Wednesday, 18 December 2013

He's Back!

Actually, he has been down from the attic for about three weeks now. The kids demanded that we put the decorations up ages ago. I was insisting that this year we have a real tree for the scent but there wasn't any for sale when the munchkins were decorating so back came our little plastic leaner. Mr S did buy me a teeny living one which I will try to keep alive until next year.

I blame flippin' Marks and Spenser, for M&S Christmas begins simultaneously with Halloween. Groan, how much life and hard earned cash can the marketing and advertising execs squeeze out of us this year. Although having had that whine, it has been nice here, we have sort of dandered (Northern Irish slang for a slow wander) into Christmas, doing Christmassy things when the notion takes us before popping off to complete real-life chores and taking the time to recover from prolonged seasonal maladies.

The first week in December found us visiting Santa at the lovely Tankardstown House in County Meath and even though lots of unexpected numbers of children turned up, we bought some nice gifts for some nice relations and got to see the big man in the end for as long as the children wanted and then we had a gorgeous run around the walled garden at dusk.

Even though at the moment I feel quite physically and mentally drained due to a four week long cold virus and having to write 2000 painful torturous words on the economic liberalization of India, I feel very content and inspired. I also bought some beautiful handmade gifts from Jelly Jam who has a wonderful Etsy shop, I adore the Christmas lavender cushions and had to get one for myself.

While having a read of Jelly Jam's blog, I discovered a new-to-me blog Bobo Bun, I was so inspired by Mrs Bun's take on living with vintage and am very envious of her ability to make beautiful clothes. Energised by all this loveliness off I went to trundle around the charity shops and to my delight I found four sweet little vintage desert dishes for 50 cents a piece!

These are just like the ones my Granny used to serve her desert in. Desert was quite rare in her house for some reason, she preferred a strong cup of tea and a biscuit after her dinner but occasionally she would treat you to some ice-cream topped with tinned mandarin oranges. So these dishes are both a stroll down memory lane and filled with some baubles and tea-lights give out some lovely thrifty sparkle. Christmas, for me is full of nostalgic moments and the drawing in of light is a powerful symbol at this time of year. Especially tonight as it is blowing up a tempest.

So as much as Christmas is about drawing the light around oneself in the dark days of mid-winter (oh I love that word) so it symbolises the end of one year and the birth and regrowth beginning in the next. We all went to the allotment on Sunday to plant our new baby apple trees, I got two from the brilliant Future Forests in Bantry, Co Cork. They are old heritage varieties  and I love all the names and the tasting notes, we bought a 'Lough Tree of Wexford which is a small red eating apple and a 'Ballyfatten' which is a big fat cooker. It will take around two more years before there is any apples but it is so nice to plan for the future.

(Oops, I pressed the wrong button there, writing a draft post while drinking wine is a mistake -extra photos tomorrow.!!!)

Tomorrow: the storm has passed leaving little damage here in Oriel but others were not so lucky so today I am taking it easy and concentrating on the real importance of Christmas. This is the first day in a long time when I have not had to rush off and do something or have realms of study to complete. Yes, there is too much dust and a mountain of ironing and packing to do but more important is to spend slow, luxurious time with the ones we love and read a couple of great books.

At Christmas, I usually return to some much-loved childhood favourites and one special book is Alison Uttley's 'The Country Child' . The descriptions of the chill of the landscape, the bounty achieved by hard work stored within the farm and of Susan decorating the farmhouse are enchanting.

"Holly decked every picture and ornament. Sprays hung over the bacon and twisted round the hams and herb bunches. The clock carried a crown on his head and every dish-cover had a little sprig."

What are your favourite Christmas books and traditions? Oh, only six more sleeps!

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