Angsty Holiday Introspection: Christmas Eve with the Hermits

Here I sit, alone with my fellow Hermit, each of us typing on our separate keyboards, listening to a dog bark in the distance. Ah, Christmas Eve.

More than one of my friends, and one family member in particular, has asked why I’ve gone out of town for the past three Christmases. So, I’ll answer that instead of giving another boring nature report (I’ll do that tomorrow; I did cool stuff today). The short answer is: self preservation. The longer answer, and how I plan to deal with my holiday angst follows.

We interrupt this angst for a cowboy Christmas display. Carry on.

Background on how I’m wired: One of my major “love languages” is gifts. I’m one of those people who hang on to things for years, just because they remind me of the person who gave them. I have my Kathy Dettwyler Faberge pansy thing, my cake cover and weird quilts from my Granny Kendall, a pod sculpture and a goddess from my friends in Illinois…on and on.

Because of this, I always loved Christmas. I treasured so many gifts, even ones I didn’t actually like, because I knew some family member or friend took time and effort to choose it. That made me feel loved. I looked forward to my sister’s gifts, as well as those from my brother and later my boyfriend, because they were just what I liked (all three of them have the gift knack, which I don’t think I actually got). I just loved being with family and enjoying each other as we exchanged thoughtful and fun gifts (we were never much for expensive ones).

Pause to enjoy a ranch in Bandera County.

When my kids came along, I just loved buying and making gifts for them, because I loved them so much and wanted to see them happy. Same for the rest of the family.

At some point, I realized I was going way overboard and buying too many things for too many people I cared for. It became clear when I found many carefully chosen and hand-made gifts discarded when Declan’s first girlfriend moved out. I realized many of the nice/carefully chosen things I’d given my own kids weren’t treasured; they were just tossed in a pile in their rooms to be found when I cleaned them out. (I KNOW some kid gifts are just for fun and don’t last forever!)

Mr and Mrs Goose honk a holiday hello.

Then it dawned on me that no one in my current family was big on giving gifts. I guess it isn’t their love language. (My spouse likes to give surprise gifts, but doesn’t like Christmas.)

PLUS, I always wanted to have a wonderful family meal for Christmas. When it began to also include all the neighbors and many friends, I got overwhelmed, though, and the planning started to stress me out. The last time I hosted a dinner, I looked out and saw three people cooking and serving like crazy and the rest just staring at each other.

Ah, deer. They prevent angst.

That was 2016, the same year that half the people invited didn’t even have the courtesy to bring a token gift or food contribution. I’m all for giving. Honest. It just suddenly struck me as really unequal, and I felt like I was giving like crazy without even thanks (I am sure I was thanked; I was over-exaggerating, a thing I have been known to do.)

I looked around after that Christmas dinner and exchange of 90% gifts from me and very few gifts for me. I said this isn’t working for me. It’s also not working for them. Why am I trying to give them the Christmas experience I want? What do they actually want? I decided that next Christmas would be different.

High-quality fencing is all one needs for Christmas.

The next year I booked us a week in New Mexico, and my kids, the current partner of Declan, Lee, and Anita all showed up. We drove around, hiked, shopped, relaxed, and played games. It was great.

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Whoops

When I wrote yesterday about a feeling of dread, more than one reader responded that they felt clumsy at those times.

Doom came to this squirrel. Great shot of the black vulture by Anita!

Sure enough, today was full of minor oops errors and even a major one. And it wasn’t just me. My poor friends and colleagues dealt with it, too.

I got Maggie this fine hat as a consolation for not getting to go to Party City with me.

There were also disappointments and such at work. Even the good news of the day went sour. I couldn’t even make things better by shopping for our department party (at the Bobcat Lair) with coworker Maggie, because traffic got weird.

I’ll just cheer you up with photos of our Christmas lights, all from a box we found in the garage.

But hey, I remembered lots of positive things at therapy, too, and managed to go out with Anita to get the last party and family gifts just in time. I wish I hadn’t broken a delicate glass orb, though (the major error of the day), but I only got a small cut!

I even put lights in the cedar trees ( ashe junipers).

So yeah, those feelings of doom seem to portend something. But all in all, I’m grateful to the people who brighten my days.

Those blurs are snowflakes. Wish I had more!

I’ll be way more interesting after tomorrow’s party! In the meantime I hope you like our hodgepodge of holiday lights.

Christmas Fun

Sending seasonal love and peaceful thoughts to all you readers.

Many of you will be celebrating Christmas with friends or family this year. We have both. Even if this isn’t one of your holidays, looking at cheery lights at the darkest time of the year isn’t all bad.

The square in Fredericksburg, Texas.

So, that’s what we did last night. Lee drove me, Anita, and my son, Kynan to the downtown square in Fredericksburg to enjoy the lights and fun. It was a crisp, but not cold, night, so you didn’t have to shiver and rush your viewing. It felt “Christmas-y.”

This is one big Christmas pyramid.

We really enjoyed watching the little kids running around, looking up into the trees, and saying ooh and ahh at the German carousel thing going round and round. Ah, thanks to Wikipedia, I know that these are called “Christmas pyramids.” I guess I thought they’d have a more exotic name. Anyway, it sure was a big one.

The tree was also really big, and delighted the small children.

We are saving the lights in Johnson City for tonight. Kynan says they were spectacular when he was driving to Fredericksburg from Austin.

The face looks sad, and the looming cross makes an interesting statement, if you are into that kind of thing.

Oddly enough, my favorite things I saw were some statues that are in the park all the time. This one of a Native American who had lived in this area looked really thoughtful in the light of my camera flash.

This is one of the municipal buildings across the road.

While we wait for the final family members to join us, I’ll try to share some more images, so there may be two posts today.

Austin, You Make Me Smile

I love a mule in a hat.

Anita and I were driving to our last haircut by our current hair person (she’s moving to Dripping Springs). Glancing up I saw the totally Austin spectacle of Santa riding a bay mule down South Congress.

Don’t let the trees fool you. He’s right in front of St Edwards University.

Yee-haw, Santa.

Ok. We looked it up. That was Sam Gray Horse, who rides the mule all over town. Here’s an article!

So shiny! Blinding!

Also I made the nail lady in Cameron do fancy holiday nails. I guess I’m all set.

Should We Torture Plants with Lights?

It is the time of year when some of us go a little crazy with decorating for the various holidays involving bringing light to the darkness in some way or another (Christmas, Yule, Hannukah, and more). Seeing all those lights, candles and blow-up characters does life one’s spirits when driving home in the dark. (I admit, I’m actually more fond of lights and less fond of blow-up things, which look so sad during the day when they are deflated.)

Never thought I’d decorate an aloe plant.

This year, we’ve brought more light to the darkness than usual, thanks to our love of battery-powered lights and a gift of a lot of regular lights that my coworker no longer wanted. 

After this photo, I also electrified Rudolph. We have so many lights.

We did put a few lights on the deck and door, but most of them are in plants, both outdoors and indoors. I even bought NEW plants to stick lights on (and I hope they will live a long time and decorate the house the rest of the year, too).

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Yoj to the World!

Anita and I have a quirky tradition that I guess constitutes a family holiday joke. My family is full of them, which explains the abundance of “Christmas owls” in the house that stem from a childhood experiece my brother and I had.

We are the Griswold family of our neighborhood. There are many lights and blinking things.

Anyway, our tradition in Anita’s and my household is to have a sign that says “Yoj” instead of “Joy.” You see, I had a sign with big red letters and lights that spelled out “Joy” at my office, back when I was big into office decorating. When we moved to the new “open office” minimalist desk spaces, there was no place for it to hang, so I took it home.

I spent at least 20 minutes looking for this dang picture.
Continue reading “Yoj to the World!”