Friday, 6 January 2017

7 Quick Takes 47: The Twelve Steps of Christmas

1. What do "Britain's stingiest woman" and an atheist 70s vintage junkie have in common with many writers in the C/catholic blogosphere? Answer: They've all been discussing cutting back on - or ignoring - Christmas altogether. Maybe it's just that I veer towards nonconformists, but it seems to me that more and more people are not just moaning about the commercialization of the season, but actually taking action about it.

My name is Susan, and I'm a recovering Christmasaholic.

2. Life in thrall to Christmas was tough. Beginning in November, I would hand write letters to add to dozens of cards. I made my husband risk life and limb - and use up his swearing quota for the year - cutting down and setting up the perfect tree. I hoarded Christmas paraphernalia, fearing the Yuletide equivalent of the zombie apocalypse. I proclaimed such a fervent belief in Father Christmas that my (post belief) daughters had to sit me down and explain how I traumatized them. I even once constructed a 10-foot swag of magnolia leaves, sprayed gold and pieced together one by one.

How did my reformation happen? Not my girls' intervention; I still believe in Father Christmas. No funny or momentous revelation, either. Just being overwhelmed, gradually coming to my senses - oh, and still being swept up on the tide of KonMari fervour :)

3. The slow demise of the Christmas card is a topic that really got me thinking. We used to cover three surfaces with all the cards we received. In the past couple of years, that's gone down to one. Probably most some of those people have struck us from their list, but many more are choosing to post a photo of their kids/dog/python under the tree on Facebook, wishing everyone Merry Christmas, and being done with it.

And I'm getting there. I've gradually scaled down from those letters to hand written notes in cards, plain cards, then photo cards with printed names, and this year's 7QT Christmas letter. My husband is trying to persuade me to give up sending cards altogether, but that's easy for him to say because he hasn't personally sent one in twenty years.

4. I didn't even put up all the decorations this year. We had a Saturnalia party for my daughter on the 17th, and festooned the entrance way with a banner and roman columns - and I just liked it too much to take it down straight away. After all, Saturnalia goes on for nine days, and I wouldn't want to offend Saturn. And when I finally did, I couldn't be bothered to mess with climbing on a ladder clutching handfuls of drawing pins (thumb tacks) to put up my Victorian Christmas friezes.

"What's wrong? I only had to knock over two ornaments to sit here."

5. This year, I'm also finishing the purge of my nutcracker ornaments. I had several, mostly gifts, that I dutifully displayed or hung on the tree because they're a Christmas icon, but the truth is I find them creepy. So they've gone off to the thrift store to give someone else nightmares.

Don't close your eyes...

6. The tree. We used to have a Christmas tree farm within walking distance of our house, and the girls and I enjoyed choosing and tagging a tree after Thanksgiving, then going back at the last possible moment to cut it (but not my husband - see above). Then the farm closed, and the nearest is thirty miles away and erratic in its opening times. In a zero waste fit, we started cutting down trees in our yard, which weren't always the prettiest, but the price was right. My brother tagged them "frankentrees". But after a sustained drought this year, we weren't even going to get to frankentree standard. Then a friend told us that the local DIY store were selling half price trees. I'd never bothered to try bargain hunting. From what I remembered, if you touched one of those trees with your little finger, all the needles would drop off. But genetic engineering has come a long way - those needles don't budge, even when the tree is dry as tinder. I ended up with a seven-foot Douglas fir for $20. Granted, it was rejected by everyone else in town, but after years of 'natural' trees, it looked top notch to us, and anyway, I'm an expert at hanging ornaments to fill and disguise gaps.

7. A recovering or frugal Christmas isn't complete without making do. I had a couple of fake taxidermy crows (half price, of course) that I'd got from a craft store for Halloween. I couldn't bear to banish them for Christmas, so I put some dollar store tinsel around their necks and hey-ho, Christmas crows (that was the thirteenth day of Christmas, of course). And one of them looks pretty good on the second tree. Yes, I said second. I have a tabletop tree to display my special ornaments, because I'm recovering, not recovered.

For more quick takes, fa-la-la-la-la over to Kelly's link up at This Ain't the Lyceum.


  1. I so empathsize Susan - I am THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS IS PAST and took all the decorations down on New Years Day. As you can imagine I'm not very popular when everyone is suffering hangovers and I start up the Hoover.....effing pine needles.

    1. The tree goes up close to Christmas Eve so that we can keep it up for the twelve days of Christmas without getting sick of it or being speared by dry pine needles :)