Christmas

It is Christmas morning. A rainy mild Christmas morning. No one is stirring and there is a stillness about. Perhaps it is to do with the fact that this is an adult house now.

It is lovely to savour this slower beginning.,to remeber some of those warm precious memories of other Christmas mornings.

On this mild Christmas morning it is wonderful to have the time to be thankful.  To be thankful for the memories others have provided over other Christmases.

As a friend said to me one ” to be able to savour an experience is something very precious”. And she was totally right.

I hope you are able to savour this day and add it to your memory bank.

Secret Santa

 

 

This year for the very first time I have been involved in a Secret Santa through an on-line book club which I was able to join this year.

My Secret Santa parcel arrived this morning and with it a dilemma.  As you know paper is important to me.  My present was beautifully wrapped in Art Deco type paper.  Black background with small bronze Christmas trees in a line.  The next line was bronze zig zag with angular corners.  So reminiscent of the Art Deco period.  Each bronze decorated line was followed by a pure white straight line.   The pattern on the paper was a work of art.

Oh my, but I was torn.  I wanted to find out what book I had received but I did not want to damage this beautiful paper.  A mug of coffee later and it was time.  With a scalpel, extra light on my work table and a steady hand I began the job of opening the paper.  Thank goodness, my Secret Santa had not used double sided tape.  With care I actually achieved removing this beautiful paper to reveal my book.

However, before scrutinising the book, the paper was ironed to remove the creases.  Yes, ironing it does work.  Just make sure it is a dry iron at low temperature.  I already have a few ideas for using it.  It definitely could be used as background for a greeting card but I think for the moment it will be placed in my drawer containing “special paper” to be used at a future date, possibly.

The book I received wrapped in that wonderful paper was “he said she said” by Erin Kelly and published by Hodder and Stoughton.  I would have walked past this book in a book shop.  The dust cover would not have attracted me nor would the fact that it was termed a “psychological thriller”.   Like everything else in life there are times to try something new and I look forward to reading it during the Christmas period.

Happy Christmas reading especially if it is a genre which you don’t normally read.

Traditions

 

Have you found Christmas Traditions have changed over the years?

 

If you have been fortunate like me to have become a parent then those traditions most certainly have changed.  A few years ago, I would have been sad about those changes but now at this stage I am glad that those changes have occurred.  It shows that life is being lived and for that I am very thankful.

 

However, there are still somethings which still herald Christmas.  Preparing and making the Christmas puddings, Christmas cake and the Christmas mincemeat are signals that Christmas is coming.  The first indication I have that Christmas is very near is when I post those first Christmas cards.  The next indication is when I arrive home with Christmas purchases.  These are small items which are either made or bought then wrapped and put under the Christmas tree for distributing among friends and family.

I met someone recently who told me that she detests January and February as the weather is usually awful, people are grumpy as they have little to look forward to and she has named them the BLAH months.  Last year she changed things and started making Christmas items which could be given to various friends and charities.  For her it extended the feeling of Christmas giving.  And in a very practical way it relieved the Christmas stress that she was normally under.  Next year as Easter is early, April 1st 2018, she intends to use her three least favourite months of the year to make Easter gifts.  A new tradition for her.

 

I like the idea of new traditions and I have to agree with her that very often people seems to be rather glum in January so perhaps extending the gift of giving to Easter is a good idea.  Those charities which we may support at Christmas I am sure need support during the rest of the year. Perhaps its a tradition which more of us could embrace?

 

A Christmas Card

I know this is going to be contentious but here it goes.  In Ireland over the last 10 years there has been a growing push by charities asking people to donate to a charity and not post or send Christmas Cards.  Why are they doing this?

There are many people and not just older people who look forward to getting Christmas cards in the post.   The card pops through the letter box usually with a Christmas postage stamp, the envelope hand written and inside there is a personal greeting.

Please pause a moment and thing back to the last time you received a personal greeting through the post? Let’s face it the occasion very rarely happens.  With the advent of paperless billing the volume of post has dropped.  Isn’t it good to receive that personal greeting?

Isn’t it wonderful to think that a friend, a colleague, a neighbour, a family member has taken the time to choose a card, write a greeting, address the envelope and then post it.  Isn’t it good to feel that even for a short time you were important to that person?

I attended a workshop during the year and a young lad asked me if I sent cards at Christmas. “Of course,” I replied “but why are you asking”? I learnt that this young lad has a chronic illness and at times it results in anxiety and depression.  When his energy is low and he feels his anxiety rising he will take out one of the Christmas cards he received and remind himself that he is important.

This conversation has remained with me.  We just never know how the simple gesture of sending a Christmas card can impact on someone.  I am sure there are many other examples of the smiles that a Christmas card can evoke.

Then there are the people who make their own Christmas cards who not only get a great buzz of making those cards but who also make others feel very important.  The hours which are spent choosing designs, paper and finally putting it all together before actually sitting down to write the personal greeting.

Many people send cards which they have purchased from specific charities knowing that the money is going back to that charity. These charities range from Children’s hospital to animal welfare. The money from those cards are important to those charities.

Can I ask a question of those charities who are asking people to donate rather than sending out Christmas cards? Why do you not ask people to consider donating the cost of an extra Christmas present? Why are charities not at Easter time asking people to stop buying Easter Eggs and instead donating the money to charity? There has grown the tradition of the 12 Pubs at Christmas in Ireland.  Why have the charities not targeted that?

These charities that ask us to donate instead of sending cards should really consider the impact this has on those who receive these Christmas cards.

 

Christmas puds

Stir Up Sunday

Over many years we have been fortunate to have celebrated “making the Christmas Pudding” with our son and various nieces and nephews.  Whether they enjoyed it I will leave up to them but these are memories which I cherish.

This year we celebrated “making the puds” with the next generation.  I can’t believe that around the table were three of my grand nieces and one of my grand nephews.

Coming into the seomra suite and seeing them engrossed in their tasks was just such a precious sight to behold.  Each and every “mixing memory” came rushing back.  Luke with “Delia Smiths Christmas” propped open to keep us on the right track; Jack and Katie with their incredible laughs; Sarah and Jessica with the phone images; Zoe Adam, Kaela and Clara (keeping watch with Luke) ready with the wooden spoons.

However I don’t think I am going to live it down that the only job I had with Jessica and Sarah was to put the flour into it the puds before steaming…..Yes you guessed it I left out the flour and on Christmas Day when the pudding was turned out it was pure liquid.

Another year with Jack and Katie, I totally forgot about the puds in the steamer and I ended up having to make them again as they the first ones were totally inedible.

The one thing which is common to all these memories is mixing all the ingredients once the stout has been added.  The enthusiasm, the laughter, the mess and last but definitely not least, making that important Christmas wish is the highlight of the occasion.  Eyes scrunched up while saying “I wish, I wish I wish” and silently making that wish.  It still gives me goose bumps.

Christmas PudWhen I was growing up the puds were made immediately after Halloween.  The latest date for making them was the Sunday before Advent in the Christian church.  The Collect for that day starts “Stir up we beseech thee O’ Lord”.  Hence the name “Stir up Sunday”.

I love the traditions of Christmas but sometimes traditions need to be adapted.  Perhaps with the use of Skype or similar, Stir up Sunday next year could include the grand nieces and nephews from farther afield around the world.

I am privileged to have been given so many Christmas Pud memories and to those who gave them to me, thank you.

Christmas puds