Seeing – the lights twinkling on trees, houses and in shop windows
Hearing – the sweet sound of Christmas songs and carols sung by the Wairarapa Singers at last night’s New Rags Market
Smelling – the pine scent of our tree, now inside and decorated
Tasting – gingerbread men, from the St Patrick’s School stall at the market last night
Feeling – the smooth, shiny surface of the glass ornaments I hung on the tree today
In amongst the increasing busy-ness of the ‘getting ready for Christmas’ season, I am trying to make space for some daily reflection on what Christmas means to me, encouraged by the Journal Your Christmas class (yes, it’s Shimelle again).
There are lots of items on my list of things that would make Christmas ‘perfect’, and I have given them all up. If they get done, then that’s great. If not, then that’s great too. Far better to arrive at Christmas Eve feeling calm and relaxed than tense and stressed.
So if the mood takes me, and I have time, I will bake shortbread and gingerbread. I will buy mince pies because I could never make enough to satisfy DH’s appetite for them. We will bring in the tree tomorrow and I will enjoy decorating it – and I will treasure the mixed colours of the decorations because they all have memories attached. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good!
Why not join me in giving up your ideas of ‘perfection’ this Christmas, and enjoy a ‘good enough’ Christmas with a little less stress?
When I was a child one of the things that told me Christmas was coming was the steady arrival of parcels from Britain and Canada. I remember the British parcels in particular, because they were wrapped in a special sort of brown paper we don’t get in New Zealand – it’s almost striped, with a subtle tone-on-tone pattern, and a more rusty brown colour than ours. There were stamps – lots and lots of them – some with the Queen’s profile, others with a Christmas theme. I also remember the careful writing of my Aunts – Madge’s small tidy script and Sandra’s bolder, rounded hand, and my Dad’s sister Elaine’s untidy scrawl. The Canadian parcels didn’t have any string, but my Mum’s sisters clearly had a lower opinion of postal workers and had meters (yards, in those days!) of string and a multiplicity of knots to ensure the parcel would survive intact to its destination.
In the absence of parcels, nowadays my countdown begins with making the Christmas Cake. True to tradition, I aim to make it on ‘stir-up Sunday’, the Sunday-next-before-Advent. It is so called because the Collect (prayer) for the day in the old 1662 Anglican Prayer Book begins “Stir up, O Lord, the hearts of thy people…” – and was taken as a useful reminder by the women of the congregation to get on with the job of making the traditional fruit cake. I was on time this year – and our cake will have a chance to improve not only with keeping, but also with a weekly brushing with brandy!
Today I performed another part of the Christmas countdown, and wrote and posted off the overseas cards. This year I’ve managed to make them all – nothing too fancy as I needed 16 cards and so I made a few each of several designs – none of which took longer than a few minutes to make. There are two really important parts of the process for me. The first is constructing a newsletter that rounds up the events of the year for each of us, and I love doing this. Looking back on the year gone by is a chance to reflect and enjoy again the highlights we have experienced. The second important part of writing the overseas cards is to write some words in each card that are chosen for that recipient. A little story, a wish or a shared memory – I like to add a little something special along with holiday greetings.
What do you remember from your childhood countdown to Christmas? Is this still in your life, or has something else replaced it?
Yesterday I was a stallholder at the New Rags Market in Greytown. Business was slow, so Jannelle of Heartfelt and I moved our tables outside under the trees to make it more obvious that there was a market going on inside the Town Centre.
From my position I had a great view of the traffic on Main Street, and no sooner had I put the camera away after taking this shot, I saw one of the first signs of Christmas. A car with a tree in a trailer.
For me, putting up the tree on 1 December seems a bit early – but I’m not sure when the ‘right time’ is. I do know that I left it a bit late last year (it was Christmas week!), so this year I’m aiming for a happy medium. We have a live tree in a pot, and it will come inside next weekend, on 9 December.
Do you put up a tree? What’s the right time for you?