Monday, December 28, 2020

A 2020 Christmas

This year was all about self care and a return to simplicity.  The great thing about survival is it really helps you prioritize all your stuff, and fast.  In what felt like a heartbeat, everything that was useful, necessary, beneficial or remotely redeeming became crystal clear. All of the nonsense faded away into the shadows so that scarier, more pressing items could take its place.  Having officially entered middle age this year, I spent the entirety of it thinking about mortality, the future, and allowing myself to have all kinds of crises-- midlife, pandemic, the extremely depressing state of our country and the world combined, and more.  

So I leaned into myself this year.  Which is both centering and extremely terrifying, because there's all kinds of junk about "facing your darkest self" that takes place.  The journey is ongoing but I just wanted to give a brief and super vague summary of how 2020 was for me.  

For Christmas, we celebrated the best that we could. Simply, quietly, together.  Here are the pics to prove it: 

First, is there anything cheerier than a festive plate of Christmas cookies? 

We got a record number of neighbor gifts this year. I think it's because I had a surplus of Christmas card supplies so I used them up and we gave them away to EVERYONE.  And we cashed in on all the goodies from caring neighbors. Love it. Bath salts and plaid masks, goodies galore, a pair of scissors. It was amazing. Next year I'm going to save everything and heap it all into a pile for one glorious picture. Assuming, of course, we are still in good standing with our neighbors.  Time will tell. 

I was in no mood to get a Christmas tree this year.  Until I finally was, on like December 7. I felt ready. Usually we get it earlier but not this year. I just couldn't force it.  So i was happy that the moment finally came. We visited our local tree lot which has turned out to be kind of adorable with happy, woodsy people to run it.  I expressed a desire for a slimmer taller tree. Sean was fully on board. Julian was not.

The tree sellers saw our pick and were like “oooo, that one just. Came in from Montana. We’ve been ogling that one! You’re going to LOVE it.” 
1- Thats a good sell. They are good at what they do.
2- They were absolutely correct. Best tree we’ve ever had. It smelled so good, the needles were just right for ornaments and it NEVER dried out. We had nary a dropped needle. It was just as fresh a month later as when we bought it. Beautiful little tree. 

Sure was a lot easier/lighter this year. 

Julian, though, hated the tree initially and expressed this many, many times. Until a couple of weeks later when he conceded it wasn't so bad, and maybe he liked it after all.  His approval is hard won. Best not to hold your breath. Fortunately it gives us an opportunity to remind him that WE DON'T CARE and that he doesn't have equal weight in all our decisions, a confusing concept for him and, at times, all of us. Having one child is weird.  But I definitely like having moments where i can set him up just to shoot him down. Gives me a warm feeling inside.  

I have a pen pal who lives down the street. She loves old timey letter things too and we type letters to each other on our rusty typewriters.  This year on her Christmas card envelope were VINTAGE CHRISTMAS STAMPS. I immediately threw the card to the side and laid my lusty eyes on those stamps. I had to have them for my collection, so I set to work steaming them off the envelope, taking great care.


She said she got them on eBay. Who knows how many, or how long it took her. I don't know why I didn't think of this.  I was/am bitterly jealous. 

We didn't do much by way of activities outside of the house. A few drive-thru light shows which I think I'm getting too old for.  Epilepsy is going to kick in any day. We usually see a play but that didn't happen either. But it was ok. It was nice to have time to just sit in the season and not be controlled by it. We loved Christmas this year, and missed it when it was over. 

I did take a Christmas card photo with some gal pals from church, which made me real happy. 

Snowy canyon called to us again toward the end of the month. 

Over the break, Sean and I decided to do a Bob Ross painting sesh. If you've ever done this, you know how intense it can be, in spite of Bob's soothing dulcet tones and encouragement. This time was no exception and unfortunately, we apparently selected a scene high on the difficulty/stupid scale. When it was over, I thoughtfully and angrily declared that barn a "buttface" and even Sean, the profesh, was annoyed at the difficulty and shared in the vexation. 

Here we are pre-barn, when life was simpler and full of hope: 

Bob Ross's painting we’re trying to emulate:

Here's mine. Nailed it. By the end I was DONE, as you can see by my weird rolling waves of snow along the path and ridiculous afterthought trees. 

Sean's, with a more structurally sound barn and no lapping waves of snow:

We'll try again sometime with a new scene. Posting this has stirred up angry barn feelings.

Fortunately I gifted Sean/myself this Bob Ross paint with water book. MUCH easier.  Calming, meditative, completely stress-free:

A masterpiece every time. 

I also got Sean an order of all the makings for pork buns from Momofuku, a restaurant in NY owned by David Chang, for whom Sean is a fanboy.  He enjoyed making them:

And I enjoyed eating them. Delish. 

There was one Christmas miracle this year. And it was the miracle amaryllis.  My mom gifts us these every year and often comments on what a lucky thing it is to get one that has two buds.  Not only did we have two buds with four blooms each, but we got this latent BONUS bud shooting up out of nowhere!

T'is a thing unheard of! I took it as a sign and gift from the heavens above. To mean what, nobody knows. But what a joy it was to have that extra flower after the others had shriveled and gone. 

Our Christmas Eve dinner. Food pics are rarely appetizing but it doesn't mean we shouldn't document it. Sean makes fondu and all kinds of stuff to dip in it. It's so good. 

Another new favorite tradition introduced to us by our friends of German heritage-- Christmas mustard. It's a must have this time of year. The big tube of it.  Sean would eat that with anything.  

Lastly our Christmas card.  I sort of had a vintage/throwback theme going this year.  Going back to simpler times, handmade times. Slower times and times of handwritten messages.  So I bought a ton of vintage Christmas cards which filled me with IMMENSE amounts of joy, we made some funny stickers of our faces, and I handwrote cards until my wrist froze up.  We also included pages from my cherished Dec. Good Housekeepings--not shown, complete with commentary. Because I can’t help but offer up my 2 cents. But dang if I did not love this year's card.  What a pleasure:

A collage of only some of my favorites. 

So much texturized gold and embossedness! Gives me heart palpitations just to look at these. 

60’s-ified sticker faces

Our friend Emma in NY makes pop-up cards every year. She's amazing and we've stolen ideas from her before. Here's her card this year (designed to insert a tealight candle) and I'm just so blown away. We keep them all and use them as decor every year. 

 Also behind it is a hot chocolate advent calendar- 3 cheers. 

Merry Christmas, 2020. 

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