Nora outlined her pre-holiday preparations last week, so I’m certain she’s deep in cookie dough this weekend. Since we have pretty diametically opposed approaches to the holidays, I thought it would be fun to share a diary of my run up to Christmas.
(BTW, You definitely know this is a Laura post since I have the World Cup final on in front of me — like in the featured photo. For those of you who have followed from the first opening tap, hasn’t the beautiful game made this month even more magical?)
November 29 – December 1
Nora and I headed to Tyson’s Corner to meet Kat and Sarah for a couple days of girl time before getting back into the holiday marathon. And back to work.
We arrived at the hotel before noon. Checked in, grabbed some lunch, then meandered through some stores. Nora grabbed new holiday pillows and some other decor (since we all know she finished gift shopping before the 4th of July). Kat was further behind in her holiday prep — an ally! — and she was happy to score some gifts in Crate & Barrel and Sur La Table.
Now, Nora and I have tons in common, but we take divergent paths on sports. She’s a lifelong baseball fan, otherwise sports are white noise in the background. I watch just about everything. As a side note, Sarah is a Washington Commanders fan by birth and a Buffalo Bills fan by marriage (she’s having a fun season) while Kat doesn’t hear white noise when it comes to sports, she hears Mozart on a different frequency altogether.
I’d tracked the US/England World Cup game on my phone while we shopped, so when we got back to the suite, I put it on the TV and sat in a chair so I could face the game. Nora, Sarah, Kat positioned themselves facing each other. I kept the game on mute, though I did emote when necessary. And when the game ended in a tie, not a loss, I did a little happy dance to their complete amusement.
We spend the next day at Saks in Chevy Chase with Azita — Nora’s long time shopper — and the rest of the amazing, enthusiastic team at the store. We shopped a bit, I had a fun session with a Guerlain makeup artist, then we ate lunch serenaded by the lovely Stephanie of Singers & Strings/Next Entertainment on her electric violin. She played for nearly 3 hours — popular music, holiday music — and never missed a note.
After lunch we made Christmas decorations with the very sweet ladies of Coffee & Calligraphy out of Annapolis. We’d fill empty glass containers with bits and pieces of holiday decor, then the the C & C team would write our names on the front, and a tree, star or wreath on the back. They had enough supplies for us to make ornaments for spouses and kids. Kat, as you see in the photo below, sat down and created her own designs for the back of hers.
Then it was back to the hotel for dinner and gifts. Now, for all the snark, I was curious about all the Christmas gift purchases in Italy. Nora found a beautiful red saddle bag for Sarah in Florence (sorry, didn’t snap a photo) and these beautiful earrings she and Kayla deemed “Laura.”
Onto crafts. You’ve all heard the story about Nora being an Earth Mother/Queen of Crafts before she discovered her true creative outlet in writing (for which we are thankful). Prior to winter 1979, she sewed Jason and Dan’s clothes, she did needlecrafts, macrame, pottery, to name a few. Once she wrote that first – never published – book she gave all her craft supplies away.
Me? I’m always game to try a new craft. And fortunately have many like minds in my neighborhood. This year a group of us learned needle felting (I call it stab and gab) and stained glass. Candlemaking and blacksmithing are two we want to try next year. On my own, I have any number of yarn crafts on the needle or hook. Finishing them is a different ball of wool.
My main craft partner in crime is my friend Tara — who I’ll call The Craftinator. Or maybe The Maven of Making. Or maybe just Tara.
Months ago she sent me a link for some Christmas hoop crafts and asked me to file under future Mayhem (our preferred terminology for making things).
Now, I think it’s important to mention that, like Nora, The Craftinator is a woman who starts a project and doesn’t stop until it’s done. (See Nora and writing books one at a time.)
Me? I’m Doug the Dog in UP — show me something shiny, I’ll yelp, “Squirrel!”, drop what I’m doing and focus on the new. Tara will finish a project and I’ll store mine for a later date. (That later date is probably never-ish from the state of my craft closet.)
I sense a theme in my friendships, btw: people who follow through.
This particular December 3, a group gathers in Tara’s craft room — because, of course she has an organized craft space. Five neighbors with glue guns, decorations, battery operated LED lights, Cava and snacks. We started at noon with no real plan other than finishing. While my friends created woodland or bright party scenes, I really just wanted the Zen of wrapping the hoop with jute.
Once done with that, I decided to add a web of lights, then some pearls and felt balls. Mainly, I wanted a wreath for a Reeth (get it?). But I ran out of felt balls to fill it out. Please note, because we are adult women the discussion of needing green balls went downhill. Fast.
The afternoon was a fun one. And here’s what I brought home:
My husband took a long look when I brought it home. “Is that a hexagram?” he asked.
“I think you mean Pentagram,” I replied. “Maybe.”
“Hmmmmm,” was the reply. “What did everyone else make?”
“Well, here’s Tara’s.” I showed him my phone.
He stared at the photo. “And how long did Tara have to do this?”
“The same as me.”
And for the record, here’s what the entire group made:
Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan to re work mine. For Christmas 2023.
On Sunday, most of the same group attended a session on building succulent Christmas. Despite my frustration at getting some of the stems to fit into the mossy base, THIS is a project on display. Batting .500 (so Nora gets the reference).
December 8 – 12
We had an early Christmas with our kids because that worked for everyone’s schedule this year. Having an early celebration made for a very relaxing weekend (and easy travel from Connecticut and LA). Part of the fun was our neighborhood holiday gathering, held outdoors under cafe lights with fire pits and heat lamps.
I returned to my church’s choir in November, just in time to rehearse Christmas music . On this Friday night, we sang at the Sicilian Tenor’s concert at our church, kind of a dress rehearsal for Christmas Eve and Frederick’s Candlelight Tour of Historic Houses of Worship on December 26. (If you live in the area, it’s a wonderful evening of song and food.)
The World Cup final is in the books (what an absolutely beautiful, brutal and amazing match) and I’ve moved over to NFL games for this Sunday afternoon. Nora’s probably still working on cookies.
For those of you lighting the first candles on the menorah tonight, Happy Hanukkah! May your candles burn bright this season.
For those those of you still working toward the Christmas marathon finish line, I’m with you (I need to send cards, calendars and wrap gifts – no biggie).
This is my last personal post of the year, but keep an eye out for a kind of questionnaire post as Nora and I work toward some changes here on Fall Into The Story.