cooking, and otherwise propping Dad, brother and I all up. That Christmas I dug out all the decorations, put them up as Mom would have and we went thru the motions. It was quiet, sad, and we all had this huge weight sitting on our chests, lumps in our throats. We ate turkey forever!!! The next year Grandpa died..in December and another hard Christmas with even more weight on our chests and going thru the motions. The next year was a little better, I cooked better, we were adjusting to life without Mom, Grandma and Grandpa, but life as we knew it had changed forever. Over the years many such things have happened to us, we lost Dad a few years ago, a beloved Aunt and Uncle, my hubby's Dad. Each time that weight returns for a time and things change even though you go through the motions. New traditions develop, some stay some don't. Long story short as hard as change seems, it is definitely part of life, and sometimes some really great things develop as part of that change. Sounds like you are on to an awesome tradition...bets
I had a really bad Christmas 2 years ago. My husband was going through chemo, felt awful, and was in his own world, and we live far away from our families and couldn't travel to see them. It all added up to one thing - I felt completely alone. It was especially hard because, like you, I really like Christmas and look forward to it every year. I tried so hard to continue certain traditions, but it all fell flat. Last year's Christmas was way less awful because he was (and still is) in remission, but somehow it still fell flat.
I don't want to be melodramatic and say Christmas is ruined for me, because I still find myself looking forward to it. I just think, maybe it's okay to feel conflicted about it, to want to make the best of things but also to feel angry that it's not the unbounded celebration that you want it to be. Life is about contrasts, and people are complex creatures. I think it's okay to feel the sadness and disappointment along with the warm and generous feelings of the season.
I planned on donating this week, as I'd decided to forego a coffee membership and decided to put that money to this. I'm glad you're getting your head around the holidays. It is a beastly time of year for change. Thank you.
I'm sending a big hug. You have expressed how I've been feeling the last few weeks. My husband died 13 years ago when my children were 3, 7, 9 and 12, and even though it has been 13 years, and we've had some great Christmas', it is still a very hard time of year. I think this year is particularly difficult because of the current state of the economy and all the hardship we are seeing.
I do realize that life could be a lot worse, and I am grateful for my children and friends. I am also grateful for fellow knitters who can join together and accomplish something awesome, even if we only have a few dollars to donate. So I am off to donate in memory of my husband, and bring a little light into my life and the lives of those the donation will help.
Thanks for the post, Stephanie, and for once again sharing your thoughts so generously with us.
Brown is a calming color.
Touchy, hypersensitive Cancer here. I hate change. I especially hate bad change. I'm of an age now that a bunch of that seems to be happening, and all I can do is go thru the motions until my emotions catch up. Sometimes that's all you have, so that's what you use. Hang in there, you know you're not alone.
My dear Harlotta - I have your boxing day pangs at Thanksgiving. I spent as many as I could with my grandmother. Our last one together was in 1989...and she died in June of 1990. I still miss her alot particularly during this time of year, but the terrible sorrow I had has lifted. New traditions have to emerge when the old guard moves on (and sometimes moves out...my parents have been separated for 17 years!!) If they didn't well, there wouldn't be any family traditions. You are a smart lady, you know what to do. Maybe it is time for you to be Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Joe on boxing day. I bet that would make Aunt Helen very happy.
Knitters without Borders...well, I'm game again, or still. I have myself on the automatically-debit-once-a-month plan with Doctors. They take out $15.00 per month, I buy a little less yarn. I'm about as strapped as the next person, but I'm sitting here at my desk where I have a job, and health insurance, and leave time as does my husband. Giving is what this season is about and I do feel good writing down my little debit amount every month.
Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts with us, Stephanie. I do like these kind of posts!
Your first paragraph reminded me of a great book that I read last year: Mistakes were made, but not by me (by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson). Despite its non-fiction topic, I found it very engaging.
Not Christmas-y though. It does sound like a lot of changes you have to come to get used to. I think you can get your Christmas spirit back though - I suggest making some new traditions (and I say, the kookier, the better).
Thank you. I've been having a really rough holiday season (details on the blog) and this was just the pep talk I needed.
There must be something about brown socks... I'm taking solace in brown/blue striped socks right now. Could brown socks be the new wonder drug?
I have to tell you that even after 2 years I still tell people about that amazing post. It moved me to tears.
Contribution to MSF coming shortly. Merry Christmas.
Le sigh. Luf ya chickie! When I met you I was impressed by your determination and how EFFING smart you are.
Change stinks, especially when it means an end of a beloved tradition.
Create a new one. When one door closes, another opens...
I'm sorry things are hard, but I admire your ability to pick yourself up and try to make some new traditions. My family is losing one this year too - my grandparents had to move into town from the country, my aunt and uncle are staying home with the kids, and I'm spending my first Christmas away from my family with my fiance - all which build up to mean that we won't be building our traditional Christmas igloo on my grandparent's front lawn. I'll miss it a lot. But hopefully I'll be able to participate in city boxing day sales for the first time!
I echo what others have said and I might add that maybe a watching of A Charlie Brown Christmas might help...even though you don't consider yourself Christian per se, you may discover that the trappings of Christmas aren't actually Christmas and you just may find the spirit of Christmas in the unlikliest of places. Have a very merry one!
We are having the same sort of Christmas changes here, among other things. I have decided that I am upset about it, and I am allowing myself to be depressed. Instead of saying "I shouldn't feel bad", you know what, I do feel bad! Acknowledging that makes it easier to move on. Instead of feeling guilty or trying to deny it (which only makes it worse), accept it and move on. It's a normal reaction to change. Because you have a long list of things to be thankful for, doesn't mean you aren't allowed to be upset about what you have lost. And you know what, I believe you will come up with some great ideas to fill in those empty places, to make some new traditions, and honor those who have gone before by carrying on and being happy. Plus, the hats and socks look great! Well, that's my advice, and I believe you will have a wonderful holiday!
Boy do I know what you are feeling. But this is part of the getting older kind of changes that take place in a family. When the kids get married it brings on another whole different scenario as well. I have had to deal with this very same emotion now for several years so I reinvented things by doing for others. It's easy to give a donation but then you are still left with time not filled. I have been baking items and giving to others. With the economy I'm going to scale it back some but it has helped me over the hump. When I'm busy with this I don't tumble the losses over in my mind like I do when I'm knitting. It's OK to be depressed like Danana said, it's if we let it take control of our lives permanently that we get into trouble. I can give testiment to that as well. Be thankful that you still have your 3 beautiful children and a wonderful husband that is faithful and wise for you to hug and have close. This too will pass. Love everything that you make and wish I was as skilled (and fast) as you. Love all the blogging.
Thank you for your candid post today. I think that although we all experience changes and challenges in our lives, it's hard to deal with those changes at the Christmas season, which is so much about family traditions and doing things the way we've always done them. In my family, we will also be doing some things differently this year, and with less emphasis on gift-giving. Perhaps you can do some new Christmas season things this year, which in time will become traditions too. By the way, I like "mocha-swirl/bittersweet chocolate" better than "bark."
So glad to hear this! Especially since your total is really so close to $500,000 ... how can you NOT want to pass that milestone??
(Which reminds me, I still have a box of Calmer that I offered as a prize/reward last year ... um, do you still WANT that??)
And yes, this isn't going to be one of our best Christmases, either--too many worries, but looking past that is a GOOD thing!
Lovely post--here in Fargo, I'm farther north than Toronto with even less sunlight. This is the first Christmas that we aren't either traveling to be with family or that family isn't coming during the holidays to be with us, and I haven't been looking forward to Christmas so far. I'm trying to get more in the spirit of things, but have been preoccupied with work and other worries. But it's time to stop thinking about me and focus on others. I know we have a DWF mailing & envelope at home; I'll put it on the top of the donation pile.
Also, we're finally getting a soft blanket of the white stuff today. So what little light we do get will be reflected, and the scenery will look Christmasy rather than dirty, dull gravel brown (completely unlike your lovely brown socks).
I kept reading your posts about the 1x1 rib scarf. I bit the bullet and have now gone off the deep end. They really are addicting. I'm working on a blanket with lots of cable/chart work, so the scarf is a great change of pace. Thanks for the great idea! (I know this comment isn't related to this post--I like being random!)
Sorry, that comment about "this too will pass" wasn't meant to be about your family but change in general. After I reread my comment, it didn't sound very good. Hate the shorter days here too. We are dark by 4:30 now. Hate it.
Change is hard no doubt. But new traditions can be fun too! Good for you for taking a breath and making the best out of a new situation.
And have I been doing post-scripts wrong this whole time? I thought it was post-script (PS), then post-post-script (PPS) and so forth as opposed to the PSS... as you do them. Is this a Canada-US difference or am I just wrong? Where's the wikipedia link....
Hey, I just wanted to pass on one of my families best christmas traditions, and I admit that I would really like it if you were to share it with your enormous audience to help get the idea out there. Its just something I feel strongly about. It doesnt require any commitments, or buying into any programs or giving anyone information or anything, and I think its a real win-win.
My family no longer buys a cut tree every year. A while ago we were taking the tree down and started to talk about how sad it is to see all those dead trees on the sidewalk, and while, yes, trees are biodegradable, its still not great. Instead we buy a pine tree, usually a Norfolk pine, from a nursery, put it on our porch for a while, then take it inside and decorate it, and then PLANT IT! So we have a whole grove of trees, each representing one christmas we have all spent together. Yes, it is more expensive that buying a cut tree, but think about the benefit to the planet! (Also you dont have that horrible couple of hours trying to wrestle with the tree stand, which NEVER works very well, and a prickly pine tree leaking sap all over everything, trying to make the damn thing stand up straight. We never quite managed it, so every year our tree looked like it had hit the egg nog too early.) On average trees absorb about 100 tonnes of CO2 emissions over their lifetime (remember that that figure varies wildly with the type of tree and its life span, so while a Norfolk pine is very small and thus absorbs less each year, its long life span makes it more 'competitive' with deciduous trees. Its the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare story. Disclaimer: Im not a scientist, this is just the result of my amateur research on the subject)
There are, of course, logistical problems, but I will share my solutions here if no one minds. First, the ground is frozen so the tree will need to stay in its pot till spring. Because my family has been doing this for a while we plan this in advance and dig the hole before the ground freezes, but if there is no hole the tree can happily stay on a porch, balcony, conservatory, whatever for the winter. I mean, its a tree, they like it outside. Inside is not usually recommended. (And just by the by, we sometimes let it sit on our porch with just the little white fairy lights on it and man is it cute!) If you have no yard or no good place to plant the tree consider keeping it as an ornamental plant on a balcony, or ask your landlord if it can be used to beautify the front of the building in the 'off season' and then keep using the tree every year. It can be part of the family! Imagine how cool it would be if that same living tree came back to spend each christmas with you? and some of them live practically forever and grow very very slowly. It could see generations of your family! You could name it! Alternatively a local school might appreciate the gift of a tree on their property, as landscaping is often not a priority on municipal constructions. Or a local nursing home, or even if a neighbor has recently lost a tree. I bet we can all think of someone who could benefit from a tree. And even if it dies...well...a dead tree is what we were all planning to have at the end of December anyway.
I seem to have written an essay in your comments section Steph, I hope you dont mind. I would be so happy if you shared this with your readers, as I would love to see the western world kill fewer trees this year.
Never mind...we're both right!
Wikipedia: "The Oxford English Dictionary lists PS both with and without full stops (PS/P.S.).
A "P.S.S." (Post-subscript) or "P.P.S." (Post-postscript) is sometimes used to allow the letter writer to add even more thoughts after the first postscript. To continue, a third postscript would be a P.P.P.S. and so on, although these additions are rarely used in practice and would probably be deemed poor style."
So I'm supposed to be on an internets moratorium until after my final exams are over. (Had two this week, have two more coming next week. The less said about them, the better.) But I could not stay away, nor could I refrain from comment. (Lucky you.)
It is my opinion that change, like enlightenment, is terrific in the abstract, but maddening and scary when it actually happens to you. I won't rabbit on about details; I'll just say that when you're pursuing expensive graduate education in a bad economy, Christmas As We Know It is pretty much not an option. Fortunately, there is a way around it, as you've sussed in your own superb fashion: you look deeply into the eyes of others, people you know and people you don't, and you give as much of yourself as you can. The rewards of doing this are manifest.
Of course I'm going to be a scoundrel here, and apologize for having to delay sending my check, and vow to send it as soon as my student loans clear, or as soon as I receive my pin-money paycheck, whichever comes first. But in the meantime, I can thank you for everything you give us, every day of the year. I can, and I do.
Gather your family with you on Boxing Day. Knit togther, and Helen will be there, smiling at you. Knit together, and hope that the hearts of those you love will rejoin and not drift apart. Knit together, and remember that as long as you share the love that all these people have shared with you in the words of your blog, that they can never die or be lost, because you have given us the gift of knowing about them. Knit together, and have Joe and the girls give you long, quiet hugs.
Even the best of us succumb to the darkness once in a while. Once you get your feet back under you, you'll no doubt come up with some great ideas for new family traditions to replace some of the old, and more great ideas (like KWB) for spreading the joy to people who really, really need it.
When I'm feeling a little blue, I acknowledge that the feeling is valid, and then I close my eyes and picture in my mind a photo I saw years ago in an article about AIDS in Africa of a tiny child sitting next to his mother's body, crying and completely alone. Horrible, horrible picture, but a constant reminder that I (and all of us in North America), are better off than most of the world's population, and that it is unconscionable for me to wallow in self-pity, no matter what the situation.
Not that you're wallowing. It just works for me. And on that note, I'm going to donate to DWB.
Stephanie, I really feel for you. That probably sounds trite, but I understand. This is our first Chritsmas without Grandma, and she loved it so. It's hard already. But, like you said, there are lots of good things about it too. I'm knitting a beautiful scarf for my best friend and one for my Mom, and socks for my Dad and sister, and my sister's first boyfriend is coming to stay with us for Christmas. Even better, where I work is closing at 3 PM Christmas Eve, instead of 8 PM, so I can go home early and make Christmas cookies with my family. Any bets on if they'll actually survive long enough to be frosted? :)
I totally understand how you are feeling. I'm going through a similar situation. My oldest son, age 26, moved out west and will not be home for Christmas for the first time; and our youngest, age 21, is off at college, and won't be back until 2 days before Christmas. My husband is leaving the country this weekend on business and won't be back until 8-9 days before Christmas. So getting in the holiday spirit, decorating, Christmas shopping and the like are going to be very lonely.....And recently my mom, who lives out-of-state, was intercepted and diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer's type, placed in assisted living and her trial contesting this matter is 9 days before Christmas for which I may be subpoened to appear necessitating a trip out-of-state just when my spouse would be coming home, unless the court puts it off again for the 4th time. So rather than have a pity party for myself, I splurged on a new warping board, and plan to resurrect my long neglected loom and do a little weaving in the evenings, and finish a sweater or two that are in progress. I'm thankful my husband and I both have jobs and a home--it's just a lonely home this year.
dude, I'm right there with you in not finding the merry in Christmas this year. This is the first year that my parents are living apart, my car's unavoidable repairs are going to twice what I had budgeted for them, and my list could go on. Thanks for the reminder that we are going to come out of the dark, even if we have to measure our progress in small increments.
Hi. I've only been reading your blog a few days, so I hope I'm not stepping on toes....
I've lived in Florida for almost 19 years and it's still not comfortable at Christmas. It's just me, Dad and the dogs while the 18 aunts/uncles, 32 first cousins and dunno how many second cousins are mostly around Rochester NY. So the best I could do was listen to Christmas carols while I decorate the tree like we did as kids and instead of making traditional foods, we embrace the freedom to experiment with new recipes. And we luxuriate in not having to dress up or even leave pajama. :)
Don't give in to the dark... It's sunny (and 5 o'clock) somewhere.
"big-girl panties"...this whole post pretty much sums up my feelings toward Christmas every year..too much has changed, too many traditions lost, it's not the same. I need to get me a pair of those big girl panties. Can I quote that?
Stephanie - I don't see how I could be more eloquent than the above posters, but I want to send you a cyber-hug anyway. Your post reminded me to be grateful for the blessings I have - which are many, and to perhaps focus a little less on what I don't - which is relatively insignificant.
Where's your happiness network?
Funny, I was going to suggest that the best way to get out of the holiday blues is to make them happier for someone else. Way to go!
Way to go, Steph--you've really inspired me. I know what it's like to feel tired, and old, and beyond wonder during Christmas. Hauling your emotions up by your bootstraps isn't easy--but knitters are better at it than anyone else I know. And a little bit of stress free knitting doesn't hurt.
Yeah, December 5th and I'm already feeling like I'm drowning. Traditions going by, getting the family together getting harder and harder. Sooooo! Make some new traditions! Homemade Marshmallows and Homemade Hot Cocoa mix for everyone! Have everyone over to YOUR house for Boxing Day! Nobody can replace your Aunt Helen, but you can make darn sure the tradition continues! OK, this might sound a bit weird, but how about visiting Aunt Helen's gravesite on Boxing Day and decorating it with her favorite stuff?
Losing the old traditions? Make some new ones! And let's face it, I bet there are a couple that could a good old-fashioned kick in the pants!
Our new tradition this year? The Boys/Men in the family are going to have to clean up after Christmas dinner! If you ain't cookin,' then you're cleanin'! The best new tradition ever!!
I'm going to have a solstice tree this year for the first time in 6 years. Five years ago solstice came 3 short months after my best friend was killed by a drunk driver. I was incapable of celebrating anything. Four years ago it came a few weeks after I got divorced. Life was weird and chaotic and not celebratory. The next three years were just weird. But this year I feel good. I decided it doesn't matter if I'm alone. I can still have a tree and decorate it.
All my old traditions are gone. All that's left is decorating my tree. So that's what I'll do. Maybe I can start some new traditions.
Try to look for the good in what you have, but accept that you have reason to grieve your losses. It's ok. It's normal. (hug)
We are roughly the same age, and this is the time in life when things start to change... Both my parents are gone now (for over 5 years), I have a husband and 2 middle school children. Every Christmas I have some thoughts about who and what I'm missing, then one of my kids says something like "Can we have pancakes for dinner on Christmas Eve like we did last year?" I realize that I am making traditions for my children just like my parents did for me.
I'm pretty wrapped up in being a good parent and a good business owner and sometimes forget these small things.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and make some wonderful memories to take with you to next year.
I read the first paragraph to my husband, and he said, "Are you sure you didn't write that yourself?" He would like to form a support group with your husband. Is Joe available?
Thanks for the nudge. It's great to see the Michael Jordan of knitting doing so much good!
I have no words of encouragement that haven't already been said. Only hugs. Long distance hugs. And a promise to buy you coffee next time I see you.
the problem isn't change.
You actually like change, and change all the time..
(from your underwear daily to your life.. your career, you house.)
what you don't like is change that is imposed upon you..
You can't rule the world (the universe!) and things change--with out your permission, with out your involvement..
this is where knitting (and yoga, and prayer, and...) come into your life.
Knitting, and yoga and prayer.. (and beer!) don't change thing (certain not back to the way they were) but they will change you.. and you will be better able to cope with the changes.
when i divorced (a very unhappy time, as you can guess) i knit a huge afghan.
i channeled my anger into knitting.. and 2 things happened.
1--i ended up with a large (54 by 72 inch) afghan.
(that's about 1.25 by 1.85 meters)
2--much (not all, but most) of my anger dissappered.
I still have the afghan, and i know it hold my anger. and because it does, i don't have too.. I am free of the anger.. and it does it beautifully.
as you knit, assign your anger, your sadness, you disappointments to specific items. Let them carry your anger. they will gladly do it, and no one will be wiser but you.
post script = ps
post post script = pps
post post post script = ppps, etc
and you need someone to bring you some cookies. I'm half tempted to send some to Lettuce Knit and have them hold the cookies for you.
I just went to the MSF website and set up an automatic monthly donation. I've been meaning to do it, and your post was just the motivation I needed to get it done.
I hope this makes someone feel better (beside you and me, which is a given). The other antidote when feeling down: hold a baby. You know you love it...
I feel your issues surrounding Christmas. It changes, everthing changes, it's the nature of things. For 14 years, I spent almost every Christmas with my inlaws (all of whom I adore!) then my X left me... the first Christmas was also my 40th birthday... it was pretty brutal let me tell you (almost as bad as the first Christmas after my Mom passed away). Fast forward 6 years, now I look forward to spending Christmas with my friend Karen and her family. It's not the same... but it's still Christmas! Also, my gift to my extended family for the last 2 years has been a donation to DWB/MSF, this year won't be any different. Keep your chin up, it will get better. Hugs, Marnie
Donation done. It's becoming a new Christmas tradition at my house. :)
Whether you're a Christian or not, I think it's good to think of the season in terms of Advent.
We are waiting.
We're waiting for that dark day, that day when the nighttime is so dark and so long, when the balance tips, and there is a breath, and we move again toward light. We're waiting for the way in which we light that darkness with candles and twinkling bulbs and fond warm bodies crowded close together.
It's not human nature to wait patiently. The waiting is long, and it wears out the heart.
The light returns anyway.
Hey, I hear ya about the family holidays changing . . . my 21-yo son moved from Michigan to Tucson, AZ, this year, and it was oh, so weird when he left after Thanksgiving . . . he's well and truly grown up and gone. And the sister-in-law and brother-in-law (and family) with whom we usually celebrate were off in England, celebrating with their daughter, son-in-law, and new grandchild. I thought I was prepared for this - but somehow, in some corner of my mind, I managed to ignore the fact that our fifteen-year-old Thanksgiving tradition (dinner with extended family) was ever going to change.
I'm imagining that things will be all loosey-goosey for a few years, and then when the kids settle down a bit, maybe the big family gatherings will return . . . or maybe we'll just do Something Completely Different, like go to a wonderful, warm sunny place and eat prawns on the beach, or something . . .
Stephanie, I feel very much your sorrow for so many traditions and persons that are not there any more. 30 years ago we left our country and family and Christmas with 60 people was changed to one with 3 (us and our son) and has been since. We made new traditions, we created joy at being together, safe and healthy and grateful. We can not give presents to our families, instead we give to the children that need a smile at this time, and so on. Maybe you can became your aunt and have the family gathering in your house from now on. I would love to be there if you can say I am family, LOL. Have a wonderful time with your beautiful family and friends. Now I am off to donate for the Doctors.
I hear this post. I have a lot of upheaval going on in my own universe at the moment. It really sucks, doesn't it? Thanks for relinking to the Return of the Light post. Once I have my numbers straight for the remainder of the month I will be doing my best to shed a little light.
And...whatever you do for Boxing Day, there's thousands of us who will be thinking of Helen and Don. So that's a gift you gave to them. Little bits of light shed all over the place. Hopefully we can shine a little back at you.
Stay warm, Steph.
I totally understand your Christmas feelings this year. This will be the first year my 27-year old son will not be home for Christmas. I can accept it, but it is hard on his 29-year old sister (not for the reasons you would expect -- he has apparanetly won the race to "independence" and she's hopelessly competitive). We will carry on and celebrate our traditions. I mailed him some of the family ornaments. We will still make Christmas cookies, and my daughter's boyfriend will visit. I won't get any extra time off from work, so family time will be prized. Thanks for your post; it helped me focus on making this Christmas special, as each one can be in its own way. Family traditions must evolve, after all.
And don't forget - there's a Christmas every year. Some may be more bittersweet than others, but there will be more to celebrate, and there will be joy again.
Ya know....what message is the downer stuff sending to those who love you and are around you? Be happy for their part in your life and have a good time!!!
Last year I sent in my Christmas money and I'll do it again this year.
Also, rethinking living in Canada for a few years. Sunset at 4PM? Not my cup of tea.
Check out these cool knit things:
I just found this on etsy. It's no my shop and I don't know the artist. I just think they are the coolest ever. :)
Good for you, Stephanie, for facing this head-on, and still early in the season. It will make a big difference for the two girls at home, and for the whole house, including you.
It's a good thing to ponder -- new traditions. Things that encompass the season, the family, the return of light and warmth, and a celebration of life in the middle of the darkest times.
I am sure totaling the amount given by Knitters Without Borders will be a spark to ignite the flame of purpose.
The best thing about Christmas right now is waiting to see my Girly's face Christmas morning.
Also, at church we have a cookie exchange but rather than bring cookies to exchange with each other, we bring them to put into tins to hand out to people who are unable to get out, having a rough Christmas or just don't have anyone to share Christmas with this or any year. We also have a Sharing Tree. We covered it with tags that have either a food or gift item written on it then we choose a tag or two and buy the items on it. Once we hit the shipping date, all the items will go into boxes and be sent to a huge family (about 20 people in one three room "house") on one of the Northern reserves.
Knowing that there are people out there who may be having a crappier Christmas than mine and that I can in some way help improve theirs often makes my Christmas look a little better.
Although that doesn't mean I am not entitled to one (or three) days of whinging about mine.
Have you SEEN the new KWB total?? Go back and look.
That's a whole lotta Christmas cheer.
Sending good thoughts your family's way. I'm off to make a donation to KWB.
What you need is a three hour jr. high band/orchestra holiday concert.
I have also lost some key people in my life right around the Christmas season. Christmas for me alternates between being sucky and missing them, and being happy watching my daughter enjoy things as only a little one can at Christmas. This year we do have a new member in our family (my brother is engaged) and I am trying to focus on being happy about that rather than sad about everything else. I am going to donate, and then I am going to start some socks!
Hun, I'll fly up to see you this Christmas. You can take this new knitter by the hand and help her through her first pair of socks, get her addicted to spinning, and play in the yarn together. I will gladly sacrifice my crazy dysfunctional holiday season for you!
Uh. Honey? Everything you are knitting is brown. Brown is undoubtedly one of the loveliest colours, I'll grant you that. And you seem to have found two excellent examples of that loveliness. But in terms of spicing up the days of least sunlight, I might recommend something with less of a "not-coming-back-to-obvious-vitality-for-several-months" shade.
Oh my dear, I am sending you cyber hugs and my understanding. I can't say I understand exactly how you feel, but in my own way I too have a difficult time with the holidays. My family is smaller by many members as well and it never is the same again is it? If it wasn't for my kids I'd be off sitting on some beach somewhere warm and not rainy sipping frilly fru fru drinks on the holidays. I do the holidays for them.
May you find peace during these days.
One of my favorite quotes in the whole world is from the Talmud:
“There are stars whose light only reaches the earth long after they have fallen apart. There are people who's remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow.”
It's OK to feel sorrow near Christmas. The whole Christmas "Must be happy, happy, happy!" thing drives me nuts.
I've found that when I'm in my crummiest of crummy moods, doing something nice for someone else cheers me up. Good for you, chicky, pulling yourself together.
(I'm sorry about your brother and his wife. There seems to be a marriage plague going around. I have quite a few friends who are having difficulties as well. It's quite upsetting. What do you think it is?)
My I humbly suggest you get your current wonder publicist to arrange a speaking engagement (for you and your family, of course) in Spain near your family? Then you could all have a Spanish holiday. Sometimes a clean break is best.
Small world. My partner, who grew up in Dubai, went to school with the artist who does the knitting paintings.
Went there, did that. Thanks for the reminder. MSF is good people.
Thank you so much for bringing back Knitters Without Borders! I've thought of you and your efforts over the past year, because I see MSF in action here in Kenya. Many of the NGOs who work in Africa's hot spots (Sudan, Somalia, etc.) use Nairobi as their base, so when we had our upheaval and violence last January, everybody was right here and I often saw MSF on the news working among the worst of it. They also got in trouble with the government about mid-year for calling a spade a spade -- in other words, human rights abuses committed by the army are still human rights abuses -- and got themselves kicked out of the Mt. Elgon region for their efforts. They not only do their doctoring stuff, but they serve as a watchdog and voice for those who often don't have a voice due to their own government being the problem. After living here for a year and a half, I value organizations like MSF so much more!
Oh, and if you do decide you need a concert (RE Rams' comment), my band concerts are next week Tuesday and Wednesday, complete with nine year olds who have played their instruments for three months performing "Jingle Bells" and "Ode to Joy". Feel free to drop by!
You know.... it looks almost purple to me. X_X I'm clearly going nuts or something.
I have been thinking recently of your Aunt Helen and how you would feel her loss keenly this holiday. But perhaps the way to honour her memory is to take up the reins and host the Boxing Day event. You know;
"To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high."
Just a thought...
My uncle died on halloween, and about a week ago I realized that meant that I wasn't going to get a tin of Christmas cookies this year. Or ever again. This both pisses me off and drives me to tears, and I'm trying really hard not to dwell on it. Instead, I am enjoying my mother teaching me to make them myself. I, like you, do not handle change well.
We can do it.
The sock and hat are going to be lovely. They are a great combination of stitch and yarn.
Don't try too hard to be all things for all people this season. Most of all, please yourself, and everything else will fall into place.
Hugs for a happy weekend!
Aw, I feel ya. This first Christmas on our own out on the cold prairies is going to be rough but you're right about forging your own traditions.
When I can see again (tears) I will make a donation in my fathers name. He passed away in August and I don't know how to have christmas without him.
traditions change. unfortunately. i wont' ever get a christmas card from my grandma with a $5 check, that i'll use to buy a book, or some small trinkets for my kids. I won't hear my dad bellow HO HO HO at the top of his prodigious lungs (boy, that man could yell).
but i have the memories. i wake up on christmas morning, and i hear my dad. i look in themail, and i see grandma's cards.
it's what i do to get by
we have so much to be thankful for!
Thank you for restarting KWB - because of your posts about it, I sent several donations and then started an automatic donation program, and every month when I see the bill it makes me feel wonderful, and grateful to you.
Your "electronic family" is so much bigger than you know, and we all hurt for you this difficult year. Although it hurts right now, joy does come back. Things won't ever be the same, but they can be wonderful again.
Now, hugs to you, and go take a walk! Exercise really, really helps.
Like going to Sunday church at the Universalist Unitarian Church, you have, in this post, just given me exactly what I needed. I read every word. I hope that you don't dwell too too much on the should, (that came right in the middle. The word seemed to be like a see-saw.)I'm trying to get most of the "ould" words out of my vocabulary. Shoulder, boulder, and mould are still there, though, if they are sturdy, climbable or Roquefort-respectively, that is.
Thank you,(bowing deeply)
Your post made me think of one of my favorite Christmas songs. This time of year can be so bleak that I love picturing the roses and sunlight:
NIGHT OF SILENCE
by Daniel Kantor
"Cold are the people, Winter of life, We tremble in shadows this cold endless night, Frozen in the snow lie roses sleeping, Flowers that will echo the sunrise, Fire of hope is our only warmth, Weary, its flame will be dying soon.
Voice in the distance, call in the night, On wind you enfold us you speak of the light, Gentle on the ear you whisper softly, Rumors of a dawn so embracing, Breathless love awaits darkened souls, Soon will we know of the morning."
There is a tremendous amount of pressure this time of year to feel jolly. And that can make it really hard and lonely for people who are rightfully not in a jolly place at the moment. At this time of year, I can't help grieving for loved ones who have passed, But once the sharp pain subsides a little, I see that I am giving them their due. Sometimes it is difficult to find peace in the hurry of ths season. I hope you can find the time and space to breathe deeply and be at peace with all the changes.
For the second year in a row, I'm out of a job at Christmas (they canceled my show). But this year especially there are people way worse off than we are, and the only way I know how to get joy is to give it.
Count me in lady.
Well I'll share my joy. It's my first christmas with my seven month old. We're trying on a few traditions, seeing what works. In my giant god-family, if you do something one year it then becomes a tradition. I love the spontaneity.
Christmas, and all celebrations, all of making a life, is women's work. It is up to us to somehow make it happen. Sometimes we don't feel up to it, as I don't just now. Husband's depressed and acting a bit crazy and I'm tired of trying to make it all work and make it all okay. So your post touches me.
And--I wish I could find that traditional stitch pattern of sailor's rib.
O v e r $ 5 0 0 , 0 0 0 ! ! !
Yay! I've been itching to know what the total's up to. You have to set a goal of a million! We can do it, no worries.
I hope your efforts at re-focusing energy and attention to the joyous aspects of the holiday season available to you yields a harvest of blessings.
Thank you for sharing your heart, Ms. McPhee--you have lightened mine. I don't know why it is so hard to balance the good stuff with the sadness at Christmas; maybe it has to do with becoming a real grownup? I want to share the encouraging thought that has helped me through many turbulent holidays, when my husband and I were too poor and too far from family to even think of visiting. One of the first food writers in the U.S. was a woman who traveled everywhere interviewing chefs and cooks and grandmas, sorry I can't remember her name; but she responded when asked what kept her going, that her mother always told her, "Never grow a wishbone when you really need a backbone." You have backbone to spare. Thank you for sharing with all of us, and for the important reminders that it is the giving more than the receiving that make a wonderful Christmas. It is also my favorite knitting season...
Stephanie, I'm so sorry all these sad things have happened in your family lately. How like you to turn it around and use it to help others.
If I may presume, I don't think you will be able to fix your holidays this year. I wouldn't even try. Bereavement takes time. Maybe think of this season as a chance to remember, to say goodbye to Grandma Helen and the things that have changed and won't change back. Then let the gradual rebuilding of tradition take whatever time it will.
(The Jewish tradition has a mourning period of a year, and that seems about right.)
Cyber hugs and sympathies.
I know what you mean. There seems to be something about our age--our parent's generation is moving on and the kids have the audacity to have a life of there own. I haven't figured out how to play this role yet either, but I did learn to scuba dive this year. Relax. Enjoy. Happy Christmas to you and yours.
Oh Stephanie... new traditions can be a little tough to embrace. But one thing that struck me really hard was this - you have at least one more hour of daylight than we do. That's something to be happy about! In Seinäjoki, Finland, the sun rises at 9.40 am and sets again around 3 p.m. That is, if the clouds let the sun peek through...
Sending big hugs your way Stephanie. I feel your pain.
I have nothing wise or insightful to say, but I think it's all beenn said in the comments. What a wonderful bunch of people.
Sorry you're going through such a tough December. It's good that you are turning your thoughts and efforts to a wonderful cause. I'm sure this Boxing Day will be difficult, as will this entire season. How you and Joe deal with changes--and the ache of missing loved ones at the holidays--will help your daughters when they reach this period in their own lives. From you they are learning to keep going, look outwards, help others, set up new traditions for special days. We who read your blog know you'll get through this, we're just sorry it's so hard.
I read your post and thought that is exactly how I feel. My other half's mother died 6 weeks ago, and lots of the friends we usually have over are out of town. So I'm just not feeling it this year. AND I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I love everything about it. You've inspired me to have a go. Maybe just a sock sized christmas this year rather than a shawl-sized christmas- small but beautifully formed.
Okay I'm off to the MSF/Return of the light. You don't have to tell me twice (actually you do, but that's my problem). I hear you too on the lack of light, it starts getting dark at 3pm here.
Ah. At least your life is real. We all have ups and downs. The downs are there to show us to appreciate the true ups.
I really understand the sentiment here. While I have not lost anyone, a lot of people I know have decided that they don't need to hang out and things like that. It makes it hard to keep the spirits up when people are not being joyful.
My parents had a hard time with our first Christmas without all the kids living at home--- it was also the year we found out my dad was battling cancer and my mom,emphysema. My mom went into a funk and we had lost Nana and Grampy that year... but we started NEW traditions that year. My boyfriend and I had Christmas Day dinner at OUR house (mom= no cook, no clean) and we did Eve at my parents' but all of us kids brought the food and did the pre-clean for the party. And then we stayed up way too late (after everyone left), laughing and opening presents and laughing some more. The other day, out with my mom, she was telling someone about her 'new Christmas' and how she will still miss the little ones with their stockings, it's kind of nice to have someone else worry about dinner, the bird and the clean-up! Embrace whatever new tradition you have this year. Is it drinking hot cocoa with your girls as the clock passes midnight? Or actually having an evening all to yourself with Joe to go watch carolers or go skating, like you did when you were a young couple?
I've been meaning to send Doctors without Borders something so I just did - in honor of all knitters and your Aunt Helen. Next year they will be set up for a monthly gift.
You're alive and can change - embrace the new traditions this year and weave them with the old.
Having lost my dear husband this past Feb. of 08 I can so relate to changes and things not being the same or the way they should be,but survive it we must and you are going to too like it or not . These holiday celebrations can be the happiest or the saddest of times for many of us and it is up to US to decide which way we want to make it. You our dear Stephanie have made your decision to make it a good one and help others even less fortunate. Good for you , what a great roll model you are for your girls. All the best , one day at a time --this too shall pass.
Oh Harlot, I feel you pain in loss of dear family members. In late summer of the year I was married my father lost two brothers and my mother lost her Mother....Christmas was hard. Dad felt loss deeply. At dinner he remembered the Absent Ones, of course they will never be forgotten, but to take time to mention them helps everyone thru the loss.You build the spirit in your family...so you really have to work at it this year...turn on the music, get some delicous cooking smells going, put out a few decorations each day, and see a friend for a lunch treat for yourself.It will work wonders for your spirit. Merry planning.
You are a comfort and an inspiration to us all. I am horrified that we may have exported Rovian tactics. When people are so sure they are right, and wish to impose their idea of right on all of us, I see the parellels to the fanatics we fight in other countries.
But, yes, the light will return. Someone in the comments suggested they will try harder to shed a little light. Thank you...me, too. I have warmth and food and family and friends and inspiration from other like you. I am wealthy.
wow! Lots of wisdom in these comments.
I especially liked Helen's post about channeling your feelings into your knitting and letting it hold them for you. Probably all serious knitters do this to some extent but doing it consciously is so much more powerful.
Every December I re-read Hundred Dollar Christmas by Bill McKibbben. Its a quick reminder of what's important in this holiday.
Obviously, the big-girl panties do not fit under the woosie-pants. How about boxing day at Aunt Stephanie's for a new tradition? Megan could show off her pretty new room and it wouldn't really matter how much snow is piled up outside your fancy thermal paned dining room window. As for me, I'm still struggling to get my yarn stash out of the Christmas tree corner....never did succeed last year, but hope springs eternal.
Oh, and in the process of cleaning out the corner I expect to find some instant karma type gifts. Just let me know where to send 'em.
And those paintings? Sold out today. Dude, you should get a commission.
Thanks for this post. It really touched me after a rough afternoon. I had been feeling down about the holiday's too, for many reasons. As soon as I deposit my paycheck I'm going to make a donation.
I voted hope it helps:)I miss my son and grandson and friends and family this time of year so Iam knitting gifts for a few of them and Iam grateful for my hubby and our two youngest girls Alora 4 years old and Athena 2 years old who we just successfully potty trained.I have 2 adult children and 2 toddlers my oldest daughter is coming to visit after Christmas.We moved away from our family 1.5 years ago so it makes the holidays a little lonely but hubby and I are splitting the christmas knitting list and sitting together at night to knit and it is fun knitting our loved ones back home gifts.((((Hugs)))Darcy
Yes, donation helps. It is never the same, and part of the problem for me has always been comparing real Christmas to the soft-edged composite memories of "perfect" ones in the past. My daughter & her family (with our almost 6 yr old twin grandsons) have emigrated to New Zealand (I'm in NC), & this is our first Christmas alone since the kids were born. My seasonal psychobiology is always inclined to seek a deep cave for 3 months; never do it, but (like the menstrual hut idea) it's an appealing thought.
Breathe and get outdoors.
Thank you Stephanie. You still speak for me.
You've got the right idea, missy! The best way to feel better is to help someone else.
My girl scout troop is making and serving dinner at a women's homeless shelter this evening. Every year, the girls are boisterous while cooking, polite while serving, and absolutely thoughtful on the way home.
And it's a win/win/win. The ladies get fed, the girls have their focus directed away from toy acquisition, and I get a slap upside the head to get over myself and my holiday blues.
Yes! As I began reading your post, I thought to myself, "She needs to do what I do when holiday blues hit, and re-read The Return of the Light". Of course, you were way ahead of me on that! That piece has a permanent spot on my hard drive and in my heart. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me (and KWB) over the years.
Do feel for you - we had a similar sea-change in my family a few years ago when everyone started moving away and acquiring in-laws, and having children, and the last of the older generation disappeared, and all of a sudden we didn't know what shape Christmas should be.
Are there things you've wanted to do at Christmas but haven't, and which would be possible with a smaller number of people? We've done things like go out to the theatre or for a meal, which we'd never have done with a bigger group, or pile into the car on Boxing Day for a walk...
I do the same thing when stressing. First we have to admit what we do - and you've gotten there. That next step is a real bi##ch, though. Actually doing something about it. I'm having a bit of trouble there, myself.
I heartily second Presbytera's thoughts. As well as the advice from others to not fight the dark & sad times, but to acknowledge that they, too, are part of life. That said, you've remembered one method of gently moving away from the sadder bits ... and that's doing something good for others. Bravo! I'll be heading over to the donation site in just a tick. Thank you, as always, for being candid and real, for sharing the sad and the dark times along with the wonderful and hilarious times in your life. You give the gift of honesty to the multitude of us blog/book readers. Knit on, friend.
"Knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either" - Elizabeth Zimmermann from Knitting Without Tears p. 2. It is hard to change some of the lovely traditions of Christmas. But remember, Christmas is about love and that remains - for those with us today, for the ones who have gone on, and for the new lives to come. Hold Janine and Aunt Helen in your heart. Their work here is done, but their spirits live on.
I know sort of how you feel. Last year I reunited with my daughter and family after a separation of 16 years. We spent Christmas together and it was wonderful. This year however, she and her family have moved to Winnipeg and they won't be coming for Christmas. I am trying to be positive and adjust, but it's rough. I'm springing for a webcam so I can contact them more often and I will spend Christmas with the rest of my family. Merry Christmas Stephanie and all the best for you and your family.
I miscarried a baby (three months along)on Thanksgiving Day few years ago. I laid in bed for a week and sobbed. I didn't work. I didn't go out. I cancelled Christmas. My husband told me I didn't really have the power to do that. I told him to go to hell.All my hopes and dreams were dead with my child and I did not know how the world was functioning, as I could not.
I somehow summoned the energy to offer Christmas spirit through gifts ordered off the internet. I made it through the holidays but more was to come my way. Months later I buried my lifelong best friend.
My friend Bill was a baker and he taught me everything he knew. Each time I bake a batch of cookies I thank him for his many gifts to me. I think this year I will host a holiday sugar cookie decorating party in his honor. (I like sugar cookies better than gingerbread. )
I know I'll find some money for MSF. Maybe I can get people to make donations instead of giving me some mass produced item I don't want. You are on to another splendid idea to get us out of our self pity and on towarsd helping others. I love you for your generous spirit. Even when you might not feel so happy inside.
I can't read your post past scanning the first few sentences - its all too familiar - like looking in a mirror. I bought a CD of music by the Rat Pack from a clearance bin at Chapters - Im listening to it and focusing on its fun cheeky quality and its utter disconnection from "stuff" and the incredible darkness these days in T.O.
I feel your pain. Things have changed so much in the last 10 years, with my mother gone and the kids all grown up, that sometimes it feels like just another day with a plastic tree in the corner -- except on just a normal day I am not expected to provide bribes and decorated cookies. I think feeling guilty for being bummed out while everyone tells you that you're supposed to be full of cheer is worse than just feeling bummed out.
These must be the reasons that Christmas/New Year's comes at the darkest time of year. As you can tell, Stephanie, many of your readers have shared in the darkness of the "Absent Ones" at the holidays.
Sometimes, being a responsible adult really sucks!
What gives you joy at the holidays? What do you enjoy? Then, put on your "big girl panties" and create your new traditions!
I have a hard time decorating after the dissolution of the family through death and illness. My husband objects to "holiday goodies" as, despite losing 70 lbs., he and food still have an on-going battle.
I try to do more on religious traditions as that helps ease me through the year. Also, my Dad always carted us off to Colonial Williamsburg to look at decorations and take part in some of the Colonial festiviites. So, I try to at least walk down the Duke of Gloucester Street there and look at the decorations.
And, like most of the people reading this, I like to craft items through the holiday. This year, due to the state of the economy, that is what I am relying on for all my Christmas gifts.
Try not to dwell on what once was...reach out and grasp what could be.
And we all love you and your family, Steph, and wish you the best through the holidays and everyday.
Just made a DWB donation the other day when someone called. Does that count?
The only socks I knit are my own plain vanilla pattern with a stitch pattern crammed on to it. No, I mean carefully planned to fit beautifully on it. : )
Coming from a family that has no regard for creating traditions, I envy you! Definitely start your own! I will probably over compensate and end up with children grumbling about the tree trimming, snowman contest, Christmas caroling, chestnut roasting, Egg nog sipping...,
I'm sorry you're feeling down. Somehow, the holidays have a way of magnifying our losses and it can be hard to stay focused on all the good things.
I adore your socks. Just love them beyond words. So much so that I think I shall run out to the lys and see if I can score that colorway. I'm guessing I can google for the rib? Or will you share? I wouldn't mind a new Stephanie Sock Pattern to while away the ballet mama hours while my young 'un has her final Nutcracker Ballet rehearsals!
How about a new tradition of a movie and Chinese food (some very good vegetarian places in downtown Toronto) on Boxing Day?
[It seems to work for various non-Christian folks on the 25th.]
Thanks for all of your work on KWB - yarn making a difference yet again!
Having been through various permutations of Christmas over the years - living far from family, moving back, people here/not here, people living and gone - I would suggest this in regard to your Aunt Helen (by the way, if I'd ever had a daughter, she was to be named Helen, as *everyone* has an Aunt Helen, right? And *everyone's* Aunt Helen is the absolute best) that maybe this is the year you could pick up the Boxing Day baton...and begin a new tradition where all and sundry come to Aunt Stephanie's house on Boxing Day...and on that day, fill their heads with all the things Aunt Helen did to make the day special so that she is remembered and they have the same good memories, thanks to you, going forward.
Just a thought. Perhaps someone's already made the comment. All the best to you and yours, in any case.
I hear you sistah. There are holes in our holidays too, no family near us and two weeks ago I became a member of the 1/2 million unemployed club. However, I'm a glass half full kinda gal like you and we find the joy in the love we have for our small family and our friends. They are all that matter in this world. I'm doing a crafty holiday and hitting the stash for knitted gifts. I am going to dig down and contribute to MSF because it's too important a cause and I know that my contribution does make a difference.
Thank you for letting me know I am not alone in these thoughts this year. I am also have the same delima about Christmas. But like you I am going find the joy in the holidays in ohter ways. So here is to new traditions and wonderful memories. Have a wonderful Christmas and Boxing Day!!
I am so ready for this - and with the upcoming Bohus exhibit, your timing couldn't be better from my point of view.
Will I see you in Minneapolis on January 23rd?
Four years ago, my grandfather and my uncle both died during the week in between Christmas and New Years. It was a hard time for everyone in the family, but since then, we've done our best to come up with new family traditions and jokes and stories. They don't fill the gaps, but they've created new things to look forward to. So, I second Presbytera's advice, and will go and reread your MSF post again (mainly because it will make me feel guilty and prod me into giving more).
But, *hugs* for you and Ian and Alison and Uncle Don and anyone else who might be a little down right now.
Several of the people I've been closest to in my life are gone now, and I understand how it's so hard to imagine a world without them in it. But we have to allow ourselves the luxury to grieve -- but also to remember them and celebrate how they touched our lives. Even when the pain recedes to a more manageable level, the memories are still there as the best tribute of all to those we've lost.
And then, as you've once again reminded us, there's such power in turning our personal grief into the act of giving to others. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to us, your readers, even during one of your dark times. Don't underestimate your own strength, even when you're not sure you have any -- by putting on your "big girl panties," you've once again moved so many people around the world to reach out and help others. A million dollars? That will only be a drop in the bucket before you're done!
Very pretty socks and hat can you give us the pattern please please? Brightest blessings and remember the positives this christmas.
I have definitely been in the sad space off and on for years. Started when my mom died suddenly a week before Christmas, which was her favorite time of year. I was 31 and pregnant with my first son. I find being able to acknowledge the people and traditions past helps with sharing lots of stories, trying not to be overbusy, and appreciating the husband's patience with you. Also seeing really silly Christmas movies, and being around kiddos is always good for the soul.
Haven't you heard? Boxing Day is at your house and you will play Twister.
big girl panties, in my experience, don't do much for holiday cheer. try the little bitty lacy ones.
Steph - I'm with you, change isn't always something we look forward to, especially when it seems so unexpected or unnecessary. However, in reading all of the comments it really triggered something in me and reinforced what Christmas means to me. Almost 14 years ago we lost my Mom to cancer just 4 days before Christmas, needless to say the holiday, at least in our hearts, has never been the same. We miss her terribly because anyone who knew my Mom, knew that she was Christmas in the truest sense of the word. Because of that loss, and with each passing year, I continued each season to realize that for me Christmas is not about the gifts, lights or decorations, but simply about the birth of a baby that promised me my salvation and the gift that in time I will not only see my Mom but all of my loved ones that share in that same promise. In the mean time I cherish the time I have with those I love regardless of the gifts, decorations or lights and know that those who I have lost are celebrating in that same babies birth. For you and your loved ones I pray for blessings, peace and joy during the holiday season and rest assured regardless of where your loved ones are, they are still celebrating with you. May peace and goodwill be showered down on your family and loved ones this holiday season.
Your words are me--Sensitive, resistant to change and I like to be right. And I can tell you one fella who would agree that I gather my evidence to prove my point. Thank you for making me not feel alone, and as my fella told me recently, "Try to be kinder with your words."
When our family underwent major change - I volunteer with the folks at a Seniors Assisted Living place - teaching Knit & Crochet.
I go there on Christmas and chat with the residents and fix knitting errors for them that day if they have their tote bags handy (which I now have them all doing).
It is like giving your self a gift seeing happiness in others.
May I ask you a question? Why are you celebrating Christmas?
The Christmas season is the anticipation and celebration of the birth of Jesus. The joy of Christmas is the love of God, shown to us in His gift of His Son Jesus-the Light of the world. If our happiness depends on our ability to provide or experience "Christmas" we have missed the point. We will fail, as this is an empty activity apart from God. God is the author of Christmas.
The true meaning of Christmas is great joy, independent of our personal circumstances. Man pursues happiness; God gives us joy.
May the joy and peace of Christ be with you, Geni
For both my family and my husband's the holidays are all about family. That can make family changes even harder.
After a bunch of changes this last year, including moving my mother into a house I own and have furnished so she could divest herself of stuff, cash in her antiques collection, and not have to worry about utility bills, we're also changing a bunch of traditions. Traditionally we draw names for gift giving among the adult couples and provide wishlists to minimize the work and maximize the seasonally spirit. In the spirit of not accumulating more stuff, my mother prompted us to exchange charitable donations rather than gifts this year. The charities need it and we don't. DWB is my choice so I'll update that and my own contributions post Christmas. Seeing the new totals definitely adds to the spirit.
I hope you find many new pleasures this season and remember the old ones and those you miss with fondness rather than sadness. Hope and change, hope and change.
Not spoken in a particularly Christian spirit. This wasn't about not being able to afford a VCR -- this was about the ramifications and pain of loving others as yourself and missing the opportunity to bask in the reflection and magnification of that love. If Christ taught us anything it was that God's love is not abstract, that we learn it and model it for one another. As the physical light of the year fades it's maybe a better manifestation of faith to reach out in warmth, rather than to attempt to exclude. If he dined with publicans and sinners I'd be loathe to be sure he doesn't dance with Harlots.
(Sorry KarenJo -- not you.)
Ok, it's my turn to make a donation, too.
My words of wisdom: your 'age' is directly related to your resistance to change.
So you think it's dark in Toronto? Remember how you liked the midnight sun in Alaska? Well, now it's as dark now as it was light then. We cheer ourselves up on Boxing Day by making chocolate fondue!
I would be very interested in seeing the crown decreases on your hat. I recently knit a 2x2 ribbed hat, and it took me 5 tries to work out decreases that I found tolerable. My standard (from Knitting Rules) swirl didn't look right.
Yup, with you on the oversensitivity and not getting-over-it-ness. It's a bugger when you realise you are doing it and are the author of your own misery (and that pulling yourself together moment arrives) but you are right, it feels better when you make a start. I've been having a bit of a sulk, and I'm not entirely over it yet, but you did make me smile, so a step in the right direction :)
I've been giving money to a local homeless shelter, though I also have huge respect for MSF. I need to stop being scared about my current employment prospects and give a bit to others.
Hoorah for the Harlot!
I just spent half the day, knitting four mittens, from way back in the thrum days of your, only to realize , I lost a six straight, somewhere, in the house, gonner no where to be found, (yes I cleaned to search) its just a boyle and not expensive , but I had not even used it yet lol this is the part where you get to mock, i knitted on and on, and forgot to thrum, so lol lets thrum now, as an after thought, lol wink wink, Iam not giving up, even if its all crap lol just knitting for the love I get , when they are gifted, and gratefully recieved. awe-fa-king beautiful, where is that purple 14 in sucker hiding?
As one of those people who is just happy that Christmas gets here, but married to one that absolutely hates "the change" (that's what we call it when we're referring to that thing he hates), thanks. Thanks for making an attempt to put your own joy back into the holiday. It will spread.
I want to squeeze that Corriedale hat. That yarn just looks squooshy. I spent five minutes this morning squishing some leftover Tiny Toes over and over . . . . It cheers me.
Last time I was able to increase my monthly donation; I can't do that this year, but will make a modest year-end donation.
Let me offer a holiday tradition we've lost: Mom and I used to stay up way late Christmas Eve finishing the Christmas wrapping. Until the year we polished off not one, but TWO bottles of Bailey's Irish Cream. There are so many real and painful losses; I like also to remember this one and smile.
I'll be working Christmas Day, because we have patients in the hospital every day. But Christmas Eve I will be at the midnight service, singing about the ram with the curly horn/who gave Him my wool to keep him warm...
$50 in weak US dollars committed. Gladly. With happy heart. Wish I could do wayyyyyyyyyy more. You rock Stephanie. You put the Christmas spirit back in my heart.
You are amaaaaaazing - having raised over Half a Million dollars for MSF
That must make you feel the good Christmas vibes.
I too have missing family members and a very changed family home to return to this year. As family we survived this same issue last year and managed to keep going onwards - that is life after all.
I wish you an your family joy and love.
Big girl panties!! hahahhahahahah! In my world, they're not bikini's or thongs! btw, Elizbeth already mentioned the 'radical knitter' who couldn't cross the border (Colbert Report). When I saw it, I immediately thought of the harlot being the richer for investigating!
Hey, Rams? Have I mentioned recently how much I adore you?
This is interesting and will cheer anyone up. High Desert Gallery in Sisters Oregon. If you don't know him Paul Alan Bennett, he does all his paintings in little tiny painted knit stitches. Also look for his name in the OPB program Oregon Art Beat. I really appreciate your blog. I read it all the time and learn mostly about knitting, but get a little Canadian history, family buzz that sounds just like my family, sock ideas of course. Thank you so so much.
Dear Steph. We love you. It's hard to lose people and harder at holidays. It's hard to lose traditions. We are here if you need us.
I am always around, if you need an ear. I've been told I'm a decent listener. Kathleen Bruce, in Vermont.
I haven't been reading your blog for long and I understand the importance of Aunt Helen's on Boxing Day and how sad losing this tradition makes you, but how about you become the new "Aunt Helen" and everyone comes to your house on Boxing Day?! Surely , there was a time in Aunt Helen's life when she took up the Boxing Day tradition from an older family member; maybe it is your turn, now. And one day, someone will continue the tradition when you are gone or unable.
@Kristina Sullivan (December 6, 2:23 a.m.): That food writer was Clementine Paddleford, who is one of my foodwriting heroes. Your quote lit me up like a Christmas tree -- I *love* finding other Clem fans. Many thanks! :)
Yup. One of my good good friends lost her mother last summer. I know the pain of that first Christmas without your momma. (Count that as every Christmas!)
So strike up a match. light a candle.
I am knitting again after a 12-week recovery from hand surgery. That's real light in my life.
I wear my Tricoteuses sans frontieres pin with pride. Hang in, gal!
Dear Harlot, My farther died 15 years ago, and I know that I will always miss himm particularly in December (his birthday was on the 8th dec), the year before he died I Knitted him a big aran jumper, which he really loved and wore all the time.After thr funeral I wrapped the jumper up and took it home with me, now every christmas morning I take it out of the cupboard and look at it( and manybe hug it a little), I remeber the look of pride and happiness the first time he put it on(and it fitted just the way he liked),and you know, suddenly he does'nt feel so very far away. What I mean by telling you all this, is that when we are blessed with good times, and good people, it will never last forever, it will always come to an end. But we still have the memories, and while they may not be quite as good, they DO last forever, the people that we love and the good times we share can be held in our hearts for our whole lives.
P.S do I tell you about my donation in UK pounds or do tou want me to convert into CAN dollars
Whoops. I meant Aunt Helen, not Grandma. Serves me right for trying to sound advice-y.
Oh, and the socks look like dark chocolate to me.
This is the first year I'm not going 'home' to my traditions and my family. I sooo understand what you are feeling and I too am struggling to find new traditions. Finding the Spirit of Christmas is a big goal this year, so I'm sharing a link to heifer.org's 'knitting basket' in case anyone wants to help less fortunate knitters. My mom has given me some sort of gift to this group the past few years. Last year when I decided I was becoming a knitter, it was a sheep. (And for the non-knitters in your life, they have lots of other lovely options.)http://www.heifer.org/site/c.edJRKQNiFiG/b.2699397/
Two things to say this morning. First "Bark" is not as good a name for that color as either one of your choices. Second, I too am having holiday issues with family and it's comforting to know that others do as well. I too will soldier on and find new ways to be happy and balanced. Now, where's my yoga dvd?
Going to church, especially at this time of year, should help to ground you and bring you back to the spirit of the season.
As I sat in church last night, I was feeling guilty that I hadn't even given any thought to what I was going to do for those in need during this season of giving; just trying to figure out what to do for MY family. Your blog helped me realize what I needed to do. I've made my donation to Doctors Without Borders.
Not having those whom you love with you at Christmastime is so hard. My worst Christmas occurred the year my mother died, my sister had her leg amputated, we had to put the dog to sleep, and one of my sons was sent to the middle east on an aircraft carrier. Finding joy in so much saddness was a challenge that I didn't think I was up to. Only by focusing on what others needed, rather than what I wanted and couldn't have, did I manage to get through it. Lesson learned - although a hard one.
On December 7, 1985, my 22 year old brother was killed. He had been married only three months. We had very recently buried my beloved grandmother and grandpa was to follow soon after though of course we didn't know that at the time. I had no idea until that year how long it takes to fill in, even a little bit, the holes left by people you love. Announcing on Christmas day that I was pregnant changed the future in a positive way but in no way filled the void in all our hearts.
In honor of Mark, of Grandma and Grandpa Fitch and the many others I have been blessed to know and have lost I have donated to DWB for the first time. It won't be the last time.
Steph, I wanted to thank you first off for your Canadian politics primer of the other day. I just read it today, and I was thinking if my teachers had explained our system back in the day like you did, maybe I would have paid more attention.
Secondly, I wanted to reassure you that the spirit of the season IS in the air; it just depends on how we focus on it. For me, the spirit has been waning with increased commercialism and the Canadian economy being what it is. But I have children, and you know the spirit must be kept alive and traditions maintained, at least for the kids. Someone else suggested that YOU become "Aunt Helen" now. Continue the tradition. You have a great house, what sounds like a great family and obviously enough love to go around. Gather everyone close and remember the love.
Food helps too.
I'm sure that amoung the 200+ people who have commented before me, there is surely someone who has suggested that you take over the Boxing Day tradition. You can become the 'Aunt Helen' for the next generation. What could be a more loving tribute to your Aunt Helen than that?
I am very sorry for your loss at this season - I send prayers and hugs for quiet hearts and peace of mind.
Smaller, quieter Christmases have their charm. Less peeps = less crazy time and more time to appreciate the ones who ARE there. Just sayin.......
Please don't be sad, Harlot. Maybe this will cheer you up: did you know that you're allowed one wish on a Christmas tree? It can only be done on Christmas Eve and the wishes have a magical way of coming true. (And if you're like me you can go find every Christmas tree in the vicinity and get multiple wishes.....)
I have come up with one possible silver lining from Joe's parents being away in Spain for Christmas: that means you don't have to give them their gifts until after they return, which means more time to get the Christmas knitting done, right?
Also, look at this Christmas as your Mulligan or Do-Over Christmas. Think about the traditions that you love and won't be able to do the way you have in the past. Think about how to tweak them so they'll be better for the future. Try to incorporate some of that this year, with mental notes to yourself for future Christmases. It sometimes takes several years to rebuild or refine a tradition, but when you get it going again, it kicks ass. (I learned this when I started dating my boyfriend and had to redefine some of my Christmas traditions to share with him and his daughters on Christmas Eve because his ex-wife gets the kids on Christmas Day. Five years into this experiment, we have a kickass Christmas Eve at my small apartment that includes baking, "Love, Actually," "A Christmas Story," Christmas crackers, and Wii playing. Then I get to go over to my godbaby's house on Christmas Day and share the holiday with them. Not what I had envisioned all those years ago, but it suits us to a tee now. :))
I think one of the best ways to deal with the "empty seats" at the table would be to concentrate on the people who are still around and in your life. Focus on them.From the way you describe your lost loved ones,it seems that they might think this is a good idea.You could also set up a small table-top Christmas tree and have everyone that comes to visit you bring or make a special ornament that reminds them of a lost loved one.Even though they are no longer here physically,they will definetely be there in spirit.Hope you find your cheer soon!
We all miss our departed loved ones more during Christmas. And nobody likes change, particularly change which was not initiated by us and which we did not ask for. Nothing wrong about feeling sad about it as long as we snap out of it a few moments later, remembering the good sides of life and enjoying time with the remaining loved ones who want and need us.
I agree with folks suggesting new traditions - nothing one doesn't feel comfortable with, maybe not too drastic, but something fun. Christmas is just another day of the year, it doesn't actually make us happy or sad or grateful just because the calendar says it is the 25th of December. I, too, am preparing for losses - in my family, the older generations are double and triple the size of the younger generations. It won't be long until I, as a young woman, will take up much of my great Aunts', grandma, paternal aunts, and mother's traditions as my own - though changed to suit my own life. New (or modified older) traditions help one adjust to the changes of life, which is constant change.
Our hearts are with you, and our dollars are making their way to DWB. Happy holidays, I hope you can feel the love!!
ppspspps? I love your postscripts. Write 'em any way you like.
Some changes I love. Some seem too painful to bear. As I enter the stage of parenthood where my own kids are getting ready to leave home, and I see dear friends who were couples but now living apart, I sympathize with you, Stephanie. We want our loved ones close and healthy and happy. These things we never want to change.
I would not force my beliefs on anyone, but as your other readers have shared their holiday thoughts, I feel led to say that I celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, and He is my ultimate source of hope, for today and for the future. It is a Christmas gift that continually reminds us to think of others instead of ourselves. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to a charity that helps those in need.
My prayers are with you.
That's how I'm feeling-we were not going to do anything Christmassy because we had lost another member of the family. In my mind that is the way to show that we are still grieving, and respect for those that are gone. No cards, no presents, no decorations. But the one tradition that we will always honour, giving to those that really need help in memory of our dearly departed. That is something we can all do.
I can so agree about Christmas and all. When my Husband died Nov 30 2000 and my Dad three years later it was like all the joy and family went out of Christmas. My sons had moved away, altho one came back and is now a solo dad struggling on a benefit which is where all my money goes. [ Charity begins at home I am afraid! ] The other son lives in Washington DC and I haven't had a hug now for 4 long years.
I then was extremely fortunate to meet and have a new partner. We discussed Christmas as he has lost both parents and we realised that it would never be the same again. So we decided that we really had to put in an effort and "make " some Christmas "traditions" - new ones special to us. So each year we add to them and it has been making it easier and more enjoyable for us.
Things we do , well on boxing day we deliever hand baked shortbread and homemade Christmas chocolate to the fire, ambulance and police stations. We have done this three years now and it is really appreiciated by those who work hard over the holiday season helping and keeping us safe. We also now go "by train" into "town" to shop the saturday before and soak up and enjoy the christmas spirit. Santa hats and all!
This year I am thinking to ring the local old folks home and send cards and chocolate to those old folk who don't have any family visiting them.
We go to all the local supermarket christmas parties and take the grandchildren who have a wonderful time.
These have really helped make us "feel" christmasy and to spread the cheer. We also really go all out on the decorations. Just spent last weekend putting up decorations. Still a couple of trees to do and the table floral arrangements. Then all the baking of cake, pudding and shortbread as well as melting and making the chocolates. We put on back to back christmas music on random play and I love to watch and listen to Christmas carol by Dickens.
Anyway all this has helped us a lot. It will never be the same and we still miss and raise a glass to those we have lost but it sure helps make it a happy day instead of being in tears most of the week like I used to be.
Anyway , many happy greetings to you and your family. You have brightened many a day for me so many thanks.
I wanted to send a message of support. Christmas is a time that accents the changes in our lives... especially the loss of someone special like your uncle. It also accents changes like Amanda not being there all the time. It's ok to feel the way you do. You have to "pause", mourn the losses and then you can move on to new traditions at Christmas as well as never forgetting the old traditions. The important thing as I see it, is that you have a loving family- husband, 3 daughters, mom, brother and sister. You are blessed with a great in-laws and not to forget, good friends who care very much for you, it seems to me. One evening this week, sit down with a glass of wine, put some christmas music on and have a "good knit". Also, good for you for doing the doctors without borders thing.
Well, it's your turn Stephanie. It's your turn to make a new tradition. It's your turn to build up something the family will do at the holidays that everyone will remember and cherish. It sounds like a big deal, but it really isn't. Necessity is the mother of invention ... or at least a mother of some kind.
Last year I gave my growing up boys the best gift I could give them. The holidays don't have to be the day everyone else celebrates. They will never be rushed from one house to another on a particular day. The holy days are the ones we can all be together.
Make some new traditions, chickie. Honor the ones who have gone before you by remembering them and your history in new ways and inventing something new for ones coming after you.
It's what we all have to do. It will be ok.
Well, it is a stressful time of year and I also have to put on big girl panties and march on. My husband (and Best Friend) died Nov 3. I feel like I a dying of a broken heart. My 36 yr old nephew, had aortic separation Sept 29 he is my sisters one and only. He has a wife and three little kids. now after 2 strokes he is in a nursing fac waiting for rehab. We hope he will recover. So We are going to thro tradition out the window and do what we can to make the kids Christmas as special as possible. I am going to finish every project I have started. (wonder how many sets of knitting needles I really have.) Then I am going to knit with my friend on Tues and Wed Nites and keep as busy as possible. Take care Stephanie I love your blog. Bev
Change can be sucky, especially when things were Perfectly Fine before and Didn't Need To Change. As you decide what new traditions (if any) you are ready to sample, may I heartily endorse hot cocoa with a generous slug of butterscotch schnapps?
white lilacs in the snow
white crystals upon the blooms
i revel in the glittering night
my feet have wings as i walk
the starry night to sit upon
the moon and fill my cup
i wrote the above you wanna race
The Knitting Paintings are *stunning*...But I lack $$ and wall space...
Brown? #7533 is brown? Not on my screen. Really. More like a pretty pinky-purple. More pink than purple. More dusty rose than either pink or purple.
Second Christmas without my husband (dec'd) and his Mom and my (former) SIL (he's now an ex-); fourth without my Mom and Godmom; 6th without my dear Aunt A...
I know what you mean. But Christmas means a return to the Light: Rise, shine, for your Light has come!
Oh, I am so sympathetic! Our family has always enjoyed a house full of people - family, extended family, and many good friends - for all of the holidays no matter where we've lived or where we all were in our lives. This year, for the first time ever, the only people at our Thanksgiving table were myself and my husband and my mom and her partner - just FOUR PEOPLE. Not even my sister could make it (understandable as she lives across the country now, but still). My mom and I sort of moaned about this for weeks, how it didn't feel like the holidays and wasn't it depressing to have four people at Thanksgiving dinner and on and on.
And then... we did it. And you know what? It was great - we all had a lovely time, and fewer people meant more time spent all together and less time spent worrying about food we didn't need anyway, and at the end of the day, our holiday was just as nice - different, but nice, in a completely other way. So have faith - I know you'll find a way to enjoy this Christmas, even if it's completely different than any other you've ever had. (Besides, any day that involves eating a great deal of pie can never truly be ruined.)
Stephanie - thanks for such an honest entry today. Anyone who doesn't accept how hard those first holidays without their loved ones will be is just putting off the pain. It is hard and truthfully, you won't get over it, but it will get easier. So go ahead and have a good cry if you need it and then get on with baking cookies, wrapping presents, runnng around getting decorations up and remember, that's what your loved ones would want you to do.
When your done with all that, pour a good glass of wine, pick up your needles and finish some more socks.
PS - Thanks for the reminder to donate to Doctors Without Borders. I'm in. I registered for a monthly donation. The email is on it's way to you with the amount.
Stop complaining. You actually have it pretty good. My last relative died on November 18 so I have no one to celebrate Christmas with this year. Compared with me, you have it made, kiddo.
HEY! I just found these on Rav and dashed over here with the thought that you might put them on your knitters giftlist. They seemed so funky, and I know you love the colorful needles!!
When I'm having a serious case of "unholidayness" or just a bad time in general, I try to remember that "Every Day is a Gift". It puts it all in perspective rather quickly. Onward and Upward.
Thank you for suggesting the perfect gift for my mom, a former RN whose one-time dream (never realized) was to work on the hospital ship USS Hope. She is at the point of saying "no more stuff" and I was thinking about a charitable contribution in her honor; this is perfect.
We, too, have had a few "awful" Christmases over the years, caused by death, illness, losses of various other types - and it helps just to focus on the spirit of the season, as you have done.
Oh, now you've done it! I'm going to have to check the KWB total *every day* to see how we're doing. I strongly suspect you've got a considerable backlog of donation emails...a million? Ha! I bet we blow a million dollar goal away, economy or no economy. Never underestimate knitters!
And I know well the struggle to maintain traditions in the face of busy schedules. Maybe there could be gingerbread on Boxing Day...whatever you do, I hope that you find your joy for what you have, despite the losses.
I've been listening to the audio book of _Three Cups of Tea_ by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin (which I highly recommend btw) while doing my Christmas knitting and heard the following poem, which I found apropos:
No human, nor any living thing
survives long under the eternal sky
The most beautiful women
The most learned men
who heard Allah's own voice
All did wither and die
All is temporary
The sky outlives everything
--Boahd Johar (inventive spelling here. It's an audio book)
At least a couple of decades ago, I realized that the most important Christmas tradition for me is hanging lights. The lights and moving back into the light after a period of darkness inspire hope in me. Every year, no matter what, through death of loved ones, divorce, loneliness, depression; I have hung strings of lights. It helps me remember that I will survive this darkness in my heart. I'll find the joy again. I'll find the light.
Stephanie, I hope that you find a tradition for yourself that inspires hope in you.
Here is a big hug for you (((((((((((((Stephanie)))))))))))))))
Just a thought from someone who's been through lots and lots of change. I know it's hard, but get a few decorations out, when they're up, you start feeling a bit more spirited. And hey, here's your chance to begin the traditions that will continue down to your kids, and their kids. Change... it sucks, but we can't stop it, just go with it. And when I get paid again, I'm definitely in! Merry Christmas!
Oh my, we lost my dear daddy at midnight on Christmas Eve and my DH's mother on the 26th. Holidays are always bittersweet for us for that reason. When we had small children at home, that helped, and now that we have DGC, that helps as well. This year, however, we won't have the grandchildren/family Christmas until Jan. 1 because of schedule difficulties. That is going to make it too quiet for us. You have inspired me to look for ways to make it better.
Hanukkah is about bringing light, and seeing miracles in ordinary things.
This year has brought quite a few changes in our lives as well and we're learning to roll with them. I am definitely more grateful and appreciative of my friends and family and their love and support.
Here's a suggestion - why not have your annual gingerbread party on Boxing Day?
I'll be putting a little aside for MSF. I'm not awash in cash, but I realized last night that I do live in a situation that less than half a century ago would be considered extravagant.
It's amazing what a little perspective can do for a body.
Well Stephanie, put me down for a recurring $15/mo. You are so right about this. I just finished setting up my monthly donation.
I am so glad you are doing this again. I was going to email you and ask if you were up to it again, because I know it is work on your part to read the emails and total up the dollars.
This Christmas is tough for a lot of people, and you are taking the right step. Instead of dwelling on the changes and losses, you need to concentrate on what you have and create new memories. Remember, you family once went somewhere else on Boxing Day besides Aunt Helens and Uncle Don. That tradition started because something changed that allowed the new tradition to start. Now is the time for your generation to make a new tradition that can be carried on by the younger members of your family.
Since having a kid and becoming a godless heathen, I normally donate to Heifer for my extended family for Christmas, because I've decided I don't like to be obligated to give people things that they probably don't want/won't use/don't need.
I have not done my donations yet for this year. It's good to shake things up now and again, so MSF this year it is. Email to follow after next pay day.
Stephanie, my husbands boys always went to their mom's for christmas, and my girls to their dad, so we always had quiet rather lonely holidays. I have learned, over the years, to enjoy and actually look forward to the quiet time that my husband and I actually have to spend together, just the two of us. Love the socks, by the way.
A few years back after a particularly harried and not so enjoyable Christmas I decided I could do better if I planned more. So I wrote a note on each month of the new calendar to give some thought to planning for the holidays. I learned two things that year: I am not that kind of long range planner, and that no matter what sort of planner one is, each holiday season is destined to be different no matter what you do. If nothing else, Christmas falls on a different day of the week, which matters more than you think. Sometimes there is one less weekend in December before Christmas; sometimes workplaces and schools schedule their days off differently, etc. Add to that the "time marches on" bits - the kids get older, so do the rest of us, the oldest generation of the family loses some of its membership, and that sort of thing. All this adds up to that fact that it is no small wonder the holiday season can be pretty trying instead of only enjoyable.
What helps me is music - since I am a musician and singer I often get to participate, but I spend a lot of time listening to favorite CD's at home and in the car. Also important is the idea of sharing with others, especially those in need (you have that one nailed, I think). And I think someone already mentioned this too, but sometimes trying something new (which could become the next tradition) is just the ticket. The year my father died we had already purchased tickets to the Christmas Revels (an awesome festival performance acknowledging the Winter Solstice - the closest one to you is in Vermont) when we had to leave town. We ended up giving them away to a neighboring family at the last possible minute. They had lost a parent that year (our generation, though) and could only think bleakly of the holidays. Weeks later when our paths crossed they were thrilled to be able to tell us how wonderful it was to do something new and so evocative of the holiday spirit - they even suggested it might be their new tradition.
I just wanted to pass all this on - since I can't be there for knitting and tea and a hug. And if you run out of ideas, you can always dance (being a dancing family and all). Be well.
Resistance is futile.......
it does take courage to create your new 'normal'.
So many changes so fast...and you are blessed with so many people to help you over this road and the road rash that goes along with it.
(a tube of butt paste is good for that!!!)
Be of good cheer...there's always BEER!!!
I finally found a hat that my teenage boys love and now all their friends want one too. Much like yours, it's 100 stitches, but then k4p2k2p2 around. The varied rib gives it a bit of dash. Very relaxing for car and waiting room knitting. Anywhere I will have to be putting it down frequently. I have made 5 so far. Addictive. The pattern is on Ravelry. "That Chocolate's Gone Straight to Your Ribs Hat" by Leonie Connellan .
Just my little tid bit...I've been having a terrible time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Terrible. Awful. I'm not inspired or even rested enough to think about giving. I'm exhausted beyond belief due to my 9 month old being on the 3rd month of not sleeping and my 3 year old demanding every spare cell of energy not taken up by the 9 month old. Just when I didn't think I would ever have an original thought in my head, my husband, who was gone for 10 whole days in China, sent me on a retreat of sort. Now mind you, I'd been threatening that if I didn't get some time to myself that I might implode, I mean really seriously go off the deep end from which this family, least of all me, would never recover. So he sent me down to a house boat on the Mississippi River for the weekend. Now the Mississippi River runs right through downtown St. Paul and you'd think it would be bustling and over commercialized. Think again. The city hasn't done much by the way of development down there, and there is a little house boat community made up of hearty Minnesotans who live on their boats year round - snow and ice be damned.
I spent the entire weekend knitting and thinking I was like you, sequestered in that winter cabin writing last year.
I can't say I'm totally in love with the idea of Christmas this year or that I'm well rested and ready to do the march of death with the teething 9 month old - but - around the 3rd hour, I started to hear my own thoughts again. By the 6th hour, I was well into the most beautiful scarf ever designed by yours truly and it started snowing.
I'm in :) This is the first year in a while when I really feel like Christmas (I think I'm nesting or something), so helping out other people is high up on the list of priorities. Right up there with more knitting ;) Are you looking for prize donations again too?
I've also been in a blah Christmas mood.
I have two poems that cheer me up...hope they do the same:
Both are from the Christmas Revels, a group in Boston, MA that celebrates winter traditions.
Thank you, Stephanie, and thank you other posters. I was having a pity-party for myself this year. DH and are are building our very own house (from scratch!) and living in the adjacent trailer. Construction has been painfully slow (no windows, sheathing not yet done, obviously no wrap, no siding, the roof was just finished) and the bank is panicking because most of the money is spent, yet there is so much more to go. To top if off, DH was just put on part-time, and we qualify for NO BENEFITS. He's on part-time, and makes "too much" to get any unemployment. I checked into food assistance, because just a little would help. But, we have savings accounts (how else does one pay their property taxes?!) and they won't provide any assistance until all the money in savings is spent. My tax-dollars at work.
To top-it top-it off, my Mum is going through chemo now for breast cancer. She's doing well, but still -- it's cancer! And between working and building, I simply haven't got as much time as I'd like to spend with her while we're both awake.
So, we're going very inexpensive this year, and I've been knitting at every chance. A couple of my co-workers have been busily order eachother gifts... and having them all delivered to the office. Yay.
And yet -- no one has died, we are all well (enough -- despite the chemo my Mum is hanging in there very well, and I get to go with her to treatments sometimes which provides excellent visiting and knitting time). Although DH is partially out-of work, I'm still employed and by belt-tightening I can keep us afloat for now.
A roof over the head, and new roof coming along, a family, food on the table, and love in our hearts. We are all so incredibly blessed, and to be any less than grateful is difficult, but important.
Honestly, I'm crying a bit as I write this -- overwhelmed with the negative and the positive at the same time.
Peace be with you all.
Shall we bring you an 18-month-old to cheer you up? Along with about 100 of the usual useful toddler words like 'milk', 'hi', truck, 'airplane', etc, he also already knows 'ouch, shit', 'crap', 'dangit', 'oh shoot', 'fart', and 'that's poopy'.
Because nothing cheers up the holidays like toddlers with a potty-mouth.
Just give the word. ;)
Get a LIGHTBOX! No need to be S.A.D. Return of the light! Just an idea. I bought one for my other half years ago and I swear by it (for him) and he really likes his daily plug in of light too. Does all manner of wonderful things for his light-depleted psyche. I know it's not a knit-related Christmas gift but sometimes you've just got to see the light! And anyway, you can knit with the lightbox beside you. You don't have to stare into the box to get the benefit. How neat is that?! A double whammy use of time.
When my parents passed away, I had to find my own traditions for the holiday. When you depend upon others for being part of those traditions, some day you are disappointed because they've decided not to make your tradition theirs. So I've made a point of making the Christmas morning a day of listening to Christmas carols while sipping on tea and working on a project. It's a simple thing that I can do for myself that makes the holiday a holiday.
I hope you find yours. ((Hugs))
I get it about not liking change, I really do. Been there, done that, got multiple t-shirts. But several friends and events have taught me that flexibility can be a good thing too; maybe not perfect, but pretty darn close. In your changed holiday plans, what about stretching out the season and making gingerbread when Joe's parents get back?
I was very nice to miss a lot of enjoyment in his blog received a warm greeting.
You may need to allow yourself some time to grieve for the loss of the traditions - which can be totally separate from the loss of the people you cared about. And since our job as parents is to raise children who do eventually move out, that's likely to be a changing situation for the next few years.
Over time, the traditions will evolve into something that honors the memories of those who have passed away and includes new people who have been added to the group. It will never be the same, but it can still be good.
My gramma loved birds. She fed them in the winter, bathed them in the summer--and now I use her little Christmas tree as a bird tree in her memory. To anyone else, it's this ridiculous bit of chintz that I insist on buying a new bird for every year. To me, it's a gentle smile between me and my gramma every time I look at it. And I just know that one day, the bird tree will have been around long enough to be considered part of our holiday tradition. Every tradition was something new some time, right?
This much I know. Yarn heals. May I send you something special from my stash?
Curse you, Yarn Harlot, and your way with words! Shortly after reading this post, I was meeting with one of my employees and it ended up being a bit of a pep talk ... blah blah blah ... tough times... blah blah ... too much to get done ... blah blah blah ... we've just got to pull on our ...
OMG, I am about to tell this man that we have to pull on our big-girl panties! I think it was the miracle of Christmas that I managed to divert it to
... big kid caps. Yeah, that works.
I had wanted to send a caring and supportive note, but sometimes a small chuckle can be just as good.
Glad you are finding the yarn restful. I would like to donate 2 skeins for Doctors without borders prize. Also if anyone wants to purchase, they can contact me at sleighbellsheepATearthlink.net
Regarding the dark: let this bring some cheer - yesterday was the day of the earliest sunset in Toronto and in Boston (where I am). http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=250&month=12&year=2008&obj=sun&afl=-11&day=1. From here on, the sun will stay up a bit later each day. So, even though we have not yet hit the Solstice, we've turned a corner of sorts, away from the dark.
Your setting sun at 4:00 looks a lot like my setting sun at 4:00..... in Denver, Colorado. Does that make sense? I don't see how it does. There's quite a bit of distance between us....
First of all.. absolutely loverly sock. And you're welcome to come name my yarn colourways any day. I've been coming up blank on those recently and have resorted to numbers.
Secondly, I hear you on the whole change bit. I've gone through quite a bit of it myself in this past year and am still working on figuring out how things like the holidays fit into my new world. Guess we don't have a choice, we just have to figure out how things are going to be from now on don't we?
Thirdly - I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing you hit $1,000,000 on that sidebar. You've long since doubled my fundraising efforts from back when I was in college, and each time I see that number go up it reminds me of the thrill of a particularly good evening of making phone calls. I must be the only telemarketer/fundraiser who LOVED her job. Wish I could volunteer my services in that way to help raise more money, but I don't think you want to hit up your readers with fundraising phone calls do you! heh.. Off to donate.. I may try to make it a quarterly thing this year.
Thanks for helping us all keep things in perspective, Steph.
Donation made (might be too late for your contest; doesn't matter!).
Thank you for the link to the knitting art. I've never seen anything like it and I LOVE it!
I know you know this, but I can't resist mentioning it.
As well you should be. Just to paraphrase the above "[o]nce I'm upset, I start looking for corroborating evidence for my thesis (because not only am I sensitive and resistant to change, I also like to be right) so that I can prove, to anyone who might be trying to cheer me up, that all is lost and things are hopeless." >>
I think this falls in the category of you can't have one without the other. But perhaps I think that because I tend to have your perspective.
And frankly, it seems that Joe's description of you being "sensitive and resistant to change" and your description of the great quality of "enthusiasm and stick-to-it-iveness," well, I can't really see the difference.
(This is my feeble way of trying to make you feel better. I so wish I had a picture of a sock I knit to pop in here right about now.)
So I'm really late here, and I haven't even read the comments which is dead wrong, but I'm gonna say this, having read you for quite awhile and also having lo these 44 years on the planet getting used to things and then having them END and then trying to Find the Joy. It must be up to you to take up the boxing day tradition because Helen and Don can't do it any more, and well, sure I don't know you or your aunt and uncle, but it sounds like you reallyloved it and so it must be yours to do.
Probably someone already has mentioned this to you, or if you are like me you thought of it yourself and it seemed All Wrong, but I have a genius for mentioning the obvious.