I am ludicrously on top of things this year. In addition to hosting Thanksgiving, and roasting my first-ever turkey (which I failed to totally ruin despite a grave betrayal by one Alton Brown - we're not speaking, Alton), and now having mostly cleaned up the mess, and finishing Christmas stockings for my brother and sister by this morning, and starting to buy Christmas presents already (just a few, and nothing during the door-buster deals, which occurred while I was sleeping), I have my Advent wreath up on the first day of Advent, for the first time in my life.
However, apparently that little lecture I gave myself at the store a week ago about how I did not need new Advent candles "just in case" and I was greedy and materialistic and buying everything in sight just because of an excess of holiday enthusiasm - was misplaced. Looks like I could have used another set. Next year.
I also put out the Nativity:
My little answer to the internet's proliferation of "holiday mantels." (And, apparently, my answer to good interior photography. Sigh.) Note that all the other little figures are reverencing an empty manger at this point:
Baby Jesus will be hanging out in the punch bowl in the china cabinet until December 24th. I know that's how He'd want it. I also did one or two other things. I switched out the green-and-floral theme in my plate rack for a Christmas one:
Sorry the color reads so poorly. (It wasn't even dark yet, and this is next to a window.) The dessert plates are clear blood-red glass (from a red glassware collection my mother started for me when I was little - she's an odd one); the candy dish and candlesticks are green glass (from some things my husband's grandmother had); the ironstone is of course off-white (a set my mother collected that's going to my sister whenever she's able to take it with her); the wall behind them is a pale mint green; the holly sprig (which I picked up during a Thanksgiving morning jog) is in there provisionally, until I figure out how it would look nicest; and the Infant of Prague was a gift from my lovely prayer buddy one of these years (still very much loved). The plate rack is on an odd spot of blank wall at the bottom of the stairs:
And I've started working on my front door wreath. Like the wreath around the Advent candles (and the pair I just hung on the gate), it's a 24" jobber from A.C. Moore (I seem to spend a lot of time there lately), now on sale for $3.33. They're not fluffy, they're fairly flat, but for hanging-on-things and for sitting-under-the-Advent-candles purposes, this is ideal. And the fake fir is pretty good. I decided that the front door one needs to be jazzed up a bit, so I wheedled my husband into picking up bunches of windfall pine cones for me while jogging, and then I painted the edges gold and tied them into the wreath:
A little subtle glamour. (In electric light, the gold edging is fairly difficult to see.) I've also bought a package of peacock feathers I'm going to tuck in around the wreath, in further pursuit of the natural/glamour look. (It seems to me that the gold-painted-pine-cones-and-peacock-feathers wreath appeared in my brain fully formed, but if I could run a slide show of my subconscious, I'm pretty sure I could figure out what things I've seen in the past few weeks that made me think of doing this. I'm claiming that that's evidence that looking at ten thousand images of holiday pretties that you have no intention of buying is an extremely productive use of time.)
I will be sure to show off the finished product in case anyone might want to try this idea. The early stages were pretty easy - gold-edging seven or eight pine cones takes a bit of patience, but it's pretty easy to tie them onto the wreath with thread, and I think tucking in the feathers will be even easier. I just can't decide yet whether it needs a bow.
Bizarrely, I seem to have an enormous amount of mental energy and focus hanging about, and I'm dumping most of it into holiday decorating and - I predict - baking. Obviously, I adore Christmas. But this is the first year I can recall myself turning into all of Santa's workshop by December 1. I guess we were just getting settled into being married (and moving constantly, plus we were broke), before we moved to DC. Then I spent those next few years doing fertility treatment. My thyroid was too low and I was depressed and exhausted and miserable - and didn't even realize it. The first Christmas in this house was three months after we moved, and I was overwhelmed getting settled in and trying to paint and furnish every room in the house. Last year...oh, yeah, last year I was trying to remodel a kitchen while teaching myself how to remodel and make cabinets, and working full-time, and ridiculously sick until right before Christmas. This year we've already had the big party, and pulled off Thanksgiving pretty well. The only house project I have to do before Christmas (I have promised myself) is redo the laundry room, which is pretty easy as these things go - find a chest that fits under the pantry cabinet (extremely difficult, so far), remove the horrible under-washer/dryer drawers, remove the wire shelving and replace with a cabinet (already painted and waiting to go in), repaint the walls and ceiling, et voila! New laundry room.
That leaves plenty of time for wreaths and candles in all the front windows (soon), icicle lights on the porch and garland on the banister (next weekend), mini trees in the bedrooms, garland in the living room, and some sort of nonsense in the kitchen (the weekend after), and a real tree in the dining room (the weekend after that), and lots and lots of baking. Query: do I need Christmas decorations in the bathrooms? Something to ponder.
Today at Mass, I said a prayer of thanksgiving for so much energy and feeling so healthy and so good. Sure, I have ten-and-counting pounds to lose before I feel like myself again (or fit most of my clothes), and my hormone levels are still wacky from the depo, making it a crazy battle to lose even a pound. But I can run for miles and not get tired. I sprint up the escalators in the metro (and glower at the backs of people in front of me who walk them). Even though I tend to throw myself into frenzy by setting impossible goals for entertaining, I've actually been meeting them, without any kind of breakdown. There have been so many years I would have killed for this, and didn't even know what I was missing or what was wrong with me or why I felt so bad. There are far more serious things in life for people to pray for, and bigger goals at which to throw energy and good health, but this one is important to me and I am so, so grateful.