Friday, December 29, 2023

A Week of Memories


In no particular order thanks to Blogger this morning, a few memories of Christmas week. Enjoying Cardamom Buns and coffee/tea while we open gifts in the morning has become a recent tradition. Not too sweet and fragrant with cardamom, the platter disappears in a hurry. 

Early on Christmas Eve morning Tim and I drove to the beach to catch the sunrise. We were not expecting much due to the cloud cover, but WOW, what an amazing gift to see Mount Baker and other peaks across the Strait of Georgia glowing in the light. Intense colour and form. 

Twinkly scenes at home with angels proclaiming the good news of Christ's birth. Soft lights gleaming on the mantel. A host of Christmas memories seen in the various ornaments on the tree. 

Evenings with hot chocolate for two. A Christmas feast of various appetizers and goodies contributed by all of us meant that no one had to do a lot of work. Gales of laughter. Shining eyes of littles and bigs as they opened their gifts.

Dinners with friends. Glow of candlelight sparkling off crystal. Walks on beaches and hills. Memories of Christmas to tuck away. I've been pondering some of the moments in these quiet days between the years, and I hope you are enjoying yours. 

Off today on a ferry for another celebration with my parents and siblings. 

Friday, December 22, 2023

The Eve of the Eve of Christmas Eve


Friday evening. No snow at all this year, rather, it's been unseasonably warm. Some rain, and I'm glad for the fires that keep us comfortable indoors. 

My teaching gig ended today around noon, and I handed over my keys, skipped out of school, and headed out to finish the last little bit of shopping. All done now, other than a quick grocery run early tomorrow morning. 

I spent a few hours this afternoon wrapping gifts. They are stacked on the dining room table and tomorrow I'll pretty them up with tags and embellishments. That's the fun part. 

There comes a point each year when the lists are set aside and what's still undone is left undone. I sent off Christmas cards to a certain point in my address book, but ran out of cards, purchased more, but never got back to writing them. I'll send notes in the new year. It's time to enjoy. Preparations are mostly finished - there will be a final tidying up of the house and some last minute cooking. Then, Christmas Eve, full of quietness before the joyous hullabaloo of gathering on Christmas Day. 

And so, I wish you all a most merry and festive Christmas. 

Thursday, December 14, 2023

It Comes and Goes


I love this season of the year. Advent, with all its heart-focused preparations for Christmas, is deeply meaningful. Then there are the physical plans - considering gifts to make or buy for loved ones, filling the freezer with cookies and other treats, and decorating the house with lights and festive greenery. All this can add up to overly busy days.

On top of all the preparations, I want to feel Christmassy. I want to be excited about the season, to revel in the glow of lights, to find myself smiling throughout the day. I've learned, however, that feelings come and go, and to be okay with that. Christmas doesn't mean that frustrations, difficulties, and sorrows disappear. Indeed, sometimes hard things are magnified by the expectations of the season. Walking under the stars (or in falling snow), sitting quietly by the fire, hearing Christmas music in the stores, or just being content puttering away in my home are moments when that elusive "Christmas spirit" fills me with a measure of happiness. I am learning to be content with those moments, knowing that they will pass, but also that they will come again. 

This week I made Almond Crescents, a recipe from my mom. Not too sweet, but nutty and buttery - a lovely treat. Last night I packaged up cookies and treats and put them into small tins to share with friends. What fun that was!

We decorated the Christmas tree this week, always a real one. It's on the small side so I chose the most meaningful ornaments to hang on it - "Remember this one," he or I would say?
I'm mindful of the BeeGee's song lyrics 

"When I was small, and Christmas trees were tall..." 
"Now we are tall, and Christmas trees are small..."

And so the years are counted in stories told and memories cherished. And the happiness comes and goes. And that's just fine.

Friday, December 08, 2023

Christmas Inside and Outside


A recent walk took us to Tod Inlet where fog crept wraith-like along the shore, swirling up into the forest and down again. Sparse light filtered through the clouds, just enough to make silvery reflections on the old moss-covered pilings in the inlet. 

Nature's decorations - red berries touched with crystal-like water droplets. 

The new fireplace surround and mantel

Inside, a little bit of decorating is happening. We are having some work done on the house this next week and I don't want to put up a tree and other decorations only to have them coated with dust or have to remove them. By Wednesday we will be able to put the house back together. 

The old fireplace surround and mantel, last year at Christmas

Tim finished the fireplace update, diminishing the profile a little and putting in a more neutral porcelain tile in place of the black marble. Just now, as I sit in my chair, a fire glows and the lights shine in the gathering darkness. Red velvet cushions on the sofa add colour and coziness. 

It's a busy time of year - students are becoming restless, eager for the Christmas break - and teachers are not immune, either. School goes late this year, right to the 22nd. 

Here at home the baking has begun, with rugelach, shortbread, rum balls, and marshmallow roll in the freezer. Every day I read a little - this week I finished SJ Bennett's All the Queen's Men, a cozy mystery that takes place at the royal estate in Sandringham at Christmas. A great way to relax in the evening. 

And with you? How are things? 

Friday, December 01, 2023

Welcome December


December begins, and with it, preparations and celebrations. A week ago we attended a performance by The Tenors, a wonderful spectacle of music and light. It was fun to get dressed up a little and go out for the evening. 

Last month the family got together to celebrate a few birthdays. Our eldest granddaughter is cooking all kinds of delicious things these days and she made the cake for the party. It tasted even better than it looked. How grown up she is. This weekend there will be another get together to celebrate her birthday and that of her youngest cousin who just turned three. 

In the garden a rose bud slowly opens. We've had a mild and sunny November. Today, however, the sun has been elusive, peeking out once in awhile, but mostly hiding behind grey rain clouds. 

Teaching four days per week (that will end on Dec 21) is causing me some concern about getting ready for Christmas. I've decided that doing a little something every day will get me there. I've pulled the red and white dishes in the dining room, and will add some greenery in the next few days. 

There's a bit of sewing going on - the traditional pajamas for the grandchildren - and a wee bit of crafting. Much of the shopping is complete. 

Outside, I've filled the pots with greenery and holly sprigs from our garden. A wreath base is made and I'll hang that this weekend after adding some holly and rose hips. Baking is beginning - shortbread and rugelach to start with. 

I love this month of the year and want to savour the moments. Advent begins on Sunday, a time of waiting. Little by little the month opens towards Christmas, the celebration of Christ's birth. Longing, anticipation, quietness, joy, and busyness mingle in this month. I leave you with a quote by Diane Ackerman "December offers a banquet for the senses, and many chances to lose oneself in the plain deliciousness of life - all the sights and smells of the season, from wood fires to baking."

Days at Home

  Last night after dinner the sunshine illuminating the bouquet of peonies prompted me to grab my camera. I love the frilly elegance of the ...