21 December 2012

My Solstice Tree - I Don't Do Christmas

If we're speaking scientifically...



I've been writing and rewriting this post in my head for a couple weeks now. I don't get socio-political on this blog. That's not what it's about. But it's hard to explain my version of things without delving into politics and religion a little.

I don't like Christmas; for several reasons:

1. Any holiday that causes people to trample each other to death in order to get a cheap TV or...whatever...is not something I want anything to do with.

2. If you believe the big book of fairy tales called the Bible (I do not), Jesus wasn't born in December.  Christmas is a holiday Christians made up in order to redefine the pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice (something I'm highly in favor of celebrating since it signals the beginning of the lengthening of days and in a place where we have less than 8 hours of daylight right now I'm all for longer days!).

My construction site at 0800 (8:00 a.m.)
Despite this, Christians (not all, I'm not saying that, but a very vocal contingent) act as if they are the only people entitled to a celebration at the end of December and the whole ridiculous War on Christmas claim from the most privileged group of people in America makes me want to scream.

[Please note, I'm not looking for a discussion or argument about my views. If you want to present an alternate opinion please do so on your own blog. I will not entertain any such comments here. My blog; my rules.]

3. I'm just not into stuff.  The over-commercialism has far exceeded absurd.  I don't like the feeling that I have to give people stuff nor do I ever want anyone to feel like they're required to give me something. I love giving gifts and if I see something I think someone would like then I get it for them. I don't need a reason or special holiday.  What I don't like is buying things for the sake of buying things.  And I don't like receiving something that is clearly given out of a sense of obligation and the thought of someone spending money they really don't have to buy me something I really don't need horrifies and saddens me. I will never convince my mother or brother that there's no need to buy me things. Never. I know this. Thankfully, at least my father is on board with this concept.  Plus, there's all the wastefulness of wrapping paper and ribbon and bows and gift bags and, and, and... 

However, there are several family traditions surrounding the Christmas holiday that I cherish and I'm trying to find ways to incorporate them into a celebration that I'm comfortable with.  One of those traditions has to do with tree ornaments. We never had generic ornaments on our tree. Each year we would each receive an ornament that had significance from the year. Perhaps you went abroad to study or started playing an instrument.  Your ornament might be the flag of the country where you studied or the instrument you play. I have ornaments from 2 universities, favorite sports teams, things made in elementary school, a Christmas Crapper from Barcelona, etc..  (although I'm hoping most of my ornaments are in a storage unit courtesy of the US Army and not in a box that got packed to come here but never made it because I only found a small box with a few ornaments.) The evergreen tree was part of the pagan solstice celebration and I've had trees in past years (always real...I just can't do a fake tree). But, my eco-hippy-self is no longer cool with cutting down a tree just to have it in the house for a week.

Two years ago when I moved into this house I made a tree out of moving boxes that hadn't been unpacked yet, hung a few ornaments and the stockings and called it good.

Last year I was in Prague so I didn't do anything at all.  This year, Mom, Dad and Gran are coming. I want to do a combination of the traditions I love, the Dutch Sinterklaas (which is done on 5 December but it will have to come a little late here) and a celebration of the solstice all while abiding my mother's need to have me unwrap a bunch of presents.

So, in order to have something eco-friendly on which to hang my ornaments I gathered up scraps from the construction site (wood, drywall, ceiling tile, ceramic tile) and decided to make my own tree.  I didn't really plan it out much I just sort of dove in (obviously not the best approach to a project).  I started sawing wood pieces in my dining room.

Cutting ceiling tiles on the kitchen counter?!?
I took them outside to spray paint (a task which should be simple but the can of paint I bought didn't have a push button. I took the button from the only other spray can I had but it didn't quite fit so much of the paint ended up on my hand) but as soon as I did it started to drizzle so I moved them to the kitchen.

A couple pieces needed additional paint. I thought I could control it pretty well but...

Thank goodness for the bottle of nail polish remover Aime left in my bathroom! There is no evidence of green paint on my kitchen floor!
My fingers, however, look like a holiday manicure gone wrong!
After everything dried the assembly started.  As a construction engineer I know better than to jump into a project without planning it out first. Then again, I supposedly know better than to spray paint in the kitchen so... 

The first draft didn't hold together once I started nailing so that there would be things from which to hang the ornaments. The pieces of ceiling tile didn't hold up at all. So I had to get more scraps from the site which meant more sawing and more spray painting. I ended up having to go to the store and buy another can of paint because the first can ceased functioning all together.  I was smart enough to do the 2nd round of spray painting in the garage! It didn't quite turn out the way I had pictured it but it will suffice.

Putting it together the 2nd go-round.
VOILA!  The finished product.
 And with that, I wish you all a very happy solstice. Bring on the light!!



  1. I struggle a bit with the whole Christmas thing - but then I also love the traditions mostly it's about the cookies for me. Cookies and cooking food with my family that I love. I think that's the thing I miss most about living in Australia and spending Christmas with someone else's family.

  2. I love your tree!! The kids and I celebrated Yule yesterday and now my mom is in town along with A LOT of presents.....so much stuff drives me nuts. I hope you enjoy your time with your family, happy solstice to you :)

    1. Angela--If my mom had grandkids it would be exponentially worse! I don't even want to think about the number of presents that would be involved (and I know for a fact she has already purchased some and there is no sign of any grandkids)! At least this year she's somewhat limited by what she can fit in her suitcase and still have room for clothes :) Hope you and the kids had a very happy Yule!