This post could also be titled "Comfort and Joy", because I'm here today to share my pitifully boring but meaningful-to-us Christmas decorations with all the mothers out there who are as creatively challenged and talent-less in this area as I am. (Or just too darn broke to do anything about their creative fantasies!)
I read very few blogs, for two reasons. One, I just don't have that kind of time, and two, I get too easily sidetracked by all the visually beautiful and creative things other moms are doing. It's easy to forget what I'm good at and what my goals are as a mother when I'm salivating over the homemade adorable-ness created by other mothers. (Did you read NieNie this past week? Sigh.)
Most of the things I'm good at are not visibly apparent. Not all--I can cook, play the piano, and write. But none of these things make me, my children, or my house look stylish or beautiful, which seems to be the focus of many blogs and magazines read by mothers. The most successful work I do as a mother can never be seen at all. But that's the fate of many men and women who do all kinds of "invisible" work. I can get my kids to talk, and I can listen (not always). I can plan and execute fun traditions and outings. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to best help our kids develop their talents as well as learn to work hard and be more self-motivated. I'm pretty good at slowing down to enjoy the moment with my kids, and--at times--I can be patient. Really patient. (But sometimes I can't tell if I'm patient or just in a state of exhausted resignation.)
None of these things garner much praise and attention from others, even other mothers. I have a secret dream of mothers everywhere complimenting each other on things such as their ability to keep it together when several kids are freaking out at once, to reach a child with a tough personality, to balance well the varied responsibilities that fall in a mother's lap, or the myriad other "invisible" talents in which mothers so often excel. Maybe then we won't feel so compelled to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy on the more visible talents that hog all the praise and attention!
We're so quick to lavish compliments on each other for looking good - our homes, our children, our bodies. And while I know it's fun for some people to shop ad nauseum (my worst nightmare!), having a gorgeously decorated home and uber cute clothing and accessories just never seems to make it too high on my priority list at this stage in my life. Not only because it bores and overwhelms me (too many options!!), but because I'm just not very good at it. You women who can create beauty out of very little and in no time at all--my hat goes off to you!
I don't mean to be a scrooge here, and please don't misunderstand. If I were to become independently wealthy and all my children were either in school or - heaven forbid - I was an empty nester (I know, an inevitability I must deal with), I would be the first in line for a professional decorator to come fulfill my wildest dreams. But, for now, it just doesn't interest me enough with everything else on my plate. (And I'm kind of cheap that way.)
So if you're anything like me and have had it up to here with the latest, cutest, most adorable way to wrap your gifts, set your table, trim your tree, and dress your kids on Christmas Sunday, here are some pictures of Christmas around my house. (And you really must read to the end.)
I am here to say that Christmas can be magical and meaningful for you and your family even if you haven't decked your halls to the gills, even if the only thing you make by hand is paper snowflakes, and even if the only boutique you frequent is (with a French accent please) . . . Targe´ t. Maybe even more so because you will be spending your time with your family instead of the check-out clerk.
(All you interior decorators and Martha Stewart types - please don't take offense. You know I'm just jealous, right?)
Tree trimmings: hand-me-downs from my childhood (the best!) and Targe´t:Amana Colonies when Kate was just a wee little baby and we didn't even think to get her a stocking of her own for our mantel-less apartment in Iowa:
The only homemade decorations around our house are the ones that come home from school. I have some favorites that I hang onto year after year, and I have a dream of someday finding a fun, permanent way of displaying the seasonal art projects that come home. Which is why I need to hang on to my favorites, because by the time I get around to that little project, no one will be making these little projects anymore:
Okay, I lied. Years and years ago, when Kate was just three months old, I made no less than THREE sets of these - one for me, one for a sister, and one for a dear friend. It took FOREVER and (I just realized this) could in fact be the reason I gave up on homemade crafts so early on. I have no patience for little details and the time it takes to make things look good. But it really is a gem of a project--if you have the time and patience. I need to replace one of the dowels in back, so the adorable camel is missing, but check out my HOMEMADE nativity hand puppets:
This is one other exception to the homemade rule and my absolute FAVORITE decoration: a tree angel made by my mother-in-law (not me!) from the leftover fabric of a bow I removed off the back of my wedding dress. How cool is that?
Okay, this is kind of cute, right? I'm trying here:
You know this framed baby gets a special spot every year:
Here's a great link to make you feel better about all the Christmas messes you're making. Only 3 more days!!