On the center of my kitchen table is a small quilted table runner I made this year. On the runner is a hurricane vase filled with vintage ornaments, and a red wooden nutcracker who is missing both his feet.
And in the runner is stuck an embroidery needle. It has been there for four days.
So this is Christmas in my house.
Though Hubby and I technically "finished" decorating over Thanksgiving weekend while the kids were on holiday in the desert with their grandparents, the crafting and projects go on, pretty much until Christmas Eve.
I stuck the needle in the runner while I was embroidering a feather stitch on my new stocking, and haven't seen fit to put it away, because -- odds are -- I shall soon need it again. (I should mention at this time that my kids no longer put foreign objects in their mouth, and that sharp objects are so much a part of their life that they know how to handle them, much as Italian vintner's children don't abuse wine.)
The nutcracker is one of many forsaken of his kind, rescued from garage sale boxes and redeemed by my husband's handiwork. Our extensive collection is being repaired one stringy synthetic beard and missing limb at a time, over a period of years.
For a week I have been in a crafting frenzy, trying to get everything "done" so I could rest and enjoy the season. And then my eight year old said something that changed my attitude, or rather, I said something to her.
"Mom, I can't wait for Christmas to come."
And my response, gesturing widely to our decked out house, piles of unaddressed Christmas cards and mugs of cocoa was, "This is Christmas."
Christmas for me is all this chaos. Taming it is not the goal. Embracing it is. If I finish embroidering stockings and stock the fridge with cookie dough and complete all the gifts I'm sewing for my nieces and nephews, then what will I do? My favorite way to spend Christmas time is curled up on the couch with my tree lights on, a pair of scissors hanging from a ribbon around my neck, and a needle and thread in my hands.
I don't do all this stuff because I feel I have to. It's not perfectionism. I know no one will care if I buy store bought cookies and give the little ones in my life gift cards. I do it because it brings me joy. That is, when I remember to savor the scraps of fabric lying around and not believe that picking up the mess is what I really want.
Not that I don't sometimes go overboard or loose perspective. In fact, my husband and I are going to Las Vegas for a Christmas party this weekend, and for an hour or so I was thinking, "Oh no, I'm losing a whole weekend!" Of what? Wrapping, baking, sewing? Hello! I'm gaining 48 hours of sight-seeing, dancing, eating, drinking and sleeping late with my spouse! That, certainly, is Christmas too.