..enchantment for your Christmas Eve..
I hope you can pour youself a lovely drink, snuggle down for half an hour on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and listen to The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse.
(also available from Penguin on A)udilble)
Brilliantly read by the author and illustrator Charlie Makesy, this is utterly enchanting.
My special nessage to anyone who is alone - please look after yourself beautifully!
Happy Christmas and I hope you will all be as cosy as this fox.
These triangle lights remind me of a very happy winter trip to Stockholm where almost every window had either these lights or a large star. I loved the city -wide simplicity of that.
If I coulld keep only one decoetion it would be these. I have them in every window, and if I come home in the dark the sight of them warms my hearrt.
What's your favourite? The one which warms your heart and makes this nidwinter season seem special?
..gently towards a quiet Christmas. I am enjoying the things that can be the same as usual, that can be 'normal'. (I always feel I have to put that word in inverted commas now!)
I can still enjoy selecting, writing sending and receiving Christmas cards. I love Christmas cards! I can bring out the Christmas box from the eaves cupboard and select my favourite ornaments. I can put the triangle lights in every window of the house to shine out into the darkness. Burning the orange and cinnamon scented candle, and bringing in pine branches....
The present list is coming along.
I bought three of these tiny and perfect poinsettias with my supermarket shop - they are about 6 inches high.
I'm thinking of having a wildlife Christmas, mainly because it will have nothing to do with Covid, and if I can tame my rather shy robin by Christmas day that would be the perfect present.
Tip one - buy a supply of mealworms, online or from a pet shop. Live ones are irresistable to a robin - they respond to the movement instinctively, but dried ones are proving attractive to this robin.
Tip two - put some out in the same place around the same time every day..
Over at Cornflower Books Karen has found a great little series of short films about art in a most beautiful house which you might enjoy....See here.
Tomorrow - a confession. It's not all sweetness and light here!
Wreaths on doors are a lovely tradition and far more common in England than in Scotland
But here is one SCottish one (mine). Made uesterday inspired by all the lovely ones I saw in York city and in North Yorkshire towns and villages where Christmas felt like being in an old fashioned Christmas card. So pretty! So English!
Enchanting, which was my word for 2019.
Do you have one?
Are they the custom where you live?
I do hope you enjoyed Christmas.
I am thinking of my word for next year....
and some real snow....
with more forecast. I am enjoying the ritual as the day darkens of going round the house switching on the lights and lighting the candles.
I made all of these from the leftover wax from last year's big candle.
The house smelt wonderful all day and felt like a sanctuary.
Gold coins (chocolate!) spilled out of a mystery parcel as I unwrapped it. There inside the tissue paper were cinnamon sticks, tiny wooden trees. stickers and these Swedish Angel Chimes. As the cherubs spin merrily around in the heat from the candles they make the sweetest tiniest tinkling sound.
I put out the lights to enjoy it better and it made me think of simpler times when this might be the main, or even only ornament in a simple home apart from branches of pine or a small tree from the forest, and perhaps some paper stars...It may have been made by a family member and passed down through the family. It may have only been lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day itself.
After the excesses of the city lights (and I do enjoy the city lights) this unexpected gift made me want to make my own Christmas this year even simpler.
Thank you M!
...this December. Christmas approaches and I've browsed through some of my earliest Christmas posts and got very nostalgic about the Christmas Tree Parties we used to have! See here and here.
Inner - Christmas is very different now. The family got bigger and bigger and the house stayed the same size so our main get-together is now is a Midsummer Picnic when we can spread out to the garden and the beach.,
I am looking for wrapping paper that I like. My sister made her own one year and was rather pleased with it until seven year old Paige said - Oh, you ran out of Christmas paper! when she received her present. You can't please them all..
Small gifts and big donations has been my habit for many years now, and family and friends know my minimalist tendencies! If you are not happy with giving and receiving too much unwanted stuff, perhaps it's time to have those tactful but honest conversations?
Outer - I do buy cards (love sending cards!) and paper and some gifts from charities at Christmas. It's win win in my view though you might want to do some research into exactly how the charities benefit.
Winter would be longer and harder without Christmas to look forward to.
..but not too much..
Red poinsettias are very popular house plants here in uk at Christmas, but I couldn't resist this mini white one from Marks and Spensers for £3.
I sat on it on the bus by accident but it bounced back!
I'd love to know if your country has a particular plant associated with 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?