December 8, 2009

Super Simple Silhouette Christmas Cards and The Absent Holiday Spirit


It is not very fashionable to admit one isn’t in the holiday spirit. As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is packed into Tupperware, there seems to be a widespread belief we should all be decking the halls and checking our lists twice, instantly transformed into a state of merriment simply because the calendar calls for it.

I admit I have not been feeling particularly holiday this season. Maybe it was the way the mild fall hung around my neighborhood so long, but I have felt myself standing in the drugstore aisles listening to Blue Christmas with the cold detachment of a scientist observing rats. I’m aware the holidays are swirling around me, inspiring peers and passerby with mirth, but I haven’t yet been moved myself. There was a moment yesterday, a Monday which turned into a day of fun without pre-meditation, when I spooned hot and sour soup, stopped to lean down into the fragrant boughs of Christmas trees for sale outside a bodega, and watched as an errant snowflake sat in the seam of Sebastian’s collar before melting. I felt a whiff of it then, but only for a moment.

There are some years when we jump to buy eggnog as soon as it appears in the deli aisle and plot the baking of Christmas cookies weeks in advance. Sometimes we have even been knitting thick, loopy scarves for loved ones since September. But there are other years when the magic of the season, for whatever reason, doesn’t come over us in quite the same way. I share my own feelings this year less as a whispered Scroogey confession, and more as permission, in case you need it. It’s okay to not be making wreaths, to not have started your shopping, to not even want to shop for presents because frankly, there are expenses more pressing. It’s fine. Maybe we’ll feel merry and bright in a couple weeks, just in the St. Nick of time. Or maybe, instead, we’ll find ourselves embodying the holiday spirit — which includes the seasonless sensation of gratitude, love, and wonder — on a dark evening in January. Whatever works.

Super Simple Silhouette Christmas Cards

The idea for these ridonkulously simple cards came from constant desire to make use of beautiful wrapping papers. I feel in love with the ones Snow & Graham put out this year and wanted to make simple and cheap Christmas cards and let the wrapping paper do most of the design work. Mine are the bare bones version, but you could easily dress yours up a bit with colored paper, pinking shears, stickers, glitter, etc. This is the perfect brainless craft to be endeavored while watching a movie that may successfully get you in the spirit.

patterned paper

Using a stencil (make your own by printing out free clip art and cutting out the image)or drawing freehand, trace the image you would like to appear in silhouette on your patterned paper. Cut out the image. Glue cut-out to the front of your postcard-sized notecard.

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  • Christine S.: Okay…I thought it was just me b/c of circumstances…financial and otherwise…that this year feels much less than festive. Prior to Thanksgiving, I was so gung-ho for Christmas. Now, though, I find myself not even thrilled to put up a Christmas tree which I have yet to do. This is sad because I realize that my time with my kids in my home is fleeting – I have one in 10th grade and one in 7th…there won’t be too many more times that we can share these weeks before Christmas together.

    To top it off, and this is mighty personal to mention, the past two weeks have been very difficult emotional ones. One of my former students was senselessly, yet tragically killed on Nov. 30 (he was to graduate this year) and my son, participating in 12-yr-old fun, broke his foot after school yesterday in a pick-up game with some jr. high friends.

    At least the cast is a festive green!6 years ago

  • Aimee: I haven’t felt it much either! We had a long, sunny, mild fall too. Just this week we have snow, and so it’s feeling more like it could be Christmas. Still not into it much though, but it’s still early. 🙂6 years ago

  • Christine, You’re not alone. I know someone who automatically associates tragedy with Christmas because someone close to her died around the same time. That makes all the enforced cheeriness especially hard, since you really ought to be grieving. At the same time, it’s a good opportunity to be grateful — not for the holiday junk — but for the important things that you do have in your life like your family, your health, your home, your safety, love, etc.

    Aimee, I agree that it’s early which is why I nearly threw a fit this morning when I got an email about “Last Minute Shopping.” Honestly, if people think this is “Last Minute” they have no idea… 🙂6 years ago

  • Adrienne: It really is ok then, not to be excited about Christmas? GOOD. A few weeks ago we planned out our holiday card design and bought all the supplies, and I know I should get started if I want them to get in the mail in time for the actual holiday, but I just don’t want to get started. I just don’t want to! It’s very silly, and I know that, but I feel like it should still be May, or at least September. What a weird year.6 years ago

  • anne: I can totally relate! I have decorated at home but shopping and baking are not tempting me at all… Instead of fighting it, we’re just keeping it very simple. Hope your holiday spirit peps up soon 🙂6 years ago

  • liskev: Every year the day after Christmas I sit down, take all of the Christmas cards we recieved that year and while watching TV I cut out the pictures on the card even the little pics on the backs of some cards. I then put them in the box of the previous years of Christmas card cut outs. I always say I will glue them on presents or use them as gift tags but for some reason they are too cute or special reminders of those that sent them…anyway i just look through them in during commercials and when finished them back in the box and put it away till next year. Quite a relaxing ritual……one day i will create a collage or actually use them……..6 years ago

  • liskev: and by the way still am not finished with decorations and actually dreading the cookie exchange party..II’m not ready!!!6 years ago

  • Meg: I’m a little in the Christmas spirit – although battling a cold while heavily pregnant is wearing it out of me. I like your simple Christmas card idea and just thought as I read it that a good stencil option might be those Christmas cookie-cutters that aren’t being used as much this year.6 years ago

  • Adrienne, Yes, my sweets, you know it’s okay. You have my blessing and my commiseration on the non-excited front. 🙂 And I am the queen of buying the supplies for a project that never gets finished. There are worse things!

    Anne, The other night my downstairs neighbor was making bread or holiday cookies or something equally divine-smelling and I thought, “Man, I really should bake something.” Hasn’t happened yet, but there’s certainly still time. And kudos to you for decorating! All I’ve done so far is set out some paperwhite bulbs.

    Liskev, That sounds like a lovely and relaxing tradition. And I know that feeling of secretly dreading parties. It always makes me feel like a Scrooge, especially since I usually end up having a great time.

    Meg, That is a genius idea! A++ to the pregnant lady! 🙂6 years ago

  • Sara Rose: I am continuing to plug away at getting excited for Christmas . . . . but it’s just not working all that well. Even a pink Christmas tree and wrapping presents with a good girlfriend today . . . none of that helped. I’m trying though . . . ugh.6 years ago

  • deanne: I’m not in the Christmas spirit either. I’m in Nebraska and we’re in the middle of a blizzard. All I can think of is this is going to be a long winter–full of dreary snow and illnesses. I’ve already had a cold and the stomach flu since Thanksgiving. Christmas should be at the end of February as a reward for making it through winter, in my humble opinion. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone this year.6 years ago

  • Alex: Seeing everyone get so into the Christmas Spirit is a little overwhelming. I mean, are they really into it? What is the point?

    I’m making Christmas a lot simpler at home this year. Smaller tree, less hoopla. It will still be great.6 years ago

  • Evon T.: It’s odd because I’ve been feeling the exact same way. Before Thanksgiving, I was very excited about Christmas and had all these great decorating and entertaining ideas. Now, I find that I’m feeling alot more numb to all those things that brought me sweet inspiration and dreams of making gingerbread men for the first time. I put up an entry way tree in my kitchen last night, and although it looks so very lovely, I’m still rather blahhh. I attribute my lack of enthusiasm to the “just getting cold” weather and also to the list of unknowns I’ve been worrying about. I just bought my first home, so for me there are worries about making sure my emergency fund is intact and whether my job security won’t be compromised. I’m trying to pick myself up and be the cheerful girl I was before Turkey Day about Christmas, and I’m confident that we’ll all feel much better as the day approaches. And hey, it doesn’t help that I’m hormonal this week.6 years ago

  • Karen: I am totally not feeling it this year. I am usually so into decorating, baking and shopping. I have done next to nothing so far this year. We did get the tree up, but it needs to be decorated (we managed to get the lights on it though!). I think I will finish decorating today….. maybe with some holiday music playing in the background.
    Hopefully as the holiday get closer our enthusiasm will pick up. It really is a beautiful time of year. I am looking forward to spending time with my family. That is what will make it special for me!6 years ago

  • MrsB: arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhh!! MrsB sighs a huge sigh of relief and gratitude! Thank goodness someone else is thinking/ feeling the same as me….and put it so eloquently!! xxxx6 years ago

  • Allison Conley: It is much easier to get into the Christmas spirit when you live with little bright eyes and you are creating the holiday for them! Secretly knitting little sweaters for the Barbie doll, leaning next to the giggling little person standing on the kitchen chair holding the hand mixer and creating a flour storm, decorating the gingerbread boys and girls, reading the Polar Express every night…6 years ago

  • Katy: Sarah, I can’t wait to get all holiday with you! rip up your to-do list and watch movies6 years ago

  • Julia: My Christmas spirit usually comes in a glass with ice and a slice! hohoho.
    But seriously, I know what you are saying. It seems 2009 has been an especially bad year for many of us (why is that? The recession? Or do I just feel that way because I’ve had a pretty stinky year myself?). So that can’t be helping anyone to feel festive.
    Personally, I have decorated the tree, bought presents, made wrapping paper and cards – none of which seems to have helped much. Well, maybe a little bit..6 years ago

  • Sara Rose, A pink Christmas tree? Like the aluminum one in the December issue of Martha Stewart? How fabulous, even if it didn’t exactly accomplish it’s job.

    Deanne, That’s a genius idea about movie Christmas. It would be so much more useful at the end of February anyway.

    Alex, I’m very in favor of less hoopla this year, too. Not that I’ve ever been particularly adept at hoopla.

    Evon, I think I”m in a similar place — other immediate concerns are keeping my mind from the supposed joy of the season. I agree though that as the day approaches we will probably become more excited.

    Karen, Eating with the family is exactly what I’m looking forward to as well. And I kind of hope it snows, too. See, just talking about this stuff is actually making me feel more holiday!

    MrsB, I always love your comments. 🙂 We’re all with you!

    Mom, Beautifully put and I agree — I think children help put the magic in Christmas. That’s why I love that Wal-Mart pajamas when they’re all running toward the tree in their footie pajamas.

    Katy, You KNOW I cannot wait to get holiday with you. In fact, I think I need to come up with a season drink for when you sleep over.

    Julia, Yeah, I’m all about the booze as an entry point to the holiday spirit. ha! For me, 2008 was much, much more difficult, so maybe I just need a little perspective to get into the swing of things…

    Here’s hoping we all feel ourselves slipping into the magic of it all, if only a little. Hot buttered rum anyone?6 years ago

  • MC: If you have children who are over the age of 12, there is just no need to deal with the cards and the decorating and the Bing Crosby albums and the cookies. Let it go. Do what my family does. No decorations or gifts of any kind. Do not try to see relatives who stress you out. On the day of, sleep til 3pm. Get dressed up. Go to 5-star restaurant for Christmas dinner. Come home and watch “The Graduate.” Perfect Christmas. All the families on our block think we’re weird. We don’t care. We’re very happy.6 years ago

  • Brooke: I come upon this post as I sit here dreading a Christmas party (which will begin in an hour and a half) and wondering why I am feeling so out of sorts and not like myself. I love the holidays! What is wrong with me? It’s nice to know I’m not the only one feeling slightly Scrooge-ish. There’s still lots of time before Christmas to have a full turnaround…6 years ago

  • Ruth @ GraceLaced: Sarah…I always know I can come here for the way it really is. And that you are just really that meaty of a writer. Thanks for your very often timely thoughts. Don’t you think it says something about us as a society, when we need to schedule merriment and generosity?6 years ago

  • A Simple Christmas « Pink of Perfection: […] second-floor apartment. They are draped on top of a mirror (still holding some of last year’s Christmas cards tucked around its edges), on windowsills, and in vases on the dining table and the bedroom, with a […]3 years ago

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