I'll still have candles - but with fresh fruit rather than tinsel.
Have you cleared away Christmas?
..we had a family meal and took down the tree and decorations and as I always do, I observed how badly this room needs decorated (never do it though! Maybe this year...).
I'll still have candles - but with fresh fruit rather than tinsel.
Have you cleared away Christmas?
...to that hygge feeling!
Since the photo on the previous post which was taken as I sailed across the Firth of Clyde to spend time with family and friends, the weather has been murky and dank, with some ice and some thick fog, so my guests and I have hunkered down and let the world go on without us for a few peaceful days....
Sloe gin, red wine, a favourite old jigsaw and listening to Simon Callow's wonderful A Christmas Carol (twice). Oak logs on the fire, candles and cards and lots of good food. We had a truly relaxing Christmas.
I hope you did too!
(A Christmas Carol is still on BBC iPlayer - what a brilliant story-teller Simon Callow is!)
The town was sold out of Christmas trees.
What to do?
Maybe I should just not bother with a tree this year.
But I have never not had a Christmas tree. A real Christmas tree.
Then I remembered this one!
I hesitated but a moment - after all I was worried it was getting so big it would topple one windy day, onto the treasured cornus controversa beneath.
Nature's gift indeed.
And the prickliest tree i've ever known.
It smells wonderful in the study.
And the fairy likes it.
I'm going to avoid the slippery slopes this year - both actual and metaphorical. The road outside is so icy this morning - like glass! - that I will stay home again though I'll take a walk to the shore, the grassy path will be safer I hope.
The other slippery slope is the one that finds me eating as if it is Christmas Day from about mid-December. Some people start sooner - as soon as late October when the Christmassy treats start appearing in the shops often at half price to tempt us further! Of course you eat them before Christmas and then buy more at full price.
I'm not falling for it.
A couple of months of indulgence then a hard time in January trying to lose the weight and regain the hard-won fitness I achieved through the year? No thanks.
So here's my strategy.
Starting today I will get fit for Christmas. I will drink more water, move more and indulge less for the next 7 days. Then I will feast for 3 days (and by feast I don't mean stuff myself!), live super-healthy for another 5, feast for 2 then get active and eat wisely for all of January because i have a very special plan for February and I want to be fit enough to enjoy it to the full..
Fit for Christmas starts today. In my head I am already there, in reality I am still in my cosy dressing gown at 10.30am by the woodstove writing this - but I am drinking a big glass of water...and have put the FitBit on charge.
9pm and feeling good!
Went for a walk, drank lots of water, ate lightly but well, stacked wood and did some housework. I think I did about 5000 steps but the FitBit stopped and went back to zero as it wasn't charged up enough. About 4500 steps more than usual though. Will do 15 mins of Louise Parker's exercises (really hard!) then have a hot bath and hopefully a good sleep.
I'm going to enjoy this.
Well, I enjoyed it today.
NB Even more folks have said Hello in Friday's comments - what fun it's been.
..or would-be minimalists!
Flowers, wine, food, lunch or dinner out with you, theatre tickets, concert tickets, vouchers for any of the preceding, days out at a quieter time of the year, music or books of their choice (Amazon Wish List is very useful here!) a donation to their favourite charity (my favourite gift to both give and receive) with a tiny token something...part of trying to live more simply.
It can be really awkward to go against the trend and say you don't want anything for Christmas or to 'make demands' by asking for certain types of things. Only you can assess how to approach the subject, if at all! Also it's a bit late for this year. It might be best broached in late autumn when it's likely to be less emotionally loaded. and the presents are less likely to be already purchased!
Sometimes you just try to be gracious.
My Uncle John at the bottom of the amusing invitation he composed for his 90th birthday party and ceilidh wrote 'For God's sake no presents!'
Bigger donations and smaller gifts is the trend in our family.
Being together is the real gift and the most fun if you are as lucky as I am with lovely friends and family.
..is the generosity and talent of all the hospital staff and friends who for 40 years have been holding a beautiful carol service to raise funds for the care of children with cancer and their families.
An uplifting annual event I wouldn't miss - meeting up with old friends, staying over with my friends who sing in the choir and joining in singing all the old favourites. It is the only time in the year that I actually sing come to think of it...
Do you sing in or attend a carol service?
Friends from York have just been to a Scandinavian Sankta Lucia service in York Minster which they said was wonderful.
i did once go to Stockholm for Sankta Lucia Dag - a magical memory.
i love these winter celebrations.
We can send spaceships to Mars but we can't have Christmas lights that last from one year to the next!!
Plugged in. switched on - nothing. I summoned all my patience and read the instructions for changing the bulbs - they assumed that some were working so didn't quite make sense..
Brought them downstairs and put on some music expecting this to be a long process, plugged in, switched on and Lo!
Are your lights working?
I am reading a bit most days of A Year To Clear by Stephanie Bennet Vogt and finding it often chimes with what I am thinking about or doing. (Although that could be, as with horoscopes, just because most of what she talks about is relevant to most people much of the time!)
I've been paying attention to my instincts lately and found what she has to say about 'inner knowing' quite interesting. She also calls it intuition or sixth sense and says this about deciding whether or not to do something...
If it feels right do it.
If it doesn't feel right don't do it.
If you don't know wait until you know.
You can decide not to decide.
..to Christmas! Once the weather turns cold I don't mind beginning to plan.
From FlyLady I learned how helpful it can be to start thinking about it all in advance and doing some things in plenty of of time to make the holiday relaxing and fun with no last minute rushing around.
I start with a list in my notebook and have my calendar to hand -
Advent calendar - needed first. Along with the spare cards I put it in a more accessible place last year, separate from the main decorations boxes which are in a cupboard under the eaves.
Travel- dates need to be confirmed
Cards and stamps - I need more cards and like time to find ones I love
Decorations - culled last year, but lights will need checked in good time
Gifts - write the list
Wrapping paper - check if I need more, and look for some I really like while out and about
Food, baking ingredients - two main menus to plan and a little batch baking now to put in the freezer will be good
Clothes - will I have something new?
Guest room - check the warm bed linen is ready and bring out the thick blankets from the linen cupboard and have an extra heater on hand in case....and I need a new lamp.
Definitely not my style. I find it difficult to do nothing. I'm a doer, and if I'm not doing I'm planning some doing!
I complain a lot about the rain here in the west of Scotland but feeling tired after the festive season I used the excuse of a few days of lashing rain to just stay home and stay in and do very little. Often when life seemed a bit hard I would say 'Sometimes you just have to plod.' and that always worked for me, but this time I did not even plod. I kept the fire going, cooked just a little, watched The Miniaturist and Little Women on iPlayer (both very good), read a lot, and slept quite a bit.
It's been surprisingly restorative.
And about 8 hours without email, at first annoying, seemed strangely peaceful!
Gently gathering up the Christmas decorations...
Including all the crystals which flew off the tree in the high winds (next year will attach them to a string).
Do you ever get tired enough (and lucky enough) to do nothing for a bit?
..easing myself into 2018.
A quote from Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth -
The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.
I'm changing that to a gentle yes....I'm feeling more fragile than hearty at present and gentle spans the gap between fragile and hearty.
Would your word substitute by chance?
I will miss my Christmas lights.
Two recipes which I made the day before made a lovely lunch for friends. This aubergine and parmesan bake and Nigella's passion fruit ice cream cake....Yum
Then the fasting next day with apple carrot and spinach juice for two meals (and the leftovers for the third!)
Works for me.
Setting the scene is the most fun bit for me (though I am beginning to quite like cooking..) I borrowed the tablecloth and brought out all the old favourites..
and lots of candles!
Have you set the scene? Or do you enjoy the cooking more?
I love this sculpture at Oran Mor (where we watched the play the other night). It's as if the angels were playing hoop-la!
It is my Christmas card to you to simply wish you all a truly happy time over the holiday season, wherever you are and however you spend it.
I leave it with you for a few days while I catch up with myself....
..bigger donations. This has been the trend in our family in recent years.
I like it.
Arianna Huffington talks here about taking some time to disconnect from the world in order to connect with yourself, so that you can explore your values and know what you want to do.
I think that can apply to Christmas. Who needs the frantic stressful excess and commerce-driven experience that the media would have us believe is what Christmas is about? We do have a choice and we can choose to switch off both literally and metaphorically to all of that, and create our own meaningful and spiritual experiences, around this wonderful midwinter festival
Connecting with distant friends as I start to write the cards this evening.
NB I apologise if my replies to your comments are sometimes out of sync with the comment. I blame the system (but it might be me)!
Sometimes it seems everything has become an 'issue' or an ethical dilemma, but my position on Christmas cards has not changed since I wrote about them here, and here.
I love Christmas cards, the choosing, the giving and the receiving!
I know where the ones left over from last year are, but am trying to remember where I put the ones I bought recently...somewhere logical and safe of course, but where?
..though I received far more than I gave at this year's Glasgow Hospitals' Christmas Carol Concert. It raises funds for Clic Sargent who look after children with cancer and their families, and the choir, conductor and the Glasgow Chamber Orchestra and special guest give their services for free.
A meal out, the excellent concert, and drinks till 3am with the friends who sing in the choir made a wonderful start to the season!
Scottish pianist Steven Osborne played Beethoven, Brahms and Oscar Petersen. I love his website and blog and his playing was superb, but joining in with the traditional carols -In The Bleak Midwinter being my favourite - and listening to children sing always brings a lump to the throat. So beautiful.
This is what I want Christmas to be about this year - the nicest traditions, generous giving, and the company of all the people I love best.
The planning starts now.
How do you want your Christmas to be? And how can you make it happen?
...but I have to say that on a grey wet day I did find the twinkly lights quite delightful!
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)