Skip to main content

Merry Christmas! 2023

Merry Christmas to you all! Didn't it feel as if everyone put their Christmas lights up really early this year? We put our tree up on 3rd December, and felt quite behind the times. Still, that was the day it snowed, so at least it was seasonal. After that it poured with rain for the rest of December.

As if to compensate for the early Christmas lights, the school term insisted on running up to the 22nd. The boys were barely staggering in for the final weeks. I had a very busy last week at cafe (record takings!) so I was pleased to reach the end, too.

Plus, I'd rashly booked in new carpet to be fitted on the 21st. That meant taking up the old stair carpet and the one in Toby's room, painting all the skirting boards, and clearing out Toby's furniture. Then replacing it all in time for Graham's mum to occupy the spare room the next day. It'll be fine, I said.

out with the old...

Well, it was. With grateful thanks to Graham's friends Rich and Simon, who came over on Wednesday evening and helped us pull up carpet and move a bed, and to my parents, who came over on Thursday and helped trim the doors and put Toby's room back together. And the new carpet looks lovely.

...and in with the new!

We fitted in our usual traditions: the Illuminations at Lichfield Cathedral, and the Christingle service at Findern church. Graham sang in the choir for the carol service at our church. I pushed small children in roughly the right direction at the nativity service. There was a mix-up with the angels, and a last-minute panic about the innkeeper, but Herod put on an excellent show of evil plotting.

with Graham's mum at Lichfield Cathedral

I made a Christmas cake, of course. I loved this pudding design I found - very simple and effective.

Christmas Day felt like lots of cooking, but in a relaxed kind of way. Breakfast was cinnamon Christmas bun, inspired by this Waitrose recipe. Definitely one to remember! Vegetable soup for lunch, and the full turkey dinner later on. Graham's mum was here for several days, and my parents came over for Christmas day, so we had seven of us round the table.

Christmas breakfast table

Toby and Theo voted this one of the best Christmases for gifts. This was partly because they both got a phone. But also new clothes, Lego sets, Amazon vouchers, and much more. We spread out the present opening over the day, at their request, and they were very appreciative of everything they got.

And so were we. After a difficult year, and with so many people around the world still struggling, it was a blessing to have a safe, healthy, friends-and-family-filled Christmas time. And a good rest.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


Popular posts from this blog

The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride: Spiritual Formation Book 13

"Love is a sweet and pleasurable food because it gives rest to the tired, strength to the weak, and joy to the sorrowful. Love makes the yoke of truth easy to bear and its burden light." Bernard of Clairvaux was born in 1090. At the age of 22 he became a Cistercian monk, and persuaded about thirty of his relatives and friends to join him on this path. He became the abbot of Clairvaux when he was 25 years old. During his lifetime he founded many other monastic communities. This edition includes two of St Bernard's books: The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride and On Loving God . They are short books, with very short chapters, often only a page or so long. The first was written for his fellow monks; the second for "the illustrious Lord Aimeric, Cardinal-Deacon and Chancellor of the Roman Church", who had apparently been asking Bernard questions about the faith. What is the book about? Twelve Steps spends its first half describing what the goal of humility is, b

Melbourne Art Festival: A Surprisingly Good Afternoon Out

Maybe it was the warm autumn weather.  Maybe it was the fun of peeking into other people's back gardens.  Maybe it was the novelty of standing with other people, listening to real live musicians.  Or maybe it was just the giant pink ice creams. Whatever it was, Melbourne Festival had turned into a surprisingly satisfying afternoon.  I'd seen the posters for it and thought it might be a nice change from yet another walk on a Sunday afternoon, but that was about as high as my expectations had been. When we arrived, the male three-quarters of the family were immediately pleased to see the signs for classic cars at Melbourne Hall.  Shortly afterwards, I was pleased to discover that there were only about half a dozen of them, so that we could rapidly move on to less mechanical works of art. The festival was spread out around the village of Melbourne, in churches, halls, and private gardens.  Melbourne is one of those fascinating places anyway, with archways and alleyways and houses

Making a mess

My friend Ellie writes a blog which I now shamelessly crib ideas from, when I am stuck for something new to do with Toby.  Some time ago she wrote about a substance with the poetic moniker of cloud dough .  It sounded simple to make and fun to play with, so I tucked it away in the back of my mind. The recipe is childishly simple: 8 cups of plain flour, 1 cup of vegetable oil, and mix.  It comes out kind of sandy, although softer and more powdery. Now, Ellie has two gorgeous girls.  Her blog entries were full of photos of them adding pretty objects and creating cute little landscapes.  I, on the other hand, have a full-on hands-on get-stuck-in-as-far-as-possible boy.  This is what happens when you let him loose on a scatterable substance. We make it and it all starts well.  Notice I have prepared for mess with a large tarpaulin and lack of shorts. A few minutes in, and the mess is spreading up the T-shirt.  It's still mostly in the tray though.  From that point o