Have been too busy doing Christmas and then recovering from it, to blog recently. So here’s just a brief report:
This has definitely been the Christmas of chocolate. First of all, because I had a voucher, I bought myself a big box of Thornton’s continental online. (I always buy myself a Chrissy present because that way I can be sure I will get one thing I actually want). Then my Ship of Fools secret Santa sent me various bits of chocolate, along with a jiffy bagful of other beautifully wrapped and labelled and in some cases handcrafted presents. Then my mother bought me not only a box of dark truffles but also a box of mixed chocolates from our local posh old-fashioned grocery store. Such has been the chocolate overload that it took me till December 28th to even open my Thornton’s box.
Otherwise, Christmas has gone well and various shortcomings of food (like the complete mess I made of meringues for Christmas Eve, and the mashed potatoes instead of roast at the Mennonite Centre on Christmas Day) have been compensated by the excellent company (and the games of Scrabble and Dutch Blitz). We had a last minute extra Christmas dinner with our best church friends on Boxing Day – with roast potatoes at last. After Sunday’s extremely short service prepared by someone else but led by me, everyone (ie the about 6 people who actually turned up) wanted to stay together for longer, so we ended up having an impromptu small party at the Mennonite Centre again (thank you Will for the wine and cheese).
Just to extend the season (which in any case goes on at least to my birthday on Jan 21st), we are having a noon-to-midnight drop-in at our house tomorrow, so I went Tesco-ing today to get supplies for it (I meant to get everything online via Ocado, but there were no delivery slots available). For some reason Tesco has made me feel nauseous, so I hope I am not going down with anything. It could of course be due to an excess of chocolate…
Why would buying a tree and decorating it with my son in the morning, make me extremely irritable on the way to church in the afternoon, and cause me to burst into tears while singing ‘The Virgin Mary had a baby boy’, immediately before I was due to get up and preach? I don’t understand myself…
To misquote that wonderful film The Chain, ‘Christmas is a very upsetting experience, people get upset’. Maybe if I get it over now, I will behave perfectly on the big day itself?
By the way, the sermon still went pretty well.
Hm.. seems there’s been another long silence. Sorry about that.
Basically last week was full of Christmas card writing and Christmas shopping, with breaks for the last singing session of term (mulled wine and Winter Wonderland) and a Waving not Drowning meet (for those not in the know, Waving is the private Ship of Fools bulletin board I run, for folks with mental health probs). Seasonal bugs meant that three of the prospective attenders didn’t make it to the Wavingmeet, but four of us enjoyed pizza, conversation, and the lovely badges with our online avatars that one of the group had made for us.
I feel very smug having done all my Christmas cards but the ‘by hand’ ones to neighbours, and all my shopping bar the stocking fillers and food. And it’s not even the middle of December yet! Amazing what an impending deadline can do.
Yes, yes, I know it’s five days since I last blogged. But I was on a retreat over the weekend, and then came home with gripy guts and spent all yesterday in bed. The retreat was fine, although I actually skived off two chunks of it, on Friday night to go to the Christmas fair at Genius Brat’s school (which was all Camden Market traders – got some lovely jewellery) and on Saturday afternoon (which was in any case free time) to go to the annual Mennonite Christmas party – exactly what I did last year because the Advent retreat and the party always clash. Such are the benefits of going to a local retreat place, the other benefit being that I could walk there from home, dragging my new red wheeled suitcase bought especially for retreats and weekends away.
Now I’ve recovered from the headache and sick feeling, but today Genius Brat is off school because he has an awful cough and a sore throat. And I am here writing this instead of starting my Christmas cards. When I switched on the radio this morning it was just in the middle of an item about procrastination (maybe I should listen to it later on the net…;-)
After my ‘ladies’ lunch’ today I did a bit of Christmas shopping in Woolworth’s and Tesco (yes, I’ve got class, me). For son’s best friend I picked up a promising contemporary compilation CD engagingly entitled ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’. This is entirely so that I can tell his parents that I have bought their 15 year old son cigarettes and alcohol for Christmas…:-)
1. There is a natural low after Christmas due to the festive season being over and January weather, owing to global warming, being damp and grey rather than white, crisp and sparkling.
2. A general feeling of uselessness can be alleviated by large doses of 60s and 70s pop and rock, even on a rather crummy MP3 player (The Grouch got me a cheap one for Christmas, promising to get a better one if I ‘get into it’).
3. Listening on crappy earphones can be got used to.
4. A supplementary dose of the ‘Pop Britannia’ season on BBC-4 will enhance the cheering effect.
5. Jimi Hendrix is not, however, the greatest choice to play when one has a headache.
‘I’m going to make the knickers and belt out of tinsel.’ At least that’s what I heard the young woman say. And very fetching I’m sure she will look in them, though the knickers sound rather scratchy.
I haven’t left the house since Christmas Day. Neither has anyone else. This is bad.
Must drag son off to playbus this afternoon. At least we managed to get him up before 12.00 noon, which is a big improvement on the last few days when he has been sleeping till at least 3.00 pm and then staying awake at night till 5.00 am!
Christmas has been achieved. There have been no disasters, either culinary, present-related or relative-related. Two festive meals have been satisfactorily cooked and eaten (this is the price of combining Austrian Christmas and British Christmas). As usual, too much has been eaten. Gifts have been exchanged and admired, and most of them aren’t going back to the shop. Good times have been had with family and with friends. The times with friends were better. It was pretty hard to find God in the midst of it, but that’s true of most of life. Wherever God was, I realized I was more likely to find him in the people than in the presents. This is a good realization.
Now I can relax into that liberated and liberating period between Christmas and New Year, when there is no script and no obligations, and we can all slouch around, watching lots of lowbrow TV and eating our way through large packets of Twiglets, Pringles and crisps, not to mention the nuts, dates, clementines, and of course the chocolates (of which there is a superfluity).
I really, really am going to do Christmas more simply next year. But then I say that every year…
*totally spurious German phrase meaning ‘Christmassing has been done’.
I’m already frazzled, and we haven’t even reached Christmas Eve yet! I think it must be the effect of having to fight my way through Waitrose on a Sunday morning to pick up all the stuff I failed to get earlier in the week at Tesco due to the presence of son distracting me from my purpose. And I still don’t have dates, because Waitrose is so posh they only do dates in stylish bags that you can’t reseal, rather than the bog standard ‘Eat Me’ ones in a box that everyone else does. Maybe our corner shop will have dates. Is it possible to have Christmas without a box of dates?
Also I made the mistake of inviting my mother to join us for church lunch and carol service today. This considerably lessens the restorative effect of being with my church family. Besides which it was freezing in the big draughty church hall we rent for worship.
When I was small we had a card nativity set with a background scene into which you slotted all the characters – a bit like Pollock’s toy theatres but much more kitschy, with rather Sunday schoolish art and bits of glitter. Unfortunately somewhere back in the mists of time we had lost the baby – he was after all the smallest piece. That’s how my Christmas feels just at the moment. We’ve lost the baby. Amidst the sprouts and the crackers, the tree and the parcels, the culinary slip-ups and the disappointing purchases, can I find him again?