Ho Ho Pho And A Knit New Year!

Christmas came on quick, didn’t it? It came along in a panic, caused hysteria. Made people do mad things they shouldn’t. This year I opted out of Christmas. I just couldn’t do it anymore. The obligation of gifts required on a certain day for certain, particular people threw me off. It really did. I guess it starts with this whole Black Friday business. Mobs of people rushing in, to bash people, trample each other forΒ  a flat screen TV at a low price turned me off. And I made a vow right then and there. No more Christmas presents. NOPE! We’ve all lost the entire (crucial!) meaning behind Christmas.

I take this view. Thanksgiving comes along and we all wonderfully remind ourselves of how blessed our lives are. We are THANKFUL for the blessings we have. And then, a short month later, we’re given the chance to hand back those blessings, to give back the great things we’ve been handed in life. WE GIVE BACK. Not trinkets and gadgets.

I had a number of people who asked me what I wanted for Christmas. It didn’t take me long to think, “I’ve got rent ready for next month, the lights are on, and I have some food….but, I know others don’t. So, please PLEASE any dollar you might have spent on me for Christmas, please donate instead to your local Second Harvest Food Bank, or your local homeless shelter.” So that is my new tradition. No more Christmas presents. From here on out, Christmas would be about giving, REAL giving to those in need…..and not smacking each other down for the best deal on an iPhone. No more presents under the tree, but rather, watching those lights on the tree as a metaphor for the splendid beauty, the small bits of light we quietly offer the world quietly. Those lights should be reminders of little moments all brightly shining in a world that can often be dark. And the more lights…..the better!

Even I was burned down by Christmas. I busted as hard as I could to get orders out in time, but I slowed SLOWWWWED down hard. Perhaps it was the stress? But, this much I’ll tell you. The minute Christmas came and went, a flood of bears left this little apartment of mine. Yep! As of 26 December I was…..a mad man knitting πŸ™‚ and bears were being whipped up like crazy. There was a pressure that was released the minute Christmas was over that allowed to me work diligently, comfortably, and with a sense of ease.

131122_001Christmas Day was great. I spent it alone. And Kevin Potter and his lovely bride insisted I treat myself to a wonderful Christmas Dinner. And so I did. I had a treat. Pho! If you’re not familiar with it, Google it and I promise you, if given the chance, have a bowl and enjoy yourself.

IMG_0150George gave me a little rosemary bush, about 10 inches high, which we decorated with Mardi Gras beads. BOOM! DONE! There’s my Christmas tree. It was quite the simple, little sight. I liked my little tree.

IMG_0143Then it was a touch cool, a bit chilly. (about 60 here, which can be rough on skin accustomed to the feel of a warm and friendly 80) so I cranked up the space heater. Mario even felt a bit cool and feel asleep in a contorted way under the table by the space heater. Then I had myself a little James Bond marathon. It was a great Christmas. A wonderful Christmas. It was spent thankfully with all of you.

You’ve all made this a wonderful year for me. Every single one of you. So, to say I spent Christmas alone is only half true. I spent it with you…..thinking about you, hoping you were all well, hoping you know how much you mean to me. I had yarn I worked up, thanks to you. I had food in my belly, thanks to you. And I had safety and comfort curled up with little Mario with not a care in the world for a day, thanks to YOU.

Its about 6am on the 3rd of January 2014. Its going to be a good year. Did you know tomorrow is my birthday? I’ll be 41. I plan to spend it with some fried chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, a few beers, and some croquet with George and Kara.

These are good days. Let’s not any one of us forget…..these are good days. Hold tight to the hand of someone you love and just squeeze as hard as you can and remember, these are good days. When simple things like a goofy laugh and a bowl of soup are just the thing to make you content, then these are good days. When a little bush with a set of beads on it reminds you that the Christmas spirit is about love and compassion, then these are good days…..and when you catch a great shot of your cat sprawled under a table and that’s all you need to make your holiday worthwhile, then you know, deep in your grinning heart that these are REALLY REALLY good days.

Happy new year!



  1. Well said Gregory, My sentiments completely. I am 67 and the few special people in my life received throw pillows that I made myself and a jar of my tomato jelly or my apple peel jelly. I am hoping my health issues are resolved and I am now continuing to work on my corn bags, pillows, scarves etc. You are my inspiration. I am in a forced retirement but you inspired me to be creative with my crafts. Wishing you all the success and happiness in the world and may this year be the best one yet, no matter what. Hugs, Tobias…Frankenmuth, Michigan

  2. I too totally dislike the over-consumerist approach to Christmas and being unemployed and short of cash helped me to decide my gift giving methods …..
    Each gift had to be handmade or come from a thrift store. It made the meaning more personal and meant I had to plan ahead and not rush out on Christmas Eve to the stores.
    Home made ginger beer, chocolate truffles, an apron and some gingerbread.
    A 2nd hand book on vintage motor bikes, a silver and pearl brooch for my mum (struck it lucky there for $1.00) and a vintage star wars toy for my son (not so cheap). 2nd hand books for my nephews and brother in law, vintage cup and saucer for my sister and a wii game bought at a yard sale. Embroidered hankies and old knitting patterns bundled up with some knitting needles.
    I made a pudding from a WW2 recipe and wrapped my gifts in coloured mail order catalogues.
    It was the best Christmas I can remember in ages.
    Happy new year Gregory and happy birthday for tomorrow.
    If I knew your address I’d pop some gingerbread in the post πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks for expressing your thoughts about Christmas so eloquently. My sons 36th birthday is today and it gives me hope that there are men of integrity and compassion in this world. I have for most of my life given homemade sewn, crocheted, or knitted useful items, home canned jams, jelly, or relishes, or freshly baked cookies. For me the Christmas season is about gratitude not about how much money I spend. Happy Birthday

  4. Ain’t that the truth!! I can gain as much joy from having a home made ham & mustard sandwich as I can by paying an exorbitant amount on a meal in a fancy restaurant. If friends really care, they would not want to see you in financial crisis just to “do Christmas”.
    Here’s to a great New Year for all.

  5. Well written, so true and thought provoking. I hope it reaches everyone who deserves to think about their festive season.. Enjoy your birthday!

  6. Nice one! I love Pho πŸ™‚ It is the king of soups. I have made the stock and it calls for something called “cassia” bark, which took me ages to work out is infact cinnamon! There are a lot of Vietnamese people in Australia where I am, which is good because I suspect it takes many years to be a masterful Pho maker. I know what you mean about Christmas making you edgy. It is like an invisible weight has been lifted when the ‘season’ passes.

  7. Happy New Year and have a wonderful day tomorrow celebrating the day of your birth. May you have blessing abundant this year and for many more to come. May God continue to bless you in all that you do. πŸ™‚

  8. Agreed! I feel a wonderful sense of release the day after Christmas. Chinese food was had here, right in my little big town.

  9. Happy Birthday & love to you! (My son’s birthday is the 3rd, so I celebrate both of you.)
    And thanks for putting into words what I feel more & more about the commercial Christmas. But I know that, buried under the chaos, the truth & love of the real meaning of Christmas still lives. You are proof of that.
    Enjoy your special day……we all are grateful to know you are ALIVE!

  10. Have a wonderful birthday. I love the rosemary Bush with Mardi Gras beads! I make most of my gifts, including 2 aprons with matching oven mitts, knitted hats and 7 waldorf faeries made from left over dyed wool roving for all my nieces. And I wanted to share the best gift I received, eight frozen prepared dinners I can heat up in my slow cooker when I don’t have time to cook. My saintly daughter-in-law gave that to me.

  11. I’ve tried for years to stop the Christmas hub-bub in my family.. it’s down now to just my 86 yr old mom and my oldest son and DIL. My extended family (sisters of my heart) are like me and are tired of the stacks of store bought gifts, so they received hand knit gifts from me, one sister made soaps, candies and cookies, even truffles, she works full time with horrid hours, so these treats were sincerely from her heart! My younger son used my limited workshop to make me a yarn swift, he also gave me the chisel and spade bits that he had to purchase to complete the project so double present!! I am truly blessed in that I have a nice home, plenty of food, finally have medical coverage so I can overcome issues (hopefully). I am warm and dry and have no fears of loosing everything as I have done in the past. Security means a lot when you are disabled!! My yarns are not the finest, thrift store finds and gifts from friends make it possible for me to enjoy knitting.
    The simple things in life are the best, love of family, our fur babies and our friends on the net fill our hearts with joy. Good times and bad we just love each other through them as best we can.
    Here’s wishing you all the best in the coming year, may your tummy be full, your body be warm (or cool), your needles be busy, but most of all may the warmth the peace, the love and joy fill you always in the months to come.

  12. Thank you for reminding me what life is all about.. Happy New Year and the best birthday… To a free soul and happy spirit

  13. Happy New Year-I am a new follower (2 Bags Full referred me in one of her blog posts) I loved your post-It is how I feel as well. I live pretty rural so I stocked up with necessity items just before thanksgiving and have not been to town since-no way was I going to get involved in all those crazy people-even If I would have just been shopping for groceries.
    Love your bears very much

  14. Happy Birthday! For Christmas what I do is get gifts limited to $20 that can be opened. The rest that I would have spent goes to programs for animal research like Wolfhaven, or I give to a shelter.

  15. Happiest day of birth and thank you for sharing πŸ™‚ According to my mom I have been trying to give up Christmas since I was 8 haha I turned 40 this year and decided this was the year to transition out. I dislike shopping on good days, you add the anxiety of the mass crowds, over indulgence of food and alcohol and the over-stimulation the malls think we need to shop and there is no chance you are getting my bum out there, I would prefer to pick up something special I see for someone on a Thursday than to go out feeling pressure and getting something because I feel like I must, I was starting to think I was the only one out there that doesn’t do Christmas just because the calendar says. πŸ™‚

  16. Love the message. Would love the Pho recipe. Made changes within my family this year to simplify our holiday. It was wonderful.

  17. Happy New Year to you, Mario, and your thought Kara and George. Have a wonderful birthday tomorrow. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Stay warm.

  18. We did exactly the same thing for Christmas this year; no cards, no gifts, no madness. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all gave it a trial period, giving our “excess” blessings to those truly in need! Carry on! I happened upon you with your first post and have been following you ever since. I wish you all the best.

  19. Thank you for reminding us ALL to KEEP IT SIMPLE! So happy you are in a good good spirits….HAPPY BIRTHDAY too! Keep on knitting!

  20. If all of us spent Christmas as you did the world would be a much better place. Happy New Year and Happy Birthday. I just recently “found” you and am so happy I did. I ordered 2 bears post Christmas but I can wait-no worries! I too am a knitter and have lots (and I mean LOTS) of yarn to give away. Can you use any or recommend places I can send it? I refuse to just get rid of it and most of it is very nice.
    email me if you have any ideas for yourself or others-thanks.

  21. Happy New Year & Happy Birthday. I just purchased one of your bears, figured I’d wait til after the mad season rush. I’m in no hurry and will be chuffed when it arrives. Loved the pic of Mario being a heater whore. My cats are like that in Winter when I have the gas heater on. It’s summer here, so they’re generally stretched out in a cool spot somewhere.

  22. Thank you and happy birthday! I have a mate whose birthday is twp weeks from mine same year and all so we decided to have a joint birthday party this year! a 90th! πŸ™‚ and best of all in 5 years we get to have a 100th πŸ˜€ I agree that the most important thing for any celebration is love! thinking of those who you love and who love you, my mum always gets what she asked for as I always ask, one year it was clean the bathroom! another was getting a load of shopping in, this year she asked for an address book with alphabet tags down one side, hard to find how she wanted, but not expensive in price but she couldn’t do the hunt her self so good gift. Glad you had a good holiday and a great start into the new year!
    I love your bears, and haven’t taken all their pictures yet :-).

  23. Happy Birthday! Hope you have an awesome day and year!

    Totally understand about the Christmas slow down. I had a similar problem. But mine was due to knitting for a lot of other people and not enough for myself. So this year, I’ve promised myself that I’m going to make at least 1 project each month for me, then for others. That way I should have 12 new things for me this year.

  24. Happy B-day! It’s 1/4/14 and you are turning 41. I was just playing with the numbers!!! Did you realiZe? 1/4/14/41. Funny, isn’t it? Anyways, have an awesome day and new year!!!!

  25. Here’s to another wonderful year with good friends, warm homes, and loving cats and families, and lots and lots of knitting! Happy New Year! May 2014 be filled with blessings for you.

  26. I hope that the year is treating you well πŸ™‚ I ordered a bear in October and while I am not in a hurry at all, I have read that other people who had ordered that long ago have received their bears and I am worried that my order may have been lost?

    I have written a couple of emails and had no reply so I’m trying here to see if you can look into it for me please. My email addy is maidenearth at gmail dot com. Check your spam box, if your filters are set too high it may have been sorted into there because it is my business email with links in the signature.

    I am a big supporter and love what you are doing. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s