The Pooping Holiday Toy Collection and other Traditions

1 12 2013
It’s time to haul the boxes of decorations out of the attic, which hold my pooping holiday toy collection and other treasures. As each box is opened, memories and traditions spill out. My sweetie and I are still blending our lifetimes of traditions together. Happily our shared offbeat sense of humor has allowed our different customs to play well together. Thank goodness we’re both more Christmas Vacation style than Martha Stewart style. A tradition I hold dear is that my mom, my daughter and I must repeat the stories behind each ornament as we hang them on the branches of our fresh tree…every single year. Steve having a bourbon during the telling of these stories has now become part of this tradition.

The ornaments are eclectic and cross four generations; there’s ornaments from travels, tiny wooden shoes from Holland, an Elvis ornament from Graceland, a starfish dressed up like Santa from a beach trip; a glitzy fleur de lis from New Orleans. There’s the Disney IMG_0112princess phase my daughter went through represented with Snow White and Pocahontas ornaments. We have lots of handmade things too; the Wizard of Oz collection my Mom made when I was young that’s only a little chewed up from the dog who thought Dorothy was a chew toy; an empty beer can that’s painted with the pop off lid hole designed to look like an angel singing; lots of God’s Eyes—popsicle sticks with yarn wrapped around them—that my Girl Scout troop made me on a long ago campout; and even a faded crayon-drawn ornament on cardboard held together with lots of staples that survived from my early childhood when I had just discovered the magical properties of a stapler. My sweetie’s White House collectible ornaments from his decade in Washington blend well with everything. The blingy silver beaded garland and colored lights tie it all together.

We have several little holiday collections, none real large and none that really match. Other than the pooping toys I have nutcrackers, reindeers, angels, Santas; there are lots of candles, a Yule log and a menorah. Steve added his Holy Land village that he collected over decades with his children. It fits in our idiosyncratic collections and I agree with him, that a turkey is a nice addition to the traditional manger animals.

While I appreciate well designed, simple and tasteful holiday decorations, it’s the shiny, whimsical, silly and tacky side of the holidays that I’m drawn to. The classic wreath on the front door with simple white lights is lovely—but it’s the house with an over abundance of mismatched lights, Santa and Frosty the Snowman standing with the three wise men looking at baby Jesus in the manger that’ll make me slow down.

When it comes to gifts, we believe in quantity over quality. A pair of socks equals two wrapped gifts. We’ll even wrap a package of Oreos and a six-pack of cokes. We have a large shabby bow that we call the family bow; it’s too ratty to give anyone outside of immediate family. It’s considered lucky to have your gift wrapped with the family bow.

This year we’ll be blending in a new tradition. My sweetie has little grandchildren so we will have Christmas dinner at their home where Santa will have just made a big stop. His adult children have requested a return of Steve’s Christmas spaghetti. As I understand it, you add green food coloring to the noodles so when the red meat sauce is added, everyone will have a plate of red and green deliciousness. I’m looking forward to this new tradition and love that it’s a revival of a treasured family memory for a new generation.

Baking Christmas cookies and making ornaments

Baking Christmas cookies and making ornaments

I’m going to make wine cork ornaments to go along with my Christmas cookies. I need to get started so it must be time open a bottle now that I’m collecting corks! Cheers to happy holidays and your own treasured traditions!

A Creative Oasis

8 12 2012

I just played bartender for a friend while her home was on a historic tour of homes in the oldest neighborhood in the city. She’s been prepping for the tour for two months. She bought a rundown cottage 14 years ago, so she’s really been preparing for 14 years.

If you toured it last night you would never believe that not long after she moved in, she allowed my young and wild Girl Scout troop to have a slumber party there. It was in the first stage of renovation and we knew there was nothing they could destroy. She taught them how to climb out of its windows.  Last night with it’s candlelight and perfection and Zen monastic music setting the mood you would not recognize it as the same house where 8-year-olds sang Spice Girls on a karaoke machine.

She told me that she has come to view her home as a work of art. Indeed it is, it could grace the pages of any glossy magazine.

My home will never grace the pages of any magazine. But it is my creative oasis. I just finished painting every room in my little house. It’s only taken me four years. My ex and I bought this little starter home in the burbs more than 25 years ago. My biggest challenge living here was the decision to remain post divorce. My ex and I always put our daughter first and even after we moved on, we both wanted her to stay in the only home she had ever known.

I remember the moment when I decided it was time to make the house mine. My ex had never put back up the house numbers after an exterior paint job. They sat on the porch rail for a few years waiting to be rehung. It slowly dawned on me that I couldn’t blame him any more. It was all up to me now. So before I hung them I decided to bejewel them. With each tiny sparkly jewel I glued in place I started to make this house my home.

house numbers

I had half the house painted when my sweetie and I began our new chapter together. As my daughter grew up and moved out, my sweetie moved in. Now I was faced with a new challenge. It needed to be his home too; no longer what had become my girly house.  So began the purge. In order for him to move in, I had to clean out. The more I cleaned out, the more old baggage I was still carrying around got thrown away.

My sweetie is an amazing craftsman. Over the years building furniture has been his hobby. Our home is now filled with his handcrafted furniture. The old studio is now our master bedroom. The old master bedroom is now the home of our brand new business, Greenview Designs. The favorite art from homes of his past now hang on the walls of our home. Things we have bought and built together are slowly filling the nooks and crannies as this continues to become our home.

We’ll put up a Christmas tree this weekend.  On it will be ornaments that hung on my grandparent’s tree, handmade ornaments from my childhood and my daughter’s, and the beautiful Collectible White House ornaments that come from the decade my sweetie lived in Washington DC.

pooping toys

It’s not like my friend’s beautiful work-of-art home. Hers wouldn’t have the pooping Christmas toy collection. That’s perfectly OK; this creative oasis is our home.