Before this year is out I will.....
How would you finish this sentence?
(Keep it simple. There are only three days left! I am going to fill in the new address book which has been sitting around for about a year....)
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!
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.)
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)