Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Festive-ish



This morning I watched Olly's school nativity service. Entitled 'Wiggly Nativity' it was a riot of colour and costume, singing and dancing, fidgeting and nose picking. It was great, and a real tonic for someone who hasn't really felt the Christmas vibe as yet. I'm organised. The presents are all bought and paid for. The decs have been taken down from the attic in anticipation of the tree purchase at the weekend. I have a food list about a mile long. I have bought comedy antlers for the book group party. There are Christmassy bits and bobs about the house. But I just haven't been in the mood for it.

I should be ecstatic really. This time last year I was sat in a high dependency ward, watching my Dad undergoing thirty six hour bouts of high intensity chemo. My sister and I sat at her kitchen table late one night and had the conversation. The 'what if' one. We held onto hope, but honestly didn't think that he would make it, he was so ill. It beggars belief that last weekend I was sat opposite him at that very table, arguing about immigration. He is the picture of health. In fact, he looks better than ever. He's certainly as curmudgeonly as he was. He still rocks a leather jacket. He's back dancing at his weekly rock and roll club, and moaning about traffic wardens.

I'm wondering whether there is such a thing as being too organised? I'm missing that slightly crazed feeling I usually get around this time of year. If nothing else, it gives me an excuse to start drinking Baileys coffee at eleven o'clock in the morning. I enjoy the dash into town for fairy lights, aluminium foil, another box of After Eights and loo roll. And par baked rolls, that always seem like a good idea at the time. I have fond memories of wandering aimlessly around shopping centres, picking stuff up and putting it down again. Asking myself whether Marc really needs novelty socks (no-one does. Ever), and seriously considering those three for two offers on crappy toiletries that no-one ever wants, but everyone always gets. (I got three of them once....)

But it won't be from me this year, kids. I've shopped mindfully, and rather frugally. I've hit the local craft fairs and picked up some really beautiful gifts. I've made Sam and Alf follow the present rule of something they want, something they need, something to eat and something to read. Olly has a stocking full of goodies and an IKEA pop up tent. I'm making the last of the edible gifts next weekend, and hope my close friends will enjoy their homemade jam, biscuits, sweets and cake. I have bottled up the sloe gin. It's glorious dark ruby colour is a joy to behold, and will be very much savoured as I cook for the family on Christmas Day. I may even slosh some into the red cabbage.

Olly and I have a pile of Christmassy stories on his bedside table, and he gets to choose which one to read before bed. This evening it was 'Alfie's Christmas' by Shirley Hughes. It's by far my favourite, as it's the telling of a very normal Christmas for a very normal family. I like the sentiment behind the book; all those traditions and routines that each family has. There is a nod to the secular side, but also an acknowledgement that for some people Christmas is a difficult time of year. Olly asked about that bit of the book for the first time tonight. He wanted to know why some people didn't have a home. I know that they had spoken about it at school, as the charitable donation at the end of the nativity was for St Petrocs, a local homeless charity. I'm not sure he really understands what it means to be homeless, but we talked a little about it all. It does no harm to learn that he is oh so fortunate to be living the life of riley.

And now I'm sat at the dining table, with the flicker of one or more tea lights around me. The Merry Christmas banner is up, and the red lamps have been moved into the living room. My friend Jennifer has recommended 'A Very Murray Christmas' on Netflix. I might watch it with a wee glass of sloe gin. Perhaps I shall feel a little more festive after. Or perhaps I'll just feel a little worse for wear. Which is also traditional at Christmas, no?

...........................

Can I just say a very heartfelt thank you to you all for such lovely comments on last week's post. It's a beautiful thing to feel treasured by this most excellent community of ours. I treasure you all back, and raise my glass of gin to you all.

Leanne xx





26 comments:

  1. What a lovely post. Nativity plays must be so much easier in these days of animal onesies! I love your present rule; I think I have inadvertently followed it, I just need something for L to read - I used up my book ideas for her birthday a couple of weeks ago. So glad that your Dad is hale and hearty again; now that's a great Christmas present! I envy you having a child young enough to read the glorious Shirley Hughes books. I adore them - in fact, I may dig them out to read to myself! Have a great weekend and have a sloe gin and a Baileys coffee for me! xx

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  2. I definitely feel more Christmassy after reading your post than I did before! ( I'm so behind on stuff, yet haven't reached panic mode yet - what's that all about??!! ) I'm so glad your dad is here to do all his. Moaning! What is it with dad's and traffic wardens?!

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  3. I know what you mean about almost missing that frantic feeling. I am so organised this year that I feel less Christmassy than usual. It's all a little too easy so far!

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  4. Yes, it's not Christmas here until I'm in a high state of panic, and I'm not feeling it yet. I did feel a twinge of anxiety when I read your list of all that has been done. Soon, soon... I'm so very pleased that your dad is doing so well. I had wondered, but I didn't like to ask, you know how it is. But it sounds as if he's back on form now. Don't forget to get him to teach you to jive. Best do that before you hit the gin though, don't want to bring the tree crashing down. CJ xx

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  5. I like the sound of your Christmas preparations Leanne. I wish I could say I am as organised as you are. I have recently developed a real knack for remaining in denial and be happy. I quite like the foggy place that is my denial. I have a few presents that I bought at our local artists cooperative. Mindful presents, like yours. I also like the image of your dad rocking away in his leather jacket! I am glad he is doing well. Happy Advent! xx

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  6. Oh you've persuaded me to lift the lid on my campaign chest which doubles as a stand for the TV and break out the decorations. I love unwrapping these treasures collected over the years. I nearly got sidetracked by a crate of children's books - the keepers- up in the loft the other day. But my mission was to retrieve curtains and it was bad enough having to sort through the cot linen to find these. One of the best things about getting older is that you feel under less and less pressure to 'do stuff' for Christmas. It is after all just a roast, a Norway spruce tree (none of these non-drop non-scented Nordmans for me!) and a few carefully chosen and thoughtful presents for those closest to me. Anything else is extra and can be done or not according to time and inclination. Enjoy this special time with all your special boys - including your dad!

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  7. Except for the baking and wrapping (well, okay, that is a lot), I'm pretty much ready for the big day. There's no reason to get upset about it, though. I enjoy all the prep, it's the endless calendar of events leading up that gets to me. I can't believe how much they cram in. I hope you like the show. Bill Murray will always be my favorite comedian.

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  8. I love that rule about Christmas presents - must jot it down. You do sound incredibly organised, right down to home-made gifts... Strange, I absolutely love the run-up to Christmas but it seems like it's approaching very quickly this year and I'm feeling the panic start to rise. Maybe that's why booze is so important at this time of year :)
    I'm so pleased to hear your dad's well and his usual self. Things like that always put everything else into perspective, don't they?
    I'm now off to read your previous post. Told you I was behind, didn't I?
    S x

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  9. I love that rule about Christmas presents - must jot it down. You do sound incredibly organised, right down to home-made gifts... Strange, I absolutely love the run-up to Christmas but it seems like it's approaching very quickly this year and I'm feeling the panic start to rise. Maybe that's why booze is so important at this time of year :)
    I'm so pleased to hear your dad's well and his usual self. Things like that always put everything else into perspective, don't they?
    I'm now off to read your previous post. Told you I was behind, didn't I?
    S x

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  10. Love the sound of the sloe gin..especially in the red cabbage, now there's a thought! My boys loved Shirlie Hughes stories when they were little particularly the flood story with the drip, drip,drip....probably not a good story to read to Cumbrian children at the moment. I would definitely go for the alcoholic tipple and the festive film. I'm saving up Paddington, I can't remember when out laughed so much last Christmas when I watched it at the cinema...I think I even embarrassed my family...oops. Have a cheery weekend. B X.

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  11. I would raise my gin to you if I had one! A glass of water instead? I hope that you are now feeling festive after sharing this wonderfulness with us. The want, need, eat and read plan sounds like a really great one and one that would do a lot of people I know a lot of good! I hope that you enjoy the rest of your Christmas preparations. I am very glad that your Dad is doing so well! xx

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  12. You do sound remarkably calm and I'm glad to absorb some of that this morning - I am determined to get to grips with our Christmas which I am seriously thinking of postponing until March, although I know I still wouldn't be ready for it then either! Love the present plan, I think it might have just provided the answer for "what do I get for my husband", thank you! xx

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  13. I usually fast forward through adverts, but the Mog the cat one caught my eye, after watching it I was really into Christmas... I still read Twas the Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve, even though my little one is now out to the pub with her mates...

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  14. I love your present rule! I wish I had thought of that when my kids were young. That's incredible about your dad. I'm sure his return to health will be the best present you get this Christmas. And also the most wanted one. :-)

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  15. I'm so pleased to hear how well your dad's recovered. Chemo is such a horrible thing to go through, it's surprising how anyone comes through the other end with all they go through but so long as it does what it's meant to, that's the main thing. I've just about finished my Christmas shopping now, still a few gifts to buy but I know what they are, it's just getting to the shops. The tree isn't up yet though, it's trimming up day tomorrow so I'm hoping I'll feel more Christmassy once the decorations are out.

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  16. I'm not ready for it I think I'm all Christmased out which is most unlike me. Your present rule for the older ones sounds good, it will be implemented in the next couple of years here. I'm thrilled that your dad is still 'rocking' around - a wonderful description of him. Do buy that Laurie Lee Christmas book - the snippets I've read have been lovely, I'm so looking forward to Christmas Eve to read it in peace x

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  17. God it's mental here. I'm finding working in the run up to Christmas both exhilarating and stressful. I loved reading about your preparations though, you seem very ready. You've reminded me to do something with my blackberry gin, otherwise I'll forgot and it'll be discovered in January xx

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  18. God it's mental here. I'm finding working in the run up to Christmas both exhilarating and stressful. I loved reading about your preparations though, you seem very ready. You've reminded me to do something with my blackberry gin, otherwise I'll forgot and it'll be discovered in January xx

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  19. I love your Christmas pressie rule and shall bear it in mind for next year. I'm glad to get an update on your dad. I remember him being poorly last year. Most Excellent to hear he has recovered. I'm not feeling massively Christmassy yet either, but everything is organised here too. Perhaps we are only being sensible and waiting till much nearer the day, eh? XX

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  20. I love your children's present idea. I'm afraid we've gone mad in the toy shop (and the pound shop! Pencils! Stickers! Socks!) as the girls really have both been amazing with all the ill health shenanigans and of course more toys is really going to make it all better!!I love the collage at the top of your post too. Hoping you;re enjoying the last week of term. xx

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  21. cheers, raising a glass of gin back atcha and trying desperately to get into the Christmas spirit. Love your present rule x

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  22. I've found I'm more organised than I thought, and a couple of extra unexpected days off have got me caught up and lots of chores that have hung around for ages done! I miss the kids nativity play, a highlight of the year, mine alas are all too old now. Enjoy your slow gin :)

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  23. It feels so festive reading your post, we too have been following the 4 gift rule. Sarah x

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