I once was a Martha Stewart wannabe. Sparkling holiday decorations on slick magazine pages danced in my head like sugar plums. I would envision trimming every corner of my house with ribbons, garland and twinkling lights. As my Martha self, I struck out on missions to make the most wonderful adornments and embellishments angels could behold.
My first attempt was the year I single-handidly cut cedar from all around town. I constructed wreaths and garland for every door and window of my house with needle nose pliers and floral wire. With drops of blood from my mutilated hands, I personalized the blue moiré ribbon I used for bows. I knew Santa's elves would be proud.
This little obsession with do it-yourself Martha lingered for years. One holiday season, I wrapped all the presents under the tree with coordinating paper and ribbon. It looked fabulous on the pages in the magazine, and the store clerks liked it because they didn't have to wrap gifts for me. On Christmas Eve, however, I was rethinking how lovely it looked because I was still wrapping.
One year, I cooked miniature cakes, wrapped them in colorful Saran wrap and delivered sweets to friends. Then there was the time I did by-the-number cross-stitch gifts. I was up so late trying to finish, I think I heard the prancing and pawing of little hoofs on the roof.
Nevertheless, time passed, and new faces started showing up such as Christopher Radko, Fontanine and Department 56. I began collecting beautiful store-bought decorations instead of creating my own. I began spending more of my time shopping for presents and standing in gift-wrap lines. It seemed my DIY days were over.
But then the unplanned happened: I found myself living in an apartment, all my decorations in storage, Christmas near and my 9-month-old son hospitalized with pneumonia. A simpler Martha of Christmas past visited. Using poster board, cookie cutters and glitter, my two young daughters and I sat in the hospital hallway and made every ornament for our tree, which engulfed our small living room. I was feeling sad that this was the best I could do for decorations, but ironically, this is the Christmas the kids reminisce most about. So like the Grinch, when they say, "Mama, do you remember when," my heart grows and grows and grows.