Christmas 2018

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As I was looking back on this blog, I noticed how little I have posted this year about Christmas.  So here is my Christmas post for 2018 to be a little record of our Christmas celebrations.  Reflecting now, I realise the big emotional impact on what happened to my Father in law late last Christmas eve when he was taken very poorly at our house and was rushed to hospital, it was an incredibly scary 24 hours.  I now understand that I needed this Christmas to be a happy, peaceful time to stop the feeling of dread, worry and panic from last year.  Fortunately, we achieved this and I also got a new happy memory for late Christmas eve, the news of my friend’s new baby boy.  We are off to visit Grandad tomorrow for a few days as although recovered he is frailer and its easier for us to go to him than vice versa.

This Christmas has been my daughter’s last at primary school.  I’ve been warned that the secondary school does not have as many parent events so I’ve been enjoying every opportunity to share Christmas with her.  She sings (beautifully) in the school choir so I managed through a few favours at work to see every public performance.  There was a private performance at the old people’s home and I got a special message on how kind she had been to the residents, I was very proud.  There is one song which really stands out this year, a new carol, Love Shone Down, its got an encore every time and within the song, Little Miss and a friend sang a verse together that made everyone tingle.

As well as lots of carol services, I’ve also done a couple of Christingle services, one was where the school choir performed, the second for the cubs.   One of my special memories is everyone making a circle around one of the churches and in darkness, holding our lit candles, it was a moment of reflection and peace.   The cubs service was also a candlelit service, there were around 200 real candles burning and it looked so beautiful in the church. I do believe that the religious and spiritual message should always be part of our celebrations.  The childrens school carol service was another joyful celebration, it started with the story of the nativity and then developed into some of our Christmas customs. Little Miss’ class sang ‘Starry Night’ and Little Man’s ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’

We did two new events this year.  The first, we went to a big town for their winter wonderland where in the central park they had one hundred trees all lit and decorated.  It was stunning and awe inspiring, I have so many amazing photos and really they still don’t reflect the beauty and atmosphere from the evening.  I really hope that the town does it again next year as it was definitely the most Christmassy and fun thing we did this year (and free!!)  I also got tickets to see the Snowman with a live orchestra.  The first half wasn’t so suitable for my two as it was a musical version of Little Red Riding Hood and a bit young for them.  However the Snowman was brilliant, we were all transfixed by it, the live orchestra make it something special and the soloist was perfect for Walking on the Air, I had all the festive feels when we left.  I would definitely try to see it again with the live orchestra (although I might skip act 1)
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We have also done our old favourite activities this December.  The Christmas tree festival is the perfect way to start Christmas and as usual the church was full with other 40 trees.  Whilst I am proud of our school’s tree, my favourite was so simple and beautiful, a tree dressed in red with handmade poppies and the name of the 99 local soldiers who died in World War 1.  After the solemnness of the commemoration of November, it just felt really right that they were at the centre of this joyful celebration.  The children enjoyed spending their pocket money at the town’s Christmas market which is so festive and a real community event, although incredibly windy this year.  The school where I work had a stall this year and we sold some delightfully crafted wooden plaques the students had made.  As from previous posts, Tommy the elf returned and showed once again that he is one of our favourite new traditions.  We made our gingerbread decorations and again, this is something which started off as just a fun activity to do on our first Christmas but on the children’s insistence has become an integral part of our Christmas. Its also one of those Christmas photos I have from every year to chart the passing years.  On Christmas eve we tracked Santa on Norad, this is so emotional and magical for me, the children in new pyjamas, showered and cuddly, talking about their hopes and wishes, its one of those emotions you want to bottle for those tough days.  Whilst Little Miss is beginning to question Santa she still believes and I think that this was our final Christmas of such magic as she’ll be at secondary school next Christmas.  I am grateful that it lasted this long and we got 9 Santa Christmases.  Personally, I still believe.

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At home, I decorated the house throughout.  I concluded that I prefer making the little tableaux around the house than the main tree.  I’m not sure what it was about our tree this year, new position, fake rather than real, the childrens’ paper chains but I didn’t get the wow factor from it as I like.  I think its time to sort out the decorations for next year and perhaps a new fresh tree.  I loved the wreath, again another make from my students at school.

This has been a Christmas to create new memories to counter the scary ones from last year.  Christmas day was just the four of us, with our neighbours popping over to see the children and exchanging gifts, a delicious meal, family games and then when everyone had gone to bed Call the Midwife which I sobbed through!  On Boxing day, we walked down to the prom to watch the Boxing day swim and then welcomed my cousin in the afternoon whilst Mr S followed the boxing day football.  It was just perfect for us.

 

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Tommy, the final few days of 2018

Here are the final three photos of Tommy’s visit this year. I think he’ll be visiting for many more years to come. The elf on the shelf is one of my favourite new Christmas traditions, simple but fun.

Tommy Weeks 2 and 3

A quick update on the adventures of Tommy who has been busy this year. My favourite set this year so far is the skittles rainbow 🌈. It worked brilliantly. Some of the scenarios also relate to special events of the day, thus Tommy bringing Christmas jumpers for a trip out to The Winter Wonderland, hidden in the school bags with hats for the school Christmas lunch etc.. I still write a letter from Tommy everyday so have a lovely little memory bank of each Christmas.

Poppies, Dragons and Winter Coats November’s #littleloves

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This November has been a lovely little month, we’ve had fireworks and camp fires, a trip to the theatre, family visits and the general whirl of life.  This is the month when I get organised for Christmas, I prep up in November so I can relax and enjoy all the Christmas fun in December, so its been evenings with lists and jobs.

img_5379-1 The month started with a fireworks night with the cubs, there is something special about being wrapped up on a clear night, with stars shining brightly and watching pretty fireworks in the sky, its a British tradition which I love.

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I took Little Man to the theatre this month, I would have taken both children but Little Miss had a diary date.  We saw the play ‘You’ve got Dragons’ based on the book of the same title.  The dragons in the title are your worries and it was exceptionally well done to help the young audience understand their fears and how they can ‘tame’ them.  I was so impressed on a number of levels, firstly the cast had two deaf actors so it was fully signed and had lots of screens to help understand the story too, it was great to see an inclusive play.  The children also got little gifts as they left to help them be more mindful, a wristband, sheet of activities and the all important sticker! Little Man did grasp the theme of the play and has since spoken about his worries with me and we’ve come up with ideas to help.

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My final watch this month was our town’s remembrance parade and short service at the war memorial.  Our town embraced the centenary of the armistice and there were poppies and flags everywhere for remembrance.  The town’s shops and businesses were asked to place a poster in their window to remember one of the ninety nine local men killed in World war 1.  The results were stunning, with many doing extra research of ‘their’ soldier and making very poignant displays.  Little Man paraded with the cubs and took it very seriously.  I felt truly moved as I watched the wreaths being laid.  There was a large gathering around the memorial, and as we stood in silence as dusk fell and the gentle waves lapped on the beach, there was a profound feeling of peace and gratitude.

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img_5380-1This month I really enjoyed a 5 part serialisation of Michelle Obama’s book Becoming.  Its available on the BBC Sounds app.  Michelle’s warmth, wit and intelligence shine through the series and although this was just highlights, I am looking forward to reading the book soon.

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img_5375-1Despite reading 42 books so far this year, I have not finished a book this month.  I’m currently reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult and am finding it uncomfortable but compulsive reading. Many evenings I’ve been planning Christmas where I have read a few recipe books and magazines for foodie inspiration.

img_5384-1Although the majority of the month has been unseasonably warm, we got a few stormy days and I have loved wearing my new winter coat.  To buy a warm, winter coat was one of my #18for2018, I always intend to buy a winter coat but can never find one, put if off because of price, or think that my current one will last one more season.  In the Beast from the East earlier this year, I realised my coat was not warm enough and in a rash move, recycled it, it was one way to ensure I bought a new one.  My coat is a technical design for temperatures upto – 20, it is so cosy with the biggest hood and I am so happy with it.

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img_5378-1Its been a month of homemade casseroles, soups and meals to warm body and soul.  I’ve also made lots of lists, orders, plans all checked and ticked in my Christmas book.  It keeps me sane and ready to enjoy December.

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So November was a memorable month full of lovely local events.  I’m ready and excited for December, my diary is bursting with special events and I can’t wait for the sparkle, lights and songs to begin.

Poppies

Remembrance day is always a well respected event in our town but this year, being the century of the armistice something beautiful is happening.  Everywhere you look there are poppies, made by all members of the community.  Outside the Girl Guides hut is a display of poppies made from red bottles and buttons, a church has a huge cross of poppies displayed outside, whilst another church has 99 ceramic poppies in their gardens.  Members of the community have been invited to tie a ribbon to the large poppy on the pier made from chicken wire and wood, the effect is spectacular.  In addition, local businesses and shops have taken one of the 99 local men killed in World War 1 and are displaying posters with their name, rank and age in their windows, many have created a window display with added details from their personal research which only adds to the care and respect we have for ‘our’ soldiers. One restaurant has hung 99 poppies in their window, it is a haunting but superb display.  There are many events organised in the next few days to commemorate the end of World War 1 but I think the use of the poppy in so many creative ways is a fitting tribute.

Fireworks and Sparkles

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My only picture from tonight, as sometimes you just need to watch life in real time and not behind a camera.

Tonight we have been to the Scouts’ firework evening, a blazing fire and camp songs followed by fireworks, in the deepest, dark countryside. I really love the multi sensory delights of Bonfire night. The warmth and cosiness of new hats, gloves and scarves, the crackle and dancing flames of a fire, the smell of hot dogs and soup before the main attraction of the sparkling, colourful fireworks all on a crisp, clear, dark night. This is my favourite autumn night’s entertainment.