As I mentioned a couple of years ago, I came into our marriage with zero Christmas swag, and Jeff had several jumbo Tupperware containers full of it. In order to make the Christmas tree more of a 50-50 thing, I created homemade gingerbread cookie ornaments, and I have been doing so ever since. It's an inexpensive way to produce dozens of ornaments, and they smell great, too.
This year we decided to use colored lights instead of our usual white ones, and I am loving it. I was tired of elegance and longed for some whimsy, damn it. Plus the colored lights can add a note of intrigue to an ordinary snowman, see above. When I showed that photo to Jeff, he laughed and proclaimed the snowman "psychotic" and clearly in cahoots with that owl.
Other factors influencing this decision include:
- If David Lynch and John Waters put up Christmas trees, I bet they have colored lights.
- Jeff and I are children of the 70s.
- "The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most." -- quote by art critic John Ruskin. I included this quote on a color wheel handout that I gave to students every year of my teaching career.
- Incredibly random things inspire me. Example: sometimes during episodes of Friday Night Lights, you'll see a character with unfocused colored lights behind him or her, and it's beautiful. I'm thinking Riggins in the season 4 opening credits below.
See? I wanted backgrounds like that in my life.
Have I made my case for colored lights?
This year I strayed from Nigella's tried-and-true recipe in favor of a new one by the usually totally reliable team at Cook's Illustrated. Mistake. The dough was fussy to work with, I ruined two pans because the holes had closed as the cookies cooled (boring story, my fault), and the icing (powdered sugar and milk instead of water) gave the cookies a slight but lasting dampness that caused some of the heavier ones to break when I hung them. Honestly, I think that recipe was more about creating a good-tasting cookie than a durable ornament. I'm not going to write it down because I don't plan to make them again. Nigella's much better recipe is here.
As you can see, I stuck faux jewels and sequins in the icing to produce about fifty delightfully gaudy Christmas geegaws. Since nobody's going to eat them, why not? They're so much more sparkly than standard cookie decorations. This year I hung them with those ornament hooks you can buy for about a penny each, and this was much easier than hand-tying a bunch of loops with fishing line or string.
And that is the story of our Christmas tree (please excuse inclusion of my laptop in the photo). If you can spare an afternoon and want to add a handmade touch to your tree, this is a fun way to go.