Saturday, November 15, 2008

Join me and Declare your Independence!

Martha Stewart is not from this planet!

Well, she’s not. I don’t ever watch Martha Stewart’s TV show. I don’t ever read her magazine. I pretty much ignore her. I mean, why read an alien’s how-to book?

But this time of year, every year, I feel the need to buy her Christmas issue. Something in me, and it ain’t the Christmas Spirit, my friend, possesses me with this insane hope. This fantasy that this year, yes this year, I will transform my simple condo into a holiday spa, complete with Jesus Jingle Bells made from sea shells, ribbon and walnuts to a simple centerpiece made of twine, cranberries, candles, garland and a glue gun.

The fantasy is intricate. I see myself opening my front door greeting guests wearing the dress Rosemary Clooney wore in the final scene of "White Christmas". It is a floor length velvet red dress with white fur trimmings. I look spectacular and seasonal. My teeth are extra white just from the glow of Christmas joy, ready and waiting with a smile that brings good tidings to even the grumpiest of souls. Guests may enter glumly or stressed, but one moment in my Christmas kingdom brings sighs of relief and happiness.

The oohs and aahs begin.

Then questions:

“Oh, Robbie, how did you ever make that?”

“Is that your homemade plum pudding I smell?”

“How did you manage to cut down such a tall and perfectly symmetrical tree?”

The flattery pours forth soon after.

“Robbie, your decorations…well…they aren’t gaudy or too simplistic…they’re exquisite.”

“I have never smelled such a perfect blend of potpourri in my life.”

“Robbie, I need to get saved again right now. Just because of your home.”

Like a reoccurring nightmare, the same scene unfolds in my mind every year.
And every year, the reality is a just a teensy bit different.

I open the door wearing whatever will fit me after the Thanksgiving season. Usually a baggy sweater and pants with an elastic band.

My teeth are accented not by their brightness, but my ever present gap, a gift from dear old Mom. Guests who enter my home glum or stressed are encouraged with “Lighten up. You’re having free food.”

Questions come.

“Robbie, is there any room to put my coat down?”

“Have you tried Resolve Carpet Cleaner?”

“Can you make your dog stop humping my leg?”

And the comments follow:

“Robbie, I love the dollar store, too.”

“Your home makes me grateful to God for mine.”

“I think something is burning.”

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. But it sure isn’t like the fantasy. So every January as I pack up the decorations and breathe in the peaceful air, sadness and a little depression gets mixed in.

I know why, too. It’s Martha. And all the other Marthas of the world who offer up 5 Ways to make your House smell like a Good Memory and 8 Simple Dessert Recipes and 7 Easy to do Christmas Crafts.


Maybe not for everyone. My sister Karen is an exception. Give her a bobby pin, some scrap cloth, a couple of pecans and some dried cherries and she comes up with a three-foot beautiful wreath everyone thinks was bought from Michaels. She is the MacGyver of crafts.

But not me. Give me the same materials and ask me to make something and I will brainstorm for five minutes and then run away screaming.

So, what to do?

This is the year, my friends. This is the year I claim my independence from that part of society that lies to me and tells me I must make my home a holiday retreat in order to enjoy celebrating my Saviour's birth. I am now independent of Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, (30 minute meals? Yeah, if you have a sous chef in your refrigerator!) Good Housekeeping and all the rest of them that tells me I can do it.

To twist an Obama phrase, “No I Can’t!”

And I am fine with that! I think I can still say Happy Birthday to Jesus without firing up my own manger scene at a ceramic store. I can still give gifts that say I love you without learning to knit in two weeks or creating a fabulous scrapbook in a month (each night staying up until 3 a.m.) I can still entertain my friends and let them know they are special to me. In fact, my party plan this year does not involve homemade centerpieces and three course meals.

My plan? Enjoy the people I love and serve whatever is on sale at King Soopers!

Aaahhh…I feel good.

And may God bless us, everyone.


Loretta said...

Sign me up!
MacGyver is NOT welcome at my home...not even Martha Stewart! Of course they don't know who I am either.

As part of declaring my independence, I'm not going top up Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving either!

Joanna said...

Amen, sister! I've been buying Martha's magazines for the past two years and I finally thought to myself this past month "Oh, who am I kidding? I'm never going to do these things." So, I declare independence with you. Let's enjoy the holidays with those we love.

Kay Day said...

Hey! I made my nativity set at a ceramics place. But you know. I'm still not perfect. Really.

Watchman said...

Actually the Martha Stewart federal penitentiary collection is quite lovely.

Momstheword said...

Bravo! Bravo! I am not a natural born "entertainer", in any sense of the word. I, too, fantasize about being perfect, but it doesn't work. My daughters are perfect, however.

Jan Parrish said...

Now this is the best post ever. Seriously, what freedom. I will also give myself permission to not worry about the stains on the carpet or the dining room set I don't have yet and enjoy what really matters, my dear, sweet friends and family.

kalea_kane said...

I have never dared to dream about the Martha Stewart style Christmas...I don't even have macaroni ornaments down. :) Loved your blog!



Monday through Sunday said...

I remember being so enamored by martha stewart a few years back. It was so impossible..then my Mom gave me some great advice...Martha, has servants and people to do what she does...:)

Excellent post!! :)

Thanks for your kind words on my blog! :)

D. Gudger said...

Martha Stewart: does not have young children in the home (notice she didn't do her mag or TV show when she did)

must not have pets (or if she does, she keeps them at a kennel only to be brought out for a publicity shoot - smiling with pooches is supposed to make you appear more likeable)

must have never had a male dog in the house

is dead. Mere life in a home creates mess and chaos.

or, as you said, is from another planet. I vote the latter.

You made me howl. With laughter. Not dogs.

Robbie Iobst said...

I love all the comments and emails I am getting about this post. This is a UNIVERSAL thing about women, decorating and Christmas PRESSURE. Thank you ladies, for letting me know I am not alone and neither are you all!

Shelley Smith said...

Oh My Goodness, you hit it soooo on the nose with this one!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for freeing up all of us guilt ridden, fall so short of the Martha Stuart mark, craft challenged homeowners! In fact I was a pre-school drop out because I froze everytime they put a piece of construction paper in front of me with macaroni, glitter, and a bottle of glue.
I figure I now work 3 jobs so I can afford to buy the beautiful stuff someone else had the time to make.

Jan Parrish said...

Congratulations! You have won an award on my blog. Please stop by to pick it up! I Love your Blog!

dianne in colorado said...

I am right there with you, Robbie! I figure that the less time I spend decorating and fighting with crafts that I will never finish, the more time I have to spend with my family and friends. And let's face it - that's what everyone wants anyway!

Great post!

cj marley said...

I bet not a ONE of you nice ladies that have posted these very smart comments have ever gone to jail........

Robbie Iobst said...

CJ, You are so funny! But I need clarification. Do you think Martha changed because of jail? I betcha she decorated her cell with toilet paper wreaths that magically looked like a million bucks.

Robin said...

Robbie, you crack me up - your question section especially. We need some resolve too, and yep the dollar store is our friend...

BUT McGyver is my hero.

cj marley said...

The thing about the jail was further encouragement to not be like Martha. She does have servants and other employees to carry out her plans to decorate the world.

If it is not something that our Lord will ask us about, then let it go.

Us ordinary women have pressured ourselves for so long to be super women, super moms, super wives, super employees. It is all so asinine to pressure ourselves over superficial drivel that will not withstand the test of time.

Celebrate the holidays in the fashion that speaks to each of your hearts. Bake or not; cook or not; clean or not; decorate or not just as your soul speaks to you. Just be sure it is your soul that is speaking and not Dillards or JC Penney. Or Michael's or Hobby Lobby . . . . .


Robbie Iobst said...

Wow! Well said CJ!