Thursday, December 07, 2006


'Tis the season for wintery wonderful ornaments and decorations, yummy-smelling spruce and pine trees bedecked with spheres and glowing with twinkling lights, and sweet knit stockings hung up on the mantle awaiting a filling from a certain jolly fellow. (My Christmas tree, this year, is the huge, towering spruce tree behind my apartment with boughs that canopy my third floor apartment back deck. No stockings hanging on mantles this year for me; instead, I have candy canes hanging cheerily from my bookcase).

'Tis the season for brimming, steaming mugs full of nog, hot chocolate, and spicy mulled cider. (I have a special fondness for delicious, piping hot chocolate made from the old single-serving tin cans with the loop on top and the instructive arrows and big letters imperatively suggesting that one "PRY HERE" to open).

'Tis the season for baking pies and cookies for mass consumption in front of roaring fires and surrounded by relatives you see only once or twice a year. (One of my very favorite Christmas activities is baking piles and piles of sugar cookies and decorating them lavishly with homemade icing colored blue, green, red, and yellow. My favorite cookie cutter shapes when I was little were the Rudolph shaped one and the Scotty dog shaped one. The Rudolphs all got red hots where their noses were, and the Scotty dogs always got plaid sweaters, as best as a kid can render plaid sweaters with a blunt knife and bowl-fulls of icing. I still don't get exactly why Scotty dogs are Christmas-y, but because of that cookie cutter, they are Christmas-y to me. This year, my decorated cookies come in the form of beautiful glazed clay star ornaments that my sister gave me last Christmas).

'Tis the season for togetherness and traditions. I am enjoying reading about all of your traditions, and two of my favorites have been Nora's weekend family crafting soiree and Liz K's ornament collection for the children in the family. Those tiny sweater ornaments! How perfectly festive! I have my own special box of Christmas ornaments that were made by one of my grandmothers for my sister and me when we were little, and I cherish these ornaments above all others. My Christmas tree just is not complete without them. (With no Christmas tree this year, my window sill has been adorned with said cherished ornaments).

Just for the record, I also really love the vintage glass ornaments. They're so pretty. (Please ignore the distracting reflection of me taking pictures of these glass ornaments).

And since were on the subject of ornaments, I have to throw in my more recent favorite Christmas ornament, given to me by my mom last Christmas as a stocking surprise. A perfectly plump Santa carved out of a pear. (And, finally, the obnoxiously bright green paint color that we "bedecked" our apartment walls with finds its own festive purpose this month!)

"Tis the season for beautiful, wintery evening skies. Look, they're here and here, too. (While dark, wintery skies aren't the most convenient for knitters rushing home in the evenings to document their latest FOs, there is just something so deep and beautiful about a grey-blue sky on the verge of erupting into flurries. I also really love barren, leafless trees because it exposes all of the warm birds' and squirrels' nests - dark blobs in the blank trees).

Being a Near Eastern archaeologist means having dig seasons in the winters, rather than the summers, because most regions in the Middle East are just too hot to bear excavating during the summer. Winter excavations, however, more often than not overlap with the winter holiday, so I miss out on Christmas and New Year's celebrations with family and friends. This year is such a year, so I have had to develop some creative strategies for celebrating the season before I leave with no tree, no decorations, no weeks of baking, no gift-making (and perhaps *most* painful: no spare holiday knit time!). Still, there's nothing like jetting off to a foreign country for a month and a half of the year and enjoying 90 degree weather in the desert, skipping out on the snow and chill of December and January in Philadelphia.

Thank you to everyone for all of the nice comments on my last post. I've tried my very best to reply to everyone, though, the curse of Blogger oftentimes interferes with that, as contact emails are not always included with comments, even when people enter them into the proper field. So, my thanks to all who kindly left me comments.

The Hederas are moments away from being freed from the needles. They should be finished just in time for a winter-in-Philly weekend update!


Anonymous Mom & Dad said...

The whole family will miss having you here at Christmas time. I especially will miss our baking cookies telling stories, and laughing as we remember the joys of years gone by. Be safe on you journey to the UAE. We love you!

3:16 PM  
Blogger JulieFrick said...

Luvverly. Is that Sundara yarn I spy? I have yet to get my hands on any. And hey! Your bookcase could be mine!

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Mintyfresh said...

I'm not even a huge Christmas-decorating fan, and you've got me wanting to put out ornaments! I've been walking past the Xmas tree vendors quite deliberately lately: I take a DEEP inhale or two as I pass through. It's better than therapy! I hope you'll still be blogging from the Middle East? What a wonderful backdrop for knitting photos!

3:56 PM  
Blogger Liz K. said...

I also hope you will be able to blog from the UAE. I love your writing, and am sure I will enjoy your adventures in digging, as well as a vicarious warm thrill of the desert.

Thanks for the shout-out, BTW.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Nora said...

Beautiful post Megan. We don't have a tree this year either but your backyard spruce inspired me to decorate ALL THE TREES IN MY BACKYARD (with fairy lights)!!
So, thank you.

The vintage glass ornaments are divine and brought back many happy memories. In fact, my smile got bigger with every photo...

And finally, thank you for mentioning my "Traditions" post. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. x

4:13 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I, for one, would not be disappointed if you spent the next two weeks baking cookies in our sweet small oven.

4:17 PM  
Anonymous anne said...

I count it as a sure sign of getting older and softer that I lovelovelove decorating for Christmas nowadays. Your ornaments are quite inspiring.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Specs said...

As an undergrad I liked to think that I was past the childishness of decorating and all the hoopla of Christmas. I'm still cynical enough to not care for the commercialiam, but darn it, I love old stuff (hell, I'm an Anglo-Saxonist. The only stuff older than what I'm studying is what you're studying :)) and I've finally accepted that this includes Christmas traditions and traditional decorations.

And once again, you've made me miss the Mid-Atlantic in December. Sigh.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

Ah, 90s, sun & sand....thanks for rubbing it in. And thanks for the Christmas; I haven't gotten around to decorating and probably won't (a case of Charlie Brownishness) but I am enjoying seeing everybody else's stuff!

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

specs said: hell, I'm an Anglo-Saxonist. The only stuff older than what I'm studying is what you're studying :)

Well... I study this stuff. I've got 80,000 years on all y'all =)

10:49 PM  
Blogger Lolly said...

I am loving your posts, Megan. Another beautifully photographed and inspiring entry served fresh! :) I put up Christmas decorations this year - didn't do it last year - and they are making me happy. We don't have too many, but I love the ones I have. Thanks for sharing pics of yours!

7:02 AM  
Blogger Olga said...

Lovely photos! Thanks for the holiday cheer.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous brooke said...

Beautiful ornaments! Love the red scarf next to the pear Santa.

2:55 PM  

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