Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014: The Small Details of Joy

This has been the Christmas of small details.

In the last few years I've decided that not only can I not do everything over the holidays, I really don't want to. And that's okay. In fact, once I decided it was okay, it became better than okay, and I've regained what I thought I'd given up. More, even.

Last year I blogged about some of the hows of that decision in this post, and those are still my guiding principles for keeping our Christmas to the scale of what's comfortable for us.

But this year I seemed to narrow my focus even further. And you know what? It turned out great.

With three growing hungry boys in the house and a college student returning from a semester of indifferent dorm food, meals were important this holiday. I baked dozens of cookies. We had homemade toast and cinnamon rolls for Christmas brunch. I made pies, dinner rolls,  and noodles, and I put a lot of thought into good coffees and wines.  There seemed to be flour in the air and sprinkles on the floor all. the. time. We've had a lot of great meals this holiday. Not just for what got put on the table, but for what we talked about around it-- snow and Batman and Revolutionary War generals and the Detroit Lions and balancing redox equations. And fart jokes, yes.

We put up the tree, and decorated a bit here and there, but we didn't sweat it much. We did, however, put earrings (antler-rings?) on Bob. We thought he looked especially festive:

Every year, I get each of the boys an ornament for the tree. Sometimes I make them, sometimes I buy them, but this year I concentrated on making sure each one was thought-out and personal, either way.

Grant is off to college these days and in the process of launching himself in adult life. His ornament was this little laser-carved house (World Market). I want him to know that wherever life takes him, he'll always have a home here too.

Noah, my guitarist, got the laser-etched Strat to hang on the tree. It's from Etsy seller Miller Custom Solutions (link here).

Ben's ornament took the longest to make, but mostly because I was assembling it out of several things: a small picture frame, spray paint, old sheet music, and hand lettering.

Ben plays the viola, and music for that instrument is in the alto clef. It turns out that it is one of the only instruments for which music is written in the alto clef, so I wanted him to have something that symbolized the uniqueness of his musical endeavors. Also? No alto clef stuff to be had out there in retail.

And Joe is passionate about pears. They are his favorite fruit, and he averages at least one daily. So I made one for him out of wool felt (plus a little "test pear," to make sure I was making it the way I wanted. I made a few changes on the final version).

The little blackbird was a gift for a friend. Here it is finished:

Some years, I also get an ornament for myself. Having four sons, my Christmas tree is a whole lot of trains, bears, fish, and other masculine stuff. Sometimes I want something overtly feminine, just for me. This year it was a wool ornament from the Purple Pincushion (Facebook page here) I think I fell in love with the vintage button: 

If it sounds a little like all I did this Christmas was roll out dough and either shop for or craft ornaments, well--- yes. It was all I really focused on. Sure, other things happened, like Christmas Eve candlelight service and gifts under the tree and some other stuff. But the house wasn't all that clean and the kids wore jeans to church and there weren't any lights on the roofline and there was even a box of something, I don't remember what, that didn't get unpacked and strewn around. The Christmas cards will be late.

It didn't matter. In fact, I think it improved the overall success of the holidays. We were well fed. More importantly for me, my sons each received a small gift to show how well they're understood and appreciated. 

I don't think I really could ask anything more out of our holiday together. 

Merry Christmas to all of you! 


  1. Merry Christmas to you, too! I also do an ornament for each child each year, and I also try to make them meaningful. You've got me thinking that I might need to make next year's. I've thought about abandoning this tradition--the ornaments add up, and this year both kids were too busy to help decorate the tree--but it's one of the first things they look for on Christmas morning. I'm with you on the priorities--good food and a meaningful tradition trump a beautiful mantel or spotless house. (Although I'm guessing that Bob and his earrings made your mantel beautiful, too. :-)

  2. Merry Christmas! It looks like you had a really lovely Christmas. Anyone who makes food, including cookies and wine, a priority is my soul sistah. All of the ornaments are great. I really like that little bird you made for your friend. Wish I could do something like that.