There's something about January 1st that makes things seem fresh, new and possible. The overwhelming past few months make that concept all the more lightening for me.
There's something about the last three months of a calendar year that seems just too full!
In the US, I feel like we all live in a blur which begins with September's annual back to school time and ends with New Year's Day. There's so much good stuff in between that you can hardly take it all in. I say specifically in the US because once the summer vacation ends and the schools open again for a new fall year, we jump from one holiday occasion to the next hardly able to breathe in between. At least that's how it is for me. In this post you will find my own personal take on the busyness of the end of the year season - the things I like and the things I don't - the opinions are only my own and I don't hope to make others feel bad if they like things about the season that I don't. Everyone should celebrate as it best fits him or her.
Once our family vacation to the beach ended in August, it was time to take my kids to college and then the busy craziness began (wait - what? am empty nest is busy and crazy?)
I love the fall season, the fall weather, the anticipation of winter and snow. It's one of my favorite times of the year. I love the fall colors and the new views out the windows as the leaves thin from the trees and fall to the ground painting my yard in an abundance of colors.
I love the cooling temperatures and the lowering of the humidity. I love how quickly the clothes dry on the line. I don't love how short the days get, but after a while I get used to it and give in to more time inside. I love it when I can wrap myself up in hand made blankets, planning and making and getting a head-start on gift giving. But it all goes just too fast for me. There are too many good things all trying to race their way into a few months at the end of each year.
This year, the fall seemed even shorter. Since hubby and I found ourselves in an empty nest this fall for the first time in our lives, we took a vacation sans kids in September. We went to San Francisco and the north western coast of California. I've got tons of lovely photos I haven't even had a chance to peruse and I really want to make a photo album of this vacation time.
|Fort Bragg, CA|
|Chinatown, San Francisco|
|Cable Car Museum, San Francisco|
|Giant Sequoias, Avenue of the Giants, CA|
|Super steep street in the city - view from the front of our hotel|
Here are some extreme cases
Add to that, I got invited to two Halloween parties so costumes were in order for hubby and me.
|Bank Robbers for Halloween this year!|
|Check my Halloween Pinterest board for the sugar skull pattern. The ghosts came from Simply Crochet mag.|
As soon as Halloween is over, its a rush to get the Halloween decor down and deck the house out in fall themed trimmings to prepare for Thanksgiving.
|I waited til Halloween day to shop for a pumpkin - the only one left was yellow and I couldn't have loved it more!|
|These ghosts made from thrifted sheets with sharpie faces have been in my Halloween decor since my kids were little|
|Likewise, the egg carton spiders were made by my kids when they were in elementary school.|
|If you are in need for an awesome vegan lasagna, I have a great recipe in my pinterst board: Food Etc|
We had three tables, in two separate rooms to fit everyone. I kept the table scapes very simple. We had to use plastic utensils as I didn't even have enough forks to serve the whole crowd.
The very next day we headed down to my sister's house (1.5hr drive) and had a second family Thanksgiving with my side of the family down there. Although our 2nd meal involves much more of the traditional Thanksgiving fare, we don't have turkey. This 2nd Thanksgiving is totally a vegan meal. Instead of the turkey, my brother-in-law made individual pot pies, I made mushroom gravy and the rest of the meal is pretty standard but just avoids dairy, eggs and meat - and of course, is all organic. People wonder what we eat at a vegan Thanksgiving but honestly, the table is so full I often don't get to sample some things because my plate is too crammed with goodness.
Heading home from Thanksgiving #2, I felt a cold coming on and I dreaded the idea of losing any days being sick. I rarely get sick and I don't like to give myself too much down time but I did give myself a full day of bed and TV to recuperate.
The day after Thanksgiving is BLACK FRIDAY - I mean the US goes nuts on this day with shopping and stockpiling and buying - I do not participate. Some stores open on Thanksgiving Day at 6pm - it's crazy. Online sales continue thru the week with Cyber Monday etc. etc... It's a tradition I simply don't care for and it encompasses all the things I don't like about the Christmas holiday. From Thanksgiving on, the newspapers are filled with advert offerings from stores and the TV advertisements are enough to make you nuts. Its usually the time that I sit down to review the gifts I plan to make and see how many I can tick off my list as complete and assure that I have the supplies to make the things not yet finished. I like to sit affront the TV at the end of the night stitching away in front of sappy Hallmark Christmas movies which I find humorously entertaining if overwhelmingly sugary sweet - somewhere between nice and nauseating.
And of course, in the US, the day after Thanksgiving is ALSO the time when all the fall decor is removed and the inside and outside of ones house are decked out for Christmas. And in the US people go seriously berserk with the outdoor decorating and not just with lights - there are giant blow up Santas and reindeer riding motorcycles and snoopy on top of gingerbread houses. I call them Blow Up Shits - I can't stand them! The hum of electricity blowing them up every night and then they sit in a crinkled pile on people's lawns during the day. Some peoples yards are so filled with lights and statues that they triple or quadruple their electric bill during the month of December. Again, overdoing the outside lighting is not something I like about Christmas season in the US! When we finally got our tree up this year just over a week before Christmas, my son came in late one night and knocked on the bedroom door asking if we had intended to leave the Christmas tree lying down on the couch in the living room - UM NO!!!! Nothing broke when it fell but what a doozy it was to upright and reset a huge 7foot tree that already had all it's lights and ornaments.
This year there were only a few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas so every caroling party, holiday bunco, Christmas Open House, etc all had to take place in a few short weeks. It's all crammed up with hardly a chance to breathe - it does little to make me feel calm. I am not a religious person but rather a spiritual one but I was really glad I didn't also have to add churchy things into the holiday mix. I prefer simplicity and calm at the holidays. I prefer home made instead of store bought I prefer celebrating the season and noting the outdoor changes and enjoying the weather, etc... to hustling and bustling through the stores with the loud Chrismtas music blaring through the speakers. I find Christmas preparations exhausting and I do what I can in my own life to minimalize the craziness yet enjoy the things I like. Someone did a holiday posts about Samhain and Winter Solstace, the pagan celebrations of seasonal change. I was both surprised by how many of the non religious traditions cross paths with religious ones. It was interesting to note some of the age old customs and how they have evolved into our current traditions.
All in all - the three big events of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas that occur at the end of October, November and December seem a raging blur of activity and decorating and rushing and planning and cooking and buying etc etc etc... I wish I could stretch it all out for 6 months, not 3. I wish I could spend the time enjoying the posting of my holiday cards instead of speedily sticking stamps on the outsides of envelopes and slowing down many other details.
I miss doing a lot of holiday baking. So much of the family who visits at Christmas is vegan, I don't really bake much which I miss.
It probably didn't help that during this busy three months we also re-did a bedroom, experienced two, yes TWO pipe explosion floods in our basement laundry room, dealt with two leaking toilets, hundreds of dollars of plumber visits, installed a clothes dryer for the first time in more than 6 years and more.
Kronum tournment. Kronum is a sport that 3 of my 4 kids have been playing since 2011. Kronum could fill a whole blog post on its own!
I'm tired just remembering it all...
For those of you who wondered what happened to my posting between July and January, you will now understand that many other things simply took over and my blog sat quiet while life flew by.