was christmas always a competitive sport?
okay so the whole lights thing i guess started with clark in christmas vacation and has now taken off with all this computerized lights and music nonsense. i guess is a guy’s way of showing pride of place but i would hate to live on any of those streets. apparently all the rest of what’s associated with christmas is fodder for girl wars — cookie swaps, shopping marathons, interminable christmas card lists, annual christmas newsletters, festive sweaters and anything else tv producers, bloggers and magazine editors can think up that must be added to a christmas repertoire.
if you’re like me and can never find your copy of the christmas edition of the girls wars handbook, learn from my mistakes.
i’ve only been to cookie swaps twice and i’ll never go again. first, i’m a snob about baked goods and if they’re not utterly delicious with top ingredients, i not wasting the calories because i’d rather spend my calories on a few delicious alcoholic beverages. second, i don’t share most other people’s preferences for christmas cookies and i’ve come to learn that they don’t share mine.
the first time i went to a cookie swap i completely missed the mark in almost every possible way.
i misread the part about “a dozen of six different kinds of cookies” and thought i was supposed to bake a dozen of each of six different cookies instead of how i would be leaving with six different kinds of cookies having only baked six dozen of one kind of cookie. i felt like an idiot and most people laughed, but one person got positively angry about my mistake and accused me of many crimes only the least of which was being a showoff. She spend the entire rest of the cookie swap telling everyone that she usually baked a dozen different kinds of cookies but because she followed the rules of the cookie swap and only brought one kind, no one would get to experience what a great baker she was.
when you attend a cookie swap you are supposed to bring along copies of the recipe you used to bake said cookie. now most of my recipes are family recipes and are mostly lists of ingredients without directions except for temperature and “bake until done”. i labored over revising the six recipes i used to include proper directions for someone else to properly recreate the cookies. but here’s the secret i only found out later: don’t ever share a recipe without leaving out an ingredient or messing up a measurement so that no one else will ever make your recipe as good as you do.
I love to bake, especially Christmas cookies, but for this and other reasons i have sworn off of cookie swaps.
apparently having a large number of people on your christmas card list is the same as having a ton of friends on facebook. this number is to be dropped as often as possible in casual conversation, usually in the form of a complaint about how hard it is to find time to write all those hundreds of christmas cards. i am an inconsistent and unreliable christmas card sender, probably because i often work jobs that require me to complete hundreds of christmas cards for someone else and get sick of doing it before i ever got to our own. then again, it takes me a long time to pick out cards because if i like the illustration i usually don’t like the message and if i like both, i’m appalled by the price. but i very much enjoy receiving christmas cards and am grateful to anyone who puts in the time and effort to send them. i don’t get a lot of them because i am not good at sending them. it’s a karma thing i guess.
annual christmas newsletters:
i thought these were an efficient way to deliver news to family and friends and personalize a christmas card without having to write the same things 20 times. i have learned i have been participating in one of the most hated christmas traditions known to humans. not only are annual christmas newsletters prime territory for comedic fodder, they elicit downright ire. what i thought was friendly news was supposed to be a tool to brag about your kids and their accomplishments, your spouse, your jobs, your trips and your stuff. i still enjoy writing these and reading them and though no one has ever mentioned that they were annoyed by my annual newsletter, i’ve kind of begged off. makes it easier to be a failure at christmas cards.
c and i are fringe participants in this. we usually shop together, get most stuff and order the rest on line. we don’t have to buy much anymore because the kids are older and they usually only want one or two big ticket items. i can proudly say that we have never, ever stood in line or gotten up at silly hours or fought with anyone over a thing to buy. we are also never the people who have bragging rights on the best bargain or the latest trend. life is full of sacrifices.
over the years i have enjoyed a christmas sweater or two, especially when the kids were little. i can’t remember the last time i bought or owned a christmas sweater that wasn’t just plain red or black with sequins. evidently i am unimaginative when it comes to such things. either you are all in on the christmas sweater thing with all reverence, or you treat the christmas sweater as an ironic accessory. check out myuglychristmassweater.com, thesweaterstore.com, tipsyelves.com for laughs. my fear is that no one will know that i’m being ironic which is why i stick to plain black or red.
christmas girl wars are fought on every front: competing about the christmas activity itself and then competing about who can not do the christmas thing but rant about people who do. either way, everyone loses. there are blogs entries and entire blogs, even entire books dedicated to snarking about everything christmas, or moreso aiming ire at the christmasy person in rather angry and unkind ways.
here’s an idea: do what you enjoy and quit worrying about everyone else. peace.