Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Traditions of Scrooge and Creativity

I'm beginning to realise that one creates traditions without even trying.  Whatever it is one tends to do, that is one's tradition, even if it's pretty much nothing.   Our traditions apparently are:

Send odd little presents to a few friends and family in the States, usually way late and by surface post.  Cost of post often exceeds value of gifts.  However, said gifts often have taken days to make.  (A miracle occurred somehow this year and I actually posted them air mail on the last legitimate posting date.  I've no idea how that happened.)

Either design a weird childlike picture with a holiday theme in Paint or, since we've had snow the last couple of years and I have a digital camera, sort through snowy photos and select this year's candidate.  Use to send e-mail greetings to long list of people I don't see or hear from except at Christmas.

Bill posts the most tastefully large cards he can find (he has views about this) to a select group featured in his mother's address book, cousins that I wouldn't recognise without a name tag.  Also some of his mother's friends we're not certain are still living until we get a return card. 

We write out (smaller) cards to take to various club parties, half of them addressed to people who don't show and whose addresses we don't possess.  Have learned not to put 'Best wishes for 20XX' in case they need to be used next year. 

We keep a supply of cards on hand for those people who like us well enough to do the card thing, but apparently not well enough to get together.   May or may not resort to first class stamp to ensure return card is timely.

Presents might be purchased throughout the year when travelling.  Said presents then put in a safe place which may or may not reveal itself in time for the next Christmas.  Useful that each of us has our 'own space' (I have the East wing, Bill has the box room) for hiding each other's gifts.  Also useful that children have stopped growing...or have they?

Exchange wishlists with Bill and children, which I have to date largely ignored.  I tend to give each something bought, something handmade and something homemade to eat.   If my handmade gifts make them laugh, I consider them a success.   Wonder what the charity shops make of these. 

Erect an eight-foot fake tree and adorn it with a wide range of old, new and handmade ornaments.  Deadline:  Boxing day when Bill's kids come, but usually before Christmas Eve.  Bill is not allowed to handle my Mom's ornaments, so decorating/un- the tree is my job.  If the ornaments are broken, best if I do it.  (The tree is down from the loft, so it might actually go up this week).

Bill and I tend to open most of each other's gifts when we are alone, generally on Christmas Day, often first thing in the morning, with coffee, in bed.  For Bill, I open up my purse strings and he is very generous to me.  (It occurs to me that this sounds vaguely rude, but I'll leave it to give Bill a laugh.)

Host meal for Bill's children and partners if available (children or partners), serving usually large ham, anything but the traditional turkey, of which we are heartily sick by then.  Also Brussels sprouts, roast veg and Christmas pudding with custard, required British fare.   All food, bar the dessert, made from scratch by Bill.  Table is set with layers of ancient linen and lace table cloths, each hiding the flaws of the layer beneath, all topped with place mats.  Also mismatched water and wine glasses and sterling silver cutlery in art deco pattern.   My good Noritake china, grey and lavender, but with green and pink serving dishes from Bill's Mom and Grandmother because they have lids that keep the food warm. 

Said meal followed by ripping open of wrapped parcels.

After children have departed, I race to retrieve re-usable ribbons, bows and larger pieces of paper before Bill scrunches it all up for the recycling bin.  We have not bought wrapping paper in about six years and my wrapped presents always look very nice.

The thing that prompted me to write this was realising that another tradition has materialised without my noticing:  we watch Christmas movies in December.  White Christmas for me.  Hogfather for Bill.  One day I might stay awake through the whole thing.

Yeah, he is a little but, you know, that's just Bill.  Then again, I think we're probably a well matched set.


Suburban Princess said...

Brilliant post! Thanks for the laughs as I look at my own Christmas life and see a lot of the same things happening. Why do we send cards to people we don't hear from 364 days of the year?

Boywilli said...

Bah!! Humbug!! and I thought you liked all this Christmas malarkey. Perhaps we should just pile into the van and go to Monte Carlo next year

Frugal Scholar said...

A masterpiece!

Rick Stone said...

Christmas traditions are nice. This year I just can't get in the mood. Jo always enjoyed putting up the tree, decorating it with all the homemade ornaments she had made over the years. This year it will all stay in the attic. If all works out I'll be on the road Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Just me and the dogs heading south. May get back into wanting to follow some traditions someday but not now.

As for Christmas cards, I never understood that tradition. That is not something my folks ever did when we were growing up. Especially never understood sending them to people we never see or visit with and only do it because they send us one every year. (Guess I'm really in a Bah, Humbug mood.)

Shelley said...

Rick - That's exactly what I expected you would do. I can't imagine anyone being able to get into any kind of holiday spirit after losing their spouse. I think the cards are supposed to be about indicating to people that you like them well enough to bother with a greeting. Drive safe when you are out; unfortunately, not everyone is always perfectly sober out there.