For a long list of reasons — many of which I am still in therapy for — I’ve just never been a fan of THE HOLIDAYS. This is why there has always been a distinct lack of HOLIDAY-related nonsense on this site. Pretty much as soon as Dec 1 hits I dive into a hole. It’s not a depression, but more like the mental version of shutting my eyes and waiting for it to be over. Sure, I give the odd nod here and there because face it, if you’re living in North America there is no escaping it. They switch the intercom soundtracks and start lining the shelves with all the must-have stuff as soon as Halloween rolls out. The crazy Light Wars people down the street have had their front yard mise en scene on display for a solid month now.
Anykitsch, my point — and I do have one although it got buried in descriptions and I’m kind of lost now…. Give me a sec. See what happens when I just start to talk about it? Brain coma. Oh yes, my point is that it’s inescapable unless you have buckets of cash and can afford to fly away to some remote location every year. Believe me, I would. The fantasies have already begun. Oddly enough I don’t mind THE HOLIDAYS in other countries and languages. Probably because all the rituals and bull crap is foreign, slightly incomprehensible, and easy to enjoy for what it isn’t.
But the reality is that I don’t have buckets of cash and can’t always scrape together the bills to take me away from it all. Most years I have no choice but to stay where I am and ride it out. I have learned over time that trying to close my eyes and pretend it isn’t happening doesn’t work very well. What does seem to work is embracing the aspects of it that hold fond memories and throwing the rest in the gutter where it belongs. Maybe it’s the gardener in me but I only seem to like the plant-related aspects of THE HOLIDAYS. I like the tree. I like the food. I like the Amaryllis. I’d like the mistletoe if we had the real stuff. I like pine cones. I like the lights too. Even the crazy Light Wars houses. Bless them. I like the REALLY kitsch, REALLY over-the-top crazy, blinding dazzle camouflage decorations and seasonal decor. Thank you to anyone who does this. You keep the good crazy in Xmas.
Part of our 2006 Holiday Card. I based my character and outfit on a former art teacher’s wife.
And so, it comes as some surprise to me that this year, for the first time ever, I feel like I might be able to make it through the month of December with my eyes slightly open. Maybe just a little squinting and a touch of Vaseline smeared over my eyeglass lenses for a softening effect. In fact December hasn’t even come yet and I am already itching to get my tacky tree out. And even wackier still, I spent a few hours the other night constructing cute little soft trees to display on my desk. The pattern is from Stephanie of the now-defunct Little Birds blog. You can see a whole gallery of handcrafted soft trees trees on Flickr. I have made 4 so far constructed entirely of scrap materials. The outsides are sewn using bits and pieces from my scrap bin, the decorations are from a giant container of odd buttons collected over the years, and I stuffed them using old t-shirts and holey socks. I like to make mine as wonky as possible, like a blend of Dr. Seuss and the sad Peanuts Xmas twig tree.
I’m thinking maybe I’ll bust out the white wool roving and make a little snowy diorama with my wonk trees. A weird attempt to capture the bits of a season I could really do without.
What do you love/hate about THE HOLIDAYS? How do you keep your sanity and/or enjoy?
Just a reminder that the date to get your items shipped out is approaching. I originally said Dec 1 but have decided to give it until Dec 5 because I have been so behind in answering my emails. I’ve got a P.O. Box that you can send it to now, but please do email me (gaylaatyougrowgirldotcom) so I know how many packages to wait for. I don’t want to miss any.
Toronto Postal Station C.
1117 Queen Street W.
Toronto ON M6J 3P6
I think it’s time to let it go and accept the inevitable… that garlic is not going to get into the ground this year. I’m already a month late. Thankfully I predicted this would happen and decided against participating in the Great Canadian Garlic Nerd Fest months ago thereby avoiding not only being pissed at myself but enduring the shame of not following through on a commitment.
Of course, as I’m writing the words, “Let it go” a portion of my brain is strategizing how I can still make it happen. Let it go? Never!
I’d like to think I’ve accumulated a lot of plant knowledge over the years, but my tree knowledge is embarrassingly thin. It’s all down to the fact that I don’t have anywhere to plant and grow one. I’ve grown small fruit-producing trees from pits, limes and kumquats, and the odd houseplant tree in pots but what I know about real, outdoor trees could fit in the palm of my hand.
However, if I did have a backyard or a piece of land I would be all over looking for food-producing trees to grow. In my land-owning fantasies I imagine growing my own apples, pears, plumes, peaches, apricots and most especially cherries. And until recently I hadn’t thought too much past these obvious options because I assumed they were pretty much the standard food trees suited to this region. But this year my fantasies have been expanded by the wild foods supplier at my local farmers market. They’ve been selling fruit and nuts from locally grown trees this past autumn and it has been a real shock to discover what will grow here. For example, just this past week alone I bought persimmons, butternuts (Juglans cinerea), sweet chestnuts, and my new favorite, hickory nuts (Carya). They were selling paw paws but I didn’t get to the market in time. I knew paw paws grew in parts of the southern US but had no idea there were trees growing around Toronto! I bought hazelnuts a few weeks back and walnuts at a local corner shop about a month back.
The hazelnuts were amazing — I did not buy enough. I love that I can make tasty, roasted chestnuts that aren’t imported all the way from China. And the hickory nuts have a fresh pecan-like flavor that finally makes me less jealous of southerners who can just pick up and eat pecans straight off the ground. It doesn’t matter that the walnuts were terrible, the persimmons coated my mouth with a strange film, or that the butternuts are delicious but physically impossible to open — I’m just excited to know they will grow here and that when and if my fantasies become reality, I’ll have far more choices then I ever imagined possible.
Winter is approaching (NOOOOOOOOO!!!) and it is actually starting to get cold out there. Real cold. I have worn hand warmers while walking. Soon it will be full mittens or gloves. Biking now requires a woolen hat that can cover the ears. The horror. All of this serves as a strong reminder that winter is not going to magically pass us by this year. It’s time to break out the knitting needles and make something fantastic for the 2008 Warm Winter Wear Drive!!
What: Knit or crochet up beautiful, warm winter gear for The Redwood Shelter for Abused Women. While I know many of you are from all over the globe we’ve decided to continue to support a Toronto-based organization again because 1. They are doing fantastic work and 2. I am in Toronto and a Toronto-based organization means I can collect and distribute the items from here. You are of course more than welcome to keep it local and make something for a shelter in your area.
Knit, Crochet, or Sew (New items made by you):
- Long Scarves – They have need of thick, warm scarves that can wrap around twice for bundling up.
- WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mittens – They receive plenty of mittens for children but need for larger, adult-sized mittens.
- Baby Blankets – For bundling babies inside strollers. It’s can get cold here in Toronto. This is an awfully tall order for hand-knitting. Sewn blankets or simple square block quilts are a great alternative.
- Larger Items – If you were planning to make a couple of scarves, make one large item instead. They have a need for shawls and ponchos too.
How: A simple ribbed scarf is probably the best place to start for a beginner. Ribbing is simply going back and forth between the knit and purl stitches (i.e. knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches, and so on). It is a stretchy pattern that makes a nice, thick material. This tutorial will lead you through the process. You can also try free pattern websites like Knitty. If you have any particularly excellent resources to recommend please comment below.
Check out what we sent in 2006 and 2007.
Details: Please mail your items by Dec 1, 2008. Email me at gaylaatyougrowgirldotcom for the address.