The holidays aren't about department store Santas and department store sales.
And, for lots of folks, they're not about a baby, a manger, and three magi either.
Whatever our backgrounds, on this we can agree: the holidays
are about compromise, and indulging others as well as ourselves.
Take E. and me, for instance. She grew up in a part-Jewish, all humanist household
whose tradition was to fly down to Mexico to escape the jingle bells, whereas
my family tends more towards stockings on the mantle, a full-on turkey dinner,
and three church services on Christmas Eve. So these days, we've got blue lights
in the front windows and a little Norfolk pine in the back room. I focus on
the Advent; she's into the Advent chocolates. We're both fans of Sufjan
Stevens's Christmas box set.
And making stuff is another thing we both like to do, so over time we're building
new traditions together. We make paper snowflakes to decorate our front door,
stick cloves into oranges give the house a holiday scent, and collaborate on
homemade gifts for our friends and family. E. uses a lot of cut-up pictures
of birds in her collage paintings, so this year we're thinking of a paper bird
theme for our little tree.
Back in the day, my family used to go out into the woods and cut a few branches
off a thorn tree. Back home, we'd stick gumdrops on the thorns, which made for
a satisfying but slightly hazardous counterpoint to the traditional fir. Sometime
in December, two shoeboxes would arrive from Great-Aunt Violet, one filled with
all sorts of homemade cookies, the other with a skilanti, a sort of
Lithuanian kielbasa only she could find. Both shoeboxes were tied with (clearly
used) shoelaces and wrapped in brown kraft paper, and nothing was ever more
festive, not even the Christmas village with its working train and styrofoam
Nowadays, my folks often forgo hauling out our old homemade sequin-and-syrofoam-ball
ornaments, the crumbling, beloved flour-and-salt-dough ones, the few remaining
unbroken old-style candles inherited from their parents (or eBay, I forget which),
and even the amazing eggshell dioramas--most of the shells are cracked now,
and the diorama deer have all keeled over--in favor of decorating one of the
evergreens in their yard with popcorn balls and berries for the birds.
Bonus: a compendium of ideas for DIY holiday decor from around the blog.
from the opoponax, who started
- jute twine and sewing tape measures for deconstructed/process-oriented/pomo
- 12 little ceramic tag thingies from fishs eddy decorated with china markers.
- 12 funny little papier mache apples from the dollar store, to be spray painted
- old lefty political buttons i don't wear any more.
- paper snowflakes.
- cut-outs from last year's christmas cards
and from around the blog:
- small simple bows made from fabric in the xmas colors of your choice make
a nice filler. Half a yard of fabric cut in 3/4 inch strips will make a ton
of bows....Small bunches of dried baby breath flowers ( cheap at crafts stores)
also work. (Francesca)
- small origami cranes and other animals out of colorful paper (Shawn)
- Playboy Bunny air fresheners in balsam and fuzzy dice (pinkmohair)
- something shiny, pine cones, one really exquisite store-bought ornament
every year (Joanne)
- candy canes (Joan A.)
- dangly eaarings (Mayabee)
- red velvet bows and ribbon garlands, loosely twisted and woven through the
- strings of popcorn, dried cranberries, jujubes or wooden beads (angelune)
- fresh cranberries and popcorn, donated to the birds later (Pixie)
- paper snowflakes (smallcitybeth in canada)
- making a toy each year that symbolizes an important event from that year
- Altoid tins and red stripe beercaps (anonymous)
ideas for alt trees:
- Monica Ricci shares
her mom's great alternative tree ideas, including a candy cane tree, a stick
tree, and a chicken wire tree.
Ladder Tree and other ideas, collected over at AT Chicago
There are lots of other great ideas over at getcrafty.com,
including instructions for the eggshell dioramas (OCD strongly suggested).
Finally, for the bah humbug set, how about the article "Deck
the halls with ugly dreck" from Canada's National Post?