December 12, 2011
We all know where this leads
While I am doing my level best not to be smug about it, but I think I might have turned the corner on this Christmas. I know, I've lived this dream enough times to know that as soon as I say something like that, the washing machine explodes, but I really do think it's going well. The thing is that I have it in my head that this is an "important" Christmas - that this one is somehow significant or more meaningful than the holiday usually is. There's been a few like this over the years - the first year with a new baby in the family, the first year in a new house, the last year I'll have the total buy-in of a little child - something that makes me think that it's especially important to get it right and make new memories, and that they be exactly the right sort of memories. Happy, sane, proper family memories. Memories where, when I bake a hundred gingerbread cookies and announce that we're going to decorate them all together, just like we always have, the girls will say things like "Oh Mummy, it's so wonderful to be home and be with the family I love so much, the time you take with our traditions warms my heart" instead of "For s**t's sake Mum. NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE COOKIES I'M ON THE PHONE."
Posted by Stephanie at December 12, 2011 9:55 AM
The lesson I've learned about a thousand times is that perfecting things doesn't perfect people. There's actually not a huge correlation between them. If I make perfect cookies, the children will not behave perfectly. If I get so-and-so the perfect gift, and wrap it perfectly and give it to them perfectly, there is still no guarantee that they won't say something breathtakingly bitchy, thus spoiling someone else's fun who then has a hissy fit in the kitchen because they're tragically misunderstood by someone who always misunderstands everyone and thank all things woolly that we only have to negotiate our relationship with them a few days a year. Making things perfect (while profoundly tempting for me- especially when I'm feeling pressure to make an "important" Christmas perfect and memorable) actually does almost nothing to help. I've spent the last week being really super careful to keep my expectations in check, to remember the humans I share the Christmas with are imperfect, and that I am too. To remember that when I think of all the stuff I like about Christmas, there's actually not a lot of stuff, and that not once, ever, in all the years that I've been worrying about it, not once has any person ever told me Christmas was ruined for them because I didn't get the right wrapping paper, or because I used the regular napkins instead of the ones with holly on them. NOT ONCE, and frankly, there's been the same amount of regular family crap no matter what napkins I get out. I've even ironed them, and there was still some trouble some years.
I think I've turned the corner on this Christmas because I've worked it out.
Perfecting things doesn't perfect people. Even if you have the perfect napkin rings, a really beautiful gift, eighty-seven candles and a fabulous side dish. Give up now. I promise it doesn't change squat about people's happiness or ability to get along. Either your Uncle Frank is gong to be a dick like last year, or he's not, but I swear to my stash that I've tried getting the perfect pinecones for the centerpiece to make sure he isn't a jerk to your best friend.... and it doesn't work. Go knit instead. You'll be happier.
Gifts for knitters: Day 12.
Non-knitter, I'm keeping this short and sweet. Your knitter has a problem, because they are a knitter there is an excellent chance that they are small-tool repellant. This means that they likely have trouble putting their hands on tape measures, darning needles and the like, despite having purchased hundreds of same during their lifetime. That means that going to the yarn shop and buying ANYTHING SMALL is a good idea. Stitch markers, tape measures, little scissors, darning needles... anything small. If you want to be posh, get a Knit-kit. (Super cool. I wish I had one.) or one of these neat tool tins from The Sexy Knitter.
You were looking for a series to look for on Netflix....I highly suggest Sons of Anarchy. However, I don't think it would be good while knitting....SOA is AWESOME!!!
Thank you for all the gift suggestions! My husband did not appreciate the Yarn suggestion...he says I already have enough.
I have that exact tool tin and I can't even begin to tell you what a lifesaver it has been.
I love having LOTS of tiny tins. I am a gadget girl anyway - so it is like mini-gadgets to play with...
Quite agree with you on the Christmas thing - you can spend a hell of a lot of time on stuff important to you and nobody notices!!!!
I say keep on knitting.
Our Christmas will be sunny and warm with a little bit of luck from the weather goddess here in New Zealand
"Perfecting things doesn't perfect people." You are a genius! Really. Why haven't I ever realized this before. It's really good timing for it too. Thanks so much. :-)
You are spot-on. Happiness is NOT related to how perfect you can make life. There will always be something out of your control that you can't make perfect, so just control what you can and roll with the punches as best as you can.
Thank you for this post today. I think that all mother's have to battle with the fact that, despite their best efforts and their obsession with being thought as perfect, their children often have different perspectives (and feel no guilt when they tell you!). I had to learn how to detach my emotions . The thing that bugged me was that NO ONE talked to me about this really before such s#!*t hit the fan.........
That was a very subtle, devious argument for NOT wasting time and effort on unnecessary and pointless things like baking and giftwrapping, which we largely do to please others, who are, as you so rightly pointed out in the above, not always actually pleased by it, and instead indulging in the one thing that makes us, ourselves, truly happy: KNITTING.
Now with a good conscience. ;-)
"Perfecting things doesn't perfect people." It took me several years of therapy, and additional training to be a counselor, to understand and *accept* this concept. Happy Holidays, indeed :)
I hope your Christmas is absolutely as perfect as it can be this year. Some years hold out that promise and it's lovely when they deliver. Alas...not for us this year...but I have faith that we'll see those holidays again in our future. Best wishes to you and yours...and all your readers.
oh man, such a good point. Knitting definitely makes me happier than stressing about 'perfection'. :)
May I suggest from Sweetgeorgia bog (more then just yarn)
Chrismas at the Turlington's from the Vingl Cafe
I laughed so much I couldn't cry any more for fear of getting to the bathroom on time.
THEN I sent it to my brother-in-law..... too late for my sister.
Someone does desperately need to get you a Knit Kit. (Joe, are you listening?) They are awesomely cool and best of all, especially for you, they are TSA approved. I took mine to Europe last year and no one blinked. (Well, except for when they security found the two sets of 2.5mm steel DPNs in my carry on, but that's another story.)
Good tip for Christmas, good tip for life.
(And the Knit kit is very ingenious!)
Thanks for the suggestion on keeping Christmas in perspective. I have to remind myself of this every year; some years I'm able to keep it in perspective - some not so much.
Also, I have the knit kit (it's wonderful) and, in fact, I'm hoping for a second one this year so I have an extra.
Sometimes it is the imperfect (add noun here) which creates the best memories. E.g. Remember when we had that really scraggly tree and we made ornaments because it was we forgot that no one else was doing it for us? We really felt that we were truly married then.
Wisdom! Have a wonderful Christmas. I will think of you fondly with all of your imperfections making a wonderful, warm and happy time with your family and friends. Best wishes, hugs and have a Happy New Year as well. Sarah
Thank you, I needed to hear that!
In the same vein as your post.
"There's no such thing as fun for the whole family."
~ Jerry Seinfield
Thank you for writing this. As much as I wish my picking-the-most-amazing-gift-for-everyone-on-my-list could keep people from causing a scene at Christmas, I know that it can't. I'm working on accepting that.
Thanks Stephanie, I needed that swift kick in the pants. I am been freaking out all day and really, what for. Some gifts will be gifts of the New Year. People will just have to deal with it. I have the Knit Kit and it is awesome.
I have a KnitKit. I would seriously harm anyone who got between me and my KnitKit. Good Choice.
i so needed to hear this today. thanks, stephanie - and merry christmas!!
I've been stressing about Christmas this year. For the first time ever in the 24 years we've been married, all of my husband's family is coming to our home for Christmas. I want it be a good time for all and I'm worrying about everyone being happy. My brother-in-law hardly speaks to my husband anymore and I think it all has to do with my father-in-law passing away and then moving my mother-in-law away from them to assisted living in our city. There was just nothing like that available in their town. I'll just keep my head down and knit.
Amen, sister. Last year on Christmas Day I had a major, hysterical hissy fit, because I wanted Christmas to be perfect and memorable for the kids and everything was going wrong in my eyes. With both sets of my grandparents and my parents deceased, the pressure was on. It was up to meto make it the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER. I put so much pressure on myself, that even I couldn't live up to my expectations. It was a memorable Christmas indeed. I'm much more relaxed this year, I've realized it's not about perfection, it's about doing what we can and letting the rest go.
Yep, same here, and I now know why we don't travel for Christmas - can't get the whole family together. Of course, we blame the snow and not being able to get out of the driveway!
Love the Jerry Seinfield quote.
AND I SO can't wait until you have grandbabies on the horizon!
"Either your Uncle Frank is gong to be a dick like last year, or he's not"
OMG. I'm still laughing.
Brilliant thoughts amidst all the stress of the season. I like to remember that there are actually 12 days of Christmas. Somehow, it helps to take away some of the pressure to make one day perfect.
Oh, hey! Thanks so much for the shoutout for my Tool Tins! :)
Amen sister. It is for just this reason that I watch Christmas Vacation every year without fail, to remind myself that I have been known, much like Clark Griswald, to have ridiculously high expectations about the holidays. Last year I printed off your 'Enough' entry, and I pulled it out this year at the beginning of December to read again. Also, when I started my new calendar this year, I flipped to December and wrote myself a note: Deb, nobody cares if there are 10 side dishes and 25 kinds of cookies......
Thanks for your wonderful post! To thank you properly, I have decided to donate to Knitters without Borders for my parents and inlaws, in lieu of gifts.....
This was the best thing to read today.
My sister gave me one for Xmas when they first came out. I LOVE it and never leave home without it. The little scissors and the tape measure have come in handy for non-knitting things too!
I love these comments. In my experience, there is a direct correlation between the amount of gratitude you have and the amount of happiness you feel.
Oh I totally forgot to mention! I actually have a Knit Kit that's still in its package; I got it for free and haven't used it because I always have a Tool Tin! If you email me your address, I'd happily send it to you. :)
I have a long held belief that perfection just takes the fun out of things. Perfection is a straight line between A and B. bOOOOOringggg! A squiggly line fraught with mishaps, hijinks and an occasional smashed plate are far more memorable.
Seriously, no one tells hilarious stories about the Most Perfect Christmas (or anything). All the good anecdotes and family lore are found in the spaces between things going just like they're supposed to.
Shun perfection. SHUN!!! Well, I mean, you can try for perfection, but always be glad things didn't quite work out how you meant it. Otherwise, you'd have a totally boring blog. :)
Love, love, love this post! You are so right. Thank you for letting us know that it is okay to relax a bit.
Happy Holidays to you, your family and your readers!
So true!! Thanks for reminding us.
A perfectionist friend was just lamenting that her college-age boys don't want to decorate the tree with her. 'When they were little I'd let them hang the big ornaments where they wanted even though there were holes where they would have gone... Of course, after they went to bed I'd change it around."
And my sweet boss always hated Christmas. When we asked about it he said grimly "My mother. Christmas was never RIGHT..."
Small data point on the small items recommendation. I am a knitter who started in the eighties, I have worn out tape measures and really have the same blunt tapestry needles for more than 20 years.
Feel free to throw bricks.
PS. I haven't bothered with perfect for Christmas ever. Yes, I will spend hours of labor to knit a sweater and hand it to the recipient on Christmas with no wrapping or bow.
"Go knit instead. You'll be happier."
So very very true.
Now I'm totally curious about why its a "big" Christmas for you. For me, its because I have a 1 1/2 year old. Last year was fun for us, but we kept saying 'just wait till next year, when it will be fun for her.' And its everything we hoped. EXCEPT, we're balancing that with what is most likely my Grandma's last Christmas. I have competing expectations between those two things, so I'm having to check in with myself every few days about what is truly important and how to make plans that meet those priorities. So far, so good, but I already see a challenge looming on the horizon next week. Here's hoping I meet it with the grace you're showing.
I second the tins! I use my Altoids tins for odds & ends & I love their Tiny Tins for things for stitch markers. Of course, the tins on Etsy are so much prettier than mine are.
"Go knit instead. You'll be happier."
Couldn't agree more!
I'm off to knit...
Well said! Christmas is a lot less stressful if you lower your expectation about making it perfect. Those tins are very cute-thanks for all of the great links so far.
Perfection is a myth & anything that goes wrong is a design element -- applies to knitting and life. Those dust bunnies -- design element. The crooked tree -- design element. Mismatched napkins -- design element. You get the idea. :)
Oh, Wool, Steph, this is exactly true. I'm not sure whether to break down sobbing or whether to let myself find some peace because of how out-of-my-control this really is.
When I was a kid, I remember Christmas being great--the high point of the year--and now it's such a mixed bag. The veil is torn. Not even the perfect centerpiece will pull us through if a certain family member can't behave nicely. I think I'd better break out the Christmas whiskey early this year. :)
Well said , as usual. Thank you for a years worth of honest, straightforward writing, for many ideas/helpful hints with knitting, often writing something so close to my home/heart and of course the many, many laughs. I often have my non-knitting husband read your blog. I think the squirrel stories are still at the top. Merry Christmas and much health and happiness in the New Year!!
Preach it, sister. And thank you.
And now I want one of those knit kits. And--now I can tell my family that Martha Stewart, the pinnacle of house and home-ly perfection, has yarn stuffed in her kitchen cabinets! Here, I can show them! Bwahaahaaa.
Steph, you're spot on. Your "perfect" quote is going right on my fridge.
You don't have a knit kit?!! o.O
Your posting makes me smile inside remembering the time "someone" placed a s**t-ton of marijuana in the brownies on the Christmas snack table. Everyone was jolly during dinner and there weren't any leftovers.
I love my imperfect Christmases with my imperfect loveys, all of us snuggled down being imperfect together.
I'm so much happier than I was in the days when I thought Martha Stewart actually did all that stuff herself.
But dang it, I'm kind of miffed that the top half of the Christmas tree lights went out. That's kind of vexing.
Okay, I hesitate to confess this, because I expect to instantly incur the enmity of a planetful of knitters but. I think all the lost needles, measures etc, wind up at my house.
As I was knitting with an odd ball of yarn that someone had given me, I pulled a darning needle out of it. I felt a pang of sympathy, imagining the frustration of the poor knitter who had stuck it onto the ball, forgotten, and never seen it again. And it was only a short time later, in the same ball of yarn...I found a second one.
I swear, it's not my fault.
Im right there with you on this one sister!
My other secret ingredient to a happy Christmas is taking care of me. That means long brisk walks to burn off stress, and taking a break. Christmas is but one day...
It sounds as if you've figured out that the Joy of Christmas comes from within, and some people just don't get it!
Have a wonderful Christmas Season!
"Go knit instead. You'll be happier." Thank you, Stephanie. Am going to make that my mantra for the next three weeks. And good luck to you!
I love my Knit-Kit, and have made my own "altoid" tin kits to give as gifts .. these are brilliant suggestions, because it is harder (though obviously far from impossible) to lose a complete kit and it is surprisingly useful to have just one thing to lose!
The head understands everything you said. The heart, not as easy. But we persevere. Happy Holidays to all.
P.S. My wonderful son and daughter (in law) bought the Knit-Kit for me last year and it is almost as wonderful as they are. Thinking you might be acquiring a few in the near future.
I can't believe you don't have a knit-kit!?!?!? I would be lost without mine.
Thanks Stephanie. I am printing the Christmas part of this post and putting it on the fridge. Of course, now that my children are older and have left home it is easier to follow. We haven't had a big tree for years. And I do most of my baking at the city bake shops. My idea of putting out a great cookie tray is getting to know where all the good baking is around the city shops. We travel across town for the shortbread!
BTW loved your new book! That would make an excellent gift for a knitter. As would any of your earlier ones.
Thanks Stephanie. That's hit home big time.
Ok so does that Knit kit have a gps tracking device on it so you can find it when it gets lost?
You are so right. My family is a bit dysfunctional and during the holiday season it's important for me to remember that while I'm stuck with my family, I also have awesome friends! I spend a lot of time with them around the holidays.
If you are a bit more of the crafty type, you can also mod an empty and clean tin to include all of these tools, though it will cost you more than a prepackaged one almost undoubtedly.
Heck, my husband could buy me 10 packages of those little green and purple rings and I'd be happy and set for maybe a week.
Thanks for this. Every year I'm disappointed on Christmas without ever knowing quite why... Now I know. I always expect perfection from the people around me on Christmas because it's "supposed" to be a "special" day. I will try my very best not to do that this year.
Also thanks for the gift idea series thing :) I've shown it to my SO, and I think he's less stressed out about my gift this year. (And here I was, always thinking I was easy to shop for - all I want is knitting stuff, any and all of it.)
Re: Knit kit -- The slogan "You will never lose your knit knacks again" prompts me to think, "Oh no? Just try me!" ;) I could very easily lose the crochet hook, scissors, stitch markers or point protectors... or misplace the whole thing. Such are my talents ;)
It is, of course, very cute and nifty anyway ;)
Re: the Knit Kit. Great, now you can lose the whole outfit in one go rather than just the random darning needle.
Amen to all that sister- and I'm get'n a knit tin.
Every family has an "Uncle Frank" or "Aunt Lou". Wise words to remember. Especially the tape measures, in both centimetres and inches.
Loved your post! I always strive for the "perfect" holiday and it never happens!
I thought this would make you laugh. I was finishing a sock last night on DPNs. I must have dropped a stitch or something and my husband noticed. He said that he wasn't surprised that it happened dropped because it looked like I was playing Kerplunk! I thought this was hysterical! I have been knitting for several years and I'm surprised that it took him so long to equate knitting with several needles to playing that game with sticks and marbles. Here is a link in case you are not familiar with it:
I so enjoy your blog! Happy holidays!
I agree that buying (or making) a tin filled with all those little bibs and bobs a knitter needs is a wonderful idea! Years ago I purchased a "Knit Your Bit" replica kit from the Red Cross with Army green yarn, 4 red double pointed needles, and a vintage pattern for soldiers socks. The socks have long since been knitted and worn but the tin is my little "tool kit" where I keep my tape measure, double pointed needles, large sewing needles for grafting, cable stitch holders, and a small box of stitch markers. It's great to have it all close at hand in one place!
One of my favorite Christmas gifts EVER was the year my husband bought me one of those Namaste Buddy Cases and filled it to overflowing with tapestry needles. There must have been more than 50! It was amazing. Thanks to his thoughtfulness, I have never since found myself in a situation where I had no tapestry needle when I needed one!
Does this mean the Christmas sweater is done? If so, I have Christmas Knit Envy. I'm still ribbing away at my dad's scarf, and I have just barely started a Semele for my best friend.
Christmas, weddings, all big occasions - thanks for reminding me that a loving heart is what we most need to bring - the rest is really just the baggage. I think ours is a big Christmas this year too, but I know that imperfection in the details wont spoil anyone's desire to celebrate life and family. Happy Christmas Stephanie and heartfelt thanks for what you bring to my day.
As cute anas it is, the Knit Kit reminds me of a birth control pill case.
You are so right Stephanie, and I wish that people would relax and enjoy the season. Not to fuss over food, cookies etc, just enjoy each other and the time you have together.
Thanks. I needed that. What a good lesson for life - you can do everything right, with the best intentions and people will still be ass-hats sometimes. Good thing to read before the In-law X-mass for sure.
Ah, thank you - that is the best advice/perspective I've heard this festive season!!
Lovely post. Too true.
And thanks for all the gift suggestions. I LOST my knitting bag. (Yes, I'm a freak and have only one with ALL of my knitting gear in it.) It's Gone. For more than a week now, despite retracing my steps, making phone calls, stopping in every place I've been in my life and turning my house upside down and then right side up three times over. (Even my KnitPicks set was in there. I have cried.)
I totally have a knit kit and I totally feel like I can handle any knitting emergency. A total must have. :D
This is actually a comment about your twitter post about looking for mistletoe. I'm not sure about Canada, but here in Kentucky, in the tops of all the trees once the leaves all fall off, you can see big wadded up balls of the stuff growing up there. (No they're not birds' nests. Although some of them probably are.) My grandpa would just get his shotgun and shoot it down--so maybe you can try hunting mistletoe!
Today I was home from work with a really bad stomach problem which I'd rather not elaborate on. So I thought I'd finish my scarf, and in between clutching my gut, I did so. Then I needed a darning needle, and after some hunting I found my needles in my little Christmas candy tin. I also realized while hunting that my house is quite a mess. But my needles are organized and all in one place. And I appreciate your Christmas wisdom. Thank you.
Thank you! Thank you! I needed that bit of wisdom. Gotta go knit now.
... And that's why I no longer "celebrate" Christmas.
... And that's why I enjoy Dec. 25th every year.
Do you know my sister? She sounds like Uncle Frank. I'm so glad I learned to knit. I would not have started to read your blog, had I not begun knitting! Christmas... Too much ado about things that don't matter...does anyone rember the Nativity? Jesus wasn't born in a perfect palace...He was born in a MANGER.
I'm now knitting for FUN...not this Dec 25th!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!
Youre hilarious. I love you.
And can you tell me how to send this to the gift givers in my life without appearing tacky?
LOVE the comments on Christmas. Very timely and reassuring. Christmas get-togethers are about family and friends, and they/we will be human on Christmas just as on every other day of the year. Love and enjoy them as much as possible, AS THEY ARE! Let the rest of the stuff go. Thanks again for the words, the sentiment, and your time.
Just have to add - through the years you have often said that the knitted gifts one gives are far more than just something to keep your loved ones warm. They are a gift of your thoughts, your energy, and that most precious of all, your time. Well, that's the way I feel every time I read one of your entries. You have given me a gift of your time, thought, and energy and I am richer for that. Thank you.
After years of trying, I'm still working on letting go of the perfect. I'm doing a little better, though I still feel let down after Christmases of late. I ruined the whole Christmas tree thing when the kids were little by wanting it to be perfect--they are grown and gone (home for Christmas), but they haven't wanted to help with the tree for years. Cookies? Does anyone care? They do like the cheese fondue we have for dinner, and if I should forget to get the apples of the special apple pancake breakfast, I would be in trouble! But that's all. And having only my short-on-funds children to get me gifts leaves me buying my own at some other point in time.
RECLAIM CHRISTMAS! It's the theme for this year. It is supposed to be cosy and fun.
Running around like a maniac so you end up with a chest infection for new year after you collapse on boxing day does not a perfect holiday make. Working out what bits to keep and what to bin; more tricky. It's a WIP.
Very good advice, i'll try to keep it in mind this holiday season. Also thx for the gift guide, i always try too leave the page open for my partner to see.
On a completely unrelated note: Am really upset about Canadas decision to quit Kyoto - thought we were in this together. Thoughts?
our best Christmasses were the ones Mum was relaxed because all we had for dinner was just a little bigger portion of sunday meat, two veggies instead of one and whipped sweetened cream and canned fruit like apricots or peaches on our pudding. Simple yet festive and a smiling Mum, who could wish for more? We did not care about the dishes the food was presented on, the tablecloth being the same as with Easter, we enjoyed being a really happy family, all together. I wish you and your family and loved ones the same, a happy and relaxed Christmas.
Thanks Stephanie.I have been fretting and false starting Christmas gifts for a few weeks and have just realised that as long as i am content with the effort i have given the thought really does count. Whether it's dishcloth, knitted flower or mittens or a hat. Any gift will be right at the right time for the right person. Even if they regift....HA.
thanks for the reminder. i know these things about christmas, honestly i do! but it sure is easy to forget and find myself obsessing about which christmas stamp is right for the card to the ex-in-laws!
Words to live by: let go of perfect!! I certainly don't expect it of my loved ones, why do I expect it of myself?
By the way: I'm loving all the gift suggestions - the problem is I seem to be buying them all for myself - don't think that's the intent!
Thank you for saying what we all knew in our hearts to be true but have difficulty admitting out loud. It really needed to be said!
Such wise words about our expectations!
Amen. Perfect people are boring anyways. I'll always remember how I kept my first pregnancy a super hush hush secret from hubs, knit up some super cute booties while he was at work and hung them at eye-level for when he'd walk in the door. Made a lovely dinner. Heard the car pull up, waited within sight but not in the way....
He walked in.
Spied the booties.
Thought for a moment.
...first thing he said...?
(with a grin)
Perfect verbal reaction? Not quite. Memorable experience, absolutely!
I worry like crazy about Christmas being right. Presents are alright, because I usually start buying them quite a way in advance, and I don't do knitted gifts because I knit slooooow. (And I learnt my lesson when I knit my first lace project - a simple-ish scarf - and had so much trouble getting it right that I cried. But I am dyeing my mum some merino-alpaca-silk yarn, so she can knit something herself.) What I have trouble with is having the house clean and tidy! I have this completely unfounded, irrational conviction that Christmas won't happen - or at least won't be right - in a messy house. So all the cleaning chores I've been ignoring for months suddenly have to be done, and they have to be done on deadline. As much as I know that washing the bathroom ceiling (seriously) isn't essential for festive joy and goodwill towards mankind, it seems essential for goodwill from me to me...
I don't think the 'lifestyle' emphasis on Christmas is helpful. Such a downer to realise that your Christmas doesn't look exactly like the one on Martha Stewart's website. (Even if you know that she has hundreds of craft-minions to style and primp the poinsettias to within an inch of their lives.) Except, possibly, more of a downer trying to do something like you saw on Martha Stewart's website, trying it for the first time, and having it go hideously wrong when it really needed to go right! When I feel like I'm getting too ambitious, I think of the this picture of cupcakes: http://craftfail.com/2011/08/cookie-monster-cupcake-fail/ It helps me remember that there is some stuff that really needs practice, that I don't have time to practise, and that everyone will appreciate it if I am less uptight about the appearance of perfection.
(Still, I am torn between knitting-and-cocktail time tonight, and washing the bathroom ceiling...Clearly I have some way to go.)
Thanks for your comments. I always feel like, if the family is gonna have a good Christmas or not, it's on my shoulders. It's not up to me.... what I do or don't bake, what I do or don't buy. It's up to them, to be content with what they have. I'm gonna go knit now.
Thanks! It's true, and also, if people could be "bought" so easily, would they be the ones you wanted to be around? I have a neighbor who is very focused on having gorgeous decorations, seasonal napkins, etc. I avoid her this time of year.
(and now I'm off to find some magnetic strip to put in the lid of my altoids box. Brilliant idea!)
Weeeeel, I haven't read ALL the comments, but I do know that one must be very careful what "traditions" one starts when the kids are small, because if things get changed, even when they are in their 20s you will hear things like
"but we always!", "where is the?","when are we going to", etc.etc. LOL.(and it may not be the things you have been obsessing about, but something totally unexpected.)
Our Christmas tradition has changed quite a bit in the last few years. When our granddaughter was born, my daughter and son-in-law decided to take over the Christmas day festivities at their house. So after almost 40 years of my doing the Christmas dinner, I'm not. A lot of people asked if I was hurt by this, but no, I'm loving it. For one, I was getting tired. For another, I think kids, when they are little, should be home to enjoy their own traditions on Christmas day. That's how I got started having Christmas at our house when our daughter was born. We have a Christmas Eve light supper here instead. So all of the decorating and baking is mostly for my own enjoyment, if anyone else gets enjoyment out of it, it's a bonus. Of course, it helps that we and our daughter's family are the only family left, here in town, we really don't have to consider anyone else. It gets trickier with larger families.
I've been reading (and enjoying) your blog for several years, have enjoyed several of your books (and even given a couple as gifts).
That said, every December you go into this crazy lady mode about Christmas. There are 365 days every year, and you finish knitted items at a blistering pace all year (it takes me a year sometimes to knit something...spinning, sewing, yardwork, housework, etc get in the way) so why drive yourself batty for 25 days, beginning 12/1?
Knit the gifts throughout the year and stash them away. I am on the lookout all year for things I think my friends/family may like, buy them, and put them away. Ok, sometimes I forget where I put them, but it allows me to avoid the crowded stores from Black Friday to 12/24.
Lighten up and enjoy a slower pace. By the way, I passed along your Emergency soup recipe to a friend and she loved it.
Words to live by! I'm still trying to get there, but I get a little better at it every year...
You are totally spot on about Christmas. This year Ty ( who just turned 3 my how time speeds by) and his Ya-Ya Ball of Yarn are going to make gingerbread houses just like I did with his brothers every Christmas. I think I am even more excited than he is although if you could bottle and sell our anticipation it would be worth a fortune. Some traditions are just worth it even if they are lots of work. Happy gingerbread cookie baking and hugs to you and yours hoping, this Christmas is just wonderful.
Thank you for those words of wisdom! I have excerpted and posted them on my FaceBook page . . . a happy and sane holiday to you and your family.
Hi Stephanie, I'm glad I read this post - I was about to panic, because I haven't even properly started getting ready for Christmas yet! PS: I wanted to get in touch with you... Would you mind pinging me an email so that I can reply to it? I have an invite for you...
Good for you for facing down the Christmas Martha Stewarts!
Somehow I missed your entire lunatic American drama, and I wanted to tell you that one old American, Sunday School teacher, librarian grandma thinks you are wonderful, and that "american" is an embarassent, as well as a frightening and dangerous person. Some people seem to have forgotten that most of our forebears came to this continent to escape just such nastiness.
P. S.- the pictures of you cutting out the errant cable made me give a mouse-worthy shreik that frightened my employees. Okay, my secret is out, I surf the web at work.
I so needed your reminder. I'm probably having my last "buy-in of a little child" Christmas and will try and focus on her instead of the insanity swirling around me.
I've adopted a very similar philosophy in planning our wedding. The little stuff doesn't matter. In the end, I'll be married to the love of my life. Our memories of the day won't be centered around the linens or the favors or the programs; it's about the people. Wonderful, imperfect, loving people.
"... happy, sane, proper family memories ..."
What, exactly, are those? :)
Many years ago when my children were in elementary school, I found an article in a magazine about 'simplifying Christmas'. I am nooooo Martha Stewart, but every year I stressed out over making cookies (I hate making cookies), decorating every room,on and on. This article was quite long and I'm sure had lots of wonderful suggestions. However the one that blazed out at me in words of flashing neon were: "Ask your children what parts of the holiday they love, as in what do they need to make Christmas seem like Christmas". I read no farther. This seemed like the most amazingly common sensical thing to do. That night (with some trepidation) I posed the question. And these were the answers: a tree, a Christmas Eve church service, visiting my mother on Christmas Day, and going to see the Nutcracker. That was it. (Well, presents were a given). That was all. I had the tree, had planned to go to church and my mother's, and buying Nutcracker tickets was something I could do in minutes. Ever since then I have not stressed about what does or does not get done on Christmas. What my kids really wanted was time with their family and one special activity and they were happy. And so was I.
Amen, sister! I have decided that very thing this year and am simply refusing to stress. I'll be knitting instead.
Steph as someone already said, you really are a genius. I have walked thru and around the piles of wrapping paper and cookie tins and plastic camels with composure today. I just quoted you to myself and concentrated hard on December 26. Thank you!
Well said. I found that once we agreed as a family to not give Christmas gifts any more I was really able to concentrate on what was important to me -- being with my family. Once I let go of expectations around Christmas and just let the holiday flow around me I enjoyed it a lot more. It has become a favourite holiday now. Merry Christmas!
Thank you so much for this ever so timely reminder. I have often focused on getting everything perfect and forget that mere humans are trying to inhabit this "perfection". I try to just shoot for a really good day instead.
Much love and joy to you and you family.
I'll help you decorate cookies.
And your kids appreciate it, they just don't know it yet. Give them a few years and nostalgia will kick in and they will remember fondly all the things you did to make the holidays special.
But I agree, Uncle Frank, is hopeless.
When my grandma was alive, she was a bitch. But she was also a quilter. So one year for xmas I gave her a calendar with photos of quilts. She opened it, looked through it, and announced "That's ugly. I would never make that. That one's ugly..."
I think that might have been the year I decided to stop giving her gifts.
Holy cow! All these links are putting me in debt (well, they would if I actually bought everything that I have seen that I REALLY need). Thanks a lot. No, really. I mean it. It's all so great!
Dear Stephanie, FYI - A box of yarn with a photo of a knitted item and a promise from you for after the Christmas rush and I would be thrilled! I wish I was on your list! Don't make yourself nuts! Yarn keeps (please see reference to "stash" in knitter's dictionary), cookies and little boys don't. In twenty years Hank won't remember what color scarf you knitted for him this year. He will remember baking cookies with his Aunt Steph!
Despite those few odd bot driven comments, the blog was amazing. Thanks for the perspective, I'm unwinding now, knitting in hand.