A Christmas Meme


I had been wondering what to write this year for Christmas and had toyed with the idea of starting a Meme when the beautiful Jaime over at The Oliver’s MadHouse tagged me in this meme that has been making the rounds. As a blogger I love nothing more than answering questions about myself and my family as well as reading about the traditions and events that my blogging friends have. So if you would like to have a go at this Meme I am more than happy to tag you so do let me know and Merry Christmas and Yule. 

What is your favourite thing about Xmas?

Oh my goodness where do I start with this one. Christmas starts when we put the decorations up, this is a big moment as in other homes. In previous years I have had to beg The Hoarder to let me put them up at the start of December and this year he let me. Last year Smaller Princess was only 15 months old and was still not sleeping. Everything felt like a chore. I was not even bothered that we could not put the tree up until after the 15th December. So I think this is one of my favorite moments of Christmas. We also celebrate Yule on the 21st of December. This is the Winter Solstice; the longest night of the year. We light a fire in our fire pit in the back garden and drink mulled wine or hot chocolate whilst burning the Yule log and toasting marshmallows. I have tried to convince The Hoarder that we should give a gift to each other but he is having non of it as he prefers to celebrate the giving of gifts on Christmas morning. Our pagan celebrations are fairly new traditions that we are forming as we do not come from pagan families rather we have identified this path together and that is something very valuable to me.

 

Whats your favourite make up look for the season?

I only wear make up when I go out really. As this is not very often I tend to stick with old faithfulls. Smoky eyes, but with natural shades, a dark lip shade such as black cherry or even something with a bit of sparkle in it and some natural blush. I may even opt for a little glitter over the festive period

 

Real or Fake tree?

We have a fake tree that has served us well for the last 6 years, although we also have a small real fern tree potted outside that also has lights on it. In Paganism the tree, especially the evergreen, is very important and celebrated over the Yule festivities. This is a symbol of life through the dark winter months along with others such as the holly and the ivy and ponsetta’s etc. 

 

Giving or receiving presents?

I love getting just the right gift for someone, something that really says “I have thought about you”, 

I love the look on peoples faces when I get it spot on. Sometimes and especially this year when money is tight this is a real struggle, but also a reminder that it is the thought that counts and simple does not mean there is less thought into the gift, if anything there is more!

Simple means that in difficult times…you have been thought of. So as much as I love choosing and giving just the right gift…I also value being thought of.

 

What is your favourite Xmas film?

The christmas film that I really associate with christmas time has to be Santa Clause the movie! This is my childhood christmas film and really makes me feel as though it is christmas. I love having this film on christmas day whilst opening or playing with our new toys. I must admit to loving It’s a wonderf life as well…this is a night in on my own and christmas lights on with some Mulled Wine.

What’s your favourite Xmas food?

I love it all! Food brings people together. Isn’t that what this time of year is all about? A celebration of love and being with people…being with family? That said, I would not have my Christmas dinner  without Turkey and all the trimmings, but I will give my share of the sprouts to Leyla over at thisdayilove

Ok that’s all there is too it. 

Now I tag these beautiful folk!

Anna @ digfortea.

Jo @ slummysinglemummy

Helen @ mummytothemax

Sammy @ mummytoamonsterxo

 

Blessed be )0(

It’s Christmas time in the city


“I must be insane”.

I thought to myself as I pushed a tired, screaming 2-year-old around the hustle and bustle of a city centre on a Saturday weeks before Christmas. Not only that I had a 5 year old in tow, who after getting a warm chocolate smeared waffle, decided she wanted to go home.

“Who’s idea was this?”

Oblivious shoppers stepped out in front of my push chair…very risky especially as I could quite happily have rammed them with said push chair after the 3rd or 4th time! Some even shoved passed my slow-moving buggy just to stop in front of me, those I could also have rammed with my push chair, quite happily.

The crazy frantic women who assault small children with their large quantities of baggage…sometimes even just their handbag as they rush from shop to shop. I lost count the times I heard “Mummy, that person just hit me on the head!” or “That man/lady just shoved passed me…isn’t that rude mummy?”

Yes it is! It is one thing to shove and jostle each other as you wander oblivious through city streets, but keep an eye out for little heads and feet around you. I can’t imagine how scary all those shoppers look to little people, at elbow hight who are knocked and hit simply because they are too small to be seen under all your Christmas treasures.

Fortunately there are those out there who restore my faith in human nature. I seem to find them around me when I need them most; like little angels bringing warmth and compassion to our cold, hard city shopping malls and high streets.

I don’t look for them, they just appear out of no where and then slip away again. . . This post is for you.

The lovely lady who chatted to my children in the street about Santa and school, who didn’t bat an eye lid at my chatterbox 5-year-old not pausing for breath.

The lady who tapped the two ladies in front of me on the shoulder and asked them to move after she had spotted me stuck there but unable to make myself heard over the loud Christmas songs and shoppers.

But most of all the man at the fruit and veg stall where I bought some chestnuts for the girls to try. He bought my children a small handful of cherries that Big Beautiful had her eye on , but I could not buy today. You made two little girls very happy in what had been a very stressful hour for us all.

As I look back on today, because of some very special strangers we met, I don’t feel harassed or in need of a glass of wine (well maybe a small one?)  Instead I remember the girls joy at seeing the City Christmas lights for the first time, the wonderful Christmas market and the warm waffles we all had with chocolate or Maple syrup, seeing the wonderful Fenwick’ Christmas window, looking for gifts for our family, dancing and singing to Christmas songs in the shops like no one was watching (I’m sure they were lol) and free cherries!

I have learnt a valuable lesson today:

Don’t venture into the City Centre on a Saturday with two small children, especially just before Christmas. I can only imagine it will get worse!

And if I really have to?

It might not be too bad x

What does xmas mean to you?


Whilst thinking about this question I initially though “Well, that is quite simple isn’t it, it’s family.That is what matters, that is what Christmas is all about.”

But is it? Xmas means different things to different people and I have become very aware during my journey of discovery, that we are all made up of many different parts, all working together. Not just internally but externally the people around me complete part of me, my environment completes another. I feel the most connected and complete standing barefoot in a field staring out across the country side or the sea. So perhaps there’s more than one meaning of Christmas to me that connects all aspects of my being, even that part of me that craves to be alone sometimes (READ: A lot of the time) Afterall, family itself is an interconnected mass of different parts of people and animals who are in our present or our past and feelings about those.

So here is what xmas means to me, under the umbrella (ella heyhey) of family.

-Tradition:I have put this first for a reason. I love tradition and xmas seems to be full of it. Some new and some old. Some so old I have no idea where or when they started. One of my favorites was started in my childhood.

Christmas morning aged 4 or 5

As it got closer to xmas eve the fairy from the top of our tree would disappear. Apparently she flew to the north pole to tell santa if my brother (go follow the crazy kid on twitter @mikeybensonesq ) and I had been good and how often we had been fighting. Then on Christmas eve a new fairy would take her place. My Dad has always been “Po-workers rights” and worker equality so the fact that our fairy worked flexible shift patterns or even a job share was never questioned.

It was not until I told him I started doing this for Big Beautiful that I found out the truth about our work shy xmas fairy.  In the early 80’s, when I was a little ‘un, our faithful fairy,  sat on her highest bough, was set on fire by the lights on our Christmas tree . As curious and inquisitive children we were instantly aware of  her absence so when a new one appeared my parents had to think fast…and so a new Christmas tradition was born.

-Stories are another aspect of christmas that I love and really bring this time of year alive. Stories of Christmas past, stories from our grandparents, other people’s childhood christmas memories, The nutcracker, the story of St Nick, or Mr Winter, and my favorite The little match girl. Then of course there is the story that surrounds us all. The nativity story which happens to be Big Beautiful’s favorite. The story of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

Don’t look so shocked, I may be a Pagan but that does not mean I am ignorant. While I don’t push my children in their love for this  christmas story I would never ban it. My children can choose the right path for them when they are ready to do so. This takes us nicely to

-Religion, faith and beliefs, this is exactly what I mean about the interconnectedness of all things. Traditions, stories and Religion and beliefs all coming together to make this time of year have meaning to those who want it.  On xmas eve as part of our Yule celebration we will take our Christmas walk with the Princesses where we will collect pine cones and fallen berries, fearns, holly and ivy to make the wreath on our door. This is our celebration of life. It may look dark and dead out there but our wonderful earth and it’s amazing knowledge of life and interconectedness still encourages life and growth even in the most extreem conditions. Christmas tree’s  and ponsettta, holly and ivy all survive in this cold and dark time of year. This is hope that we can get through the dark days and soon it will be Spring when life will bloom around us.

-Yule:  This is the reason we also celebrate Yule, usually on the 21st December as this is the Winter solstice or midwinter. We celebrate the coming of lighter days. From the 21st onwards (more or less) our time spent in the dark nights and dark mornings begins to reduce ever so slowly.  This year we will be celebrating with good warm winter comfort food, mulled wine or other warming winter drinkies, a small fire in our garden and some Christmas songs.

The thought alone makes me all warm inside.

My Dad once said to me “You will make your own traditions” at that time I thought How odd. Traditions are old and passed down the generations. This is how we know about long lost pagan traditions and the value of the earth, what it provides at this time of year as with any other time during the year of the wheel. But even back then, they all started somewhere and for one reason or another. So why can’t they be new as well as old and handed down.

The one tradition that I hope will stick around and that has been one that is focused on since forever, is family. All of the above and anything else you want to add to the meaning of Christmas is nothing without someone to share it with.

Family, that is what it’s all about. Isn’t it?

 

Do share your Christmas stories, I love to hear them all x x

Merry Christmas.

Ode to Autumn


Ah Autumn, welcome back. How I have missed you. I feel as though I am the only person in the U.K who sighed at the sight and feel of our recent high temperatures and summer sun in my beloved Autumn.
Don’t get me wrong I like long warm summer days, lounging outside our tent, drinking long cool drinks and sharing ice lollies with my girls,  the BBQ‘s with good friends and family are warm, sticky and bright.
 I guess what I dislike is having to get my summer clothes out that mean getting my legs out and avoiding the skinny girls in their flattering maxi dresses whilst I look like I am wearing our tent!
I like Spring with its beautiful sparkling freshness, it carries a feeling of awakening and being alive. 
Winter I love almost as much as Autumn…almost. Winter is crisp and snowing and dark, but in a cosy traditional coca-cola Christmas scene kind of way.
But, Autumn, ah Autumn is colourful. It starts to get cold, but not too cold that you can’t go out wrapped up in coats and scarves and hats. Kicking through crispy fallen leaves. Hunting for conkers, acorns and pine cones all the while munching blackberries found hidden under the hedges.
Autumn is a time for battening down the hatches, slowing down the pace of life and preparing for winter, full of anticipation and celebration; Halloween, bonfire night and Yule tide preparations. 
Did I mention those colours?

Oh the colours

Oh Mother Earths natural palate…Oranges, browns, yellows, a scatter of greens and deep reds. No matter how I feel those colours scattered across our beautiful earth never fail to warm me and make me thankful and appreciate how lucky we are to experience this year after year.

I am going to leave you with my all time favorite poet, John Keats and the poem that rings in my ears all through this season:
An Ode to Autumn
 Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.