Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

When I was in my 20s, I managed a nonprofit art gallery.

Aside from just being a really amazing job, one of the perks was that galleries are on really great P.R. lists, meaning we would get the most beautiful posters in the mail.

Some of them ended up on the walls, but far more of them received a more, shall we say, ephemeral and, ahem creative, use.

Wrapping paper.

Sounds a bit horrifying, I know. Full color, quality paper, beautifully designed museum and gallery posters, torn to shreds on Christmas morning. But we would get dozens of these things a month. It was always a good day when I got to the mail first, because I learned this trick from the gallery director, and we would try to beat each other to the best ones. Granted, some of them we kept– I framed a gorgeous Agnes Martin “poster”; it’s actually a full color offset lith on rice paper. I gave others to friends.

But most of them ended up under the Christmas tree. To give you some perspective, I worked there from 1981 to 1986. I still have several posters from this period, rolled up and waiting to be used.

The point, of course, is that most of these, even the very beautiful ones, were bound to end up in the trash. The thing with “creative re-use” is that you can’t be afraid to creatively reuse things, just because they seem so, well, useful.

What do you “creatively re-use” for the holidays?

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The past two weeks have kept me more busy than normal. Volunteering, working on things for a banquet, a party here, meetings, etc., all mixed in with doctors appointments. I was really ready for these past weeks to be over.

A few nights ago was one of the parties and a group of us have been working for several months to get the decorations finished. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work.


Bringing a group together and working to come up with ideas that we all can agree with and be happy with can be a challenge. We really wanted to keep the decorations simple, but make a statement with an old-fashioned Christmas theme in mind. From a center piece on each table that was a simple as a stack of wrapped presents, to foot after foot of red and green paper chains. From a small handmade box with a treat for each person to other die-cut things on each table, I think we were successful.


The banquet went very well, and we had a lot of very nice complements on the decorations. That put a smile on my face.

Have you come up with some simple and creative ways to decorate for a large party or banquet? 

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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When I was a little girl, and well into high school, my mother and I would make gingerbread people every year for Christmas. And not just any gingerbread people. We would make a list of everyone we knew, and make portraits of them in gingerbread. I carry in my head a memory of every surface in our kitchen covered with gingerbread people.

Every year we would open up the cookbooks and search for the really good gingerbread recipe since we could never remember which one it was. Finally, in a moment of facepalming, I remember my mother writing “this is the one!” on the proper recipe.

After my mother died, I can’t remember if I kept this up, although I have a vague memory of trying to revive it with my own children. However, for whatever reason, “kids these days” or my ambivalence about baking, or a sense that people didn’t really appreciate the gesture, the tradition fell off.  I revived it a couple of years ago, making some for Wei’s church ladies, and my office mates.

When you lose someone you love, you hold tight to little things like notes and their personal belongings. My mother’s cookbooks are among my most treasured belongings, and her notes, in her precious hand, make me feel like she’s still here. I want to restart this tradition, maybe with my borrowed grandchild Tete, maybe with my daughter (or both of them).

So I started writing this and I pulled out the book with the gingerbread recipe, but…

No note.

No “this is the one.”

In my mind’s eye I can see the writing on that page. I have all my mother’s cookbooks, and yet it isn’t there.

So the tradition, in its entirety will continue. My daughter and I will see if we can identify the “good” recipe, just as my mother and I searched for it every year. I can see where this will become a family story, of the search for the best gingerbread recipe. It’s one of those things that makes holidays real.

Do you have a recipe for gingerbread men? Link it in the comments! Maybe I’ll use yours!

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Merry and Bright

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year.

As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays – let them overtake me unexpectedly – waking up some find morning and suddenly saying to myself: “Why, this is Christmas Day!”

~David Grayson

For those of you who are celebrating the Christmas holiday today, we hope your day is filled with all that is Merry and Bright. Happy Holidays from all of us here at Not Dabbling in Normal!

Our Dark Days recaps will resume next week with the East Group.

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It is fun to explore how each of us has our own unique holiday traditions.   Today we have tried to capture some of the magic of our personal traditions with our photos…enjoy!

Each year we make homemade ornaments…these are Christmas balls we made for Sweet Girl’s pink tree.

There is the annual gingerbread house…

We try to find snow somewhere!

Getting out weird and wonderful Christmas decorations!

And of course there are the usual holiday greeting to send!

Here at Chiot’s Run we have a lot of traditions, some very strange. I don’t have many photos of our traditions, I guess I’ll have to make sure to take some this year. We always have a nativity and one of those candle things that makes the angels spin. This nativity is the family set my mom gave me, it’s from Colombia, which is the country I was born and raised in (my parents work there).

Being a religious family, my dad always reads through the Christmas story before we open gifts. We then open gifts one by one, everyone watches the person opening the gift. It’s so great to see the reactions.

While we open gifts we enjoy homemade cookies, candies and pie and we sip on eggnog, coffee, or hot chocolate.

Mr Chiots and I have made a few traditions of our own. We make a big breakfast on Christmas morning and watch vintage James Bond movies all day and as many as we can fit in before New Year’s.

So our not so normal readers…What are some of your unique traditions at the holidays?

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Happy Sunday to you all!  I hope you are staying warm and cozy on this December day.  When we think of December there are many things that come to mind…snow, woodstoves, family, presents, hot cocoa.  Few things say Christmas and the holidays quite like a Christmas tree!  So today we are sharing some of our photos of what we think of when we consider our Christmas trees.

I used to have trees with fancy ornaments.  I also used to have trees with teddy bears.  I loved those trees…

But somehow I wanted something that was more personal, something with a deeper meaning than grabbing an ornament at Hallmark.  So about 7 years ago I started decorating our trees like this…

I take so many pictures that I actually have 3 trees covered with photos of my family.  This is in the dining room. I tried adding icicles, and garland but kept coming back to simple black and white photos.  I must admit that more than anything else I put up at Christmas this is what brings a smile to my face.  I also can spend vast amounts of time wandering from tree to tree looking at all the pictures and remembering when each one was taken!

Each year I add about 100 photos…I think I may have to get another tree! Oh and yes there are a few pictures of the camel on there…I put them towards the back, lol!

And while we are talking about trees I have to share the giant that lives in our pasture…

This huge fir tree which dwarfs all the other trees in the area is most stunning in winter when we get one of our rare Northwest snowfalls.  I have always wanted someone to climb to the top and put a huge star up there for all of the valley to see…but alas I have had no volunteers so far!

Neither growing up nor during my married life have we ever had a live Christmas tree.  We enjoyed the traditions of stringing popcorn and cranberries and used way too much tinsel, but we never felt like a live tree would help my allergies.  For some reason, this year seemed different to me.  I don’t know if it is the economy or the fact that the kids are getting older, but it seemed like this was our year to do something different and a bit more old fashioned.

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We headed to the farmers’ market and selected our first live tree ever.  It was grown locally and I was happy to support a local farmer.  I also got to join the ranks of folks who drive about with a tree strapped to the roof of the van!

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We have a mixture of ornaments, some made by the kids over the years and some that we have bought on vacation. We typically do not buy ornaments just for the sake of decorating our tree, but rather buy ornaments at meaningful occasions…like every trip to the beach!

At Roberts Roost the tree is a celebration of the return of light to the world.  We use an artificial tree in the house and plant a new tree in the yard each year.

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