Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Approaching Christmas

As I write this, an apricot glow illuminates the old square church tower and frosted trees infront of a smokey platinum blue horizon. I have a lovely big window that lets me see to the end of my snow covered street in the suburbs of Glasgow. Christmas is in 4.5 days, my Swedish boyfriend is flying in from Stockholm on Christmas Eve, and as long as we can get our arses up to my folks house in the Highlands, Christmas will be magic. It always is at our house. Sure we have our arguments and heated stress that the timing of everything for the Christmas meal isn't quite on target, but my Mum is indeed an amazing cook (also world porridge champion 2007 incidentally :) and all senses will be in a high state of anticipation.

I have been blessed with a creative and DIY proficient family, my mum in particular who will have the family home decked out in hand crafted decorations, the Lodgepole Pine tree will be standing on the warm wooden floor surrounded by restored antique furniture, long heavy rich drapes hanging, ceiling-floor windows distracting you to the chuckling iced up river outside...there's almost too many things to describe that make it all magic, but I'll give it a try.

There's no tinsel in the house. Everything is wooden, glass, paper, painted leather, perhaps some plastic, but not obviously so, the wreaths made by mum have pine cones, dried orange slices, moss, holly leaves, pine branches, some delightful vintage ribbons, some 'tasteful' artificial red berries to give that extra snap of colour, swags of similarly decorated swags of lodgepole pine branches hang on each rustic wooden door. Simple clear glass fairy lights shine amongst the branches of the tree, lighting up an array of varying little wooden and glass decorations, all well-loved and collected over quite a few years.

The smells of warmed pine needles (which incidentally don't drop off - that's one of the extra perks of the beautiful Lodgepole Pines), a real wood fire, delightfully hot and potent mulled wine, toasted Stollen bread with real butter accompanied with a glass of bucks fizz to toast Christmas morning, then later the smells of roast turkey, pigs in blankets, beautifully roasted potatoes and vegetables, deep glistening fruity red cranberry sauce, tangy sweet and rich in taste, the smell of cracker-snaps and the wearing of gold and silver paper crowns, not to mention the blue inferno of the lit Christmas puds :)

We do indeed play board games afterwards too when we're too stuffed to move, after all the dishes have been done and the massive gas stove has been duly cleaned - which doesn't take long when we all chip in. TV is rarely watched save for some movie suitable for all including Nana who's 90 years young. That might be after the games, considering Christmas dinner is normally eaten at about 5 there's tonnes of time left afterwards for entertainment.

The whole of Christmas day is spent at home, although we may have time for a wintry afternoon walk with the family dog MacDuff, our big hairy and mischievous Spinone and if we're honoured with the presence of the family cat Conan, it's an extra slice of entertainment.

The celebrations will have started the night before by going the very lovely midnight mass - full of warm wishes and camaraderie, singing carols and noting everyone's bright eyes. Dad has a somewhat tune-challenged voice, so my sister and I are normally trying not to gut ourselves during the carols. Dad has in the past been caught reading a crime novel or dozing during the service. It always ends with well wishes, hugs and card/gift exchanging before a small bite to eat/drink/cath-up in the Priest's house before heading home, adaptable to how much snow/ice is on the roads.

This year Mattias my boyfriend is joining us, and I hope he enjoys sharing what the rest of us find special about Christmas. It's always been magical, but it is about the family, all coming together from wherever we're based and showing we care by giving thoughtful presents. It is absolutely not about the biggest or flashiest present, which I've always found terribly ostentatious - folk trying to outdo each other so their kid can go to school and be the envy of all the others. You shouldn't feel worth is measured by material wealth, but by the love, understanding and trust of those you care about, and all lending a hand to make one particularly beautiful time of the year truly special. Merry Christmas to you all, may you be with your nearest and dearest, be well fed, warm and happy.

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