I love Christmas. I have said this before, but I want to start this post with that note. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! It is my most favorite time of year. I love the feelings of good will and love you have for all, including the ones who normally bug you. I love the snow, I love the shopping. I love the stockings, the quilts I try to make. I love the family, Roger Whittaker Christmas Album, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums, the star on my mountain, the Christmas carols, the Christmas Concert with my choir, everything.
So from about the first of October when we began to sing the Christmas songs for our concert, I began to think about Christmas. I think I ran on adrenalin for three months straight as I got ready for it.
I am not one to make lists on paper, or in a palm pilot, I make them in my head, and I was counting down with lists of things that took top priority. My plans were hugely interrupted when my future daughter-in-law asked me to sew her wedding dress. The wedding also took up many weekends, her endowments at the temple one weekend, their wedding the next, then their two receptions, one in her town and one in our town on two successive weekends. I am not complaining, just saying that my count-down had a few snags. There were a few other sewing jobs thrown in the mix from customers wanting things for Christmas plus two funerals in our Church that each took a whole precious day to serve the bereaved. All these times, my Christmas preparation was put on hold so I could accommodate the others. I had to compromise and throw out some of the things on my lists, like sending out Christmas cards. They will get sent, just will be late, I am sorry to say, but I could not stress myself any further by feeling guilty for things I could NOT do.
This year was our year to have all the kids come to our house. Four of the six children and spouses, and one grandson came. So on top of all the Christmas preparations, I wanted to make it extra perfect and magic for those coming to my house. Especially the newly-wed couple, since this would be her first Christmas away from her family. And our first Christmas in two years to have S3 home. S3 is one of the favorites of the older brothers and sisters. He has always been the sweet, easy-to-get-along-with baby brother and everyone was looking forward to having him back. How fun for him to have joined in the "married club" besides.
I actually pulled it off, with the help of my sweetest husband who took over all the cooking stuff and allowed me to continue to sewing these quilts. Just an explanation for those of you who don't know, we draw names every year. Each of us draws a family name, and my husband and I am in this drawing as well. The family or individual whose name we draw usually gets a homemade gift. But if they cannot make a gift, they try to get them a personalized or special gift. I always make that person a quilt. It started out with wool-batt quilts. The wool batt came from wool sheered from our sheep, back when we lived on the farm. We sent the wool away to Baron Woolen Mills and had it all made into wool batts. I covered each batt with a muslin pillow case which I stabilized with large basting stitches. Then I made a quilt out of them for each child. As I drew their names successive years, I would make them each a wool-batt quilt, a tied quilt, a jeans quilt and finally a pieced quilt. It was fun to just concentrate on one child each year.
But typically I found myself either not getting my name soon enough, or getting distracted and not getting the quilt made. Two Christmas' ago, I was trying to finish D3's quilt. I showed her the started pieces and she was supposed to get it in January. That was the Christmas DIL-1 was in a terrible car accident two days before Christmas and ended up getting a metal plate put into her head. I put off my regular trip to see my mom until February and hurried down to Mississippi to help take care of her for two weeks on the 2nd of January. Time hurried on and I found myself in November of that year, still on the same quilt. So before I started the next quilt, which happened to be D1, I had to finish D3's. D3 got her quilt, and D1 got hers in pieces, which were still in that same form this November. Finally I laid out the pieces, sewed them all together and one week before Christmas I was borrowing my neighbor's quilting frame and working like a slave to finish all the tying. It turned out beautiful, but I still had S3's to do. I did NOT want our new DIL3 to not get a present, so I worked hard to make sure it was done. They walked in just as I was finishing the last two seams of this rag quilt on Christmas Eve. Then I had to snip all the seams. They asked whose quilt it was, and I had to tell them, so they didn't get to open it. That made me sad. It turns out this DIL3 is pregnant and was NOT feeling well, so she spent most of her time sitting in the next room with a bucket. All the effort I did to make it special for her was not noticed. That made me sad as well.
One grandson came and got showered with fun things. He was a very grateful little recipient, and quite a delight. I loved every minute with this cute and special little guy.
But worst of all, I found out after they had left that one couple had not exchanged gifts with each other this year, because they had just purchased a house, and decided with their mortgage they just couldn't afford to. They graciously brought us gifts, and even a birthday gift for me, but only received two gifts. This made me feel perfectly awful when I realized this. The gifts we gave them were generous, but I felt bad that they sat and watched everyone open many gifts and only had one each to open themselves.
So today, the last of the four couples left. The dishes are done, kitchen cleaned, the Christmas cards still need to be printed, labeled and mailed. The living room carpet needs vacuuming, and the house is perfectly quiet and terribly lonely. The beautiful Christmas tree stands in the corner, continuing to rotate, but the magic seems to be gone. And I feel terribly sad. Part of that sadness is the knowledge of two people who died this season. One was our beloved director of the orchestra for our choir, the other was a husband of a very young former neighbor who was in Japan with the military and who left a young family behind. I don't know if it is the let-down that comes after the adrenalin is gone or if it is some of the perceived failures on my part or a combination of all. Either way, the tears are very close to the surface.
In years past, I am inspired as to how I will make Next Year an even better event. I have new plans for the things I will make. I have plans with a Monthly count down, beginning in January so I will be better prepared. I make a resolution to have it all done by October so I can do more things for my neighbors, more service projects and feel more of a spirit of Christmas. But tonight I don't feel any of that. I am not writing this to get sympathy, more for my own self, to work through why I feel so let down. I guess it is good to have the children come home only once every other year. I am not sure what we plan to do next year, but I am sort of glad we don't have to put on the party.
Actually the time I felt the happiest was at the beginning of the season, when S2 and his sweet family came for Thanksgiving. To make it magical, I put up the tree early and wrapped gifts for each of the sweet grandchildren. They had a grand time and I felt like it was a great success.
Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2008 is amazing for everyone reading this post.