Dusk. December. Delightful. Dramatic.
The fourth letter of the Christmas Advent Alphabet, D.
Today, being the third day of Christmas, is all about the letter C for the Children and the Christmas Trees.
Putting up the tree and decorating it is a key part of most families’ Christmas preparations. It is a special time together. At my place, (and maybe at yours) the best bit is laughing with my children as they admire their handi-work (both in decorating the tree and in admiring the decorations they made and loved over the years). It reminds me that traditions like putting up our tree together are a part of building strong childhood memories. Simple traditions, home-made and home-grown, help to give kids a sense of identity, tradition and belonging.
A Christmas Tree doesn’t need fancy shop decorations, it doesn’t need twinkling lights or glittery balls, or even be a fir tree or green for that matter…(you may recall my driftwood Christmas Tree from last year, with shells for decorations). It can be a branch or a bush. What matters is that to you, and your family, it is your Christmas Tree…your tradition. Your story.
The bells ring out on Marsland Hill every day and what a beautiful sound they make. I would like to hear their daily ritual but do not live close enough and have to settle for catching them occasionally by accident when in the area.
But, nothing sounds more like Christmas than the sound of bells ringing, pure, loud and joyous, so today’s Alphabet Advent calendar on day two, is the letter B for Bells at Christmas time…
Here we are, the first day of December. The first day of the last month of the year. The first day of Christmas at my house. The day to put up the Christmas tree. The day to come together around the tree and pull out the beloved old and collected decorations and remember who made what and when. The day to get excited and start thinking about all the jobs to do for Christmas. A for Anticipation is the first word of this years’ Advent Alphabet.
Angel’s are also a part of the story of Christmas and they are frequently found at the top of many Christmas Tree’s, but I especially their role as a symbol of being a messenger/bearer of good news. (I am also named after them).
I have had these two Christmas Angel’s for many years (so far unbroken!) and when the tree comes out, so do they. Not to sit atop my tree like many, but rather, I like to think, to keep watch over things and bring good news to us.
Welcome to Christmas.
Christmas eve, a big storm threatening, a hot, sticky day….one last walk to the cliff edge before the sun really disappeared and what an incredible sight!
I hope you get to spend Christmas with the people you love, the ones that make you feel loved and happy. With the people (or person) that you refer to, to others, as “us”.
Under the Christmas tree, may you find something special. However, the greatest gifts are not found there, they are found in Us.
The letter U of the Christmas Alphabet – U for Us.
Reflecting on the Road trip.
This image is taken at night on a Recent Road trip. Don’t worry, I was not driving! Road trips are for many of us, a big part of Christmas reunions, family gatherings and festivities. They require a lot of planning, stress, co-ordination and a huge amount of patience, especially when with travelling with children.
I am off tomorrow on a nearly 1,000 km road trip over several days with my children, to see our Relatives before Christmas. This is why the letter R is posted slightly early, and unfortunately why the letter S of this Christmas Alphabet will be slightly late. (Unless I suddenly gain access to some really reliable Roaming technology). Failing that, I will enjoy my relatives and children and reflect on what I need to to do when I get back, for Christmas and also the ONE exhibition opening January 7th!
Remember – if you are off on a Road trip over Christmas, drive safely and take it easy out there on the Roads.
Reflecting on the Road Trip – the letter R of this Christmas Alphabet.
Christmas is a noisy time of year, and I love that about it. I love the hustle and bustle, the joy, the laughter, the music, the carols and the merriment.
I also love the Quiet of looking at the Christmas tree lights long after children are asleep, the Quiet of sleeping children tired out from all the excitement, the Quiet of remembering a touching moment from a Christmas past, the Quiet of thinking about loved ones who cannot, for whatever reason, be with us at Christmas time, though we might dearly wish it were so. The Quiet of the starry (or perhaps snowy?) night sky. The Quiet of a landscape where no other soul is in sight and you suddenly feel very alone but strangely at peace – just you, the sky and the endless sea.
The Quiet of Christmas. The letter Q of this Christmas Alphabet.
While other nations have their poinsettia’s, sprigs of holly with red berries, green wreaths, and evergreen fir trees capped with snow at Christmas time, we too, have our own Christmas tree. All along the coast of New Zealand (and especially on the rugged west coast) the Pohutukawa Tree (Metrosideros excelsa) turns on a brilliant flush of masses of crimson red flowers starting in December.
They are our very own, suitably kiwi Christmas tree – they are hardy, they thrive in difficult situations and only flower once, gloriously, per year, just in time to herald in the start of Christmas.
There is a story that if they flower early in December it will be a long hot summer, and if they flower later in December, it will be wetter/colder/shorter summer. Many a tree has been climbed, camped under, admired against the pale blue sky, and the bluer-than-blue sea. They are just the most amazing burst of resplendent red colour along the coastline.
P for Pohutukawa. The Perfect kiwi Christmas tree for the Christmas Alphabet.
Christmas might be about all things shiny and new to children, and can be considered to be a very casual event in midst of the summer heat here in the southern hemisphere, but I think Christmas is an Occasion to really celebrate. And I like to celebrate an Occasion with Old things especially.
To create a sense of Occasion, I pull out my best Old but beloved white linen tablecloth, and I love to find a reason to use my very old and tarnished antique jug and bowl that is a treasured gift. I like to set the table with my vintage china plates and I don’t worry if they don’t match. I like to use Old cut glassware and crystal decanters for desserts, creams, sauces, vases, for chilled water…all Old and treasured.
Who cares if it can’t go in the dishwasher? Who cares if it doesn’t match? Mix it up. Use your Own things with love, add candles, flowers, shells, decorations, to personalise and create a special sense of occasion.
Of course it goes without saying you need the essential ingredients of people who you love and whose company you enjoy, and the addition of great food for a really special Occasion to come together… but a touch of the Old, treasured and sparkly can set a scene for an Occasion to remember, even if its a picnic at the beach on Christmas day.