I read about Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris some years ago, and two Christmases ago I got hold of a secondhand copy (frugal and less wasteful!). It’s not exactly going to put you in the festive mood, but it is a great read. Santaland Diaries makes me laugh out loud. I haven’t been a Christmas elf, but I spent many, many festive seasons working in large department stores and I have seen and heard a lot.
If you’re looking for a darker, not always funny but eminently readable Christmas book I can recommend it. There’s not a lot merry and bright about the book, but it does make me think about Christmas and how 99.99% of the time the “Christmases” which are marketed to us are designed to make us feel bad. This book is an excellent antidote to that.
A day of loveliness on Saturday, two great meals with family and friends and a lot of catching up and making new memories.
Making gingerbread and eating it while watching the Snowman.
A nap on Sunday. I needed it; I’ve been running on about six hours’ worth of sleep a night.
Having almost all of what’s not a lot of Christmas shopping done.
Planning our time for Christmas day. Spending time with our families no matter what happens is always the most important thing.
When growing up in the 1980s, our next door neighbour was called Ivy. I don’t know what age she was, but she was already a granny before I was born and my mother and her seemed to get along well. Every Christmas she’d drop in something for us, and usually nice books would form part of the surprise. I’ve only kept one of the books, a hardback copy (with dustwrapper! I was a careful child) of The Secret Staircase by Jill Barclem. I love Christmas and I was a voracious reader so this book was very precious, but I can’t remember why I held onto it for so long.
I heard that the author died on 15 November last. I hadn’t thought about the book in years and today was a day for settling on the couch with a coffee and thinking over Christmases past. The cover is heavy on the ivy, and I remembered Ivy when I read the book for the first time in what must be over 20 years. It’s just as magical as I remember and it brought me right back to my childhood Christmases. I read about Jill Barclem too, because I knew so little about her despite having held onto this Brambly Hedge book for so long.
It is an amazing thing to have created something so lasting and well loved, and to have given a little girl something she’s held onto for years. Jill Barclem gave the world the book, and Ivy gave it to me, and it’s made me think a lot about memories and the process of creating something which will last.
In an effort to follow Marjorie’s sage advice that everyone should know a little bit about many things, I’ve been expanding my horizons a little and today watched a short children’s film about Janet Collins, who, to my shame, I had never heard of before now. I adored ballet as a child and started lessons late – if you want to be a ballerina, that is – at 13 years of age. I wasn’t particularly good but I loved every minute of it and even now I try a few steps when the mood takes me.
I feel utterly humbled when I feel disgruntled about my working life when I read stories like her. I have face little real adversity and I have felt hard done by when I really shouldn’t have because my barriers to entry for every job I’ve held have been relatively low for me. I’ve never been asked to paint my face, nor have I faced systematic racial discrimination.
I’ve had a long week in work and I’m running off not a lot of sleep, but reading about inspiring people like her makes me give myself a stern talking to and get on in the world without complaining, but with an attitude that challenging the system is always a good thing.
…isn’t something I do because I’m not American but this week I’m feeling thankful that:
- I’ve made some plans.
- I finally used a lovely notebook I’ve left blank for too long to write down said plans.
- I have a secure job that I don’t hate.
- I have a wonderful husband who makes me feel most like me.
- I organised nice lunches for myself for the week because I’ll be desk bound every evening.
- I made it to the gym two days in a row and plan to do the same tomorrow.
- I let go of the need to shop this Christmas.
- I have a beautiful home which I love more and more every day.
- I’m not afraid of as many things as I used to be.
- People on the internet are funny.
I am still musing over needing a plan. This week is not going to be a good one for me, but I’m making the best of it and I’ve planned to get to the gym every morning if possible. I’ve planned something for Friday, Saturday was booked up long ago and Sunday still needs a plan. I already feel a little better about things when I’m grabbing some control.
I should have heeded Marjorie’s sage advice, namely, to make plans because weeks have a habit of drifting by and planning stops that from happening too often. She also regularly espoused the need for hobbies. I’m planning on planning for this. I feel more in control when I’m making decisions.
My husband isn’t happy with the amount of time I’ve been spending on social media since the unpleasantness that was last year’s US presidential election. I’m addicted to various platforms and I know it isn’t good for me or for our marriage. It’s just too easy to spend too much time checking up on what’s happening. I love that I can know what’s happening but I hate that I now feel I have to know what’s happening.
Yesterday, after a Serious Chat, I left my phone in our bedroom for most of the day. We had coffee and talked. We did our weekly grocery shop and went to our village tree lighting ceremony phoneless, and managed to enjoy mulled wine and chips without taking any pictures. I need to do this more. I am more social without the media attached to me.