dragoon811: (mokona with book)
I went to JoAnn Fabrics this weekend to get some felt for, well... Christmas present backings, so I guess I can't really be TOO surprised at how many moms were buying fabric for little Susie/Billy's Halloween costumes.

No, wait, actually,  I can. Of the 14+ people in line, only 2. Two. How sad is that? Man, I remember that when I was a kid, my mom made almost all of our Halloween costumes (Far as I'm aware, all but three, but two of those were handmade by another person, and the Maleficent one was store-bought). I'm pretty sure Mom made all of my sister's costumes - including the robot and bunch of grapes!! We kept most of them for years, using them for dress up, mine getting passed down to my sister occassionally as I outgrew them.

And yet now.. now they're all store-bought! It's almost tragic to me... you see people buying pre-painted pumpkins, or the cut-out, light-up styrofoam ones, rather than picking out a pumpkin, cutting it's head off, scooping out the guts, and creating a toothy grin or wicked smile.

It almost makes me sad, seeing what's happened to Halloween. It's become an excuse for kids to be spoiled brats (we were threatened with no trick-or-treating if we misbehaved and unlike the majority of parents I see, mine would have followed through), girls to dress like skanks (I'm sorry, but you do), and it's lost the homey charm it used to have.

It used to be that you could look out the window and see kids walking on the sidewalk, plastic pumpkins or pillow cases in hand, parents following behind, with all sorts of costumes. Kids would gaily cry out "trick or treat!" when you answered the door.

Now.... now in recent years it's been sparse, hardly any kids on the street, knocking on decorated doors, and when they do, they mumble and just hold out their bag, looking at you expectantly as they stand there in their cheap, ill-fitting store-bought costume that they will never use again. Seriously? It's just sad.

Such a change makes me worry about other holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving. I mean, Thanksgiving, you get together and eat, whee, fun, I love to cook the meal <3.

But Christmas....Christmas should be when you decorate, stringing lights and garlands at the start of the month, you pick out a tree, or put up the fake one (really depends on the person; I love the smell and feel of a real tree but it's an awful fire hazard), and decorate it as a family.

In my household, we have a tradition that since we were born, my sister and I every year get a new ornament. The idea being that by the time we grow up and leave the nest, we will have a start for our very own Christmas trees (A tradition I hope to pass on to my own kids someday!). It's even cooler to look back and see how our tastes and likes changed over the years - we even have a few that match when we wanted to be alike, so they're different colors and/or marked with our names.

Now, trees come pre-lit. No stringing of lights. Christmas music is played in stores from October onward, so when December does come, you don't want to listen to carols or feel festive.

We wrote letters to Santa, put them in the mail in decorated envelopes.

We used to make a gingerbread house together - I remember thinking it was so cool, watching my mom make icing icicles on the roof. We'd put out cookies and milk for Santa, and oats for the reindeer, and at least once a Thank-You note. My dad (or Santa, if you will), would eat most of the cookies, leaving a chomped cookie and some crumbs, drink the most of the milk, leaving a good mouthprint on it, and a big old handful of oats would be missing, some scattered from the plate into the chimney, with a few sooty footprints (gotta hand it to him, he was creative. I didn't catch on til Santa answered the thank you letter.. in my dad's handwriting. But like any kid, I kept it up. Seriously, presents!).

We loved our gifts; so what if they weren't the latest and greatest or most expensive? As long as I get an orange, some nuts, and a Lifesaver's Storybook in my stocking, it's Christmas. Presents could be handmade or useful (I love getting warm cozy socks, or items I need) and even if we got cash or gift cards, it was with a smile and a thank you.

I remember when I was in 5th grade, and bought all my Christmas presents at the school craft fair with money I'd made from chores,.. it was pretty epic. Yes, they were silly and cheap but it's the thought that counted. As a kid, I thought so carefully, wanting to make everyone happy, making sure I wouldn't forget anyone; I didn't see them as silly and cheap at the time - I thought of them as beautiful.

In recent years though... I've seen kids whining. Pouting. Throwing tantrums over some stupid present, blind to the fact that their family was around them, that what matters is love.

All the good Christmas specials are gone (the only good recent one is the one from Pixar. Well done, bravo. New special with the old style cheer. Spot on.) , now it's more spoiled children watching the lame disgusting "cartoons".

I feel sad for the loss of homemade ornaments and stockings decorated with craft glue and glitter, the popcorn chain made as you watch tv together, the warm sweaters, the handwrapped gifts with the shiny bows, looking like so many jewels beneath the tree. I miss the feeling of family, of waking up early, of seeing photos from Christmas morning, all of our hair a mess, uncaring of slippers and sloppy bathrobes, dressed in funny pajamas.

I hope that other people see this, too, and realize that the very things that brought us joy in the holidays are slipping away, becoming a fading memory, a distant dream. I salute every crafter who tries to keep it alive, every mom who takes a breath and decides to try her hand at a homemade costume, every dad who builds Christmas presents the night before so that their kids plastic rocking horse has a missing mane. I smile at kids who make their Christmas lists that include "a pony", and know that's not going to happen. To every kid who saves their pennies to buy their family a present that they find beautiful, to everyone who makes a present, be it a mix cd or a card or scarf or scrapbook, well done.

I hope that the holiday seasons stay alive, and I want to see them make a comeback. I challenge everyone - make a costume. Turn off the crappy cartoons and turn on some carols. Revive old traditions, make new ones. Holidays are about fun and family, not the latest and greatest, or money, or candy. (Except Halloween. Even Garfield knows it's about candy.) And celebrate not with your wallets but with your hearts.

December 2016

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