Monday, 15 December 2008

And breathe in!!

How can I have gained three pounds in a week? How?? I don't see how that is even possible. I know I went out for a Christmas lunch and ate more food in that one meal than I normally eat in a week, but I couldn't face supper that night so you'd have thought it would even things out a bit. And I didn't nick any sandwiches/sausages/cakes at the Christmas party yesterday. I'm annoyed and confused. Very annoyed and very confused.

Obviously I am going to have to re-start my food diary to keep an eye on what I'm doing. I thought I'd been quite good this week, but something has gone wrong.

Ah well. There's still time to redress the balance before Christmas. Perhaps several trips up to the attic to get decorations down will burn off a few calories. We have two of our trees up and running but I'm still to go and get the big tree from the farm. I spent much of this weekend organising party games for Sunday school and there wasn't time to do justice to a proper tree decorating session. We've re-scheduled it for Tuesday.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

And breathe....

Bloody hell, I don't know where the time has gone. My days seem to have been filled with endless appointments, lists of things to do, and people demanding time, attention and money. And now it seems Christmas is looming on the horizon too!

On the plus side, I don't have any more presents to buy. Or none that I'm aware of anyway. *Makes mental note to go and buy an emergency present*

I've made a few gifts this year too. I've been re-learning to knit over the last few weeks. My grandmother taught me the basics years ago but I never really did anything with it. I've been inspired to take it up again after seeing some of the fabulous creations that friends have made.

So far I've stuck to very simple projects - a pair of legwarmers for Kid-at-the-bottom, a scarf and corsage for a cousin's daughter. The trouble with simple is that it can be a bit dull. I remembered why I lost interest in knitting all those years ago; a seemingly endless round of knit, purl, knit, purl isn't really all that engaging. I find myself looking at the ball of yarn and thinking "Are you still here?"

The corsage gave a bit of relief from the monotony. Now that was fun. I had to concentrate on what I was doing, and even if nobody else ever agrees with me, I'm chuffed to bits with my first attempt at something other than a potholder type piece of knitting. (I did make Kid-the-Eldest a sweater once. When I'd completed the work it was suitable for a 2 year old. Every time I washed it, the jumper got bigger and I think he was still wearing it at five!)

The only slight snag with all this is that I'll be giving my cousin's daughter her gift in the presence of my aunt. My aunt is a little bit of a daunting presence in my life. She's my Godmother and I love her very much indeed but she's so damn capable. And a perfectionist with it. This woman has Cordon Bleu certificates coming out of her ears. She sews, knits, crochets, quilts, embroiders, raises goats, has had her own bees, makes jams, chutneys, plays piano, organ, sings in a choir, runs a catering business, is a qualified pharmacist and grows her own vegetables. I may give Cousin's Daughter her present with strict instructions not to open it while still in Yorkshire.

That's the gifts covered, but there is still much to be done. This weekend is "Tree" weekend for us. We go to the local farm to pick a tree and visit Father Christmas. Tree decorating is an important part of our Christmas ritual. The chidren have their own tree in the porch which they pretty up with their own collection of decorations. These are a combination of things they've made at school and the decorations that they've found in their advent calendars each year.

I get to decorate the big tree in the sitting room. Our decorations have been collected over the last 15 years or so, and many have a special significance for us as a family. There is a little house to represent our first mortgage; a replica black hansom cab to commemorate the passing of my driving test; a tiny little San Francisco Cable Car to remind us of our time living in California. There's a doll's house pram, high chair and moses basket representing the birth of various kids. A spider's web reminds us of how this current house was full of them when we first moved in. A little Eiffel tower recalls our first trip to Paris as a family. There's a Guard in a bearskin from my honeymoon in London, and an angel made out of pasta that was given to me by a good friend in America. There are also three snowflakes to remember the babies that never made it, and two shooting stars; one for my childhood friend Elizabeth who died aged 32 and one for my dad. It seemed appropriate because I drove home from Elizabeth's memorial service with my dad and we saw a shooting star together over the Clyde Estuary and both sobbed out loud at the same time.

So my tree is very special to me, and I hope to add many more decorations to it over the years. Hopefully most of them will be happy little aide memoires, but even if there are some less jolly reminders, it all adds up to something very particular to us and it's an annual pleasure to get the decorations out and mull over their meanings.

Talking of!! Because obviously, once gifts and trees have been ticked off the list, food and drink must come next! We have plenty of wine because The Man I Married brought half of the European Wine Lake back with him last time he went to France. But apparently it's too good to mull. So that's another thing to add to the ever-increasing shopping list.

Christmas Eve is mulled wine, curry and meatballs night. Friends and any family who might be lurking nearby are invited over for drinks and then chucked out at 8.30pm so that we can get the kids to bed. It's always a bit manic but it really feels like Christmas is properly underway when there's a houseful of chattering people and spicy alcoholic wafts in the air.