Regarding The Holiday Season: Cluttering, Muttering, & Buttering

CLUTTERING:  Here’s a true confession.  While I’m too frugal to ever overdo Christmas decorations around Chez Bean, I do, deep down, consider all of them, ours and yours, to be a sophisticated form of clutter.

I mean, we just get a room decorated in a pleasing and soothing way, then *WHAM* there I am putting red and green stuff, willy-nilly, around a beautifully color-coordinated room that is not visually enhanced by said stuff.

Is that not the very definition of clutter? Hmmm…?

~ 🎄 🎄 🎄 ~

MUTTERING:  I realize that sending holiday cards is no longer the done thing.  Most of the cards that we get are from companies we do business with.  Only a few friends and family still exchange cards with us.

I like cards, I like newsletters, and I appreciate receiving them.  But… [and this is the muttering part]… if you send a Christmas | Hanukkah | New Years card that is a photo of your family, then please include the names of the people on the card.

Kids grow.  Kids marry.  Kids have kids.  And I’ll be doggone if I can figure out who is who on these multi-generational family photo cards.  I need a cheat sheet to identify your progeny.

Please include one. For me. 

~ 🎄 🎄 🎄 ~

BUTTERING:  I’m not all that enamored of butter.  It has nothing to do with how healthy it is.  No, it’s a taste issue.  I eat it, but not often and always in small dabs.

So you can imagine how oddly difficult it is for me to become excited about Christmas cookies, that are everywhere this time of year.  Cookies that seem to me to be 98% butter– with some flour and sugar thrown in for the fun of it.

My point here is that if I don’t eat any of your homemade cookies made from Great Aunt Maude Winifred’s heirloom recipe that’s been in your family since Great Uncle Jeremiah “Pappy” Alexander decided that the family should move to the New World, I’m not dissing you or Great Aunt Maude Winifred– or Great Uncle Jeremiah “Pappy” Alexander’s decision to emigrate here.

No, I just don’t like butter. Ok?

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted by choice. Usually.

89 thoughts on “Regarding The Holiday Season: Cluttering, Muttering, & Buttering”

      1. Speaking of addled brain, I think I was your neighbor in Florida. Wait, did you ever live in Pensacola? Marcia Kichler

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        1. Marcia, I’ve never lived in Pensacola– never even visited there. However, thanks for making my day with this comment. Those of us with addled brains must stick together! 🙂

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  1. So right about the clutter…It’s almost at an offensive level, I don’t do red and green well. Last year, I broke tradition and sent out 30 Christmas cards with handwritten notes. Got back 3, with a few thank-you’s on Facebook. Message received.

    Funny about the butter thing. I bake a lot, and one year, I told family that I should just give everyone a 2lb. bag of sugar and a pound of butter and call it a day !

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    1. vanbytheriver, I like Christmas decorating when it acknowledges the season. But over the years it seems to me that everywhere I go I see way too much of red and green STUFF. Just stuff.

      Regarding holiday cards, I’ve found the same thing. I still send a few cards with a hand-written personal message, but if we get anything back it’s usually one of those [impersonal] pre-printed family photo montages. Sure wish I knew who those people on the card were… 🙄

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  2. Last year I did have our name on the Christmas cards we sent out. This year I haven’t even taken a picture that we could use on a Christmas card. I’m glad I got it right last year though!

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    1. Lacey, with specific names on the card, I get the feeling that someone is trying to stay in touch with us. This I appreciate. But to see a bunch of unknown faces staring at me from a card seems weird and vague.

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  3. This is my Bye Year for Christmas. Not feelin’ it. The tree is up, but nothing else is getting done. I’ll take your buttery goodies–Butter Is My Buddy–since they are clutter that doesn’t last.

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    1. nance, I’m finding that many people aren’t into Christmas this year. I’m doing some decorating and carding and baking, but nothing big. I can honestly say that I’m indifferent to Christmas this year. Maybe it’s my age… or maybe it’s the age in which we live. 🤔

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  4. Adding “Pappy” to the name and then repeating them both in full. Ah, too funny. Odd that your dislike of butter makes you taste it or at least know it’s there in force in cookies. I made some the other day for the first time in ages, and was shocked that I needed two full sticks(!) for chocolate chip cookies, so yeah, you’re right about the ingredients to those delicious grease balls. And it’s not clutter, it’s festiveness!

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    1. Betsy, every once in a while I’ll have some tell me the backstory of a family recipe– and inevitably there’s some ancestor with some goofy nickname involved. Just saying, no disrespect intended…

      Yes, I taste butter. I don’t hate it entirely, I just prefer very little of it. Two sticks of the stuff is a lot of butter in anything, but all of you go on and enjoy your cookies. Doesn’t bother me at all that you like them.

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  5. We got one of those cards yesterday ~ we recognized BFF’s aunt and uncle and their two daughters (although we weren’t sure which was Kelli and which was Lisa) . . . but the shot also contained two unidentified men (presumably husbands, boyfriends, or SO’s) and four unidentified kids (presumably siblings and or cousins) but don’t know any of their names. Also in the card ~> nothing. No note. No greeting. No newsletter. So, yeah . . .

    I love Scottish Shortbread . . . in small doses. But feel the same about most cookies, cakes, pies, etc. I just want a small taste and that’s enough.

    Which is how I feel about Christmas decor too ~ just a hint and a whisper here and there is fun. I don’t like walking into a room that SCREAMS Christmas.

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  6. nancy, I feel your confusion about the faces on the card. The same thing happens to me ever year when I receive a family photo card from a cousin. I have no idea who these “stray” people are in the pic, nor am I clear about which kids go with which parents. If a newsletter is too much, then a simple slip of paper listing the cast of characters would go a long way toward making the card seem sincere. 🙄

    We have a German bakery around here that makes a delicious butter cookie, but after one cookie I’m done for the season. However, everyone seems to have a special family cookie recipe that they want me to try. I appreciate it, but… how to say “NO” politely…

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      1. You always have a way with words! 😄

        Fortunately people in general are more considerate of dietary restrictions now, so saying NO to butter seems more normal than it used to seem.

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    1. evilsquirrel13, somehow this comment does not surprise me! You’ve never been shy about sharing your dislike of Christmas, and I respect that.

      [Maybe you can re-gift that CD to someone who likes such music?]

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  7. I’m with you on the decorations, but I don’t exchange Christmas/Holiday/Solstice cards any more. I stopped the year I broke my dominant wrist the day before I was going to sit down and mail the. I got over it. Really fast. I like the taste of butter, but I’m on a restricted diet and can’t eat dairy. So the holiday food isn’t fun for me either. Thanks for speaking up for those of us who aren’t going with the crowd.

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    1. KDKH, a few Christmas decorations I find lovely, but excessive red and green makes me irritable. Of course, I imagine that one person’s perfect decorating, is another person’s over-the-top style.

      I’m sorry that you broke your wrist, but am glad that you’ve created your own new tradition of not sending cards!

      I know a few people with dairy restrictions, making this time of year is oddly difficult for them, too. In my case, I can eat butter & won’t get sick if I do eat it. So there’s a bit of leeway for me, but for dairy-avoiders it’s a different story.

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  8. You’re funny.

    I don’t think Christmas decorations are clutter because it makes us happy to look at them. Clutter, for me, is all that stuff that I wish I would put away.

    I had whole milk once after not having it for years, and it tastes like butter. Butter and whole milk = pure fat. So it makes sense that if you’re not a huge fan of butter that butter cookies won’t do it for you.

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    1. Akilah, the problem with Christmas decorations, as I see it, is that what I consider too much is what another person considers just right. Happiness becomes subjective based on personal style principles– and you know no one ever agrees on those! 😉

      Whole milk tastes like butter to me, too. I won’t not eat butter-laced foods, I just prefer less of that flavor in anything. When I can make that happen.

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  9. I’ll take your sugar cookies. I like the teeny tree ones the best. Of course, I have a cookie press and could make my own, but that’s, like, work, and oh, yeah, I broke my wrist! And, I wouldn’t make them anyway, because it’s, like, work.

    I still send cards to a few people. I don’t send picture cards (also, I don’t like photo cards.) My thought on your name issue, which I like your solution, but… If I don’t see you enough that I wouldn’t know who you are in the picture without names, don’t even send me the damn card. 🙂

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    1. Tara, I know that not liking buttery cookies seems odd to most people. I’ll eat one cookie occasionally over the holidays, but they don’t call to me.

      I take your point about not sending photo cards to people who don’t know what your family looks like. I imagine if we all lived closer geographically that’d be the way of things.

      I guess, and I say this because I’ve never sent a photo Christmas card in my life, that people who send us those cards are doing so hoping that we’ll feel included and loved by seeing their faces? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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  10. My Christmas decorating this year is very very minimal – almost nonexistent. But I’m okay with it. In my youth, I went all out – back in the day. As to butter – I consider bread simply a vehicle for butter. Cookies, however, are a vehicle for chocolate chips. The one thing I really don’t need to be exposed to this time of year is fruitcake. I haven’t figured out the reasoning behind it.

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    1. Carol, decorating for Christmas can be overwhelming, and not totally necessary when you get down to it. The holiday arrives regardless of what you do. I used to decorate a lot more, too– but while I’ve cut back the rest of the world seems to have ramped up the red and green.

      I like chocolate chips so if there’s a bit of butter in the cookie, then so be it. Wish I could help you out with the “why” of fruitcake. It’s a relic of bygone eras I guess.

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    1. JT Twissel, you make a good point about the amount of effort it takes to decorate. Stuff everywhere just doesn’t happen.

      I haven’t sought therapy for this butter issue, but perhaps I should! 😉

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  11. I love trading holiday cards and was somewhat distressed to hear that some of my longterm connections were doing away with them. I do fully agree with you that I need names (and ages, please!)

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    1. Allie P, great idea about adding ages. Especially of teenage kids who like overgrown toddlers one year, then sophisticated 30 y.o. the next year! However, considering how few Christmas cards we get now, I suppose I should just be happy with the ones that show up here– without names or ages. 😞

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  12. I like a woman who knows her own mind, whether or not it’s cluttered. 🙂 I still love the tradition of holiday cards, even though they’ve gotten so expensive to buy (or create) and mail. Most of the people on my “exchanging xmas cards” list (about 75) send cards with photos now, (about 75/25 I’d guess) and most have names identifying the kid/grandkid, dog/cat etc. They’re homey, though, sharing photos of the family. I have a good time (read: I tear my hair out) trying to pick the best photo of my guy and me, and our kids and their kids, to share.) I don’t like butter either – except in cookies!!!!!! Enjoy the festivities, my friend.

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    1. roughwighting, I like holiday cards, but so few people send actual cards anymore. I like the multi-generational photo cards as long as I know who’s in the picture. [Literally and figuratively, I suppose.] I’ve never tried to create one but I can imagine that there’s a bit of angst involved.

      I really hold no grudge against butter and want all of the people who enjoy it to eat lots of it. It just tastes kind of icky to me and is hiding inside food everywhere at Christmastime.

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  13. Hi Ally, thanks for a good laugh! I’m commenting so I’m a cool kid 🙂 I’m visiting from Donna’s Retirement Reflections blog. I’m not decorating this year. I saw many nicely decorated trees in my neighbourhood. I received my cousin’s card in the mail this week. I was the MC at their wedding party so I know who they are! I ate some cookies that my husband baked, got to show my love and support, right? I don’t go out of my way to look for cookies though.

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    1. Natalie, yes, you are, indeed, a cool kid! Welcome & thanks for commenting.

      We decorated in a small way around the inside of the house, but our attempts by the front door are pathetic. The lights are half burned out, and I don’t care. We tried.

      If you’ve recently seen whoever sends a photo card, then no names are necessary. Obviously. But most photo cards arrive here from families far away– and I have no idea who many of the people are, so a little help, please.

      Wonderful of you to eat a cookie just to prove you love your husband! Ain’t marriage grand?

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  14. We received a card with a white haired lady and three young kids. The signature said Linda. I had no idea but assumed it was my husband’s cousin Linda whom I’ve never met. Turns out it was the widow of a college friend. Seriously that friendship was 50 years ago. At least put your whole name on it and something like “these are my grandkids or street urchins, whichever is correct.” Something!

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    1. Kate, that’s an amazing story about Linda. You make an excellent point about putting YOUR FULL NAME & ANYONE ELSE’S NAME on the card.

      I have to laugh about “urchins” because we know people who always seem to have a different dog in their family photo card. We snark that they must borrow one of the neighbor’s dogs to add to their pic for show. 🤨

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  15. I’m taking down to the sea homemade mince pies gifted to me every year by a friend-it’s her grandma’s recipe and she WILL NOT PART with recipe … (not that I would make them of course). I send out a greeting card designed by my son which is wonderfully wacky with caricatures of our family – this time I’ll remember to say who they are – so thank you for that! Still to do – or rather to request my son to update it, elsewise you may well think they are urchins .. Great post Ally Bean .. 🙂

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    1. Susan, I love mince pie and would happily eat a slice of it made from grandma’s recipe. Lucky you. It’s those darned butter-based cookies that I find to be too much.

      Wacky caricatures are fun. I bet that your friends and family love getting a card from you. Adding some names might enhance what you’ve already going on!

      Have a happy holiday season. Enjoy your time by the sea.

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  16. Clutter: I agree. I really dislike the traditional bright red and greens. I put up a limited amount of decorations, but they are more muted in color. I’ll be happy when I can take everything down and go back to my normal decor.

    Mutter: Yep… who are these people and why do I want a picture of them anyway?

    Butter: Bring it on!

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    1. Janis, we decorate the house with a few trees inside, and a poinsettia, but nothing is over the top. Most surfaces remain clear. I like your idea of muted colors.

      You raise a good question about why would I want a picture of these people to begin with. I have no clue into why some people feel the need to send family photo cards, while other people go traditional.

      You may have all of my butter cookies. Enjoy!

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  17. Ally, I don’t necessarily love clutter but I do seem to be plagued by the disorder—it’s a real infirmity if you happen to believe liars like me—thus out of clutter “In My Cluttered Attic” was born. So after reading your post, I’ve now decided I can probably get away with redecorating my wife’s newly minimalist interior design of our living room, by redecorating it with an excessive green and red Christmas design instead. I can’t wait to see the expression on her face when she comes home and discovers how sophisticated my compulsion for clutter has actually become? She’s gonna be so excited, and I owe it all to you, Ally. Thanks! 😀

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    1. In My Cluttered Closet, I am sure that your wife will adore your over-the-top Christmas decorating IF you give her lots of butter cookies. Apparently all people, except me, love them and as such the cookies have the power to charm. Thus, you can keep your excessive festive holiday stuff out and about for as long as the cookies last. After that, all bets are off about how your wife will take to your excessive red and green decorating.

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  18. I’ve enjoyed holiday decorating this year for the first time in a long time. I don’t exactly clutter, I rotate. The cows and the mooses are mostly put away and the snowmen and Santas are out. Santa will go away after Christmas and the snowmen may hang around until spring-ish. That way I get to enjoy different things I’ve collected over the years. I need to take some pictures and start posting again.

    I’m curious, if you don’t mind, as to whether you prefer margarine or you dislike all butter-like flavors. I imagine there aren’t many cookies you like – perhaps oatmeal?

    I hope you are having a good holiday season. Have you continued to limit your social engagements and not wear yourself out?

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    1. Zazzy, it’s interesting how some years putting out decorations comes so naturally while other years it’s a strain. I like your rotation plan that gets the most out of all the things that please you. Smart thinking. And you can show us all of it when you start blogging again. [Hint, hint]

      I don’t mind margarine– and will eat some cookies, or foods, with butter in them. It’s the excessiveness of the butter taste that I find icky. You’re right in that I like oatmeal cookies– and am especially fond of ginger snaps or gingerbread.

      Yes, I’m doing many fewer social events than I used to do– and trying to enjoy them. I don’t hate socializing, it’s just that it comes all at once between Thanksgiving thru New Year– then people drop out of my life for the next 11 months. 🙄

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  19. I’m glad I’m late, as I shall whisper and no one but you will read this.
    *whispers* I feel the same way about holiday decor. I basically put all mine atop the bookshelves, and it’s minimal. I hang the stockings there, and put up FIVE festive items on the other side. I hang a mistletoe and a crystal thingy in the window and I’m done. Oh! And I put (still coordinating) holiday towels in the main bath.
    I know whose kids are whose and which, and I love sugar cookies — they’re my favorite of the baking series, but I’m with you on the holiday decor. It doesn’t look like Christmas threw up in my house and I like it that way.

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    1. joey, I love your words: “It doesn’t look like Christmas threw up in my house and I like it that way.” I’m not against decorating, but I’m truthful enough to call it what it is. I like our two trees with their simple lights and ornaments. I like our nativity scene and our poinsettia, but I don’t need much more than that to feel festive.

      If it’s just the original family members in the photo card, I know who’s who. But once kids get older and significant others show up, I’m lost.

      I know that I’m an outlier about the butter issue, but I felt that it needed to be said. I’m not being rude or judge-y about your cookies… I just don’t want to eat one. ‘K?

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  20. I send New Year cards and there are only three of us, so it’s pretty easy to tell who is who. (many people do get the girls mixed up in spite of Ashley’s dark brown eyes and Alison’s blue and Ashley’s resemblance to her dad, while Alison is a clone of me) I do like butter cookies, but the only time I use butter is at Christmas. I don’t like it much otherwise.

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    1. Margaret, I like your New Year card idea. So simple. If it’s just three people in the photo on the card, then I am sure I’d know who they were. But these large families, with assorted spouses/significant others with some small children thrown into the mix, are baffling to me. Tell me who you are, please.

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  21. I confess I only send Christmas cards to those who send them to me – out of politeness. I keep decorations to a minimum (my sister and I are minimalists both married to maximalists – how did it happen? it’s a constant row) but I do love butter (although not in cookies – but if you tasted my shortbread I bet you would change your mind…)

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    1. camparigirl, the whole Christmas card issue has become a strange one. I like them but am hesitant to send them because I don’t want anyone to feel like they have to reciprocate. They seem like an idea whose time is passed.

      We are neither minimalists nor maximalists, but I do think that too much of anything is… too much. Case in point, Christmas decorating.

      I imagine you could be right about your cookies and my aversion to butter. It could well be that I’ve not had the right cookie to eat. 😉

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  22. I like Christmas decorations, but since it starts to make an appearance in October, I’m pretty tired of it by Christmas. I hate decorating my own home, but always appreciate it when it’s done. Taking it down is a big-time bummer though.

    I stopped sending cards a couple of years ago. It was becoming harder and harder to find a card selection that was meaningful to me … not to mention that fewer and fewer people were actually sending them. I hear you about the photos with no names though.

    …. and cookies! Oh, I avoid them like the plague. My problem is a broken off-switch. There is simply no such thing as 1 cookie. If you somehow convince me to have one, you can be sure I will eat all of them. Consider yourself warned.

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    1. Joanne, you may have nailed why I’m not 100% enthusiastic about Christmas decorations: they’re everywhere for too long. I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re onto something there.

      I agree about the whole holiday card issue. I enjoy them, but feel like I’m burdening other people by sending them. I don’t know if I’ll even send any this year– or ever again. Makes me sad to see the passing of this tradition.

      I like your awareness of your broken off-switch. I can understand why you don’t want to start eating any cookies. Your situation reminds me of the saying about martinis: “1 is too many, 2 is not enough, 3 is just right.”

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  23. Of course, as a card maker, I wish EVERYONE would send them out, preferably mine, which don’t have pictures of strangers on them (unless you want a special order, then send me your pictures – LOL). When the kids were little I had plenty of decorations out there, including a little village scene, their artwork from school on every door in the house, lights up outside, huge real tree with handmade ornaments. For the last couple of years I’ve had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree which I got at a discount from Michaels (before I started working there) because it was broken and the rest of the stuff is in boxes in the loft. I just don’t see the point of pulling it all out because then I’d have to clean first. Never was a fan of butter cookies. Too plain IMO. Give me some chocolate minty concoction with powdered sugar on top or a rum ball. Those I can wrap my mouth around. Happy Merry Christmas, Ally!

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    1. Janet, I understand why you’re interested in keeping the card exchange tradition going… but I wonder how much longer it will be a tradition.

      I know how you feel about dragging Christmas decorations around the house, then putting them away again. We have some decorations up inside the house and I like what we’ve done, but a Charlie Brown tree would suit me just fine. However, Z-D likes a big tree in the TV room, and considering he does most of the work to put it up, it’s up.

      Butter cookies are very popular around here. And as much as I want to love them, I’m with you– pass the chocolate minty concoctions, please. 😉

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  24. I love decorating for Christmas, but I agree with you that *most* of it does not coordinate with everyday decor. However, I do try to make it look like it at least belongs in some way.

    I fell out of the Christmas card habit. I used to be so diligent but somehow, the month of December careens past and there is no time to do the fancy cards (I used to handcraft them, with holiday punches and fun illustrations). So I am ashamed to say I use store-bought cards and merely sign my name and the names of my family. This year, I didn’t even include photos. I can barely hold my head up, the shame is so great.

    Butter. I’m with you on butter. I do not like butter. I will not add it to my vegetables or to toast. There are a few exceptions. I have to admit I do have a fondness for Scottish shortbread, and that’s because it reminds me of my grandmother. We’d eat shortbread and drink tea each afternoon when I was little. Beyond that, I pick Christmas cookie recipes that are all about chocolate, lemon, pumpkin, cinnamon, mint, etc.

    Merry Christmas!

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    1. Kate, if you enjoy decorating, and the results please you, then it’s great that you do it. Despite my observation that red and green stuff can look like Christmas clutter, we decorate some around the house. I like it… in small doses. I think that decorations, for any season, overwhelm me at times.

      The whole Christmas card conundrum… I dunno. Handcrafted cards are so lovely and wonderful, but I can totally understand why you don’t bother any more. I bought some cheerful angel cards at the store, and will send a few. But I do wonder if I even should do that, considering how people don’t seem to appreciate the effort.

      Yes, I like your cookie recipe choices. Give me a definite, intense flavor– not something that to me tastes bland and buttery. Not that I don’t appreciate Great Aunt Maude Winifred’s cookies… 😉

      Happy Christmas & Merry New Year to you, too.

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