Thursday, December 15, 2011

RAK: December 2011

In the midst of living in a sleepless sick ward this month, I am still committed to fulfilling my 2011 Q4 random acts of kindness (RAK). December is tough because it seems the general global theme is giving (although it's coated in a thick glaze of mass consumption here in the U-S of A).

There is an advantage to having a colicky almost 2 year old (who, Merry Christmas, is getting tube surgery again on the 27th!)...I get a lot of time to craft in bed. Some people eat, other people get the luxury of sleeping...but I craft and drink peppermint tea in bed.

The pit of eternal crafting chaos (another moniker for Michael's) always awards you with a 40% off one item coupon with your receipts (and their smart phone app has them all the time, too), so I tend to make repeated trips to buy 1 skein of yarn. I've collected quite a stash to knit the 5 1/3 projects I can do, so I knew that December needed a knitted RAK.

And I had to attempt the snood again...

I used a different color, but same weight and type, and paid a little more attention to my seed stitching integrity. Okay, there *may* be a section that has some cable knitting in it...but that K1P1 is really easy to turn into K1K1P1K1P1...(3 of you may understand that.)
I decided to send this to my friend BP up in PA. I've mentioned her before--she's an friend from my childhood who now runs a really awesome Etsy shop called Bog Berry Handicraft. Over the past few years, we have reconnected, and have had some great conversations. She is one of those people I would just love to live next door to me and we could wax poetic about wool, wine, elderberry syrup...and then maybe throw back a few and reminisce. It just seemed like a natural fit to send this one off to B. Hope you enjoy! (and thanks for everything...)

But it doesn't end there, bed is sprinkled with fabric remnants as I just finished another Moda honey bun Christmas wreath! (And I'm working on another for my office's dirty Santa party, too!) This has yet to be gifted, but will end up in the hands of a very special someone who has been and always will be our chosen extended family...she's been there for us through many a crisis, and is, hands down, partly responsible for the grooming and nurturing of my children. A silly fabric adornment pales in comparison  to the acts of kindness she has bestowed on our family, but it's a start! (AND, Miles helped me with the cutting and folding for a few nights in preparation for assembly!)

Finally, I wanted to do something kind that didn't cost any money, didn't require me to venture into Michael's and could really incorporate the boys. Well, it ended up meeting all of those requirements, save the boys. Felix has been too busy demonstrating what "ear behavior" is, and was more interested in throwing himself on the ground than in participating...

We are slowly firming up our own holiday traditions over at our household. I was contemplating doing the Elf on the Shelf thing, that much like the concept of NASCAR, I only became aware of in my adult life. Not like NASCAR, I was intrigued, and even considering buying the Elf and story...and then I retreated. Listen, I applaud all of the cute Elf stories and strategic placements each night--but the whole idea seems to be steeped in stress if you ask me. We have a hard enough time motivating to make our boys' lunches every night, that hiding a toy each night seems quite laborious. Additionally, we have 2 really great advent calendars that we open at lightning speed to get out of the door a little after 7:30am each morning. And I'm not going to lie...I blame the creep factor...the idea of a toy watching you to assess your behavior seems a little creep-tastic to me. Miles already told me he doesn't want Santa coming down our chimney. Crazy looking fat guy, who sports a scary beard, dressed in a red suite tipped in tons of polyster white "fur" breaking and entering the home via a chimney that just screams claustrophobia--yeah, I don't know about that either!

So I admit it. I am not going to do the Elf tradition primarily because it's too much stress for me. I think my kids will be okay (and also, I do want them to know that they need to have good behavior all throughout the year...not because they are entitled to mountains of toys on Christmas if Jo Jo reports it such to Santa.)

But I do want to have some tradition and things to look forward to. I read about a great idea where you put a fragment of wrapping paper in your child's stocking...under the tree, presents are wrapped and assigned based on wrapping paper pattern. Fun, eh? I think we'll be doing it this year!

Another tradition I started this year was to drive around and look at the holiday lights. We have about 2 strands of LED lights inside our house, and I'm never going to purchase an inflatable train or snow globe, no matter how much Miles and Felix we'll appreciate other's gaudy taste.

I realized, unless it is a house that is dripping in lights (and power bills) and cars line up to slowly do drive bys, neighbors never know if their displays are appreciated. I told Miles we were going to write little cards that say how much we like people's lights, and drop them off in their mailboxes.

Simple Pimple. I used note cards I already had...let Miles cut wrapping paper to paste on scraps...and let Felix play with markers in between bouts of dramatic crying rolls on the group to add a little abstract art.

And then we got in the car, and I let Miles pick out the houses with his favorite lights. We popped the cards in the mailboxes, and kept our fingers crossed that the next day the unexpected home owners got a little extra holiday happiness added to their day.

2011 has been a really great year...slightly less frenetic and scary than 2010. Although I will probably not do planned RAKs for 2012, I hope to continue to be confronted with opportunities to do random acts of kindness throughout the year.


  1. I hope I can remember all I want to say.
    First, the snood is beautiful and beautifully wrapped. Well deserving BP should love it. Snoods and scarves are in evidence everywhere here in the north, and I am sure that will be appreciated.
    Second, the wreath is another beautiful way to acknowledge the wonderful family to whom it will go.
    Third, I love all your new traditions! They are fun, in the best spirit, and provide integral learning opportunities. The families with lights should be tickled to have their efforts noted.
    Not to discourage any Elf on the Shelf devotees, but it has kind of grown into a commercial venture inspired to prompt parents spend money and kids to expect toys. Do you really need to do anything to further heighten the excitement level before Christmas?
    Do you remember the tradition we used to have? On the hearth was the basket for baby Jesus into which we would each put a piece of straw for good deeds done each day with the idea that by Christmas Eve there would be a nice bed of straw in which to receive the baby Jesus doll on Christmas Eve.

  2. Can I post a comment on my own blog? Mom, Err, Anne, I agree about the Elf. I don't disparage people who do it (and have seen just the cutest pictures on facebook where their Elves have landed), but we already struggle with reducing the commercialization of the holiday as well as managing toddler behavior in a lasting way. It just won't work for my family (and my anxiety levels) and that's okay.

    I was actually going to mention the straw/baby Jesus tradition. OR how about the wise men who traveled around the house after Christmas, to each window?? I thought about doing the straw/baby Jesus, but think we are still 1 year away from it really making sense. I think I might do it next year...and also find an ambiguously gendered doll to wrapp in whit cloth.

  3. I agree that your kiddos are a bit young for Baby Jesus and the straw. You kids were probably all elementary school aged. That will give you time to find the doll and fitting basket or other "manger". I had a hard time finding a simple baby doll that fit into our basket and finally found it at Sears. Ah yes, the traveling wise men who travel until Epiphany. I can't do them this year because we have no place for the creche this year. Next year!
    Again, I think you have instituted some wonderful and age appropriate traditions in your family.

  4. I'm with you on the elf. We also do advent calendars (buckets, actually) and I didn't want to add another thing to do (selfish, I know) in this already very hectic time of year! Beautiful job on the snood. I love it. One of my New Year's resolutions is to start learning how to knit, and I'm hoping to get at least one scarf/snood out of the year for myself.

    I really, really love your idea of leaving notes in mailboxes. We are going to plan a night to just look at lights, and I'm going to steal your idea! I would be so touched if anyone left something like that for me (not that our house is decorated that much).

    And lastly, I've been meaning to ask how you don't have glitter all over your house? E would have shattered that "calm" jar by now. I read a funny blog post about that:

    Hope you guys have a very Merry Christmas!!