Another Covid Christmas

Covid pandemic future looks dire
This new variant spreads like wildfire
Life feels so ominous
Looming large over us
Hard to find happy thoughts to inspire

Seems this virus is keen to mutate
Sneaky versions that might seal our fate
All year Delta was worst
But now Omicron’s first
What new havoc can Covid create?

As infections rise straight off the chart
Pfizer booster jabs playing their part
Race to keep it at bay
But it won’t go away
Covid 19 stays strong at its heart

Will restrictions be brought into force
One more lock-down might do it of course
Careful plans go awry
As we all wonder why
We can’t kill this damned virus at source

As we look to another new year
It’s so hard to find real Christmas cheer
No one knows what will be
We must just wait and see
Mixed with hope, trepidation, and fear…

Christmas Decorations I Have Known…

I’m not really one to over-do Christmas decorations – I do have a twinkling tree bedecked with tinsel and ornaments and lights and topped with this cute little fairy, and I like to add a bit of extra festive frippery to the fireplace – well, across the top of the mantelpiece, to be exact. Most of our Christmas decorations in this house have been collected one by one (or group by group) over the years and part of the fun when putting them all together each Christmas is remembering the where and when and how and why we bought them, or were given them, or made them ourselves for that matter!

I remember us buying this little fairy one year after Christmas, in the sales – she was sitting all alone in a sea of random leftover tree ornaments at knock-down prices but still she was smiling, so we paid 50p for her and took her home with us and have loved her ever since. At the time we lived in a small flat so didn’t even have the room to put up a proper tree, instead we just decorated the sideboard with the odd personally-chosen ornament or two, a practice which of course expanded every year as we built up our very own collection of bargain basement Christmas remnants so that today we have a unique festive family of ornamental misfits that seems to suit us very well.

So I suppose looking back over the years, many of my favourite festive memories are linked to the individual Christmas decorations I have known and loved at any given time. Every Christmas my sister still hangs a small red plaited fabric wreath I made for her decades ago, even before her children were born. My youngest daughter still hangs the larger green version we used to have ourselves when she was growing up. In fact she also still has the green candles shaped like Christmas trees from her childhood I bought one year and didn’t ever have the heart to burn. They’ve faded a bit in colour, but have now become part of her family tradition, taking over from ours.

The Christmas decorations I remember from my childhood in the 1960s were mostly made from coloured crepe paper, concertinaed bells and baubles and long magical chains that unfurled to festoon the ceiling like the trim on a frothy petticoat. We always had a real tree, too, that stood precariously propped up in a bucket and smelled of pine resin and shed little needles all over the carpet for the duration. On the tree there were very fragile glass baubles and more robust plastic versions that shimmered and shone, along with multi-coloured fairy lights and feathery silvery tinsel. We had a fairy for the top of the tree then, too, with plastic head and arms and body and painted hair and a long white lacy dress and stiffened underskirt that covered her lack of legs!

I know many people choose to change their Christmas decorations along with their room decor, or go for particular fashionable colour themes, but I must admit I’m not one of them. Much of my modest collection tends to stay the same year after year. Most are traditional white or red or green or silver or gold or combinations thereof, and they don’t so much match as go together in a kind of eclectic, organic mish-mash of memories that make me smile. Some things inevitably come and go, depending on circumstance, and some things stay the course. And I kind of like it that way, it’s less about aiming for a perfect ideal and more about simply making the most of what is in front of me and loving the reality of the result regardless :-).

Weekly Prompt: Festive Memories

Christmas Tree

It’s Saturday again and time for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness post, this week with the prompt of ‘tree’. All of a sudden (or so it feels) it’s two weeks today until Christmas and my Christmas tree is still currently residing in the loft along with the other decorations. Probably time to take it down and do some decorating. But this year everything feels so ominous, with the Omicron variant of Covid spreading like wildfire and no-one knowing what 2022 will bring for us all when it comes to this never-ending pandemic. Family-wise we have some serious ongoing stuff going on, so the thought of putting up a tree feels a bit irrelevant and trivial in the circumstances. But I’m going to do it anyway and mark the end of the year the way we always do, with the familiar rituals of the festive season getting us through the dark days of the winter solstice and hopefully on to brighter days ahead…

Traditions that Bind us Together

I’m not usually the most Christmassy of people, and although current Covid Christmas restrictions could potentially have given me the perfect excuse for simply not bothering much with any of it this year, I nevertheless found myself taking the box of decorations down from the loft earlier than usual and not only have I put up the Christmas tree but have also added a few festive ornaments and a string of sparkly lights to the mantelpiece.

With all of us here in the UK necessarily having an extremely pared-down minimally-numbered Christmas this year I felt a surprising longing, a need to create some kind of fun festive feeling around our home, as if we were still expecting a flurry of visitors at any time. We may all be physically apart this year, but we can all still share the emotion and experience of the same old family traditions that recognisably bind us together, but simply enjoy them separately, each in our own home.

We can still put up our usual decorations, over-indulge in the same kind of food we always eat, enjoy the myriad repeat TV programmes we usually watch every festive season, and remind ourselves that if nothing else Christmas 2020 has truly taught us to appreciate the value of presence over presents at this time of year. Being able to choose to be with those we love at Christmas is the best gift we could have, whether family, friends, fur-babies, or any other favourite loves.

To have that choice taken away from so many of us this year hurts, but hopefully it is a wound that for most of us will heal in time. We need to remind ourselves that losing someone to Covid lasts forever and so is a risk too far for many of us to take, especially with the promise of vaccines becoming available to all in the months to come. We are where we are in this current coronavirus crisis, but this too shall pass.

So for this week’s Weekly Smile here is a gallery of some of my favourite tree decorations bringing some much-needed Christmas cheer to my home and to my blog – hopefully the idea if not the actual baubles and trinkets themselves help bring a smile to your faces too. For me the ritual of trimming the tree feels wonderfully familiar, becomes a heart-warming task brimming with mementos and memories and magic, helping me feel close to those I hold most dear, however near or far, in this time of national sacrifice.

So here I am wishing a very Happy Christmas 2020 to all my blog friends, from my home to yours, and hoping for a better year for all of us in 2021 ❀

Christmas Tree Decorations

Putting up a proper Christmas tree this year has been a real treat for me. I know it’s just artificial, but it’s still more of a tree than we’ve ever had before! Our fake tree is about 4ft high and is comfortably adorned with the few choice decorations we brought with us from our tiny flat in London, plus a few extra baubles donated by my eldest daughter.

As we used to put out only a few small bits and pieces every year, just to mark the season, our motley crew of Christmas tree people have only ever sat on the sideboard before, so it’s hopefully a real treat for them to be on a tree too! The miniature (empty) Tabasco bottles are a nod to my husband’s Cajun heritage, and actually came from the Tabasco factory at Avery Island, Louisiana, and make a fun home-made addition to our little collection.

So this week’s smile comes courtesy of our wooden jiggly reindeer, our felt gingerbread man, our knitted robin, our eclectic collection of various jingle bells, our Merry Christmas sign, our Tabasco bottles, and our smiley little fairy, taking her place on top of a tree at long last! πŸ™‚

Weekly Smile

Weekly Prompts: Holday Treats

Share Your World: 16 December 2019

Do you enjoy receiving Christmas cards through snail mail?

Surprisingly I do, and probably moreso nowadays than in the past – with fewer hard-copy letters and cards being sent in general, it’s always nice when someone makes the effort to hand-write something and post it in person.

Do you like the taste and/or smell of peppermint?

Mmmmm… Trebor Extra Strong mints – eye-wateringly clean breath, sharply stinging tongue, instantly cleared sinuses – don’t mind if I do πŸ™‚

What is your least favourite holiday side dish?

Brussels Sprouts – yuk!

What is the coolest (best) gift you ever gave someone?

For my youngest daughter’s 25th birthday I sent her a wrapped and ribboned box containing 25 small individually wrapped gifts – silly things, fun things, meaningful things, loving things – with lots of layers of colourful tissue paper and birthday confetti. She absolutely loved it, the thought behind each item and the fun of unwrapping 25 little things… and I really loved creating it for her too ❀

What is a Christmas song that makes you cringe?

‘Santa Baby’ by Eartha Kitt – it has the most beautiful tune, but some of the world’s worst greed-based lyrics. So I satisfy myself by humming it rather than singing the cringeingly awful words…

Share Your World

Share Your World: 2nd Dec 2019

What’s your remedy for the holiday blues?

Wherever possible I try to avoid getting caught up in the maelstrom frantic spending sprees of rampant consumerism, and simply make the most of quietly enjoying the nice food and drink and TV scheduling at Christmas πŸ™‚

Your favourite beverage during the holiday season?

It’s an ‘old lady’ drink I know, but I have a penchant for a glass or two of Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry over the Christmas period… on the rocks! Mmmmm… It’s the only time of year I ever drink it! ❀

What’s your take on pumpkin spice?

No idea – I’ve heard of it but have absolutely no idea what it actually is?

Is there a person or God connected with your holiday?

Nope, Christianity and Christmas clearly parted company a long time ago…

Share a song that you enjoy during the winter season?

I suppose for me it has to be Nat King Cole’s ‘Christmas Song’… πŸ™‚

Share Your World

Christmas… Hmmm…

This week’s Weekly Word Prompt: Christmas asks if we prefer to take a traditionalist or a modernistic view of the holiday season. Hmmm… The assumptive close inherent in the question seems to offer that these are the only two available options, and both options also seem to assume that the trappings of Christmas – or the ‘holiday season’ as it’s now known – are inevitable, that this is an enjoyable and inclusive time of year for everyone…

Well, not for me, because I’m just not a Christmassy person at all – at least not Christmas as it stands today. But to be clear I’m not completely a bah-humbug kind of person either – I’m more of a not-too-hot, not-too-cold, lukewarm ‘undecided voter’ about it all. Right now heading towards the end of November I can pretty much take it or leave it, and feel cloaked in a miasma of insipid ‘meh’ instead of sparkling in the glitter-strewn excitement I see shining in so many other people around me.

I’m really not at all a fan of the Western capitalist push to rampant consumerism around Christmas that starts immediately after Halloween. Christmas – ostensibly a Chrisitan festival – no longer seems to be anything to do with religion or religious belief, it’s become instead a manic whirlwind of spending excess money while encouraging little more than a culture of personal greed and profligate waste. It’s no longer about the joy of giving, or community spirit, or helping those in need – it’s no longer simply the thought that counts.

Somewhere along the line quality of sentitment has been trampled underfoot in the triumphant quest for quantity of stuff – how much to spend on each present, how many presents for each person, how many people to buy for, money money money, more more more… Personally I find this socially accepted me-me-me attitude upsetting in the extreme. ‘What are you getting for Christmas?’ is always what’s asked of people, no-one ever asks ‘What are you giving for Christmas?’

The thing is, in my mind Christmas celebrations can still be pleasurable without relying on extreme financial excess – get together with people you choose to spend time with, or take time out on your own if you’d rather. Decorate your home if you choose to, or don’t if it doesn’t suit. Eat nice food by all means, enjoy a special meal designed to your own taste. Give token gifts if you want, and receive them gratefully. Take pleasure in the simpler things in life, live mindfully in the moment.

And above all, try to remember the real value of Christmas rather than constantly counting the cost…