Christmas

Midweek Poetry: A Festive Haiku by daintydora

I love the nostalgia of Christmas, and particularly the memories of Christmas past, however rose-tinted they may be. Christmas tree street scene

Last year I posted my thoughts on the increasing commercialisation of Christmas, and I still feel sad that a festive holiday has become associated with over-spending on electronic gadgets. (And that some people - not just children - are confused about the purpose of Advent as it has become so tangled up with chocolate calendars...)

But instead, I'd like to focus on my happy, nostalgic memories of Christmas:

Huge fairy-light lanterns in bright colours
The cat eating the tinsel
The smell of pine needles from the tree (especially in the early morning darkness)
The anticipation of waiting for 'Father Christmas' to visit on Christmas Eve
Hanging my stocking each year as a child
Making snowflakes from sheets of white paper
The magic of snow falling on Christmas Eve/Day

I always wrote a huge list asking for all sorts of wild and wonderful gifts, like any child, but it was never just about the presents.

A festive haiku of baubles

For my penultimate poem of the year, I've chosen to revert back to the beautifully simple structure that recalls the heady Spring/Summer days earlier in the year of my 100 day project, with a *festive* haiku:

Red lips and mince pies
sing of icy winter skies:
magical Christmas.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

 

A festive stock-take: December 2015 by daintydora

With Christmas around the corner and a festive mood in the air, it feels like a great time to 'take stock' of what I'm doing, seeing, thinking and feeling right now. Christmas Robin

Here goes:

Making: a mess with magazine cuttings and to-do lists and wrapping paper. Cooking: Broccoli risotto (is that even a thing? It is now!) Drinking: a warming bottle of Sake. Yum! Reading: Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky. Wanting: Peace, love and happiness for all. I wonder if that will ever be possible? Looking: forward to my trip to Krakow in the morning. Playing: a game of catch up with myself, trying to get everything done, sorted, ticked off my list... Deciding: what to take and what to leave out of my suitcase - 10 kilos does not go far. Wishing: there was more time - for everything. Is it just a matter of priorities? Enjoying: a weekend spent at home. Waiting: for no man, ever. Liking: the sense of achievement at the end of a productive week. Wondering: what the robin I saw this afternoon was thinking as it plucked a worm from the ground? Loving: the idea of a cashmere dressing gown...but Pondering: how I would cope if I was homeless? All that wind and rain. Considering: where to hang the pictures I've finally managed to frame. Buying: festive knits. Watching: Elf - for the first time - I can't believe it's taken me so long! Hoping: the windy weather we've been experiencing stays away. Marvelling: at the strength of the human spirit. Cringing: as the wind batters our little slate roof - we've already had a leak this winter :( Needing: a massage. And a new memory card for my camera. Questioning: the premise of love. Smelling: the warming, festive scents of spicy orange and amber. Wearing: layers. Noticing: the bare branches outside. The seasons change so quickly. Knowing: I need to do a big declutter in the New Year. Thinking: about my plans for 2016. Admiring: the organised people who have Christmas all wrapped up. Sorting: socks. Getting: hungry. Coveting: a minimalist house/existence. Disliking: the carpet in the spare room - it has to go. Opening: my first Christmas card. Giggling: mmm, not really because I'm Feeling: a bit emotional...and Snacking: on ready salted crisps and brazil nuts...while Hearing: Elvis and Bing Crosby crooning out the Christmas tunes - they're all you need to feel that cosy, Christmas nostalgia!

Next stop: Krakow.

What are you doing right now? Do you like to 'Take Stock' to remember a point in time, or take each day as it comes?

I'm feeling a bit guilty that I haven't written in my Shining Year Goddess Journal as often as I should have. 'Taking Stock' will need to do!

 

100-word Flash Fiction: Christmas by daintydora

  The Christmas tree shone in the window, and the candles whispered on the mantelpiece. I hadn’t lit the fire. I stood a while watching for the headlights of your car, buffering myself between the thick velvet of the curtains and the cold air that fogged the window with its breath.

I waited there until my legs got numb with standing. Until I remembered.

I saw it in my mind; black ice on the road, the sharp bend, tyres, glass, smash. I stared into the fairy lights searching for you in their cheerful colours, but found only our bright, shining memories.

 

Heirloom Christmas Baubles by daintydora

I spoke on Friday about the commercialisation of Christmas, and how repulsive it has become. But when Christmas is enjoyed as a simple time of 'comfort and joy', I really love the build up to the main event. Fairy lights glow in people's windows, and there's so much going on to distract from the cold of winter (if you're in the Northern Hemisphere).

I've been watching the Liberty of London 'behind the scenes' series, marveling at their Christmas shop and all the beautiful decorations, baubles, angels, stars, and over-sized woodland creatures they cram to the rafters.

I remember my Mum taking me into town as Christmas approached, and letting me choose a tiny wooden angel decoration each time (or it seemed like each time). They were hand-painted with dainty faces, and I had my own tiny gold tinsel tree to hang them on. I loved those angels, and I had about ten of them, but somewhere along the line, after various house moves, they were lost.

But I've never lost that joy of choosing something special to keep and treasure, building up my own collection of 'heirloom' decorations each year. And by 'heirloom', I don't mean 'expensive'.

Recently I've been drawn to the more, rustic, 'woodland' ranges that echo Scandinavian forests and woodcutters living in gingerbread houses...

But then last year I went to Liberty.

I bought this beautiful emerald, diamond-shaped bauble.

Geometric Green Liberty Bauble

It appealed as it was so strikingly different to the type I'd seen so much of before, and I loved the geometric, Cubist detail, which took me right back to the Cubist Museum I once visited in Prague, in the House of the Black Madonna.

Sometimes I buy second-hand vintage baubles from charity shops or hand-made designs from local craft markets. I like glass baubles with scenes in them, and wooden robins and coloured bells. And I still have a blue satin bauble that I got as a gift from my primary school teacher when I was six years old.

My Mum wouldn't let me put it on our tree because it didn't fit her colour scheme, but in my house, any colour goes. In fact, I like to dress my Christmas tree up like, well, a Christmas tree!

Do you have 'heirloom' decorations? Or do you make your own? Do people really change their colour scheme each year to keep up with some strange Christmas fashion-fad? For me it's heirloom baubles all the way, old and new, vintage finds mixed with hand-crafted versions, all displayed and treasured from year to year, with love.

 

DOWN! with the commercialisation of Christmas by daintydora

I love Christmas. I really do. I always have. But, but, all the Black Friday nonsense last week really got me thinking: has Christmas in the modern age been reduced to who can get the cheapest 42 inch TV? Really?

The commercialisation of Christmas destroys almost all of the magic that was so synonymous with the season when I was growing up.

What about joy and goodwill to all men (and women).

What about being thankful for all the things we've already got: life, health, a house, food, warmth. Many people don't have those things, and if you're one of them, a 42 inch TV would be worse than useless.

I heard a quote once, I can't remember where, but it went something like:

The difference between being rich and being wealthy is having what you need when you need it.

A rich man with millions in the bank might be stranded in the sea without a life belt or a boat. All the money in the world couldn't save him from drowning. Or sharks. But if he had a boat, even if that's all he had, he'd be wealthy.

I don't think I really told that right, but you get what I mean.

And I know everything boils back down to Maslow in the end, and the Hierarchy of Needs, but it is as relevant now as it ever was. The accumulation of material possessions and conspicuous consumption appears to be the route to self-actualisation for many people.

Walking round some of the high street stores last week, I couldn't help but feel a little bit sickened by the huge 'SALE' labels and posters advertising '40%' off. It seemed to devalue things that I might once have considered buying.

Department stores appear like labyrinths of shiny tiles, mirrors, glitz, scent and trickery.

I was looking for a particular item to buy as a gift, and when I asked where this item might be in the store, I was asked 'what brand' I was looking for. I wasn't looking for a particular brand. I just wanted a good, solid, well-made version of this particular item. The assistant stared back at me blankly, unable to direct me further.

I left with nothing.

Naomi Klein's book 'No Logo' sprung to mind.

When I heard that Christmas Day had become a 'huge' selling day in the Internet age, I was shocked. It would never cross my mind to start shopping online on Christmas Day.

I know I'd rather be wealthy in love, friends, thoughts, dreams, memories, experiences and the riches of gratitude, than have another TV that I don't want to watch.

And I've told my family I don't want presents this Christmas, except perhaps just one thoughtful and practical item. Not because I'm against gift-giving or anything like that, but because I already have everything that I need, and I'm grateful.

And I think that's something to celebrate.