Christmas Thoughts in 2013
by Patricia L. Cummings
Each year the rush to promote Christmas becomes an earlier and earlier effort by those who stand to benefit financially. Not counting the “Christmas in July” sales, department store shelves begin to be stocked with Christmas goods before Halloween is over. Even though Christmas actually consists of one day, the preparations can go on for months, if not all year. Expectations run high as gifts are gathered or made in anticipation of glee on the part of the intended recipient. A lot of money is “thrown” at celebrating the holidays but what does all the hoopla, fuss, and glitter actually mean other than yet another way to become stressed out?
|Find "joy" in the season. This is a mini-quilt made for my mother a long time ago.|
For sensitive souls, especially those who are lonely, grieving, or sad, there is often a feeling of disconnection that is increased exponentially at this time of year. The pervading thought is that everyone (else) is enjoying the holiday preparations, although that is often not true. The commercialization of the holiday turns it from a reflective and spiritual time to one of greed and competition. The lack of sunlight at this time of year, especially in New England, makes happy holiday tree lights and candles all that much more appreciated, adding joy to an otherwise monochromatic outdoor scene of black, white, and gray.
|Two loaves of Stollen I made, an Austrian sweetbread made at Christmas time|
Simple gifts that come directly from the heart are always best. Gifts of food are given among friends: a jar of blueberry jam made with berries one picked in July, homemade peanut brittle, and tasty cookies or fudge are often chosen to give as sweet treats. I remember my Mom making Stollen every year. It was not until I was old enough to carry on the family tradition that I realized how much work it takes to create that Austrian sweetbread delight! A whole day must be set aside for the process! The gift of one’s time can never be overlooked as a gift in itself.
|Photo of Murillo's painting|
Christmas, in its purest form, is a religious holiday. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), a 17th century Baroque, Spanish painter, often captured religious themes in his work. One of his best known paintings is “Madonna and Child” painted about 1650. The Holy Family continues to be depicted in Art and in holiday crèches.
|Set of Nativity finger puppets I made from a pattern published in Crochet World, December 1981. |
The designer is Kathryn Jordan.
Literature and the movies provide many scenes of Christmas. The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge is a compelling one for the ages. Classic movies such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” never seem to get “old.” One very inspiring piece of writing is “Going Home,” an essay by Paul Engle who recounts life in Iowa. This can be found in An Old Fashioned Christmas (1964). “Every Christmas should begin with the sound of bells, and when I was a child, it always did,” he begins. The writer provides thoughts that are enjoyable!
|Hand-carved wooden baby Jesus I sent home to my parents for Christmas in 1972|
In a totally different vein, there is another Christmas story that is so infuriating, I have to read it again every few years. “Old Folks’ Christmas” by Ring Lardner recounts the ingratitude of two selfish “children” and describes how their parents are neglected and abused in spite of their efforts to indulge their insolent offspring with lavish gifts. Yes, like anything else, there are plusses and minuses associated with any social event.
In spite of all of the hype about the holidays, they can become more manageable when restraint is applied.
This year I have purchased a Gingerbread House kit, thinking that it would be fun to make. I am enjoying James Taylor's Christmas CD and especially his rendition of Joni Mitchell's song "River" with the words, "I wish I had a river to skate away on." I love the imagery. I plan to crochet some snowflakes, make another Christmas wall quilt, and am looking forward to Jim's rendition of "Figgy Pudding," a new recipe from Yankee magazine that he plans to try. No matter how you celebrate Christmas, enjoy the experience!
|Antique Bluework Embroidery. Pattern now available as automatic download.|
Just a reminder, there are some Christmas music files on my website, Quilter's Muse Publications, including the "Coventry Carol," "Los Peces en el Rio," and "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night" in German), that I recorded a few years ago.