I like on Hogmanay to look back over the year just ending as I take down the old calendar. Last year however I was disappointed, as all that seemed to be recorded were things like 'dentist 3.30' and 'car insurance due' and even 'feed lawn'. Surely, I thought, my year had been more interesting than this!
So my resolution for 2010 was to keep a diary of the best things, the fun bits and the happy times, so that I'd have something good to read on Hogmanay.
I kept it up on all but a few days, usually writing it last thing at night, and I'm so glad I did. 2010 was not without its difficulties and hard times, but there were many moments to treasure, and I may have forgotten them had I not written them down.
Simple things. Of course.
May you all have a year full of such joys and pleasures in 2011, and thank you so much for reading.
I'm off to read the diary....
In a lazy post Christmas haze of warm fires and endless food and drink, I've had time to read Time To Think by Nancy Kline, published by Cassell. Sub titled Listening To Ignite The Human Mind, it is about creating what the author calls 'thinking environments' which encourage the kind of respectful listening which helps people think for themselves.
'Everything we do depends for its quality on the thinking we do first.'
'The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people's thinking.'
'Thinking for yourself is still a radical act.'
She says 'We think we listen, but we don't. We finish each other's sentences, we interrupt each other, we moan together, we fill in the pauses with our own stories, we look at our watched, we sigh, we frown, tap our finger, read the newspaper, or walk away.'
I was shocked to realise how often I do these things! And moved by this book to try to do them less often.
A Thinking Environment is a persuasive concept and the book a worthwhile read.
Thank you Lucy for that lovely image, and Julia for the kind comments (comments 19 and 18 December)
'They get too much for Christmas'
Said Gran, 'It's really shocking.
In my young day you got
A few nuts in your stocking,
And an orange and an apple
And a hanky from your Aunt
And we were grateful for it,
Not like modern kids who aren't.'
So we put apples in her stocking
As many as we could fit
And was she grateful for it?
No, she wasn't, not a bit.
An Old Fashioned Christmas Present from Funny Poems For Christmas
No more poems for a bit. Promise.
This is the start of one of the most evocative of seasonal poems: Journey of the Magi by T S Eliot
'A cold coming we had of it.
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The way was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
I'd simply like to thank you for reading and wish you a happy Christmas.
I'm going to take a wee blog holiday for a day or two.....
The weight of expectation we load onto this one day can be a great burden, so I'm determined to take it lightly.
On the day itself we like to make favourite foods that are tried and tested. We have starters about lunchtime, main course mid afternoon, and a dessert (or two) an hour (or two) later, with perhaps a walk in between courses. Drinks when we feel like it and a box of chocolates open on the side....I do indulge myself quite a bit but I can't be bothered with that stuffed feeling.
Can you take another poem from Funny Poems For Christmas?
This is the end of Saturday Night At The Bethlehem Arms by Gareth Owen. The innkeeper decides against turning Mary and Joseph away:
'I told them,
They could rough it in the barn
If they didn't mind the cows and mules for company.
I know, I know. Soft, that's me.
I yawned, locked up, turned out the lights,
Rinsed my hands to lose the smell of beer.
Went up to bed.
A day like any other.
That's how it is.
Nothing much ever happens here.
Food cans, a hammer and a nail. Tealights.
The trick is to fill them with water and freeze them solid before you start punching the holes. I found it easiest to sit on the doorstep holding the can between my feet...easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Photo is a bit out of focus, but it was minus seven out there!
Are you getting excited yet?
I like to talk to children about the artists who illustrated their books. In The Christmas Tree Tangle for example I'll ask them 'How does the artist make it look like you are up in the tree looking down?' and 'How does the artist show that the lights are switched on?' In The Gift From St Nicholas I'll say 'How has Maja Dusikova shown that St Nicholas is going very fast?' Raymond Briggs The Snowman is of course brilliant for this kind of looking....'How does the artist show that they are even higher in the sky?'
It adds another dimension to the child's pleasure in the book, gives credit to the illustrator and lets the child know that there is such a job as book illustrator/artist.
Shirley Hughes, author and illustrator of more than 200 popular children's books, has written a delightful autobiography called, cleverly, A Life Drawing .
She made me laugh describing her younger self : 'Being Arty was an unthinkable social handicap, second only to being Brainy'.