Thursday, November 13, 2008

okay, I'll confess...

Hello All,
It's been 10 days since my last post and I feel like I'm slacking on the job, but honestly, we've just been out straight here. We've all had some sort of flu/cold thing going on and poor Music Man has not had a voice for 5 days now. He and Little Red are coughing all night long and it's been challenging for all of us to get a good night's sleep. I even fell asleep during my absolute favorite show last night...and we're only talking 9:30 here, folks. Kinda pathetic. But, I woke up after 5 minutes or so and was able to catch the end of it. It's that darned electric blanket!

Since the weather has (finally!) turned colder here, I'm preheating the bed by turning on the electric blanket a 1/2 hour before I'm going to crawl in. Then, I put on my shorts and tee shirt (I sleep in them in the winter because invariably I wake up sweating in flannel sheets and a pre-warmed bed!), teeth chattering and crawl in to that little cocoon. It's guaranteed to lull my old bones to sleep in minutes. I never sleep with it on because once the human oven crawls in next to me, I don't need anything else. Music Man operates at about 500,000 btu's, I swear. How someone can put out the body heat he does and still be cold, I'll never know. But, the cozy feeling I get from having cold air around me, but the warm bed is just great.

My sister asked me what we'd like for Christmas last year. Since she doesn't fancy herself crafty, at the top of our list was an electric blanket. The kids room tends to stay pretty warm in the winter since they have 3 walls that are interior to the house, but our room is definitely colder with two larger walls exposed to the north winds. I pretty much never ask for a frivolous gift when someone asks me what I want. I think it's the minimalist in me, I've got Yankee thriftiness built into me somehow. I just don't want lots of stuff cluttering up my life and so if there's something that I would use for sure, like the blanket, then I ask for that. I also asked for a dutch oven and got two of those also. One from my parents and one from my other sister. I LOVE the dutch oven! Very practical and I use it all the time. Anyways, back to the blanket. My sister splurged on us and got us a really great blanket, way fancier then anything I would have bought for myself. It has two heat zones, so Music Man can set his what he likes, and I can set mine what I like and we're both happy as clams. It also has two separate boxes to digitally control the heat settings. I had an electric blanket many years ago that was a hand me down from my grandmother and it had a little pointy thing on the control that let you click it to "high-med-lo". So, when I unpacked this blanket, I was amazed at the amount of cords, boxes and controls that went with it. I didn't know even electric blankets were so high tech these days! See what I mean about me living in another time, things like that just surprise me. I just never thought there was a need for all that technology surrounding even electric blankets. You learn something new every day. Anyways, this is by far a great gift to give to someone. We keep the heat set very low in our house, as most people are these days. I've lived on my own with the heat set ridiculously low most of the time. I can't stand paying heat bills, it drives me crazy. And that's really pretty silly coming from someone who lives in New England and needs to turn the heat on at least 4 months out of the year. But, my motto is, if you're cold, then put another sweater on, wool socks, whatever it takes. My kids never complain about being cold, mostly because they don't sit still long enough to get cold, but I have the reply to "I'm cold" all ready. It's akin to the one my parents had for "I'm so bored" when we were kids...Well, then, I have a chore for you to do that will warm you right up. Go split some wood." Hehehe, I can't wait to use that one on my too-soon-to-be teenagers....or rake some leaves...or shovel some snow...hehehe, it's gonna be great.

Christmas season is fast approaching and I'm a complete Christmas NUT. I usually get the shopping done for the people that I'm going to buy for all throughout the year. I hit sales right after Christmas for the following Christmas, and just store stuff in the attic. This year, with all the coupon shopping I've been doing (I'm going to post about that in my next post), I've not been concentrating much on the sales for other items. Just trying to get through on what we have without worrying about Christmas.

Christmas has become WAY too commercial for me anyways. I really enjoy making gifts by hand, I think that maybe it runs in my family. Or maybe it's just a latent thing we all possess and some haven't tapped into. I find a lot more satisfaction by shopping for fabric for a particular gift for a particular person, then making just the thing I think they would enjoy. One year, both my sister's families had pop up campers so I did some woodburning and came up with signs for their campsites (still haven't made one for our camper yet!), I've made quilts, doll clothes, knit scarves and blankets, stuff like that. And I love receiving a hand made gift. Knowing that someone put the time and love into an item to make it just for me makes me very comforted inside. There's something about that process that is nourishing.

I see people around me that stress out about Christmas. It's like a long list of gifts they have to buy, parties they have to attend, places they need to be. In the grips of all that, it's completely forgotten on occasion what the whole purpose of Christmas really is about. Not only celebrating the birth of Christ, which most people know but many don't tap into. But it's also about giving to others, it's not supposed to be a chore. If it's done in the right spirit, it's wholly fulfilling for both people. And I for one, don't want a gift from anyone that it stressed them out to have to buy. I would so much prefer that they make me something, or if that's not possible, just donate money in my name to a cause I am passionate about. I am so fortunate in my life, I have so much and I would much rather that someone in a poor country was able to get a chicken in my name...with that chicken, sell eggs and make money to send their children to school. So many lives improved from that one gift. That means so much more to me and my heart then a gift someone fretted over and once found just checked off their to-do list.

Stress is not a natural part of the season, it's the pressure we put on ourselves to get just the right gift or go to just the right parties. I hope that this Christmas, with so many struggling in our country financially, that it could be rediscovered that small things are actually big things. I have this very romantic notion in my mind of the way Christmas used to be, when things were not too commercial, and everything wasn't "made in China", but made by hand or bought from someone local that could make something you could not. Like when children got a hand made toy, or someone knit a scarf for a friend, or people circulated the neighborhood caroling and stopping at their neighbors houses for cocoa and cookies aftewards. What happened to these moments of togetherness in our lives? Where did the value of something made by hand and with love go? When did children start to get almost a mortgage payment worth of gifts every Christmas? I just don't know, but I for one long for the simpler times that were filled with more love, caring, peace, and remembering the birth of one child so long ago is the reason we celebrate it at all.

As I said, I never know what direction these posts will take when I sit down to pontificate. Christmas is on my mind as I am making some gifts for my nieces to give to them on Christmas. I know you're probably thinking, it's a little early for Christmas talk, isn't it? Well, that's where my crazy mind starts to dwell long before the day arrives...I find the joy and comfort in the days preceeding it as well. I've also been looking for a cut-your-own tree place that we've not been to, but that's a whole other story for a later post.

Wishing you simplicity and peace for your holiday season, ~Peacemom


aseaman said...

You have warmed the cockles of me heart with this one. I was so very fortunate as a child having been brought up in the 40s & 50s in a small city in NY. One Christmas with me on the sled and my two older sisters pulling me along to go to 'town' to get a few little things to finish off our gift giving, then off caroling the next night and joining many friends at the skating rink and sipping hot chocolate afterwards. I could go on and on however just wanted to thank you for reminding me of these sweet memories. A mom too

Peacemom said...

you're entirely welcome! I remember one special Christmas in my memory of living in Florida when we went caroling around the neighborhood and had cocoa and donut holes at our house with the neighbors after. Bet you didn't think I remembered that, huh? I really do long for those simpler times and wish everyone wasn't so transient in neighborhoods now. Maybe some day things will get back to that and more meaning in the season. Glad I could help you remember a fun time and thanks for sharing those memories with me.