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Archive for December, 2009

Christmas is coming . . .

Happy Christmas to you all. At this time of semi-enforced jollity I have found myself thinking very hard about what Christmas really means to me. I am not going to discuss the faith aspect of Christmas, far greater minds than mine will be doing that.

I dislike the acquisitive element that can creep into Christmas. Who spent most, who got most, who ate most, who got most cards, you know the sort of insidious competitiveness that sometimes creeps in.  I don’t want expensive gifts.  I don’t want huge amounts of food and drink, although I do still enjoy preparing and sharing a traditional Christmas dinner.

As I get older I realise more and more that Christmas is for me a time to pause, gather breath, reflect on the past, enjoy the present and evaluate future options.  Our Christmas tree has decorations from my parents, including one of the ones made by my Father for my Mother on their first Christmas together.

My parents had very little money, so Christmas presents were always one “big” present and lots of home made things. My Father would wrap my Mother’s gifts in elaborate disguises. For instance, one year he bought her the smallest bottle of Chanel No 5 you could ever imagine. He made a lantern from paper and scraps, disguising the miniature bottle as a candle in the lantern. I am not sure which made my Mother happier, the thought and sacrifice in paying for the gifts, or the elaborate lengths he went to present them to her.

She, in her turn, once made my father an elaborate Arran sweater knitted on 4 needles at once. She would get up in the night and knit in the bathroom to make sure it was finished. She also made us each a dressing gown each year making amazing cords and tassels from scratch. It should be said that my mother hated, loathed and abominated knitting and sewing so they were a true labour of love.

One Christmas when my mother had become ill I recorded all her favourite Winnie the Pooh stories onto cassette so she could listen to me reading them to her when she could not sleep. She said it was the best present I ever gave her, and yet it cost me nothing but time.

I remember those things when I decorate the tree with their old decorations.  They have taught me that gifts are more special when they are so carefully chosen and created. I am lucky that my husband and his family feel the same.

My father-in-law carved me a Madonna and Child from beautiful wood which he waxed and shone so the grain looks like the folds in her robe. I love it, as I do the librarian he made me. His favourite gift from me was a tin of home-made shortbread all to himself, as it is his special treat.

Whenever we visit somewhere we want to remember we try to buy something for the tree. The paper angel from Stockholm

reminds me of the lovely friends we made there who welcomed us into their Christmas and introduced us to glugg! Lars, Kristina and their children are remembered everytime I glimpse the angel spinning gently in the draft.

This year my husband’s parents are coming to us for Christmas, and while we will no doubt aggravate each other at some point, and I will miss my own parents, I am very thankful that my “other” family will be with us to share that special closeness.

So I realise that Christmas for me is a very special time of memories of wonderful people who have touched my life and the chance to make more memories with the people I am lucky enough to share the time with. Whether you spend the holiday alone, with friends or with family, I hope you have a wonderful peaceful Christmas with happy memories and hopeful plans.

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