I am in love with felt right now. Felt, felt, felt. I made gingerbread men ornaments, retro-inspired ornaments (both courtesy of http://howaboutorange.blogspot.com, where the patterns were free downloads), and now I'm getting ready to whip up some felt-y appliques for our otherwise plain Christmas stockings. I guess the felt obsession was born of the embroidery dabbling I've enjoyed this year. I love it. It's easy to work with. And with embroidery floss as part of the equation, it always looks cute.
I took today off from work. It was something I had planned to do a while ago, and man did I need it. I was busy taking care of loose ends left and right. I whipped up a coffee cake at 6:30 AM and brought some to a morning visit at Grandma's, hit the Post Office and finally mailed out a bunch of Christmas cards, went to the store for a few extra gifts--and where I managed to spend more time chatting with my mom on my cellphone than actually shopping (yep, I was THAT person), and once home hung out with three dogs happy to be warm inside this frigid day, ate a clementine and spaced out--are you still reading this?
And I wrapped.
I wrapped. A lot. I wrapped a lot of gifts. So much so that my iTunes Christmas Playlist of 85 songs played TWICE. Uh-huh.
The only thing missing right now is the tree. There is a fine line between getting your tree too early in the season and getting it too late. If I had a fake tree, it would have been up by now. But I favor fresh trees. Fresh cut trees. Fresh cut trees that my boys have a hand in sawing down in the midst of a lil' mom and pop New England tree farm.
The plan is to pick it out Sunday, no matter what the weather. We might have done it last weekend--maybe--if the kids hadn't been sick. But we keep it up until "little Christmas", on January 6. Three Kings Day. So we need our tree to actually live until then. The last few years, the tree has barely made it. Hence the delay this year. I'm okay with it. It makes the anticipation of Christmas a bit bigger somehow to have yet put up the tree. Everything else is up. Great-Grandma's ancient nativity set, the window candles, the wreath, the evergreen roping and white lights outside. The whole house is ready for a Yuletide rumble. But tonight, while the fire crackles, we've got nothing except the ghost of our tree, unsuspectingly and innocently rooted somewhere in Guilford or Clinton.
So Christmas is coming. I'm *really* looking forward to it this year in a way that I haven't in a long time. What's funny is that I never thought I wasn't excited about Christmas in recent years. I guess this year I'm just looking forward to it even more. It's simpler, this year. Fewer gifts (yes, I know I wrapped all afternoon, but still. I have a huge family.). Quality vs. quantity. No giving into chaotic commercialism. Home made ornaments. Lots of baking. A (home made) advent calendar that the kids LOVE opening each day ("Pick out a DVD to watch tonight!" "Special surprise breakfast!" "Make a Christmas craft!"). Thanks to Family Fun magazine for that idea.
But more than anything, I think I'm just finally having fun with it all in a loose, comfortable way. There is no quest for perfection. My house doesn't have to be "perfect" to host Christmas dinner, which I cannot wait to do! (Ordered the Christmas roast from the butcher today!) There is no concern about buying the "perfect" gift for anyone. Just buying a special gift out love seems to be enough. I don't know what changed, exactly, except my attitude. And I am more than okay with it.
The shopping is pretty much all done, save for one or two things. And now I get to enjoy the next two weeks of anticipation. I have plenty to keep me busy--obligations and appointments galore. But it's all good stuff. There are parties at the kids' school, tae kwon do class, and CCD. There is a Hanukkah dinner at the in-laws tomorrow night, a few hours after a luncheon for the CCD teachers.
And the tree. Sunday night the boys, Ian and I will put up our first Christmas tree since Ian and I were married in March. It will be just like last year--or the year before that. Except...better.