Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

It's my favorite day of the year. There is something magical about Christmas Eve. In Britain the day is easily referred to as 'Christmas Eve', whereas in America people tend to say 'Christmas Eve Day'. It makes sense here not to make much of a distinction as the days now are rather dark and gloomy -- but anyway, I do like just 'Christmas Eve' as that has a more magical and mysterious ring to it ...

Christmas for me is about expectation, anticipation. The joy of it is in the planning, the culmination, the moment 'just before'. It is mystical and momentous, a time of smells and memories, music, sights of wonder, children, sugar plum fairies and so on. How lucky I am to have this day in my calendar -- this day of 'angel dust'.

Memories: One of my favorite memories is the Apollo 8 Mission when the astronauts read from Genesis -- just as we were all about to go off to church for midnight mass. At the time that was the most highly watched TV program ever! Being a New Englander there are memories of many a White Christmas, of eager anticipation for gifts (I was very demanding and probably still am!). I loved the 5 Christmases I spent in Germany and the joy on my husband's face that first Christmas Eve when the snow fell in the evening and there was white magic everywhere -- and that special quietness of the snow falling.

One of the things I miss here in England is the regular singing in church of Silent Night. I loved singing that favorite carol in candlelight just after Communion finished. It surprises me that Silent Night is not even in the hymnal we use in my church. That was another favorite memory of living in Germany.

My sister just sent me this -- a bit silly but still a good laugh! Merry Christmas and hope it a magical Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas hmmmmm bug -- Ahhhhh

Christmas again. I love the music. I am bored with the waiting. Waiting to get things done. Here I am today twiddling. My husband is farting around doing this and that -- he won't be bothered ('bovvered') until Christmas Eve. Then he will start asking me if I got 'something' for this person or that, or sent them a card. And did I remember 'whatever' ...

So on we trudge toward the 'big' day/week, depending on where you live in this world. In the U.S. I always feel let down after Christmas Day. Big preparations and the decorating splurge all feel flat by the 26th of December. On this side of the Atlantic Christmas is a two -day holiday and for most people lasts through New Year and on through Epiphany. Many Americans, in an attempt to stave off the 24-hour blow-out, keep their lights up -- especially the outdoor festive fare -- until Valentine's Day! Which seems to me rather pathetic.

Yesterday the tree went up -- we picked a nice bushy, traditional English Christmas tree -- which was also the cheapest! And imagine this, it's also our preferred type of tree. Smells good, too. I also managed to make a traditional Christmas log, for our dessert -- in the freezer (what a delicious chocolate mess I made) and am slowly checking things off the 'to-do list'. I think I've bought all the presents and wrapped what needs wrapping. Today ma belle-soeur arrives -- ah check off the list that I've made her bed!

Quite a bit of discussion this year in the media about Christmas cards. Personally, I love Christmas cards. Especially getting them. Sending them is a chore, but it is nice to think about the people we have managed to keep in touch with over the years. It is an expensive thing to do, however. I divide my cards into three parts -- across the oceans, Europe and the UK. The postage runs about £25 - £30 and on top of that there is the cost of the cards -- which cost less than the postage, for sure! I don't send cards to people because I feel I have to -- I send them because I want to, which for me is the whole point of the exercise and somehow makes each Christmas an inclusive time of the year.

So, now it's on with the decorating -- almost done!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I am not impressed with myself -- over a month since last posting. Since then I've been to the US and returned. Big changes for us. The plan is to spend a year, at least, in Olympia, Washington. It's odd that I feel so at home whether here or there -- I just sort of meld into each nationality, both seeming familiar.

It will be very interesting to live on the west coast, which to me is so very different from the East. I'm looking forward to the new adventure and the exploration into that difference. The people in Olympia seem very nice, very warm and friendly. It really is the land of the car and more wide open spaces than I am used to. I love the mountains, especially the majesty of Mt. Rainier; and the freshness in the air, despite all the cars and highways. Olympia's location at the southern-most end of the Puget Sound, is perfection -- it has all of the charm of a small town, yet the sophistication of a discerning, well-educated population.

The present is very tenuous both in the UK and the US. We are lucky to be retired and to have our home almost paid for and a steady, if not enormous income. I look at my children and grandchildren and wonder if retirement will be a thing of the past by the time they are my age. Life has been good to the children of the 60's and we have consumed it, which is probably not so good for everybody else.

But first it's Christmas. More about that anon!