Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Sewing and Christmas trees

Yes - I have finally got the sewing machine that I bought at the beginning of November out of its box and working! The FGs were very keen to get started but we found that three of us trying to make stuff together got a bit fraught, and some of us got a bit tearful (no names, but we are only 9) and others of us lost our temper completely when the machine didn't do what she thought it should be doing (coughs discreetly - yep, that was me!). However, I have just finished making some little felt stars which will either hang on the Christmas tree or from the mantlepiece on a ribbon. I'll post a picture tomorrow...

Christmas trees are a source of debate amongst our friends and neighbours. One neighbour has told me that she thinks her husband is mean for wanting to use an old fake Christmas tree that they have had for quite a few years, whilst she preferred to buy a real tree for £30. I have to say that I felt for her husband, as she has said lately that she wants to cut back on their expenses....We use a fake tree, for several reasons.

First and foremost, frugality. We have had our tree for about 15 years (gosh, that long!) since we had our first house together as a couple. It came from Argos, and is about 5 feet tall, so we always stand it on a small table, and decorate it to look festive. It is still in good shape after all these years and will last a good few more, I hope. I recollect that it cost us about £20, so it has cost us £1.33 a year so far, and the longer we keep it, the less it will have cost on an annual basis. We have added to our collection of decorations over the years, and had a couple of sets of lights (I think that I had to buy our third set last year) but we don't go mad with decorations.

The other main reason for a fake tree is that I don't agree with buying a tree, keeping it indoors for a couple of weeks and then either it ends up at the dump to get shredded, or one tries to plant it in the garden...sometimes it takes and sometimes it doesn't. People usually try to justify it by saying that they will dig it up again for next year - but the tree's roots won't stand that kind of disturbance and it usually doesn't look so good the next year and they decide to go and get another one anyway. Trees deserve a better, more respectful ending than that - we love wood and love things made from wood, and have a great deal of respect for it. They should not be used and discarded in that way, and I actually believe that it does the environment more good to use a fake tree and let foresters grow trees for better purposes. I'm not going to be pursuaded from that argument, and will always have a fake tree....

So, Woolworths is starting a Closing Down sale tomorrow, there is doom and gloom in the financial markets, redundancies galore, savings rates are plummeting, credit is hard to get, and there is talk of all this turmoil taking years to subside. I'm going to be controversial here and say that I am coming to believe that this is not such a bad thing in general. I am truly sorry for those who have lost their jobs and are facing a tough time, but I think that the world needs to look to itself for some of the reasons behind all of this - and I am a novice at commenting on such stuff so I am just saying what I am seeing. Credit has allowed people to live far beyond their means for more than a generation, and people are not used to going without, saving and working at housekeeping to make ends meet. The time of "have now, pay later" has gone, and it is only those who have the cash now who will be able to buy things easily. It's a big reality check, and not before time. I am very conservative and not at all a risk-taker: I have never had a great deal of debt at all as I have always been too scared of what I might lose if I wasn't able to repay it. I have always waited to buy things until I had the money available, which is a bit of a "goody two shoes" attitude perhaps, but it is the way I have learned to live, and it has stood me in good stead now. I know that The Mom who has been to my house knows that we don't "decorate" our house, and that we make do a lot, and we prefer serviceable items to ornamental things, so we "look" poor, but hey, I don't care! What I have is paid for, and that lets me sleep at night.

Christmas is a time of celebration - a time of coming together and sharing the joy of Jesus' birth with our friends and relatives. Christmas is about fellowship, emotion and sharing, not about consumerism, acquisition and increasing debt. I am looking forward to a day of worship, time with the family together, just the four of us, celebrating and having a good time - watching some TV maybe, playing games, and sharing our Christmas meal. I would wish for that kind of Christmas for everyone, but perhaps that is not for you - so whatever you are planning, I hope you have a great time.

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