Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have Yourself A Merry Lil' Christmas...

So it's Christmas Eve... and I have, yet again, made it to Christmas without joining the masses in the crazed, stressed, totally insane shopping frenzy. I'm sure as a kid I'd think this was the craziest idea ever, but somewhere in my teen years Christmas stopped being so great, it just made no sense. I always loved the idea of huge gatherings of people, all relaxed, enjoying each others company. Some good food, and no stress. For more years than I can count I kinda dreamed of a holiday in some huge, but cozy, snowed in log cabin type place in a secluded area where all my friends would travel to. A place where we'd wake up on Christmas to a communal breakfast.... spending the better part of the morning playing in the snow or hanging out by the fire laughing... sit down in the evening to a feast we all contributed to... and then fall asleep late in the evening with smiles on our faces. Sounds fairly simple doesn't it? Yeah, it'll never happen.
Too many people experience "holiday guilt"... they feel they MUST go to specific places for Christmas, even if it's the last place they want to go. (This holds true for multiple holidays) I never feel guilt over not wanting to be certain places. It's not a matter of NOT wanting to be around family, it's about the fact that I am closer to my good friends than I am to any family members. Alas, they are all fairly close to their own families. That right there could be one of the things that drew me to them in the first place. I grew up rather jealous of large and/or close families. My mother was an only child, and while she had MANY cousins and extended family... we really didn't spend much time with any of them. Plus none of my family on her side is even remotely close in age to me. On my Dad's side, he had two sisters with a bunch of kids... again, none close in age... and his family lived across the country (or out of the country!) So, it was just my little brother and I. We didn't get along AT ALL till we were both in college, and even then it was strained. Only now can he and I hang out with each other for longer than an hour without some sort of fight brewing. We're very different people. Though, a few weeks ago he stopped by my house to ask my opinion on a jacket he had just purchased (which I loved so much I tried to steal almost instantly) and we ended up hanging out, one on one, just talking (about everything you could imagine)... for over 5 1/2 hours. THAT was a record. For real.
I love my family, I really do... and I love my friends... but then there are those friends that feel like family. The ones you love so unconditionally that it's almost impossible to explain. Last night I went to go see two of them. They are the sons of one of my best friends, Wendy. I knew Wendy was out for the night with her boyfriend, and I also knew she wouldn't be mad at what I was about to do.

I showed up, explaining to her sons, Leif (12) and Olin (9), that since I said "no Christmas presents" that "technically if you don't open them on Christmas, then it's not a Christmas present!" Then convinced them to open the last day of their advent calendar that I made for them since they wouldn't be here on Christmas to get the surprise on the 25th... and proceeded to give them each a wee bag filled with $50 worth of gold one dollar coins.  Man, talk about happy kids! Sure, money as a kid (and as an adult) is pretty great... but they loved the coins in the wee bags. It was like they just scored the ultimate pirate booty. I could have sat there and giggled with them, spinning the coins on the coffee table for hours. They were having so much fun.

I also gave them (and Wendy) some pictures I painted of all three of them. I'm not the worlds greatest artist, but I made the pictures with love... and I think they knew it. I bought some masking fluid (also known as "frisket"), borrowed a light box (oddly enough, from Leif) so I could see what I was doing in my poorly lit house and see the masking fluid as I painted.

Pulled out some photographs I have of each of them... and dusted off my all my watercolor paints and brushes.... and painted away...... this is the result (I matted them but no frame since I didn't know if she actually wanted to hang them, or what kind of frame she'd want) :

.......... and that was all I did for Christmas. Next up... I have to bake an apple pie to take to my Mom's house tomorrow. That is NOT a problem since I can bake those with my eyes closed. So there ya go... that's my Merry Christmas.  
I hope you have a Merry Christmas too!

- Gillian

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