The rest of the house is still in full fig for Christmas, but in the kitchen I just needed a breathing space....
Thank you so much for reading my blog. I will be back next year..
A bit late for this year perhaps, but here is a nice solution to the How to tell them about Santa question. (This is not my idea and I am sorry I cannot credit it, but I don't remember where I read it.)
When you sense the time is right you take your child to a coffee shop perhaps - somewhere 'grown up' and just with you, if you can. You say you have noticed how much they have grown up this past year, and you have often noticed how kind they can be, so you think perhaps they are old enough now to learn how to become a Santa.
You describe Santa's job - surprising people with thoughtful gifts and making them happy - and you suggest they give it a trial this Christmas by choosing someone (perhaps a neighbour, or a younger sibling?) figuring out what they might want or need, and getting it to them for Christmas without them knowing who sent it.
The example given was a solitary woman who spoke to no-one and was seen lifting in her morning milk from her doorstep in bare feet. The child had to guess what size slippers etc etc and deliver them without being seen on Christmas Eve. The writer descibed the look of delight on his child's face when seeing the woman come to her door wearing the slippers as 'unforgettable' and I can believe it. Whether apocryphal or not, the story appeals as an approach to 'telling the truth' about Father Christmas that may have a lot of mileage in it. It could be seen as a kind of right of passage, which would surely encourage thoughtfulness and unselfishness...
It would certainly be nicer than my experience when my naughty cousin told me 'the truth' in bed on Christmas Eve!
There are quite a few posts about children's Christmas books under Simply Christmas. Here is one with further links within if by chance you have any time to browse!
A Simple Christmas and a quiet one.
I've been browsing my own Simply Christmas posts and getting tearful.
Someone (it may have been a child) said 'Tears let the sad out' and it's true.
I will post the simplest of posts this season - maybe just photographs - or little references to happy Christmases past like this one.
Some lovely things are planned, and I have friends and family to share them with, and I know you will understand if I go a bit quiet for a while....love to you all from my hearth to yours. Enjoy all the preparations, hug your loved ones and if you are grieving a loss too, I hope you also have the comfort of good friends and good memories.
We changed the Swedish Christmas candles in the apex window of the roof back to the moon today, and I'm tempted to have this for summer nights....
..and the tree is back in its corner in the garden. My favourite ornament is wrapped in tissue in the box with the Christmas fairy
and I've managed to reduce it all to two boxes!
I will always love Christmas. I don't think I will sign up to this all the same (but it did make me laugh!)
Have you got Christmas 2015 all tucked away in some far corner cupboard?
Well I didn't sing, but I felt the joy! We heard The Ebor Singers perform Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols in the lovely medieval setting of The National Centre for Early Music in York.
You can hear them here (5 mins) singing some modern choral works including Hail Gladdening Light which feels appropriate, as the days are getting longer, starting now!
Isn't it amazing how much you can fit in to a couple of days? Seeing good friends, galleries museums and churches, a concert, window shopping and a few last minute presents, eating out and coffee stops, evening drinks (we forgot it was office-party season!) Sometimes the city gives me energy that surprises me.
Does this happen to you too?
Have you been singing this Christmas?
Or been to hear someone else sing?
Or simply felt the joy!
We had been out looking at the sky one night at Christmas when Ross, aged four, found a fallen tinsel star on the hall carpet and quietly went out the door and standing at the top of the steps, threw it up into the starry heavens.
He didn't say anything, and I don't think he knew I had seen him.
That's partly what made it so lovely.
I thought that bark wrapped around a jam jar with a tea light in it would make a glowing little lamp, but the bark is too thick and not enough light shines through..
But then I saw that it can still be used for wrapping gifts, including (unlit) candles, and bottles of wine....
Instead of looking for wrapping to fit the presents, I'll be looking for presents that fit the wrapping!
A little blog break coming up - have a lovely week-end and take a look here if you have time at a most unusual entry for this year's Turner Prize....
There's no getting away from it now!
I was sent this today. For something a bit different take a look at GSA shop! I know I am sounding like an ad but am just sharing what I think are some lovely original ideas for gifts, the purchase of which support Glasgow School of Art which I love.
I also love the acrylic necklace at £20.
Even better than their online shop, if you can visit the Reid Building where the actual shop is you will enjoy the architecture too (this post and several adjacent ones) The work on the original Mackintosh building which was badly damaged by fire is under way and is in good hands with Page and Park.
It has started me thinking about my Christmas list....
..said Penny in the comments on this post.
Which got me thinking what is the magic of Christmas?
For me it's the idea that we have a mid winter festival that is wonderful. (Winter would be long and drear without it!)
The smell of the candle (St Eval orange and cinnamon) which I only use at Christmas, the singing of children at the Clic Sargent concert, red berry lights on a dark green tree, this light at the wee triangular window at the very top of the roof welcoming us home when we've been out, pine boughs indoors and small groups of favourite things that only come out at Christmas
The magic sometimes just happens, though I think you have to be open to it to feel it, (and perhaps be able to shut out the wildly commercial aspects - easier I'm sure if you live out in the countryside and have no TV) and sometimes you just have to make it yourself...light a candle, seek out a concert, read something seasonal, put up some little twinkly sparkly thing....
What makes Christmas magic for you?
I'm making..more cards, and plans for a wise and loving Christmas (see Julia's comment yesterday).
What are you making?
A a a a h . . . .
I got into the studio today and cleared the top of my desk ready to get back to work.
It inspired me to clear the dining table too. And the fire surround.
It's a funny time, this period between Christmas and New Year. A kind of no-man's land. Both looking back and looking forward. Storm bound and strangely content. Part of me is still in the comfort zone of Christmas (as in the banner photograph!) and part of me is looking forward to new beginnings and fresh starts.
What will I make next? The Roger Billcliffe Gallery want some 'postcard' works. Collages in a different format? I'm looking forward to starting tomorrow...
How do you find this time between?
I do hope you got what you wanted from Santa!
Some of you will remember I wanted a to be read (tbr) shelf of books - see post here.
Well, the old chap (Santa that is) was listening and I am now snuggled down with fire, candles, rugs, amaretto and my lovely stack of new books while the storms rage....Best gift ever, and I am so grateful to be warm and safe and have the luxury of some time off to read to my heart's content.
How was your Christmas?
PS. I did venture out this morning to a Pilates class. I couldn't find my leggings and was secretly thinking 'Oh good, I won't have to go' as I half heartedly searched for them. I had mixed feelings when I found them, but am now feeling quite virtuous! Actually, I really enjoyed the class, felt great after it, and have signed up for more.
To the winter decorations I've been gradually putting up throughout December, I like to add some tinselly bits!
Wouldn't winter here in the northern hemisphere be long and dull without some tinsel times....
In the end I always like the simplest best.
I'm pleased to be staying home this Christmas, but wish you safe journeys if you are not.
(PS I did read one of my Christmas books, much to my husband's indignation! It was Urban Worrier by Nick Thorpe - honest, thoughtful and funny - I thoroughly enjoyed it.)
Honestly, I'm worse than a child waiting for Santa when they forecast snow!
I carry on with everything as usual. I'm enjoying the preparations. Last presents and cards to go first class. Keep the fire going, do some ironing, plan the food, light a candle, pin up some cards, but all the time I'm glancing out of the window. There is some snow on the mountains all around. Not a lot. We have sleet, we have wind, we had one flash of lightning and one clap of thunder.
But no snow.
It's enough to drive a woman to open a parcel and read one of her Christmas books....
You've got how many Christmas trees? I hear you say.
For someone trying to simplify her life, three Christmas trees might seem somewhat excessive.
I can explain!
One is made of things we happened to have already (see post on 16 Dec).
This one, growing in a pot, was a garden centre bargain three years ago. While we wait for it to be big enough to be our indoor tree (next year I think) we have it on the porch with deep cherry red lights which I can't seem to photograph properly - they're not orange as they look here.
The tree proper is a beauty. Dark and glossy, smelling wonderful, Scottish grown and freshly cut, it was a wonderful deal from Ikea.
£25 with a £20 voucher to be spent late January/early February - probably their quietest weeks of the year. How's that for clever marketing?
Did you know that in Finland postage rates are reduced in the first half of December? More smart thinking from the Scandinavians.
..a tbr shelf.
I didn't know what tbr stood for until quite recently. The term kept coming up over at Cornflower Books and when I twigged what it meant (to be read, as I expect you all know!) I really felt I was missing out on something good. I have always read every book as it comes in the door and rarely have one unread.
Here are some of the titles in my letter to Santa.
Findings by Kathleen Jamie, Christmas At Cold Comfort Farm, Rory Stewart's The Places In Between, Ishiguro's Nocturnes, The Snow Leopard, Venice For Lovers, Paris by Julian Green in both French and English to revive my rusty schoolgirl French, and How To Be Danish, The Collected Works of Bernard McLaverty....I'm just warming up to this and plan to add a few more. (The difficult bit will be making room on the shelf.)
There is an interesting post at Cornflower Books on the ntbr list (that's not-to-be-read list) which engendered lots of comments. See it here.
Do you have a tbr pile/shelf/collection?
And what do you want for Christmas?
..ignore everyone who tells you to hurry. Do not read anything that begins Last chance to....Believe me, it's not your last chance.
Here are some examples from my inbox and computer today -
15% off everything today only!
72 hour Christmas Flash Sale!
The countdown has begun, save up to 50%
18 hours left..
Up to 62% off!
Get ready for a show stopping spring! ( not now Sarah..)
Last Chance Christmas Sale
15% off last minute shopping
70% off Mega Monday extended!
Have you noticed they are always extended?
I found myself thinking Who are these people? Then I remembered they are not even people. They are simply automated advertisements (and your attention to them may have been monitored!)
The thought just went through my head Don't give them the satisfaction - then I remembered 'they' are machines - they don't get satisfaction. How quickly my thinking becomes a little bit crazy!
I refuse to be hassled and harassed. I will not be buying from any of them. I can do without the pressure! I may well miss a bargain (and I do like a bargain) but I will buy at my own pace and in my own good time, and if need be, at full price.
Though to beat the system I may just stock up on the bargains in January when the pressure is off and stash them away....and by this time next year would be feeling very smug!
Would I miss the excitement?
No, I don't think I would.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)