Yesterday was utterly un-blog-worthy. Husby and I cleaned for most of the day and managed half the flat. That’s how messy it was.
After the damning report from the over-zealous letting agent guy, describing our place (every room) as ‘Cluttered and untidy but no visible damage’ I felt we should really pull the metaphorical finger out and get prepped for Christmas by cleaning. Boy did we clean. One sack of rubbish, 3 bagsful for charity shops and 2 ruined rags later, we had the bathroom and bedroom looking sparkly and almost tidy. We even found some new nooks to put stuff away (‘Away’ being a very scarce commodity in a flat this tiny with so much stuff). Yay us.
Kitchen and living room to go. *sigh*
THEN we’ll decorate for Christmas.
I read today on another blog about her 10 favourite things about winter the author wanted to share.
This (to me) seemed fun and easy, but for me, not really enough. So I thought I’d list 10 things I hate about winter and try to put a positive spin on them (a practicing of positive thinking, if you will, which I’m not always very good at).
So with no further ado: 10 things I can think positively about (if I try hard enough), about winter
1. It’s Cold
Not just cold, but SO cold (for here) and I really feel it. But it means I get to wear my pretty pink woolly hat along with my new Christmas Pudding bauble-y-clip thing my friend bought me. And my 2m long stripy scarf. And my funky knitted Nepalese coat with the long hood. And my big boots.
2. It’s Icy
Slightly different, as driving becomes terrifying – here in England we consistently experience extremes of weather only in small doses and are consistently surprised by (and therefore unprepared for) them. So I am learning to be slow and careful and trying to prioritise safety over speed. Which means I get to quote The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and tell people “It’s better to be late than the late”. And I do get there in the end, and I haven’t crashed yet, and I’m learning not to panic so much when the back of my car slides a little out of control.
3. It’s not a slimming time
Winter in general is a time for rib-sticker food (casserole and dumplings; pies; hot puddings; custard; porridge) and especially closer to Christmas is a time for treat food. And I will not be slimming even remotely (unless due to burning calories thanks to #1) so I should accept that, not go mad and enjoy spending time sharing food with other people. I could also do to think about those who don’t have the option of treat-y food at this time and keep trying to help them in some way – it feels good to do that.
4. It’s dark when I get up and when I come back home
We’ve had some sunny days, which have been bliss. But I miss the sun. The dark makes me frowsty. At least now all the pretty Christmas lights show up really nicely – I should enjoy them more.
5. We have to spend a lot on gas and electricity
Heating the flat is frustratingly expensive (as it is for everyone). I should be grateful I have a home to heat and don’t have to choose between heating and food.
6. In making new New Year’s resolutions it is highlighted how little I kept the old ones
Chalk it up to experience. Life doesn’t always go the way we plan, and this year has been nothing if NOT the way we planned. Learning to let go of things I once thought important is hard, and I hope there’s not too much more of that to come, but with all the outstanding support, love and care I’ve received from friends-and-relations (none of which is hitting the highway any time soon) I know that if there’s more ‘letting go’ to do, I can do it, and won’t be doing it alone.
7. It’s very consumerist as a time of year and easy get irritated at the attitude and to forget the important things
I can’t stand the ‘more stuff’ attitude, even though I probably get bouts of it as much as anyone. I always wanted (in mad, dreamy moments) to give everything up and just survive on a minimal amount of things. No trinkets, no extras, just what I need. The ‘what I want’ has too strong a hold on me sometimes. But I should remember, whilst I sit in judgement, that I should be grateful for the opportunity to HAVE so much stuff, and that I couldn’t be thinking about getting rid of it all if it wasn’t there to be got rid of. So I am trying (as a gesture) not to give, or ask for, ‘fluff’ things for Christmas – things which are fun, very temporary and ultimately a waste of money and space.
8. The time after Christmas until it gets warm again
I know there’s summer to look forward to, but it seems soooo far away, with little to look forward to in the meantime (except Easter, actually, I probably shouldn’t put it as an ‘except’ – Easter’s awesome) but those long, dark days which drag. Those I struggle with. However, it’s an opportunity for me to have some space to intentionally build in some good things – visits with friends, that kind of thing. And I should take my lovely Goddaughter out more, and spend more time with Niece and Neff. Time to stop the whingeing and MAKE it nice.
9. Getting back into the routine after the excitement of Christmas
It’s such a letdown sometimes. Bland, flat, normality. However, I must keep thinking of the things I have coming up next year – Husby and I are moving house (well, flat); I’m going to get a job at a local pet store to supplement our income and hopefully prep the way for a full time position once I finish college; I have a school awards scheme proposal to write and submit and get feedback on. There’s lots of good stuff to keep me buoyed, really. Why do I forget?
10. January marks the longest time of year until I get to listen to the Bach Christmas Music again
It’s SO good I just can’t trust myself to listen to it any other time of year or I instantly get Christmassified. Which is wonderful, but frustrating when it’s the longest time til it comes round again. I just adore Christmas. Even thinking about it makes me hear the first track and start to smell pine needles and see fairy lights. It’s ingrained in my being and it’s truly, utterly wonderful.
But I can still enjoy it til January. So in honour of that, let me share some of it with you – I promise you, what turkey and cranberry sauce is to your tongue; what the decorated tree is to your eyes; what the feel of wrapped presents is to your skin; what the scent of mince pies is to your nose – this is to your ears.
1. Tonet Ihr Pauken
This comes on with its distinctive ‘Boom, boom, boom ba-da-daaa buh-dah Boom, boom, boom ba-da-daaaaa’ as the tree lights are being turned on for the first time and the fire is crackling merrily away. The lights go off and the next step is…
The box of decorations is opened now, and the tinsel is being put onto the tree, wound carefully between the lights. The star or angel is put at the top and we work through what will be put on this year, and what won’t be.
3. In Dulci Jubilo
The decorations start going on – first the long lines of shining beads then all the old favourites are unwrapped from old pieces of tissue, old boxes are lovingly and carefully undone. It’s a total ritual.
4. Grosser Herr, O Starker Konig
Usually half done now, the decorations are still being found (usually with me asking repeatedly “Can this go on?”) and finding tiny nooks for all the baubles, bells, stars, angels and the special favourites (the ‘tyre man’, the silk baubles, decorations inherited from family members long since passed but remembered as we take the decorations from their boxes)
5. Von himmel hoch, da komm ich her
Baubles and things still going…
…and going, but usually getting close to adding the chocolates. And by now someone’s made a cup of tea for everyone. And there might be nibbles.
7. Jesu, meine Herzens Freud
Sadly I can’t find this one for you, but it’s beautiful.
8. Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend
Probably still putting baubles on – we like a LOT of baubles.
We listen to 9-16 just as enthusiastically. And depending on the timing of the tree, we may or may not get through them all. The tree gets checked for gaps, then lametta starts going on. Then the lights go back on and we all stand in awe of the tree, then sit in front of the fire and revel in the loveliness of it all.
This used to happen on Christmas eve, so that the tree was still fresh and new and shiny on Christmas day. When we’d listen to the Bach CD again, opening our presents. Never got tired of it. And simply love Bach.
Whatever your family traditions are, hope you enjoy the season.