Creating a prefect Christmas

December 13, 2006 at 3:17 pm | Posted in charity knitting, Christmas, country living, dating, faith, family, free knitting patterns, Holidays, humor, knitting, love, romance | 17 Comments

Fireflys Teddy Bear TreeThat’s what we dream of each year … isn’t it? And, what is the perfect Christmas?

Is it the vision on a television commercial, or is it reflected in a perfectly decorated set on a movie? Is it the scene you see drawn and painted on Christmas cards? Perhaps a vision of Christmas from when you were a child and everything still felt like exquisite and unchallenged magic?

Side Bar: My eBook, “A Christmas Story” is available now to download. You may click on the picture at the right, or follow this link to get to the download page for more information about the story, the price, etc. Please remember that at least 50% of the proceeds from the eBook sales will be donated to our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. The money donated from the sale of this eBook–100% of it–will go directly into the funds needed for the house that is currently under construction for a local single mother and her three children.  You can either download the book online then print it out, or order a CD to be shipped to you.

Back to the Blog: Each year there is a plan that begins forming in the mind. The gifts, the food, the decorations, the activities, the smiles, the joy, the … perfection.

When I was in my twenties, a young mother, an awkward housekeeper, an aspiring writer … the dream would begin forming sometime in early fall. It would grow, and I would work, and the dream glistened and called me forward. The closer to Christmas it was, the harder I worked at bringing the elements of my physical world into alignment with my golden city dream, sitting on the glowing top of Mt. Imagination. Stress would inevitably take hold, often I would get sick just before the holidays because of the stress and the worries and the overspending and the pressure of it all.

Fireflys Teddy Bear Tree detailChristmas would come, many things would yet be undone. Of course the holiday was beautiful and sweet, but bittersweet a little bit too because of the stress, the flu, the breads that were never mixed and baked, the extra special touches to the presents that never quite materialized. The golden glitter of the perfection I had dreamed was sprinkled here and there across reality, but did not fully adorn the picture as I had dreamed it would.

What is amazing to me, looking back on it, is that it took me so many years to realize that was how it worked and that, the truth be told, it’s all good. It’s all cool. There was no need to stress, ever. Not ever.

The truth of the matter is, at least for me, I know for a fact that I will not ever reach the summit of Mt. Imagination when it comes to Christmas. Christmas has a deadline, each and every year. And I have a BIG, BIG imagination. My Mt. Imagination is tall and the fact of the matter is, I get tired sometimes and have always had a lot of other responsibilities than just this Christmas season game.

So, one year I realized I could just let go. I would dream my dreams of the perfect Christmas, but I knew the mathematical probability of my ever pulling it off was very slim. Slim indeed.

However, I could dream the perfect Christmas up in my mind, and I could add to it all I wanted. After all, Mt. Imagination is free to become and be whatever you can make it. And I say, make it big and grand because you need to aim high. Not just at Christmas, but in life. Aim wildly high. Wildly high.

Your aim at Mt. Imagination will pull you along. And here is the secret I have discovered … enjoy the road along the way. Relish and delight in the obstructions and the glories and the momentary accomplishments and details and don’t forget to look at the single individual flower growing by the side of the road along the way. The details of the journey are grand. They are in fact grander than we give them credit for I believe.

Fireflys Grapevine WreathWhen I share my photos with you and I tell you of the beauty of the cornfields, the temperature, the cottage, the rain, the knitting, the food … I’m just sharing my love of the details with you. I believe key to my own personal journey and finding this lovely place along the way is that I came to feel such utter and sincere and simple, clean gratitude for it all. I even came, finally, to love and appreciate Los Angeles a bit before I left to come here. I had resisted Los Angeles for many years; resented Los Angeles for tangling me up in its twisted vines and brown grasses for so many years, lost in details I didn’t much care for.

But, I did come to love and appreciate Los Angeles and Southern California there at the end and I was glad it had come to that, because really so much of the things I am grateful for in life happened in Los Angeles. That’s where we were cowboys, where my children were born, where my family (mother, father, brothers, sister) shared the best, the very best years of our lives together.

So, how do I create a perfect Christmas now? I dream, just as before. I picture it all perfect in my mind and I build Mt. Imagination up to and beyond the clouds. And then I relax and start creating. Whatever I can manage to do within a sane budget and without making myself or those around me crazy, I do. And, I am willing to let go of any number of things that are very nice dreams, but are not make-break points in the creation of a perfect Christmas.

To create a truly perfect Christmas this is what I do: as I create, as I work on decorations, or food, or gifts, or stories I consider and reconsider the true meaning of Christmas. Because Christmas isn’t in any of those details anyway. The Whos down in Whoville had it right: it is all within us and what we create together and it is all about love. Brotherly love, love for mankind, generosity in spirit, kindness of heart and temper. Smiles, touches, gladness. It is about the healing touch that someone named Jesus Christ brought to a troubled planet a little over 2,000 years ago. No matter who or what Jesus Christ was or is in your own opinion, he did bring a healing touch to this planet. Man, prophet, or son of God he brought a much needed healing touch that left a profound and ever growing mark upon our world. We could use that touch today and today we each have the capacity to deliver that healing touch unto each other. That’s Christmas, in its perfection.

I was planning on telling you this morning about my teddy bear tree. It is a creative solution to a problem. For me, Christmas trees have always been a very important part of our Christmas celebration. Large, live, beautiful trees bedecked with ornaments made by hand, ribbons, popcorn, etc. For my husband, not so. He lived here on this farm for a long time by himself and for the past nine years did not set up a Christmas tree. He doesn’t like the idea of purchasing a cut tree which is what I have always done. We agreed early on I would compromise with him and we would have an artificial tree. He had one stored in a closet that he had not looked at in many years.

When he got it out the other day, it wasn’t what he remembered and it wasn’t what I expected. It was smaller than I had hoped, and more artificial looking than he remembered. It was actually a little depressing for me when I saw it, and I struggled with what to do. I didn’t want to create a problem with my dear husband, but the tree was a bit of a culture shock to me. I felt a bit like Charlie Brown’s little sister when she is out in the pumpkin patch with Linus on Halloween.

So, I did the only logical thing a woman can do at a time like that. I took a nap. A long, long nap.

When I got up we talked about the tree and as it turns out we both agreed it wasn’t what we wanted. I told him I was willing to try to work with it and see what I could do, and he said he was willing for us to buy a very nice, large, scrumptious looking artificial tree. Still, I wanted to try to create a feeling of love for that little tree. Even though it was artificial, it just seemed wrong to reject it in my mind the way I did. I literally felt bad for the little thing.

As it turns out, my sister-in-law has an “extra” artificial tree that is large and plush and so forth and we are going to use that this year, rather than the littler one we were struggling with. My husband offered to take the littler tree upstairs for me to use in my “teddy bear” area. I haven’t told you about my teddy bear area yet.

Fireflys Teddy Bear Tree detailBefore I met my husband face-to-face, we already knew we were getting married and had discussions about the house and what we might do with it, how we would create it into a home for the two of us, etc. He told me about a little landing at the top of the stairs that he thought would be a good place for my teddy bear and miniature furniture collection. Though most of my belongings are still in Los Angeles in storage, I did ship my teddy bears and some of my miniature furniture here just before we got married.

Last night I put lights on it, and as I was arranging my teddy bears around it, I started putting teddy bears in it. And soon it was the center piece of a glowing, warm, and perfect Christmas setting. When my parents and son are here this Christmas, that is what they will see when they come upstairs to go to bed at night. So, the little tree that wasn’t quite right as it turns out is just perfect.

And, life continues to be beautiful. But, I have to say, I do have a hand in making it so. This incident with the little tree could have become a real “incident” if it weren’t addressed with love, affection, and regard by both of us.

The spirit of Christmas reigns and it is perfect in its imperfection.

Here’s wishing you a perfect day.

~firefly

P.S. The wreath is one I made from grapevines that were growing on our barn, pinecones gathered from our yard, and other ingredients provided by dear friends and loved ones nearby.

A small town “Hallmark” Christmas

December 11, 2006 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Christmas, country living, dating, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, humor, knitting, love, recipes, relationships, romance | 27 Comments

Fireflys Critters Can KnitI found out this weekend the critters I have been making are able to knit. I was not aware of their having that particular talent, but I came downstairs early this morning and found three of them sitting around in a little circle knitting away and having a wee chat by candle light. Somehow or other they had managed to get ahold of some little finishing nails to use as knitting needles, and they had bits of my yarn. It was all very sweet, and this one was kind enough to sit for a photo. (I could be wrong, but I believe their intention is to contribute squres to my Gracious Parcels project.)

Recently my husband and I have watched two or three made for TV Christmas movies. You know, the type that is set in a sterotypical small town where someone from a city somewhere for some reason ends up in a charming small town. Inevitably they meet someone and fall in love over the Christmas holiday, and there is snow, and there are kind faced folks, and Christmas music magically dances on the air. My husband pointed out there stories often include a barn with horses and a fire, and the horses have to be saved.

We have mused over the fantasy people seem to have, or that movie makers seem to have, about that kind of scenario. What is it about small towns, anyway? Why is that picked as the setting for the perfect Christmas? Who are these Hollywood people trying to fool anyway?

Fireflys Critters Can Sing and Play the BanjoAnother steryotypical element I have noticed in television shows and movies alike is that so many main characters work for ad agencies, or marketing firms, or they are writers of some kind or another. I’ve been commenting to my husband about that, and wondering why it is that Hollywood writers seem to think everybody has that kind of a job? What is up with that, anyway? Can’t they imagine a different kind of job?

One day last week I drove to one of the nearby villages to pick up more Gracious Parcels packages. While I was there I had to stop in at the one little general store in town to pick up a loaf of bread. As I was walking back to the pickup truck, on this charming little small town street, with the charming little small town storefronts, crunching through the snow and enjoying the Christmas music that was playing on the street in the town I looked around quizzically and a bit in wonder. “Wow”, I thought to myself, “I am in one of those movies.”

A couple of nights later, my husband and I went to another small town about twenty five miles from here for a Christmas tour of a restored Victorian era home, complete with costumed carolers and mulled cider. The house is situated on a handsome street among other beautiful homes from an earlier time. Fresh snow carpeted the neighborhood, and we walked along hand-in-hand on the snowy sidewalk toward the house. There was a very distinct feeling of Christmas in the air, and there I was hand-in-hand with a great guy who I just recently married. And I had that strange feeling again. I said outloud to him in a whisper, “Honey, I am in one of those movies. It feels like I am a character in one of those movies.” We both chuckled.

Friday of last week I spent most of the day working for one particular client … my favorite client in fact. I have been working on a copy re-write for his website and had come up with what I thought was a quoteable slogan for his homepage. I was working on a graphic mockup to make a presentation to him. It was a very productive day, and I felt very good with what I came up with. So, I emailed it to him and pitched the idea. He phoned me later to say he loved the concept and the mock-up. It is a wonderful feeling when you pull something off and make a client that happy.

A Detail Shot of One of Fireflys CrittersLater, as my husband and I drove along on a little country road to go into town to buy ingredients for the Christmas cookies we would be baking over the weekend at his sister’s house, I was telling him what a great day I had and how things went with my client. I told him how strange it is that I don’t have specific educational credentials or training that led me into the field I am in and yet here I am writing marketing copy all the time, writing website content, writing my blog, and even at times designing ads and ad campaigns.

As I was saying that to him I said, “Oh my gosh … I am a character in one of those movies! Here I am, newly arrived in a rural area, met a great guy, married him, I work freelance on a farm as a writer and do some marketing and advertising work, and we have a barn, and there’s snow, and its Christmas!” No horses though, so I think our barn is safe.

And, add to it the whole thing of going to that fair back at the end of September and entering pies and biscuits in their competition and winning blue ribbons. I mean, what is this anway? What is going on?

Okay, now I might be arriving very late to the ball, but honestly, it is all just now dawning on me. Is that what some of you have meant when you have made comments that I’m living a fairy tale life?

This is so strange, so weird. My life has become a Hallmark movie … or something. I am living one of those movies. I am dazed.

Perhaps you all got this before I did. Perhaps I have been too caught up in the living of my new life to take a viewpoint exterior to it and see how much it resembles certain movies I have seen in the past.

It is very, very weird to suddenly feel as if you are a character in a story. Is someone writing me and all of this? Am I real, or am I a figment of your imagination, or my imagination … or worse, am I a figment of the imagination of some Hollywood playwright?

I think I need to go have a strong cup of coffee. If I go down there and find that several of you have magically appeared around my fireplace with cups of coffee and knitting projects in hand, I think I might not be too awfully surprised the way things are going just about now.

Fireflys Christmas Story Book CoverOn another subject, I am now offering paid downloads of the eBook of my story, “A Christmas Story”. At least fifty percent of the proceeds will be donated to our local Habitat for Humanity Affiliate. The story is one I wrote, with illustrations by my sister, and self published back in the eighties when my children were little.

A that time, as a young mother I wanted to write a Christmas story that would inspire my children to look at Christmas not so much as a time when they were receiving gifts from others, but instead as a time to be giving of themselves to others, whether it be by gifts or by actions.

My sister works at a private school in Soutern California, and many years ago she began reading my story aloud to various classes in the school. The children of the school loved the story so much, it became an annual tradition she continues to this day.

I hope you will consider downloading a copy of this book … and more importantly, if you do download it I hope you will read it aloud to a child in your life and pass the message of love and goodwill along.

Meanwhile, I wish you a beautiful day.

~firefly

The gracious hands that knit

December 6, 2006 at 2:23 pm | Posted in charity knitting, Christmas, country living, faith, family, free knitting patterns, knitting, love, relationships, yarn | 15 Comments

Greetings from Fireflys Farm


Gracious Me, Look at all those Parcels!

A few days ago I picked up the first of several packages of “parcels” for the Gracious Parcels 2006 project. This morning I go to pick up several more. The creativity and care that went into these parcels is evident, and so appreciated. I know the family that gets the blanket with these lovely parcels of love and fellowship woven together within it will love the gift, but I also take your creativity to heart very personally as a gift to me. Thank you, each of you lovely knitters for your generosity and participation.

Gracious Parcels 2006 First ArrivalsAlso, if any participant would like to share the pattern she used, or any tips or suggestions for the lovely tags, I will post your entries on the Gracious Parcels page. Inspiration is a catching thing, after all.

All of the parcels are lovely, well made, and tenderly presented. From the colors chosen that represent the fields and orchards in the area, to the creativity and warmth in the tags … I love them all, love them so much. I even love the envelopes they came in. It is all so beautiful and so heartwarming. This is a fine project and I look forward to pushing it forward throughout the coming years.

Yesterday we woke up to three inches of snow. Snow can be so different, one snow to the next. The surprise snow storm back in early October was a wet, heavy and destructive early snow. It fell hard and quick, and disappeared from our place even more quickly than it arrived.

Firefly Steps into the Corn FieldThis week’s snow is different. This snow came at a civilized time. Its arrival was well planned for, and it came quietly and politely during the evening and overnight. Like a welcome guest, it waited in the yard, on the drive, by the door; waited for us to greet it with a smile and a hello.

And, like a welcome guest … it stayed. Even now the yard is white and soft, speaking to me of Christmas time.

Last evening, the sky was fairly clear and a fat moon shared warm light across the twilight snow. We stood looking out the window by the fireplace at the barn standing strong atop a lawn of moonlight blue snow, long shadows from our tall trees stretching out in front of it and creating a special space.

One of Fireflys TreesThis morning as the sun continued its slumber, I looked out again at the barn. The lights from my upstairs office were reflecting off of a window in the front of the barn. I imagined a jolly old elf in a warm red suit out there in our barn, borrowing it as a makeshift shop to make and store toys for children in this area. I could feel his warmth out there, and wished he had a moment to step inside and share a cup of hot cocoa with me … but he has important work to do and I didn’t want to disturb him.

Yesterday morning I went outside twice for a photo walk about the yard, tracking more of the daily progress of my discovery of my new life, my new world.

The corn so golden still, lit up against the snowy ground and the towering, yet bare willow.

I stepped into the cornfield on the east side of the farm and was mystified by the new space created by a blanket of snow between the rows. Strange how snow creates new spaces where before space might not have been considered. I used to love to go out in the woods by myself as a child on snow days. I spent much of my childhood playing alone in the woods: I was into trees. When the woods were freshly covered in snow, it was a quiet and magical place to be. Here and there big pillows of snow fell from on high, delighting me once in a while by landing on my head. I felt alone but secure somehow.

Fireflys Gumdrop Tree in SnowI am developing a relationship with the trees on our place here, as I get to know them better and capture their changing lives in my photography. Our dear little gumdrop tree is best friends with the willow. They are a bit of an odd couple, but they don’t seem to notice that at all. I think they’re sweet.

This morning I get to drive my husband’s pickup truck into the village to pick up more Gracious Parcels. I have a Ford Explorer, but we are keeping it off the roads this winter so it doesn’t suffer damage from the salt and whatever else winter leaves on the roadways. That’s cool; I love pickup trucks and it will be fun to get all bundled up and go for a little drive.

And … I’m off to do that right now.

Here’s to you and yours!

~firefly

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