Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Club

Say, are you ready to play? It's Christmas Club Day! The final meeting of the year. Already? I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.

Last week I showed a picture of two little girls in their best party dresses; and that reminded me of another Christmas photo of that same pair in their special festive trouser suits.

We're going back at least another year here, maybe two, to when they were still living in the city and so a big family party was the thing to look forward to on Christmas night.

At Christmas we

think about the company of the people we love most in the world, and about how faces can appear and disappear and reappear over the years, and how sometimes it all works out and everyone comes together, and sometimes there's a dear face we miss, or a plan which doesn't work out; but, at the end of it all, simply being able to say It's good to see you to an unexpected arrival is enough to turn the whole thing round.

Our student arrived home yesterday. We went to the airport and I did all the right things. You would have been proud of me. I held myself back from running towards him, screaming Mummy's special little boy and throwing my arms round his knees. I decided against handing out Santa hats and false beards, so he'd know it was us. And I remembered not to tell him to give his dad his suitcase. Not manly. So I think he was pleased to see us. He'd emailed ahead, requesting potato based meals. "We've only eaten potatoes this term when I've cooked them. Doesn't the rest of the world eat potatoes like we do?" he said. I think you know the answer to that one, son.

But at least this year we'll all be eating. It's a few years ago since the famous food poisoning perplexation of '98. I'll spare you most of the details, but you're welcome to use your imaginations. I passed out, ended up in hospital on a drip, leaving two small children and a quite-sick-himself husband, home alone. Sometimes everything looks set to be perfect, other times..

Whatever they hooked me up to was strange stuff. I'm not sure that I'd like to try it again. I imagined the children coming to visit me, heard them running up the ward, calling to me. I got home in time for Christmas dinner. just. Was that the year Uncle Dave washed all the dishes?

Did someone say Uncle Dave? He's flying in tomorrow and we're all looking forward to seeing him. He knows it. As Uncle Dave himself used to be fond of saying when his niece and nephew would eye his  back-home-for-Christmas suitcase expectantly:

Your present?

Your present.................. my presence.

I'm very much hoping there's a presence who's a present for all of you this week. Merry Christmas!

Come join our Christmas Club. Any story, any Christmassy post welcome. Link us up! Last chance this year...

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Scrapbooking What December Means To Me

December? let me think...

that would be

Sian Fair

* wondering if this is the year to pull out all the Santa letters from the past and saying - look! you didn't think we'd let Santa keep them, did you?

* keeping an eye out for the Christmas Radio Times, which I never buy at any other time of the year, and don't actually need to buy now because it's all in the paper. I still do, though, because that's what we do at Christmas. When I was little I used to make a "viewing chart" so we knew what we had planned to watch for every moment of the holiday. Colour coded for all three channels.

* rolling out a lot of pastry for mince pies. I got an email from Uncle Dave yesterday. it said simply:
"How many mince pies have you made? In dozens."

*waiting for the first heavier-than-usual thunk from the letterbox. I like writing cards, I love receiving cards and I'm always happy to find a letter inside.  We save them up to open together in the evenings when everyone is home. That's what we did when we were little.

* missing mantelpieces. In our last house we had lots of old fireplaces with plenty of mantelpieces to decorate and set cards on. we don't have a single one here and I miss them madly at this time of year.

*nowhere to park, anywhere, at all, in the city. The traffic slows at the start of the month and gets worse until it crescendos into gridlock every Christmas Eve. A recent report said we have the slowest moving city traffic in the UK. Nowhere to park? I could leave the car in the middle of the road, do my shopping, come back and no one would have noticed. They'd still all be sitting in the same spots.

*a new dress. Or new boots. Or new something. I can't go to Little E's on Christmas Eve without making an effort. he'll have dressed up, no doubt about it.

* pine needles everywhere. One floated off me last night when I got into the bath. No, I don't know where it had been. But I do know that I found a little pile of last year's needles behind the book case when I moved it to make room for the tree. I kind of like that, it's Christmas all year round and I hadn't even realised

*hoping for some snow. We don't often get a lot of snow here, but when we do no one is ready for it and the nightly news is filled with miserable motorists and happy sledging schoolchildren.

*boxes everywhere. The decorations come down from the loft and the boxes are supposed to go back up again. But they often don't. The pile of amazon-boxes-I'm-sure-I'll-use-again-sometime grows. I'll eventually recycle them about May time. Even I get  a little tired of the stuff. everywhere.Though sometimes one of those boxes turns out to hold something very nice indeed.

But that's December: same life, a little more magic.

ps: don't forget Christmas Club, for the last time, this Sunday. Please come and share a story!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Me On Monday

Me this Monday? I'm finally getting round to finishing off our tree decorating with some of my favourites, including navy blue Santa and a piece I cross stitched many years ago. Yesterday we made a start, but exhaustion got the better of us BECAUSE

Saturday was coffee morning fundraiser day:

Which means that it was a packing bakes into tins, setting out on a frosty morning, running back because we'd forgotten the milk kind of weekend. A setting up the tables, making up the trays, keeping our fingers crossed weekend. A waiting anxiously for the first arrivals weekend. A look who is here! Hi Little E! weekend. A chatting, coffee serving, friend meeting, laughing, cheering, big rush of customers at the end kind of weekend. A clearing up the hall, carrying the money carefully out to the car weekend. Because, most of all, it was a fundraising weekend. She thanked all her friends for coming, she took that shoebox home and she counted the contents and, at the end of it all, (including Little E's amazing £70 sponsored run money) she had nearly £600 to take into school today. All of that money, every penny, will be going straight to Romania to buy medical supplies, food parcels and toys. And so, it was a very satisfying weekend. The best.

So today? Today I'm catching my breath, going back to enjoy the Christmas Club stories all over again (there's still time to add yours to the linky, or, if you haven't a post, how about following some links and leaving a bit of Christmas cheer?), and, yes, making the most of those few left over slices of cake.

Last week Helena, Ladkyis, Deb, Fiona, Ruth and Susanne all gave us a wave. Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Club

So, what do you say? Shall we Christmas Club today? I was feeling pretty festive last week after reading all the stories. I can't wait to see what we've got this time round. Mmm...I might have to open a seasonal tin of Quality Street here. Hazelnut in toffee, anyone?

Now I'm unwrapping that purple foil and I'm looking at it, thinking that's too pretty to throw away: surely I can make something with it. Because that's what we do in this family. We make things. And

at Christmas we

make presents.

Once, we made part of a present. And that part we were to give to ourselves, although we didn't know it at the time.

I must have been about seven, the others younger; and, as we sat there on Christmas Eve, willing ourselves to get tired, our Mum set a cardboard box down in front of each of us. We were to make shops, she said. Here's some wallpaper  for the walls and some felt for the floors. Make them look nice now.

So we worked on our shops, cutting and sticking, and before we realised, it was time for bed. The waiting was nearly done. As we climbed into our pyjamas we worried that we hadn't finished, that we had more bits to add, and our Mum said we mustn't think about it, Santa was coming and we needed to sleep, and the shops could wait until after Christmas. 

We slept, Santa came (though we didn't hear a thing), and we woke up to a pile of surprises. But what do you think? Right in the middle were the shops! Neatly finished off, they were, and tricked out to perfection with tiny scales and paper bags, and little scoops and a whole row of glass jars, full, of course. We had other presents (maybe that was even the year of last week's toy kitchen mincer), but if we talk now about our Christmasses in that house, my Mum always asks if we remember the shops. We do remember, that year we were a family of shopkeepers.

And that was to be the end of my story for this week. I had planned to tell more about the presents we have made over the years, but Nicky the doll, and her dresses, probably deserves a story of her own, I decided, so I went looking for a picture. I found this one:

which shows us, that year, in our special Christmas dresses and holding our new dolls in their long party dresses. All made by Mum. But when I looked more closely at this picture, I jumped. for there, in the corner, is the desk. You know the desk. Or you will if you've been following Me On Monday (right here) It's the one we took to Scotland at the beginning of the autumn, for that boy of ours to work at. I took pictures of him carrying it up the stairs to his flat. From the 1970's to 2014: isn't that the way it goes at Christmas? Little bit of then, little bit of now, all wrapped up together. I wouldn't have it any other way.

At Christmas we

remember. And record.

Like to give it a try? It's only a suggestion. Any story, any Christmassy post at all would be perfect. Come join our Christmas Club!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Pastel Christmas

Today I'm thinking pink. And baby blue. And fresh green.

A friend once told me she hadn't ever seen me wear pink until I had a little girl. I think she was probably right. Now, some years later, I can occasionally be spotted in a little pink something. And there's more - I scrapbook pink too. Last year I made a pastel pink Christmas page for Get It Scrapped. This year? Scrap365 asked me to write about scrapbooking with pastels at Christmas.

Sian Fair for Scrap365

My article was published in the Scrap365 supplement inside December's Craft Stamper magazine.

I'm a bit sad as I look at it now because, as many of you will already know, there is to be no more Scrap365. 

Writing for 365 has been a huge pleasure for me and I have to thank everyone involved for inviting me to be a part of it. It's been good.

And so maybe it's fitting that my last page is a little blue? Though the point of that October Afternoon turquoise is to show one way of going pastel at Christmas.

Here's my pink page from last year, too:

Sian Fair for Get It Scrapped

How about you? if you are making a Christmas album this year, or choosing new colours for your tree, are you going traditional? or are you pleased by pastels?

Oh, don't forget! Christmas Club again this Sunday. Everyone welcome! Any Christmassy post at all - story, recipe, project - would be perfect. If you'd like to write, I'm beginning with

"At Christmas we..."

and I'm offering it as a starting point to anyone who'd like to give it a go too. See you there?
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