13 December 2014

Xmas prep

You, too, may be despairing about the approach yet again of the "annual consumerfest"; does your heart sink when the Christmas decorations go up on streets before the end of November - and will you leave any shop that is playing xmas carols?  Despite the "bah, humbug!"of it all, if you can get away from the glitz and financial outlay, does your childlike heart yearn for the Christmases of yesteryear, a simpler time of fewer presents and more "specialness"?

My childhood Christmases involved the arrival of the parcel from the aunties in Germany - wrapped in fabric (an old sheet?), stitched carefully shut with big black stitches. The parcel arrived round about the end of November, and my brother and I were allowed to cut open one stitch each every evening. Would they all be cut, before Xmas Eve ... would we see the wrapped presents before they appeared under the tree? Somehow this never happened, but the anticipation was intense. 

Those parcels must have been sent off in September - which is about the time we got busy on our side of the Atlantic ... or rather, the shores of the Pacific ... with Making Presents For The Aunties. My mother's ideas for the early ones included gingham teatowels (bought) with cross-stitched borders; egg cosies made of felt; heart-shaped pincushions, held together with blanket stitch; tray cloths and/or tablecloths with drawn-thread borders [she did those] and chain-stitch daisies with french knot centres. 

With that background, what spells "Christmas" to me is ... making presents. Maybe jam or chutney, or cookies, but mostly something stitched in some way. This year it's door-stops. Surely everyone needs a doorstop at some time or place, and what better than these? -
Corn-fed chickens
They have four main pieces, and velvet combs  - and are stuffed with the least expensive thing I could find at the cash&carry, which turned out to be hominy grits. (Years ago I used barley to stuff floppy frogs.) They could be stuffed with sand and would be even heavier; filled with grain (unpopped popcorn might be good!), they must be protected from the wet ... but they're for use indoors so that shouldn't be a problem.

Some have gone, unstuffed, into envelopes for posting abroad. Others wait to be filled -
My pattern was taken from the doorstop I bought at a craft event a while back, and if you look on the internet you'll find many versions, some more quick to make than others. 

Continuing on the "home made Christmas" theme, another festive touch is the recycled wreath - two years ago it was green and silver, last year it was enlivened with fresh rosemary sprigs, and this year it holds the little bundles of colour we put together at Annie Sherburne's rug-hooking workshop in January.
It's high time to do some Christmas baking, again harking back to childhood and the many tins of cookies my mother baked every year - Scharzweiβ Gebäck, Pfeffernusse, Lebkuchen (baked in trays, filled with jam, topped with melted chocolate, cut into diamond shapes, left a while to mellow), Zimtsterne, Hasselnuss Makaronen, Anisplätzchen, Kokosmakronen ... and of course Stollen, many loaves of Stollen - sometimes we'd still be eating it in February, heavily buttered.
The cookie that says Christmas to me is what we knew as Vanillahoernchen but are also called Vanillekipferl - shortbread with almonds, shaped into crescents.


patty a. said...

Your post reminds me of the many Christmas days that the anticipation of opening the huge box my Grandmother would send and the impending wrangling that would go on. The box was for all of us kids (I have 5 brothers and two sisters) and it would be filled will socks, reject t-shirts, and other clothing items my Grandmother would collect over the year. She worked at a sporting goods store that did screen printed t-shirts. Grandma would bring us all the t-shirt mistakes and my brothers use to fight over the goofiest ones! I miss those crazy boxes!

reensstitcher said...

I can identify with making presents and with the timescales involved in sending things across the world. We have had a lifetime of this because one of my brothers-in-law was in the Foreign Office, not to mention my mother being in NZ. We used to swop presents with the FO lot when they were back in the summer. In November 1999 the presents (from Zimbabwe) we had got in August went through our house fire and were rescued by the firemen. They were two wonderful bowls, porringers I think the English would call them) and we use them almost every day.