December 14, 2009

Holiday Expectations posted by Leann Sweeney It's that time of year again, and in the past I have felt an overwhelming amount of pressure at the holidays. Make things, decorate things, shop for things, clean-up things, bake things, plan things, send things. It's just too many things, isn't it? No wonder I bordered on being declared mentally incompetent by January 2nd. Then you have to recover from all those things and I've decided that recovery period lasts until the following Thanksgiving. The burning question? Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? It's all about expectations. Your grandma did it, or your mother did it, so you must do it, too. And notice I'm speaking about women, because let's be honest, for my generation, putting up outside lights and cutting a turkey were about all we could expect from those who do not deal in holiday "things" until about December 24th. Good example. I've made a huge Thanksgiving dinner every year for about thirty years. All by myself. And I was always proud when everything got on the table at once and it was hot if it needed to be hot and cold if it was Jell-o or cranberry sauce. Everyone smiled and thanked me. I did appreciate that very much, but why the hell was I working alone all those years? We went to my son's home this year for Thanksgiving and since my son was off and since his mother (um, that would be me) TAUGHT HIM HOW TO COOK, and he was off work for the week, he did the dinner. And guess who helped him for two straight days with these preparations? My husband. But that's not the best part. My husband wanted his grandmother's style of cranberry sauce made with sugar, oranges and cranberries all ground together. I found him a recipe I thought would be close. He made the cranberry sauce all by himself. And then he came to the unhappy realization that our son is ALLERGIC TO ORANGES and he could not eat this concoction. And when my husband told me he simply forgot until it was dinner time and our son passed on the cranberry sauce because of this, he felt awful. I would have sympathized except that I, too, am allergic to oranges and have been since I was about five-years-old. We have been married 38 years and he's just realizing this? This is why many men are not in charge of all these THINGS. That might require some long-term planning and lots of lists--and of course THOSE things are only done for the paying job. Who'd be dumb enough to do all that work and not get paid? (Um, that would be me, honey.) For some reason, I just don't feel the pressure this year. Presents are being sent from websites with the cursory $6 "gift wrap" option. Gift cards are so handy, aren't they? And an e-mail Christmas card works quite nicely, thank you very much. But the best part of this is that not only do I not feel the pressure, I don't feel guilty either. If the people in my family don't know I love them unless I slave for 5 days in a kitchen, wear myself completely out and make sure they have awesome, beautifully wrapped packages, then too bad, so sad. I won't be tired this Christmas. Thank God I finally came to my senses.
Vintage Christmas Cards Posted by Lorraine Bartlett Once again, it's time to haul out the Christmas cards and get them in the mail to friends and family. For me, receiving Christmas/holiday cards is one of the highlights of the season. So why is actually writing and sending them such a chore? (And I say that with love in my heart.) I guess it's because I have a hard time deciding who should get what card. (I always have at least six or seven boxes of them going at any one time.) I'm always amazed at the variety of cards out there. Polar bears must be big this year, because we already have a couple of them (and, gosh, they're cute!). And I love cards that are all sparkly, too. (So how come I never buy them to send out? Hmmm.) I save my cards, too. In fact, I have the last card my grandfather sent me about 25 years ago, and every year I post it on the cork wall in my entryway. It's no secret that I collect a LOT of different Christmas stuff, including ephemera. I've got old boxes of (never used) wrapping paper, gummed labels, gift tags and, of course, Christmas Cards. Just the other day I went through a small plastic tote of just the old Christmas cards from the 40s, 50s and 60s, and wish I could send them out to friends and family. There are two reasons I don't. First, I don't think an old, yellowing card would be well received, and second--then I wouldn't have them any more. It's the charming images that appeal to me. They're from a simpler time, when Christmas wasn't quite so commercial, when people didn't get trampled and die in that quest for a larger TV on sale at 4 a.m. I like the pictures with houses and snow. Welcoming front doors with wreaths. Santa and the reindeer. Candles in a window. I often wonder about the people who put these cards together--the artists, designers, and those who wrote the copy. Things like: It's fun to say "HELLO" to you and send this MERRY CHRISTMAS too! Or how about: Christmas is a happy time, A time of warmth and cheer, A time to say "Hello" and wish You joy all through the year! (This one was signed: Love Sherman & Diane) I wish I could hang them all. Do you display the Christmas cards you receive?

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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