Brown Paper Packages

Friday, December 20, 2013






Maybe it's the song but I have alway loved the simplicity of brown paper and a little string. To dress it up this year I used the tags I made recently (click here if you want some too.), some herbs and greenery, washi tape and some "instafamily" photos I have picked up here and there at little shops and estate sales. (The photos are kind of a fun way to stop and enjoy the moments of unwrapping and usually evoke some giggles. I like the weird ones as much as the pretty ones.) Then I took a lot of photos of a few of my packages. These are the first ones I wrapped of course, because after about 10 the aesthetics of it all start to feel less and less important and they just become wads of paper and tape. 

Every year I am surprised by myself at the holidays because you might not know this but I have a pretty strong cynical side, but every year I am like a crazy-christmas-sweater-wearin'-popcorn-ball-makin'-carol-singin' little elf. I can't help but be over-cometh with holiday cheer. I know that the holidays aren't an easy time for everybody. I know that the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year for many. I know that not everyone celebrates Christmas and truth be told Christmas is in no way religiously aligned for me. To me it's all about letting go of normal routines and relishing in the act of tradition, and  generally just being in a state of mind of giving and enjoying life. It seems everywhere you turn at this time of year there is something pretty to look at - like the (other) song goes "even the streetlights blink a bright red and green." It's a state of mind of being jolly and maybe because of the cynic in me I just have to be all in.

I've been meh about Christmas plenty of times. I have lamented about how other holidays are marginalized by this predominately "christian" one and how those of us who don't celebrate the religious aspect are all sheep with blinders on being herded towards idolizing consumerism - money being the one and true almighty. But as I got older, really after my grandparents passed away and I had kids of my own, I realized so many of my happiest memories were of this time of year. So I now I just put my critical thinking cap on the shelf, next to my elf, at this time of year.

When I was little I waited all the first half of the school year for Christmas break and I'd hightail it over to my (maternal) grandparents and we'd flit and flitter from one holiday tradition to the next. We'd go to buy presents, we'd cut down a tree, we'd trim the tree, we'd bake pies and make ginger bread houses, we'd get hot chocolates and drive around looking at christmas lights, and we'd wrap lots of presents with string and ribbon. They'd curl up with me on the sofa (or recliner chair), their excitement of turning the television on to the Rudolf or Frosty the Snowman special waiting to see my eyes light up and here me squeal. I mean even then I knew they found joy in my joy. They genuinely loved to see me happy. Christmas eve I always got a pair of pajamas and one other little present and I would get tucked into bed and my grandpa would turn the heat up real high so that it made clanking noises in the ceiling and tell me "oh, i think i hear santa's reindeer on the roof. you better go to sleep. quick close your eyes!" and I knew it was just the heater but I played along because the thought of him knowing I knew it was just the heater was enough to make my heart break. I never wanted to spoil a moment they gave me because each one was crafted with the purest of love, and even so young I could spot that anticipation in their eyes, waiting for my reaction. Christmas morning I'd wake to guess jeans and esprit bags and roller skates and boom boxes that would help me squeak by the rest of the school year not feeling totally an outsider in my 'regular' life. 

So now that they are gone, now that my little M+L are here and have never had the good fortune to know them or be tucked in by them or wake to them on Christmas morning I simply channel them. I find joy in my children's joy because there is truly nothing more joyful when you are a parent. I totally get that now. We flit and flitter through the month of December and I crank up the heater on Christmas eve and ask them if they can hear santa's reindeer on the roof. It's taken me along time to admit this openly, but I frickin' love Christmas. And it's almost here! (and it's almost over too, which is also kind of nice.). Do you have any favorite Christmas memories and traditions? Or those of you who aren't celebrating Christmas, do you have any non-"christmas" traditions at this time of year?

Have a happy weekend! 

13 comments:

  1. Callum has been quite grumpy with me lately because I groan every time he counts down the days until Christmas. Oops! It's because I'm in charge of EVERYTHING. I wouldn't have it any other way, but I'm the pin on which everything hinges. All the gifts from what my parents want to get Cal to what Neel wants to get the people who work in his lab. Add to that the teacher gifts, the neighbor gifts, planning the parties attending the parties, saying no to some parties... and school and exams. Oh, I could go on, but I love it too. We have Sara Lee coffee cake and bloody marys when we open presents and my dad and I cook Christmas dinner. We walk on the beach on Christmas morning and this year I think we'll take a ride through the botanical garden to see the lights. My parents are divorced, but very amicably, and last year for the first time we all spent Christmas together again. We're doing that again this year and to me that's the best present of all.

    So I should have a chat with my boy, I think, and remind him that his joy is still the most important thing to me. You're absolutely 100% right about that.

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    1. I found this year that a couple things have organically happened that have made this year a little more stress-free. One is that because of my business, the last couple years I have had to cut back on a lot of "obligations" - I just didn't have time and I had a good reason. Also, the Fab thing, well, I found another positive to that, which is I have had an amazing amount of inventory this year for the holiday season and it's been a breeze! So this year I have really been able to think about 'my' christmas for me and my little family. Not that the other ways christmas have always been aren't great, but it's nice to have the space and time to see what it would look like if it was all up to me.

      I love that your parents are both coming to your house again. That's one thing I have been trying to be firm about for years, now that I have kids, I don't want to drag them everywhere; even though that can be fun I want them to have the experience of being home too. So that's really wonderful of your parents. I like your bloody mary tradition too, I might have to incorporate that one. I'll serve my mom first, haha.

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    2. Ha! Definitely serve your mom first. My dad's first stop, as soon as he gets here for any trip, is the liquor store. We like to stock up! ;)

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  2. i really love the simplicity of brown paper, and that kind of twine. my friend wrapped my gift in kraft paper and red and white twine. i think i love this black and white twine even more! i'm a neutrals kind of girl anyway :)
    for me, christmas is not about religion at all either. i love november and december bc it is the time of the year that people host friends and family for long weekends and dinner parties - which are my favorite things to do!
    that heater trick that your grandfather would play - that melts my heart! i may have to steal that idea for when i tuck my future children in :)

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    1. i love the black and white twine too. that stuff comes in handy for so many little things! i totally agree with why you love these two months, it's one of my favorite reasons too. xo

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  3. I loved this post. Loved how you remember those traditions and love how that's how you remember them. That's exactly what makes the holidays for me. Make those fun traditions of your own so that those boys of yours will remember them for years to come. If I were in Portland (it's funny how many of my sentences start out like this), we'd start a tradition of wearing Santa hats while drinking some hot winter cocktail and wrapping presents in the kookiest manner imaginable - big hugs!

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    1. well, i just happen to have a couple of santa hats already for us!! so come on over! xoxo

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  4. I wrapped all the presents last year in brown paper, tied it with red and white ribbon and decorated it with a little greenery. They were a big hit. :) What a lovely read, Christine! Favourite traditions? It's funny that you should ask, as I am preparing a very special post for Monday. But for now, I'll share one from my childhood, because I have so many happy childhood memories. My brother and I would always spend Christmas at our grandparents' country house. We usually had a white Christmas and it looked like a winter wonderland. There was a fireplace in the living room and we were allowed to sleep there on Christmas Eve and we would ask our grandfather to tell us about Santa, about that magical night when he had to reach all the children in the world. We would always fall asleep trying to hear Santa knocking at the gate. And we would wake up on Christmas day morning and find all the presents carefully sent by our parents in advance under the Christmas tree and we couldn't believe that we had missed Santa again and couldn't hear how he had sneaked in the room we were sleeping in to leave the presents. Of course our grandfather had seen him and talked to him and we were so mesmerized by his description. Even after we had found out the truth, we would still pretend we didn't know only to hear our grandfather tell us the story again.

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    1. oh, ada, what a beautiful story. thank you so much for sharing. i could picture it all - you curled up in front of the fire, the gate, the presents surrounding you in the morning. just an absolutely beautiful image. i can't wait to read your monday's post! xx

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    2. Oh my gosh, reading this brought tears to my eyes! I can't wait to check out your post on Monday! So moving!

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  5. you have a cynic side. you don't say :) I have nothing to wrap this year, otherwise I'd take some inspiration from you. I love it minimal and simple. and I like the idea of incorporating little photos. that's what I call true customization :) xoxo

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  6. I love this post Christine, and was looking for brown paper myself but haven't found any. Your packages look lovely! I finally started decorating today, better late than never! Hope you have wonderful cozy holiday weekend!
    xo Mary Jo

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  7. I know I love this trend the brown paper with the bakers twine, I just may try this next year!

    Allie of ALLIE NYC
    allienyc.com

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