Ah, the holidays. Christmas is all about love, sharing, sweetness and light -- and keeping the antacids handy. In keeping with the spirit of the season, Chow Bella presents "Eating Christmas," in which some of our favorite writers nosh on the real lessons we learn this time of year. Today, Sativa Peterson has a tale to craft -- or is it a craft to tale?
Please join us tonight, Wednesday, December 12 at 7 p.m. at Crescent Ballroom, as we present Chow Bella's first-ever public reading, featuring several entries from the "Eating Christmas" series, read by the authors, including Peterson.
My Grandma and her sisters liked to try and out craft one another.
A new craft project would start with one of them, but spread like wildfire to the other sisters once they had been exposed to the craft du jour. One whole year when I was a kid they began making Christmas ornaments. The ornaments were "people" made out of two brightly colored silk Christmas balls stacked on top of one another, the lower-ball forming the torso, the upper becoming the head. They each had different hats and feet and hairstyles made out of felt and push pins and chenille pipe cleaners, and pom-poms, and sequins, and yarn, and sticky tacky craft glue and the magical ingredient - glitter.
They made so many characters: Santa and Mrs. Claus of course, but also an elf, a Jack Frost, a Swiss chalet girl, a boy and girl skier (whose ski-poles were made from toothpicks), a snowman, a snow woman, an angel, a toy soldier, a jack in the box.
But wait, they also included a slew of barnyard animals: a duck, a frog, a pig, a skunk, an owl. Also a Carmen Miranda with fruit on her head, some pilgrims, a beatnik cat playing a guitar, an elephant, storybook characters like Little Red Riding Hood, and many more. They would get together and show each other the new characters they had come up with. This went on for months. The crafting flotsam and jetsom swelled.
The production of the ornaments spread out, eventually overtaking the entire kitchen table. My grandpa would look for a little space to place his coffee cup; a corner to rest his paper. He was losing ground daily and there was glitter everywhere. On every surface. On his toast. On his shirt. It smelled like drying craft glue. You could see him mumbling, "goddamn it" quietly to himself in vain.
I, on the other hand, loved it. My grandma's dining room table was like peeking into the elves' workshop at the North Pole. Little piles of spilled sequins lay here and there like the aftermath of some raging little party. But even this wasn't enough. The sisters brought food to their crafting get-togethers. Cinnamon rolls, festive wreaths made out of green food-colored Rice Krispie treats, homemade bread, and a hot drink mixture, that was one of their earlier fads, called Friendship Tea, whose ingredients included Tang and lemonade mix and clove. Sticky fingers adhered to plates and mugs.
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By the time this Christmas ornament craft wave passed, my grandmother had made several complete sets of these people with enough variety to cover an entire Christmas tree, or two. I thought they were marvelous.
Now, Liam, the man in my life, finds them a bit overwhelming. Especially taken in total. But we always put a few of them out each year at Christmastime. I like what they represent: a little good-natured family competition, food as an integral part of being together, going overboard, and being one of those people who, from time to time, gets a little carried away. Isn't that what the holidays are all about?