Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Merry Xmas: Create Your Own Non-Traditional Tradition

Old Ladies At Heart definitely aren't expected to be old fashioned at mind. For some, Christmas is about doe eyed, sticky-fingered children, presents, and Santa standing over the baby Jesus's manger while he eats a Christmas tree flavored candy cane and sings Jingle Bells. This is okay...for most, but not for me. For those that don't know me personally I am a realist, I enjoy factoids and researching, I enjoy peeling back the layers of something, even if it's something as sacred as Christmas. So every year my Xmas consists of bringing in elements of my crazy, unconventional mind into my home and creating my very own non-traditional tradition. Decorating for the holidays is about expressing oneself, not conforming to what is expected of the masses...This is my manifesto. Two years ago, my husband and I had an upside down Christmas tree, which was perfectly unconventional yet still safe in that grandma wouldn't be offended if she dropped by. It definitely sparked some interest, especially from our cat, Lucy Fur. Scared that Lucy would divide and conquer our top-heavy tree, we decided to retire it after two years.

Next, came our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree which was a refreshing $10 and still made a nice statement of unconventionality.

This year, thinking of my blog and "doing more things from scratch," I decided to make my own unconventional ornaments to adorn a very traditional Christmas tree, and it would be WAY cheaper than buying a bunch of expensive ornaments. The hubby and I cleared the cobwebs from our pockets and shelled out 100 freaking dollars for a fake, pre-lit, plastic, freaking tree...and that was the sale price! I suggest going the day after Christmas, or scouring yard sales instead, but I didn't plan that far ahead. Next I had to think of a theme, and the first thing that came to my mind was "The Evolution of Xmas." I've always had mixed feeling about Christmas, as a child my greedy little fingers couldn't open my presents fast enough. Then I learned about the whole 'Jesus is the reason' shtick, which is a nice thought, but not completely true. I was then betrayed by a fake Santa...I guess that was the time when I started to realize my parents didn't know everything, and my undoubted faith in them, and faith in general began to unravel. Through readings and research I learned how a lot of pagan traditions were inserted into the Christmas tradition in order for it to be a more palatable medium for converting the 'devil worshippers,' and even how the date of the supposed birth of Christ was just a speculation, and purposely chosen to coincide with the Pagan holiday of Yule and the Winter Solstice. Then we can't forget how pagans were converted through brute force, fear tactics, and bloodshed in the Holy Crusades. So viola! There is my tree concept.

I had some photo paper laying around, so I got on my trusty Yahoo! Images search and typed in a few phrases and got some really cool pictures, which I copy and pasted into a Microsoft Word doc., sized them to my liking, and printed them on photo paper. Key phrases I used were: 'Pagan,' 'Green Man,' 'Pagan holiday,' 'Crusades,' 'consumerist Christmas,' xmas', 'consumerism Christmas,' corporate Christmas.' Here are some of my favorite's that I found.

Then I went to the craft store and got some scrap booking paper that came in an assorted pack of shiny black, brown, silver, and white paper(expensive! How does anyone afford scrap booking as a hobby?!). I cut out my pictures, glued them with a paste stick to a whole sheet of scrap booking paper, being sure to leave enough room for a border and trying to put similar sized pics in a line so the cutting process could be streamlined. Then I cut them out using a paper cutter and used a hole punch to leave a place for ribbon or hanger. Stupid me didn't foresee how many pictures I was going to make, and ran out of ribbon, so I just used regular ornament hangers for the rest of them. So below is my final product, finished with a garish, ironic bow. Starting with pictures of pagan related items on top, crusades in the middle, and ending with baby Jesus, then presents, Disney characters, wads of money, and pictures of Santa telling you to "Spend!" My favorite Xmas tree to date, and the whole thing only cost about $20 to decorate. So moral of the story, be creative this year! It's cheap, and much more satisfying than putting out the craptastic, meaningless ornaments you have been recycling each year.

*Amended since first published:
My grandma shared a really cool story with me yesterday. She said, growing up, she never had store-bought ornaments or lights. She is the baby of nine kids and told me all year long the kids would save the foil that came from the cigarette wrappers from their older siblings (everyone smoked back then!) and they would cover the "prickly balls" from maple trees with the foil, string popcorn on string and paint pine cones to decorate their tree every year. I thought this was such a cool idea, to know that even a family who didn't have much money could all pitch in, kids and all, to make a really cool Christmas tradition. Which reminds me, if you have kids, or plan on having kids, always include them in the decorating. That was one of my fondest memories as a kid. I would get out my Chipmunk's Christmas record and my mom and I would decorate the tree with ornaments I made in school while listening to Alvin and The Chipmunks.

PS: I also loved making our Xmas card this year! I made this by finding a Grinch pic on Yahoo!, then used Photoscape (A free photoshop program I found on PC World) to insert our pictures and text, and there ya go. Personalized Xmas cards that didn't cost me one red cent. Love it!

UPDATE: Found a cool blog post from a friend who has made it her goal to look up some crazy Xmas traditions all over the world. Click here to find more about pickle ornaments and the "Poop Log..."


  1. I love your upside down christmas tree!! :-)

  2. This is what I like to call great morning reading... the Charlie Brown xmas tree was great...

  3. Love the unique christmas trees! happy un-orthodox holidays

  4. One of the best posts I've seen on Christmas