Thursday, December 22, 2011

Have Yourself a Tacky Little Christmas

The Christmas countdown is on, and the excitement in the air is tangible.  In only three days, Cael and Graham will rip into brightly wrapped gifts and run through the house, tailed by long stretches of curling ribbon wound almost as tight as their enthusiasm.

To curb that enthusiasm, we've spent countless hours on Christmas craft projects and works of art that now adorn our home in a "Griswold Family Christmas" level of gaudiness.

I've always loved decorating for the seasons, and while I am working with limited resources, I think I've managed to keep the house and tree tasteful and festive at the same time.  Even in college, I managed to fit a six foot tall artificial tree in a dorm room that could not have been wider than 36 inches.  Each night, my roommate, the tree and I "sardined" ourselves into our cell room and slept to the glow of the Christmas lights.

Fast forward ten years and I find myself in a somewhat similar situation.  Although our home is much bigger than my freshman dorm room, I still find my picture-perfect Christmas tarnished by tacky eyesores.  Then it was empty Mt. Dew cans and an overabundance of faux zebra-print.  Now it comes in the form of the childhood Christmas craft.

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 It didn't start off so bad.  We decided to make some paper snowflakes to hang in the window, a tradition started last year and one I could easily control and was therefore willing to repeat.  I would make the required paper folds and hand the triangle to one of the boys.  Rather than letting them saw away at it with safety scissors, I handed them a crayon to draw shapes that I would later cut out to reveal their unique snowflake.  It was a safe and easy way to get them involved and they loved seeing the finished project of their creativity.

 And to be honest, I had fun too.  So I made a few snowflakes myself, and we hung them in the window.  But later that day when my nephews came over, we pulled out the paper and launched into a blizzard of paper cutting that left me with a stack of snowflakes that are now stacked haphazardly around the kitchen and appear in drawers and closets without explanation.

After a few days passed, however, the craft high had worn off faster than a stiff drink after a long day.  So we busted out the gingerbread train kit I'd found at the "Stuff Destined for Cael" store, on the shelf right next to the fart machines and baseball paraphernalia, and assembled it with cousin Keaton one night in a hurricane of royal icing and mismatched colored candies.

I'm still trying to "de-stickify" my dining room table.  And my hair.

Last week, after an unusually long stretch of craft-free days, I decided to attempt an idea I'd first seen on Pinterest (stay away, STAY AWAY) in which the kids paint on a paper with a Christmas tree taped to later reveal an image under the crusted remains of fingerpaint and chicken nugget breading.

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I have to admit that this particular activity was really quite successful, save for the disagreement among the kids of what image should be taped on the paper.

"Okay, boys.  Use these paints to cover your paper, and then later we will pull off the paint and there will be a white tree."

"NO!  I want a train!" 

Go figure.

"I don't think I can tape a train."

"Can you tape Jesus?"

"No, he's been through enough."

"Mama!  Dezus!"  Graham added.

But when all was said and done, the trees we painted were original and festive, and my kids were good and dirty, just like they love to be.

Which brings us to Wednesday night, and the epitome of tacky.  All day the boys had been begging for a craft project, and upon looking in my project bag I wasn't immediately able to conceive of a legitimate use of the remaining items.  Onto the counter I threw some pipe cleaners, ribbon, felt, glue sticks, stickers and colorful puff balls and stared at them intently, hoping that some sort of Christmas miracle would force a Martha Stewart-grade project to manifest.  After several minutes of gazing catatonically at the random items, I decided that I could fake a felt tree ornament that, while obnoxious, would be enjoyable for the kids.

Joel and I were forced to do the majority of work.  I was responsible for gluing on the colorful puffs, and Joel was responsible for belly-laughing whenever I told Graham to "put his balls on the tree".   

We make a good team.

What I forgot, however, is that any ornament made by or given to a child MUST go on the tree in a most obvious location, regardless of how tacky or out of place it may be.  So here, three days before Christmas, my tree stands ready for the holiday-- adorned with lights, colorful ornaments to put us in the spirit, and two felt trees as bright as Rudolph's nose.  

Bring it on, Santa.

1 comment:

  1. LOL...I hear ya! I have a little set of three miniature trees that I have designated as the "Tacky trees". They are the lucky recipients of all our handmade ornament goodies, so that the beauty is contained in one area :-)

    Your tape trees turned out great!



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