Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

Joy to the world! Is Christmas Eve one of the very best days of the year? The start of holidays, a first lazy breakfast followed by visits to neighbours on a crisp, sparkly cold morning. The afternoon spent with last minute secret scurrying around the house and final present wrapping. The boys were in their jammies in record time - so early that they had to change out of them into Christmas jammies later - with their room tidied impressively well for tonight's special visitor, carrot, drinks and cards all laid out in readiness and hopeful expectation! I finally started the cooking - not terribly organised this year, but I impressed the family enormously with a hazlenut meringue roulade - hoping it will taste as scrummy as it looks! Then just my husband and I headed out alone in the star filled evening to a simple but so beautiful Christmas Eucharist. The candles were lit in the tiny church and I felt my heart fill up with the warmth of God with Us, Emmanuel, as we celebrated his birth.

A happy, happy Christmas to you.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Advent 4

The final week...Granny has arrived from France, the shopping done, tree decorated, all manner of secret preparations are going on, hat knitting is progressing and large quantities of chocolate truffles have been mixed and rolled. The 'creche' is now set up, added to and rearranged every now and then, this year with a few woodland visitors...

And today, the shortest day, the longest night, the tilt of the year. It started for me with a rose pink lunar eclipse on my early morning way to L'Arche. Then, as the sun dipped back down behind the snow covered mountains, as rosy as the moon, four tiny deer stepped out onto the road and slowly made their way across before pausing to look at me and then amble off. A special, time-stopping moment.

And in the midst of it all, I'm aware of my own longing to stop awhile, to linger...but it's coming soon. In the meantime, we are all trying to stay well - don't we all get a bit run down just about now? So here's my simple 'staying well drink' which I concocted when trying to redeem the taste of some worthy but not very tasty teabags.

Staying Well Tea:

Place one lemon and green tea bag in a large mug, add 15-20 drops echinacea tincture, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of ginger or a grating of fresh ginger and a teaspoon of honey. Fill three quarters with boiling water, allow to steep, then top up with orange or apple juice.

One a day, with a vitamin C and zinc supplement seems to do the trick! Hope it fortifies you to enjoy these days, and yes, they will be getting longer -starting tomorrow!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, 13 December 2010

Avent 3

Sorry for the terrible photo, but there wasn't much light indoors this afternoon, anyway, here they 'Advent 3' - otherwise known as 'Almost finished', 'Not much longer' and 'Help, not yet begun!'. Three Christmas hats for my three chaps. Now there are many elements to Christmas that are a touch stressful...this year I just haven't been able to settle down to card writing and I'll do almost anything humanly possibly to avoid the shops! But I must say that hat knitting, on the whole, is a remarkably peaceful activity, and by carrying them around I can get a wee bit done here and there. And the wools are rather lovely, so I feel happy every time I pick them up. L-R we have Noro Kureyon, Rowan Pure Wool Aran and Manos Wool Clasica. So who knows, perhaps I'll get them done? At least the door is decorated and I had some time for a blissful frosty walk out in the hill today.

Christmas is coming, but not yet...not just yet.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, 6 December 2010

Advent 2

Another tradition that has started edging its way into our celebration of Advent is the story of St. Nicholas, which I hope may start to gently nudge Santa/Father Christmas away from centre stage. Not that he ever has, but it is difficult when he appears plastered everywhere. Reading up on the stories of Christmas, the idea of Father Christmas comes very much from the historical figure of Nicholas, a third century man of extraordinary kindness, who used his entire inheritance to show compassion for other people in need, showing them God's love in practical caring ways. St Nick is about generosity, not consumption, and if ever we needed that spirit of living, then surely it is now.

My wee Christmas 'gnomes' get called Nicholas and pop up in surprising places around the house, with their pockets carrying a small treat. Hopefully we can share some of his kindness too. Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Posted by Picasa

Friday, 3 December 2010

Advent 1

And so, once more Advent is upon us, the season of waiting and looking for Christ's coming. For me, Advent is the perfect antidote to all the craziness of this month. There are sooo many things to attend to, but Advent calls me, again and again, to stop, take a moment, breath, pray, reflect and share. Because in the stretch of eternity, that's far more important than all the other stuff. Each year we, a group of women, have an evening at our church to prepare Advent wreaths together. For me it marks the start of the season. It can be a bit mad - this year there were over 60 of us - along with half the contents of the local forests! But it is also a beautiful creative time, and I enjoy the gathering of greenery, because no matter how foul the weather I just have to go out and get some, and inevitably it becomes a pleasure. This year I ended up at our local loch, with half an hour to spare and the most magical still, misty moment of the day. A small voice called me to linger...

Since then a great blanket of snow has fallen, oh so very early. I'm not quite ready for it! But there is something comforting to be surrounded by so much light that also calls you to slow down, take time, keep warm...and wait.

Indoors we are as cosy as we possibly can make ourselves as we come in from our days work. Layers of pyjamas and woolly jumpers are the order of the evening. As are thick nourishing soups, perfect for tired minds and bodies. We mark the passing of the days with our Advent calendar and wreath, and a Jesse Tree in a corner of the kitchen, taking a few moments by the fire to think, read and pray before bedtime. I admit it's a challenge to keep the seasonal chaos at bay, but I so want to live beyond all that, to know peace and trust in this waiting time.
Posted by Picasa