Christmas is not just for the little children who believe in Santa Claus and presents and whose faces light up under the lights of the tree. Christmas is for those who need to believe in hope and love and joy again. Christmas is the greatest gift to grown-ups, the ones whose hearts are hurting the most.
I know some grief. I know that it would be easy to curl up and not be around this Christmas. It's not going to be easy when you are missing someone who has been there every Christmas and who has brought joy and light to every Christmas celebration. (One year my brother was not supposed to be home for Christmas. He created this elaborate plan to surprise my mother. His friend came to the door on Christmas Eve and asked for Austin. My mom told him, sorry, Austin was not coming home this year... and Austin popped out of the coat closet!) It is not going to be easy to smile at every happy face and be gleeful when we raise our glasses. We'll be remembering all the wonderful times that we shared and we'll be sad. But we can be happy too. We have to. One of the mothers from Newtown said as much to her son who was in the class. "It's ok to be sad, it's ok to be happy," she told him. And that is it. We are human and we celebrate all the emotions of the season, missing those we miss, celebrating with those we love right now. I don't want to remember this as the Christmas we didn't have Christmas. We need a little Christmas now! more than ever.
I listen to the songs playing and I know we are not the first ones to feel this way. Why else would they say things like, "Make merry". "May your days be merry and bright." Because there has always been war. There has always been grieving. There have always been heavy hearts and broken spirits and torn apart families and children who are gone from us and mothers who are dying and dads who have disappeared. And these are the ones who most need Christmas. "Let your heart be light". It seems like we can't, but we can. This is why Christmas came: to bring us hope and joy. For I've grown a little leaner, Grown a little colder, Grown a little sadder, Grown a little older, and with Newtown we have all grown a little more cynical.
And here's a lyric I didn't know until I looked it up: (Apparently the song, We need a little Christmas is from a musical, Mame)
Mame says: live each living day.
It's going to take some work this year, more than before. It's going to take some effort to be joyful. We are no longer naive and innocent because our spirits have been eroded by chaos and sadness. But we are still here. Our spirits can be lightened. We have children and families who depend on us and who need us to be joyful and light. And we can be.
So roll out the holly, put up the brightest string of lights I've ever seen... because we need a little dancing, need a little laughter, need a little singing, ringing in the rafters...
Why do we put candles in the window? Lights on the tree? Because there is darkness in our world and in our midst and we need to remind ourselves in a real way that there is hope. It's a little source of light that helps heal our hearts. We will find love again, we will find hope again, we will find our faith in humanity again. Christmas is a Sustaining Ritual that gives our broken hearts some peace and consoles our spirits. That is the true meaning of it all. The truest meaning of Christmas. Christmas returns us to love.
So now for the hauling-out-the-holly part. sigh... I'm sharing my mantle.
The Mantle. It's always such a big deal. Garland? Lights? Stockings? Holly? What else? Candles? Angels?
In our family room I'm going simple. I used these old candle wreaths as wreaths on either side of the old Warren Kimble painting my husband gave me on one of our first Christmases together. (a little peace...)
I bought the candle sticks in Jackson Hole at a cool antique store on our trip this summer. (feeling better already...) I don't want to put them in the attic for Christmas.
I like the caramel candles and the way they are melted just so. :) The lights were up from Annie's birthday and I don't feel like trying to add green garland.
The joy and peace are old craft show finds. (joy and peace, joy and peace)
This burlap ribbon is about $10 a yard at Pottery Barn, but you can find it for $.79 a yard (yes that's right, the decimal goes there!) at JoAnn. It's called chair webbing and it only comes in this color. And if you use a 50% coupon, well, Merry Christmas to me!! I bought twenty yards. Not joking. (smile) Maybe that was a little crazy. I don't know where I'll use it all.
I made big bows because this stuff is made to be used on a chair and hold like 250 pounds and so it is super thick and hard to bend, but it does. I hung my "decorative balls" from garden twine and so we have our mantle decorations.
My inspiration came from a little garden store around here.
I snipped some holly from a neighbor and may add that to the ribbons.
I was browsing through Paper Source and saw these garland kits for $$$too much money and so we made some of our own. I love gingerbread men! They're so cute! And seasonless too.
The living room is not so simple. I don't know why. I think it needs more pine. Or balls. Or something. I am most excited about the curtain rod which holds our stockings. I think each year I end up with broken nails and broken finger nails trying to hammer in tacks that don't show and do damage on the mantle. I found this idea on Pinterest and bought two (instead of six) stocking holders to anchor the rod. What I really love is that it is so flexible. The kids can take their stockings down, they can go to one side if we use the fireplace, and they hang so nicely. The problem is the hanger fabric has also torn over the years and I'm ready to replace them. Is it a crime to buy new stockings? The kids have each had theirs since their first Christmas. But I'm thinking we need more burlap around here and I'm not afraid to take out my sewing machine. (I'm just too lazy to hang garland.) Burlap or green velvet or something that ties in more with the other decor. Am I sounding snobby, because I really don't mean to be. You know, you just get tired of the same old sometimes. So here are my options:
Very stocking-y! Christmas-y, traditional-y. Might be a winner.
Love the colors, the individualism, the warmth. (And recycled? From my dad's old shirts that my mom has been trying to get rid of?)
Nah. Let me be more emphatic: NO!
And the winner is... No monogramming necessary but still individual, simple. Generic. Cute. Timeless.
Tonight I'll be sewing.
He will bring us goodness and light. Joy is on the way.