I have had a string of (mild) defeats lately. Not so much defeats, maybe more setbacks. I will recount those for your (mild) amusement in a moment. First, a disclaimer to (mildly) assuage my (half-)white guilt. This blog is intended for fun and to chronicle my attempts to host a big holiday. I was listening to NPR on my way home today , like I usually do, and heard a story about an art design student in Detroit attempting to manufacture coats made of insulation and army wool for the homeless. While heartwarming, the story also managed to make me feel like I’ve wasted my life and spend my time on frivolous pursuits.
And it’s true. The frivolous pursuits part, at least. I understand my petty problems are luxury problems, in that because I’m not consumed with having to scramble to meet my basic needs, I am forced to create issues and challenges for myself. Because I am a lazy person who lacks vision, those issues and challenges are largely selfish and of little worldly consequence. My biggest “issues” are trying to find the perfect gift for people who already have what they need and, largely, what they want; trying to find décor in my color selection when inventories are low due to a poor economy; and mildly disappointing desserts. J and I, for the moment, have decent jobs, good health and a measure of security (as secure as anyone can feel right now, of course). We are lucky and I’m grateful. For the moment we don’t have to worry about how we’ll pay our mortgage or power bill or buy food. And that is a great privilege. And I truly recognize that. I understand this blog may come across as insensitive – me bitching about a lack of color selection or cakes not coming out exactly right is, to be sure, the very definition of petty and frivolous. I admit that and I try to write this blog in a way that lets you know I’m poking fun at myself. It’s not important life or death stuff. I deal with important stuff all day long; sometimes it’s nice to take a brake and laugh about the sillier things. So I hope this blog is read in the spirit it’s intended with the understanding I recognize in the big scheme of things, I ain’t doing so badly.
Sorry for the downer dose of reality, now on to the bitching! So, my recent setbacks, in no particular order:
Dessert. I like to bake. In most cases (not all) the things I bake taste fairly good. I bake from scratch without mixes. I am stubborn about that. I turned down two offers from my mother and mother-in-law for cheesecakes because I insist on creating a “show stopping” dessert. I did a test run tonight on a buche de noel. The results were mixed. (The cake was dry). I have a long way to go to “show stopping.” Right now I’d be content just to avoid flop sweat. On a more positive note, the filling was very good. So I’ve got that going for me.
Décor. My theme this year is elegance in violet and silver. Apparently, violet is not in this year because I am having the damnedest time finding things I like in my colors. Oh, and in case you were wondering, it is impossible to purchase a tree skirt or stockings in colors other than red or green (unless you want some garish show-girl sequined thing) – ANYWHERE. To whit, here are stores I’ve searched in vain to find violet stockings and turned up empty:
Pier One, Target, Wal-mart (I’m never going in there again, by the way), Michaels, Jo-Anne’s, Hobby Lobby, Gardenridge, Burlington Coat Factory (yes, really), Cost Plus World Market, Belk’s, Kirkland’s, a Hallmark store, Bed Bath & Beyond, Hancock Fabrics, Costco, Home Goods, plus all the stores I’ve searched online: Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Amazon, Etsy (which has become a backwater hellhole of crap, by the way), and plenty of other places the memory of which I’ve suppressed. Nothing but ugly cheap locking stockings and tree skirts. Oh, there was the gorgeous offering at Neiman Marcus, which I adored. I did not adore the $160 price tag, however.
The only reasonable course of action was, of course, to make my own. This entailed traveling to no less than five fabric stores (Whipstitch, Forsyth Fabrics, Gail K, Jo-Anne’s and Wal-mart, for those playing along at home). So far I’ve managed to cut out the pattern and snip the outer fabric for one pair (a lining and cuff are involved, as well). So there’s a good chance these won’t be up in time for Christmas. I think I’m ok with that. I mean, I’ve made peace with the realization I may just have to live with ugly stockings (from several years back during my red and gold holiday). We all have our demons.
Also, in other positive developments, I have my holiday playlist set. Amazon has tons of free holiday music and Target offered a free download of 14 songs as well. I also downloaded the Glee Christmas album which I’ve yet to listen to but am in great anticipation. I’ve cleaned out the pantry and the freezer (even made chicken stock in the process!). Tree and living room are decorated. My gift shopping is done and most everything is wrapped (except for J’s presents which have all been delivered to my office or my parents’ house to be wrapped while he is out of town this weekend). Squid for J’s grandmother’s stuffed squid dish (always served on Christmas Eve, they do the Italian fishes thing) is in the freezer ready to go. Gigantic prime rib has been ordered. Placemats and napkins (14 each!) in plum have arrived. I made my last Costco run and stocked up on candy and sparkling water (that no one but J and me will drink). Lists have been made. Xanax has been prescribed (ok, I wish). Despite the modicum of progress we’ve made the panic is starting to set in as my in-laws arrive in a little more than a week and I don’t feel prepared despite the fact I’ve been “preparing” (or thinking about preparing) for nearly a year. Oh well, at least the booze is here. If nothing else, we can all be merry, right?
Soon I'll be wearing sweatshirts with bedazzled cats - that I made myself