Friday, January 3, 2014


So – Christmas came and went and as usual I missed it. Where were the quiet, reflective moments as I sat by the fire in the glow of the Christmas tree while I munched Christmas cookies and sipped holiday tea, candles flickering and carols playing in the background? (Could I have crammed more Christmas into that sentence?)  

Yes, it slipped by me again, which is why I give myself permission to celebrate all through January – and any other month. The most obvious of Christmas symbols – like the tree and the Santa mugs – have already been put away, but candles and snowmen and the Dept. 56 will stay to warm my heart. And while traditional Christmas music – carols as well as secular songs – are a bit too much for my January celebration (sometimes even for my December celebration), joyous classical music, Mannheim Steamroller, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Enya, and various winter offerings fill that gap nicely.

Like my grandmother Ina, I believe that the celebration of Christmas is meant to help us through the winter – that the spirit of it should carry us through the short days. Christmas should bring books and candles, warm clothing, and thoughtful things that stir our hearts. It should remind us to be grateful for our blessings and to help those in need not just at Christmas but all through the year.

So, it will continue to be Christmas in my little house – and especially in my sewing studio (though a Grinch may lurk in the adjoining room) – while I wait for the crocus to open. And what will I do in my sewing room? I don’t talk about plans – so many of them die on the vine – but I hope to read some manuals and learn a new technique or two. I’m not venturesome and find experimentation frustrating, so I take this on as a challenge. A part of me just wants to do what I’ve always done – and then I don’t get beyond what I’ve always gotten.

Often I speak of Grandma Ina because her house is part of my life, but my true Christmas model is my own mother -- a celebration represented by these pictures. She put her all into Christmas, suffering a letdown immediately after the main event, but before too many weeks, she once again found the Christmas spirit and began to make her lists and check them twice in preparation for the next Christmas. She loved to get ready for Christmas, and we loved her enough to let her do it for us. I miss that time that will never come again. Wise Ina would say, “No use to think of these things,” and I find comfort in her less ostentatious Christmas – a more realistic model for this time in my life. And then I can say, “I stood it all just fine!”

New Year’s Eve (Tuesday) I drove into Albertson’s for some celebratory snacks. Mike declined to go, and I was so glad because I stayed long at the display of holiday teas on clearance. I swear those teas were nowhere in the store before Christmas, but here they were on clearance! I don’t mean to complain – the price was very right and I stocked up. I also tossed some fruitcake mix into my cart and when I got home I made fruitcake squares. There’s no rule that says you can only bake Christmas goodies before Christmas.

At Jo-Ann Fabrics, the holiday glitz has been confined to a couple of aisles and priced attractively to clear. I quickly lost interest. Glitz isn’t exactly what I’m looking for these days and every year our commercial goods move further and further from the kinds of things I long to see. That’s the reason I buy books about the retro life. Apparently a lot of us are looking for it. KW


Hallie said...

Things are always evolving. The celebration will never be Grandma's but it will continue to change and we can control what it becomes. I do sometimes miss divinity and the ability to eat it. I bet I couldn't eat more than one piece now!

We didn't buy any Celestial Seasonings ginger tea this year. We bought some ginger tea at Trader Joe's, but Nick isn't nearly as fond of it. We might have to work out a deal...we looked for it at Safeway, but I think it's long gone.

Chris said...

Yup, we're in the same place! But there's comfort in company. All decorations are still out up here, although we had no tree this year because we didn't plan to be home. Actually, I haven't missed it, but then we do have one on the front porch. I, too, enjoy my Christmas in January!

Kathy said...

The display from which I chose my teas had no Celestial Seasoning -- just Stash and Bigelow, but I'm willing to share what I have. You could probably still order online.

I keep the tree simple these days. The good thing is that I can take it down quickly. I think my mother would be disappointed if she knew. Ina, however, would applaud.

Chuck said...

Here is the modern description of your Christmas I was looking for. Well done. What is Dept. 56? Joanne is in Corpus Christi, TX, helping to care for her daughter-in-law, who had eye surgery last Monday. She will return the 11th. I have almost all the lights down, but not yet packed away. Some decorations are still up in the house. Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Kathy said...

Hi Chuck! The Wikipedia definition of Department 56: "a manufacturer of holiday collectibles, ornaments and giftware, known for their lit Christmas village collections and their Snowbabies collection." I have a small collection of their "Original Snow Village" which I set up on the display stand in the kitchen here in town. The "house" theme is one of my favorites.

Thanks for joining the discussion.