Tag Archives: Christmas decorations

Crocheted Christmas

Many people have traditions regarding their Christmas trees. There are live (real) Christmas trees or artificial ones which at least don’t shed needles and don’t require the death of a live tree. Then there are the lights – multicolored, all white, or all blue. (My mother didn’t care for these, as they always made her think of families in mourning. But I digress.)

There’s also the question of what goes on top – star and angel are the most popular choices. Ornaments vary from old, family ones that represent children’s ages or antiques passed down; modern ornaments that all have the same look; or handmade ones, often made by children. (Our old friend John used to add modeled clay ornaments, including naked fertility goddesses, to celebrate the pagan origins of the holiday tree. But I digress again.) To tinsel or not to tinsel is another choice. If a pet gets into it, tinsel can cause intestinal blockages or festive poop.

My mother’s tradition certainly included handmade ornaments of a specific style – crocheted. Mom (for some unknown reason, my friends and family called her Muzz) had the needlework gene passed down from her mother, who knitted.

Her specialty was snowflakes. They allowed for creativity, as no two snowflakes are said to be the same. (I don’t know how that could be tested, aside from examining every snowflake that ever fell. More digression.) Muzz had a special process to ensure non-floppiness of the snowflakes – she laid them out flat and dosed them with Elmer’s glue. When it dried, she had snowflakes that stood up to anything and never melted.

Muzz and her tree, complete with angel topper.

The rest of her ornaments were multicultural gifts. She had a fair number of foreign penpals that she connected with through crochet magazines. They shared patterns and sometimes completed ornaments that represented their skill or their culture. Muzz even sent a friend in India a large bottle of Elmer’s for her crocheted items. Other people – friends, neighbors, and church ladies – gifted Muzz with ornaments they collected on their travels. Many of them were Santas. There is a stunning number of Santas in various poses available.

For the topper, her tradition was one that owed its origin to my dad. He always insisted that it should be an old, dilapidated angel every year. It had a little smudge on its face. It reminded him of the 1938 film Angels With Dirty Faces – not strictly speaking a Christmas movie, but one he always liked, notably the title. (It had a hella cast, too.) After my father died, Muzz kept up the tradition.

Muzz was not one of those who liked plastic trees or put them up right after Thanksgiving. (We have a friend who kept her artificial tree up well into the spring. She decked it with suitable ornaments for Valentine’s Day and Easter. Yet more digression.) In early to mid-December, we would take her out to a tree lot and help her pick one out. Later, when she had less mobility, Dan and I would choose one, discussing what she would like best. It couldn’t be too tall, since she wasn’t able to stand on a step stool to place the angel. She always seemed pleased with what we brought home.

Alas, some of those traditions have now lapsed, owing to the fact that Dan and I no longer get a tree. It seems like too much for just the two of us, not to mention that we have cats. (Digressions continue. A friend of mine used to hang soft, felt ornaments on the lower branches specifically for her cat to steal and leave in various places around their house. She kept count of the thefts every year.)

I don’t know. Maybe it would be worth it to hang a garland on our balcony railing, just to hang my mother’s ornaments on it.

What are your holiday traditions?

Tip Jar

Choose an amount

$2.50
$5.00
$10.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Donate

Christmas Comes Creeping

It’s that time of year again – the time when we all bitch about Christmas Creepage. You know – how Christmas decorations and other fol-de-rol appear earlier every year, so that now they practically impinge on Halloween.

You get no sympathy from me. Here’s why.

First, it’s not going to change. Some businesses have decided to close on Thanksgiving “to be with family,” despite the fact that the only thing anyone buys on Thanksgiving are the dinner rolls you forgot to pick up when you bought the fried onions and mushroom soup for the traditional, little-beloved green bean casserole. But that’s a different matter.

Christmas creepage is purely a matter of the bottom line. If starting the decorating and selling didn’t make a difference in profits, the stores wouldn’t do it. But they both expect and get the Pavlovian response – reminding people of Christmas reminds people that they haven’t finished (or perhaps even started) shopping yet.

Therefore, creeping Christmas tut-tutting belongs in the same category as “You know as soon as they finish paving this road it’ll just be time to pave it again” and “Why do the hot dogs and buns never come out even?” Ritual plaints with no hope of resolution. So if we stop worrying about when the bells start jingling, we can expend our nerve endings on really important matters like “Forget universal health care. Why is there no universal law about where we can buy booze on Sundays?”

That said, there is another reason that angsting over the continual push-back of Christmas starting dates is an exercise in futility. Just as with starving orphans, there is always someone who is worse off than you are.

Consider the employees who work in those stores that commence holiday frivolities sooner than you would like. The clerks and stockers and servers have to put up with hearing the same Christmas tunes every shift, every hour, every day. Mostly involving the colors red (-nosed reindeer) and silver (bells), or speculations on what Santa may or may not be doing (checking lists, kissing Mommy, delivering hippopotami). Because, let’s face it, there are only so many Christmas songs in existence, especially secular ones appropriate to be associated with commerce.

You may not realize it, but there are professions in which preparations for Christmas start even earlier. Religious publishing, for example. So much lead time is required to put out a monthly magazine that editors must start planning their back-to-school issue before school adjourns for the summer. The Christmas issue has to be in process before Labor Day, at least. By the time Christmas actually arrives, the employees threaten to have a breakdown if one more person says, “the reason for the season” or puts up a display of a kneeling Santa.

Craft stores, I think, have it the worst of all. They not only have to sell kits and supplies for making Christmas decorations, they have to sell them in time for crafters to finish them before Thanksgiving (or earlier). Roughly the Fourth of July.

As for me, I’ve pushed Christmas preparations all the way back to January 1st. I once worked in an office in which all the women wore Christmas sweaters, and non-ironically at that. Some even wore Christmas sweatshirts on Casual Fridays, but that leads us back to the craft store dilemma.

I refused to give in to the price-gouging that ensued in December, not to mention the fact that I felt most of the sweaters fell into the category of Ugly Christmas Sweaters. So I waited till January and bought the leftovers at bargain prices. I thought the leftover sweaters were by far the nicest, since they didn’t feature the gung-ho-ho-ho excess of the more popular ones.

I finally acquired a respectable collection (you need four or five, at least, because of course you can’t wear the same one again and again). Then I left that job to go freelance. The Christmas sweaters now reside on shelves in my closet, longing for the day when I get invited to a holiday party. Which doesn’t happen often, probably because no one trusts me not to show up in a Grinch sweater.