Monday, 10 December 2012

Making a list and checking it twice...

I have a present list - we tend to collect things together for people so they get a few smaller things instead of just one present. This year I have made pickles and chutneys and jams and put them into smaller jars so that I can give them as gifts. To ensure that I don't get muddled about who is getting what I made a list.
Mr M looks after it and keeps it away from seven-year-old eyes. It wouldn't do for those eyes to see what grandma is giving this year would it. I want to see the disappointment when she get a jar of Plum jam..... I am joking honestly.
Turkey dinner
I have never ever made a list of things I would like for Christmas. I was brought up in the post WW2 era when rationing was still on and there simply weren't many treats around, or the money to buy them. My mother explained that even though Father Christmas brought the presents our parents had to contribute money for the cost of making and transporting them. This seemed totally logical to me as my father was making things and the raw materials cost money that his customers paid. Mum said that we didn't have much money because sometimes our customers took a long time to pay and until they did we couldn't buy stuff. This directed any animosity towards unknown debtors - pretty clever eh? So I never asked for anything and whatever I got was a bonus. All I wanted were books and riding lessons and somehow my parents knew this and so that was what I got.

I make shopping lists for groceries for Christmas but that doesn't count. I make a list of things to do - for both of us, but that doesn't really count either.
As I have said before Christmas is very relaxed in this house. It will happen if it happens. Oh, oh, here's a perfect example of what I mean.
Continental lentil toad-in-the-hole
Every year for the last four years at least we have been given a turkey. How and why isn't important. This is a large free-range, organic bird and it arrives on Christmas Eve. We are never told we are getting it so we simply don't know if it is going to arrive this year or not. Last night we somehow got onto the subject of Christmas dinner and Mr M said that he still hadn't heard if there would be a turkey this year. There was a silent pause and I said "Well, we can always have continental lentil toad-in-the-hole, that tastes like Christmas". Mr M agreed that he could happily eat that on Christmas Day, as it is his favourite vegetarian meal and we stopped worrying about whether there would be a turkey this year.

Now that's what I mean about being relaxed

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Journal My Christmas - Day 5

I make Christmas cards for a local cancer charity - TENOVUS - This began in Cardiff about 40 odd years ago, perhaps it may be 50 odd years now... Anyway a group of business men got together to do something in memory of a friend who had died of cancer. They wanted to raise money, a lot of money for research to be done locally for local people. They worked out  the plan and then had to decide on a name for the charity. One of them said "There are ten of us, why not call it that?" and TENOVUS was born.
I am given loads of old Christmas cards for recycling and I cut them up and make tags or matt and layer bits to make new cards and these I sell to raise money for them. I also give a pile of cards to the TENOVUS shop so they can sell them too. I cover the cost of the card blanks and the glue and embellishments by using some of the old cards I am given to make some of my own cards. I love doing it even though I don't like making cards - I know, I am odd like that.

There should be a picture but I took it with my phone and I haven't yet worked out how to get it from the phone to here. I can't put the phone software onto my computer because the computer won't accept it and just stops working. I will have to email the picture to me and then save it and then upload it - sigh. Done that now!!!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Journal MY Christmas - Day 4

I first thought that I had never received a "memorable"present, because I couldn't remember anything like that. I sat a and thought for a while about every Christmas, trying to separate them in my mind. I even dug out a few old diaries to see what I had written. Not a lot it would seem.

Then I remembered.
Christmas 1980.

Mr M and I had met at my cousin's wedding in August. I was divorced with three children and he was young free and single. By September we were looking for somewhere to live because we had asked my children - aged 15, 13 and 12 - what they wanted for Christmas and they said "Somewhere that we can all live together."

We found a house to rent and moved in. The rent was £500 per month so we were struggling. There was no central heating only open fires. We had an ex-ambulance for transport and it did 15 miles to the gallon. Mr M had to drive 20 miles to work and 20 miles home every day. We relied on the fallen trees at my parents home for fuel and we could just afford food.

We asked the children if they wanted a present of a christmas dinner as we couldn't afford both. They chose the turkey dinner because "Dad will bring loads of stuff". He did and then sat outside in his car and ate sandwiches to make us feel guilty. The children ignored this and accepted that he was being his usual self.

My Mother-in-law must have thought hard about what to buy us because on Christmas Eve she had arrived with two 112pound bags of coal. We carefully added a few lumps to our fire and we did our best to make it last for a long time.

I still remember the feeling of relief when she pointed to the sacks in the boot of the car and said "Merry Christmas." We hadn't got off to a good start and she still didn't really think I was suitable for her boy but she had given us a present that made all our lives that much easier. She has dementia now and is fading away, but for that one simple act I loved her then and I love her now more than 30 years on.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Journal MY Christmas - Day 3

I don't plan Christmas. At least I don't think I do.

I do make lists - is that planning? I make a list of the people we are buying presents for. I make a list of those we are sending cards. I make a list of everything I am going to cook. I make a list of everything I need to be able to cook. Is this planning?

I make Christmas cards for TENOVUS a local cancer charity, and take them to the charity shop in October. I also make enough for us and for my three children. My cards are written by the end of October and they have any letters and photographs put in them and are sealed and stamped by the last week in November so they can be posted on December 1st. My cousin and I have been doing this for twenty years.
We buy savings stamps with Morrisons all through the year so that we can do our extra Christmas shopping with those.
I make a list of what we want to eat - find recipes and practice making them as sugar free as possible so that we can enjoy those treats and not have to worry about blood sugar.

WE don't drink alcohol because I am allergic to grain alcohol and Mr M said he lost interest in alcohol when we met. He has also said that he doesn't drink because he needs to have his brain in working order to keep up with me! I think these are both compliments

We don't object to other people having a drink but if they come here for dinner they have to bring their own booze.

Our Christmas just happens. I let everyone else tell me what they are going to do and then let them. The best Christmas is when everyone does their own thing and Mr M and I can stay at home and just be together. 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Journal MY Christmas - day 2

I remember when we lived in the village - actually it was three miles outside the village but we were still active participants in all village occasions. The Girl Guides and Brownie Guides used to have a Christmas fayre and spent the weeks leading up to it working hard to make things for their parents and friends to buy.

Because the village is small everyone supported such occasions, even if they didn't have children in the organisations involved. The Scouts and Guides had a Church parade once a month. This was not compulsory, but as the Scouting and Guiding movements promote the religious beliefs of the country they are in, and we live in a Christian country, the attendance was usually around 80% of the membership. Not bad when you consider that we had two Guide companies with 18 girls in each one, two Brownie Guide packs with 18 girls in each one, as well as two Scout Troops and two Cub Scout packs. We always had a part to play in the lead up to Christmas within the village church, and fortunately our vicar was very keen to involve the children. The sound of their voices as they sang the carols and hymns and gave the readings was second only to the voice of one of the Davies children singing the first verse of Once in Royal David's City at the midnight service on Christmas Eve.

Living in a village is so very different to living anywhere else. People say that suburbs of big cities are like villages but that's not true, at least not true of my experience. Our village was surrounded by small hamlets and other villages that had a pub and perhaps a church but didn't have a shop or newsagents so everyone came to our village. The Christmas tree would go up on the porch of one of the three pubs in our village. This happened on the first of December and then we knew that "it" was beginning. We didn't do huge things but the Young Wives Group always did a Christmas Entertainment for the elderly residents. The Women's Institute would go to the sheltered housing complex and do a musical entertainment. The Church Choir would go Carol Singing By Appointment. Sometimes we dressed in victorian costume and carried lanterns. Then we would stand beneath the street lamps and sing a selection of carols, conducted by Jack and with his wife's voice soaring above the rest of us into the chill night air.

Usually this would conclude with me and my children going back to the Davies household where we would sit in the kitchen - the five Davies children and my three and we would laugh and talk all at once while drinking hot drinks before we had to drive that three miles home.

Those are the days I would like to recapture for my grandchildren, that's the Christmas spirit I miss so much  since moving to the city. Would I go back? Oh yes, in a heartbeat. Would it be the same? Yes, it is the same. We know this because we have kept contact with friends. More modern and up to date and the new vicar is not universally liked but the feeling is the same. Jack has gone and lots of others have, like us moved on but the village still cherishes Christmas and still manages to get the inhabitants to be involved even if they are newcomers.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Manifesto - Journal MY Christmas

This year my manifesto is simple.

I am going to enjoy this festive season and stop worrying.