The holidays are over!!
This might not be a popular stand, but it is definitely my favorite part of the whole season... when they are over!!
I actually enjoy the holiday season quite a bit, but there is always so much to do and never enough time to do it all.
Our holiday season really starts in October. We have more birthdays in two weeks than we have for the rest of the year (for now) in our small unit, not to mention the addition of some close and important extended family mixed in... so we go from one birthday to the next, to the next, (you get the point times 5), ending with Halloween (and homemade costumes), and then the hubster's birthday the next day.
We hit major harvest sometime from the middle to the end of the month of October and running through November, which at my house means lots of canning.
I truly enjoy harvest time, because I LOVE to reap the rewards from a long hard season of love, work, and care in the garden, but the nature of the whole thing is that you must preserve your harvest immediately or you loose a lot of the goodness in a surprisingly short amount of time. At the same time I usually make jams, jelly, and fruit butters with local harvests from the farmer's market, too.
Then of course we have Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite celebrations, but as our family has grown, not surprisingly, the family pressures have also grown. There tends to be a little bit of drama about who will be coming over to our house. I prefer to have just the immediate family, but my husband wants to have all of his family over too... and although the holiday is about family and sharing, the truth is that his brother and the accompanying clan stress me out -A LOT!! They have a complete different set of ideas about how to live and I would rather enjoy my favorite people than pretend to graciously welcome people I don't enjoy, into my home. I know that it sounds terrible, but there is a long bit of history behind my feelings... and the bottom line is we have a full house on our own. The other part of the situation is that if we don't host them, then they don't do anything on their own. Neither his mother or his brother and family participate unless it is a free from commitment, expense, or hassle day at our house... which makes me feel like somehow we are responsible for every ones happiness. To me if you can't be bothered to do it for yourself (or even offer a little help to us) then why should that be our responsibility? I mean the addition of 7 more people is more than double our own family unit, even after the baby is born. We always make a way to have a dinner, but I buy things for weeks in advance so that we can absorb the expense of this one meal. We don't go crazy with dozens of things, just your basic meal, but we have a pretty tight budget every week, so it does need some tightening both before and after the big day.
Then of course after Thanksgiving, we have about 3 weeks until Christmas, which is not very long at all... every. single. year! We go to a Solstice Party every year (around the 21rst) where all the adults make homemade gifts for the children and having three kids means that I have to make three gifts. I love to make things from the heart and every year I use it as an excuse to make something I have never made before. This is a blessing and a curse because it is a way to flex my creative streak with a definite deadline(which I need because I often have two or three things going on at once) and also a thrill to imagine and then create something from my head and have it work out (or not) pretty much like I wanted it too. At the same time, I, of course, am making things for my kids and my niece for Christmas, and it can get down to the wire and does pretty much every year.
Add in a little bit of stress, worry, and drama from being pregnant (where for me EVERYTHING is more difficult to achieve, especially with the placental issues and bleeding I had early on this time around) and you have about two and a half months of a little too much (things to do, things to make, family stress, family arguments) with a few too few resources (time, money, patience, and sometimes compassion).
So now that I have purged all that negativity out... and can now have a few deep, audible sighs of relief, let me tell you my favorite parts of the last three months! Because although I didn't intend it to be so, I realize I just whined and complained about the whole season, and the truth is that some of my favorite parts of the entire year are rolled right up inside of the whole thing. I guess that sometimes I wish that there was just a little more breathing room in between it all...
The best times:
This year we had a ridiculously warm Fall so I had a secondary pepper and tomato harvest, so I made twice as much Hot Pepper Jelly and can give some to all of my neighbors... which makes me feel all warm and squishy inside.
We had a dual birthday party for the two little ones this year and made THE COOLEST spider cupcakes with licorice and black sugar, which were a huge success and really fun at the same time!
I made a spider costume for Sophia(yes there was a running theme here...) that had been in the works inside my head for over two years... and it came out pretty flippin' awesome! She LOVED it and I'm betting Roscoe will be a spider next year (score! pre-done homemade awesome costume for next year!! yay!)
This year, although it didn't go the way I had hoped (with over a month advance warning, and grown up straightforward conversation) we had only our own immediate family for Thanksgiving and we had a very nice stress free day. Well, almost, until the turkey took three hours longer than expected and I had a slight starving pregnant woman meltdown for about the last 15 minutes before dinner was done... and trust me if other people HAD been here during said meltdown many an unfortunate word would have been spoken that couldn't have been taken back and probably would have made family tensions MUCH, MUCH worse!! : P
This year I made a stuffed bear and a bunny for two of my gifts, and my daughter(the 14 yr old) made a matching bracelet and necklace set for the other child. When it came time to exchange gifts my little girl, who got the bunny, JUMPED up and down and hugged it and made general merriment, which was absolutely the coolest reward for the time and energy put into this hand sewn item!! AND my husband saw the response which, I think from the smile on his face, finally gave him a glimpse of why I do this every year! (sadly, he doesn't understand the big deal about hand making anything... food, gifts or otherwise... which is one of the many differences in our thinking that causes a fair amount of chaos in our everyday lives together.)
Our kids had a great Christmas!
Santa managed to get them their little hearts desires... a cool wooden cash register that Sophia has had her eye one since before last Christmas, a beautiful handmade soft doll for Roscoe, which he is already very attached to and has named Kitty(?), and a couple of gorgeous handmade aprons for Emily(she loves being in the kitchen with me and is an excellent baker!).
We have been feeling the economy crunch this year... Al works in the restaurant business which of course falls off when people have less money... which means fewer hours per paycheck which makes a big difference to our budget. As long as the kids were taken care of, we were not too worried about whether or not we would have presents under the tree. To make matters worse right before Christmas this year, Al had a small accident because of an awful ice storm and needed to replace his two front tires... it had to be done for safety's sake, which took away any little wiggle room that we had, but somehow that sneaky Santa managed to put a present under the tree for me this year! Al managed to get me a sewing machine that I had had my eye on that was on a super holiday sale of 50% off! I was completely surprised and immensely grateful, if not a little guilty because we had said no presents. I had gotten him a box of his favorite candy(Ferrero Confections variety pack...YUM!!), but it obviously didn't have the same effect!
So now I have a hundred and two projects floating around in my head for my new machine! I am a self taught crafter. I don't use patterns and I hand sew everything I do, because I didn't have a machine, but also because I feel a little intimidated by it. This is a very simple little machine. It only has a few different stitches and not a lot of bells and whistles... but it is PERFECT for me... because anything more exciting and I would be too scared to use it!
I have been having a hard time trying to post pictures on blogger lately, but I welcome any of you to look at my recent belly shots up on Flickr.
I hope that you have all had a fabulous holiday and I apologize for my lack of attendance lately. Things have been just a touch overwhelming around these parts... did I mention that I am 2/3 of the way through this pregnancy and fighting crazy nesting urges on top of everything else that has been going on? Why is it that I never notice how dirty the top 3 feet of our 12 foot tall kitchen walls are when I am not huge, off balance, and dangerous on the top of a ladder? Or why my hormones dictate that every single floor board MUST be spotless before my MIL comes over for Christmas Eve celebrations? I am not a neat freak usually... I don't have the time or inclination to dust everything every week (HA! even every month usually), but the hormones, they are a powerful force to reckon with and at the very least my house is much tidier than usual right now!! Which we all know is a good thing in a round about way since no one will be doing it again for the next 6 months or so!! : )
Alright, I wish you all a very Happy New Year because, good intentions aside, I will probably not post again until after it has arrived! Although I might surprise you because New Year's Eve is also my birthday and I like to let everyone know ( I am decidedly needy as far as making up for crappy birthdays of yore)... but just in case...
I hope that you all had a lovely holiday and are basking in the relief of the end of the crazy busy season. I wish you all the very best in the coming new year and hope that you can all look back and see many things that made you smile and be grateful, to be who you are, where you are, headed in the direction that you are going!
Today I am grateful to have made it through another crazy 3 month long holiday season in one piece!
I am thankful to have so many happy memories to look back on over the last year.
I am thankful to have such bright prospects of joy and fulfillment looking towards the new year.