We decided to have a 'No batteries-No mains-No Internet connection needed' Christmas, and the usual 'non-powered by artificial means' gifts were frowned on as too lacking in imagination. LOL, we just sent off close to 300 books with the OxFam books guy so clearly books were off the gift-giving menu. But also off were the 'easy' things like manicure and grooming sets or perpetual motion desk toys. Oh boy...
Paul wasn't anywhere close to 'Mr Christmas' when we got together. His family is gone, he'd been a lifelong bachelor until me, and he is something of a curmudgeon. I'd had to leave EVERYTHING except the barest of the barest essentials in the States owing to the truly horrific shipping costs. So the first Christmas we spent together in person is most generously described as low-key. We did have a tree (one ornament, and a string of lights from 1987) and put lights in the front windows. Dinner was so un-special I don't even recall what we had.
The next Christmas I'd planned ahead. We had several ornaments on a live dwarf spruce (now living happily in a pot at the back garden gate) and a less low-key meal. Whilst in the States with my son I found (in the clearance bin of course) five wood mini-gingerbread boys and six mini-stars. I brought them home and painted them, and I 'glitterfied' some tiny larch pine cones. Houston, we have Tree. Oh, it was kinda cute! We had a special meal wherein I proved to Paul I could roast a turkey rather nicely.
Christmas 2012...This year I had a few more ornaments (found some really lovely wooden laser cut sleighs and reindeer in the craft store) and a bigger plan-I'm still not sure how I managed it but somehow I talked Paul into considering a high quality 3' artificial Christmas tree. I think it was the 'You'll never have to buy another tree again in your life, and then I can put up the tree on the 1st of December every single year' so on the 18th of December when we still hadn't found the 'live' tree Paul was holding out for and the fab-oo-lux fake we wanted was sold out EVERYWHERE online, we grabbed a £3 artificial, pre-lit tree out of a bin at ASDA. Giggled all the way home at how incredibly awful a £3 artificial ASDA Christmas tree was going to be.
Got it home, out of the box and fluffed it out-OH HEY, that's not bad at all. (Thus potentially saving Paul close to £80 on the stunningly realistic Nordman Fir that was sold out all over the 'Net when he finally agreed to buy one). I had that thing decorated in half a heartbeat while listening to a Christmas movie on TV.
Despite the battery operated lights it is a very old fashioned looking tree:
Here's a close up of the laser cut sleighs and reindeer, I love these. They are so fragile several of the reindeer broke and I'm not sure I can save them but I plan to try. I threw that star topper together in about an hour, it has a peculiar charm with it's crooked patchwork and Paul says we'll keep it, lol:
As you can see from the picture, we even have very old fashioned looking gifts under the tree. And the gifts inside the brown paper wrapping are very nearly as old fashioned-we went VERY low tech! Watercolour pencils and colouring books for grown-ups (Paul's is so intricate each page has to be removed from the book and set up on an easel for painting). A Yahtzee game, a pack of Uno cards. The stockings were filled with sugared almonds, colouring books and crayons, ball and cup toys and balsa wood gliders. Christmas Eve we set an oil lamp in the study window (which fronts the street) to light the way for the Christ Child; all the dishes were washed, the bathroom cleaned (lol), the house dusted, and the floors vacuumed, and the tree lights were left on so Father Christmas would see, when he looked in to check, that Paul and Fox'sMom are keeping Christmas well.
We played Yahtzee all day with Christmas movies on TV until the Queen came on at 3pm for her annual address. We had already pulled our crackers so we were truly British-paper crowns still on-when the first notes of God Save The Queen sounded (first time either of us had heard it played as a flute solo, it was lovely really), and to be honest HRM's message did have us both tearing up a bit.
Dr Who, Call The Midwife, Downtown Abby. Yahtzee. One of the best beef joint roasts I've made or tasted with brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes-we were so full we couldn't force down the Christmas pudding so we're saving it for after lunch today. HAPPY CHRISTMAS! (no, sadly, no phone call from or to Fox. He's gone completely low tech himself this year, no mobile, no land line, and he never makes time to check his email at the library. But he's ok, and we're hoping to actually speak before New Years)
Roo contentedly played with his Christmas gift of a fluff ball on a string, guarding it from us by sleeping on it. I'd insert that picture but Paul hasn't emailed it to me yet, lol! He also enjoyed a small bit of roast beef and mashed potatoes, and a 'wee tot' of Christmas beer. Sigh. Paul puts a drop in a bottle cap because really, Roo is one very good little beggar for a drop of beer. One drop, he's happy and curls up at the foot of the bed but he can be very pushy about getting that drop!
Paul is a little closer to being more of a Mr Christmas. He actually bought me a set of clip-on Christmas Candle lights. Sadly those lights are too heavy to be placed on the tree so I'll be spending part of 2013 upcycling a strand of fairy lights into a set of miniature clip on candles because we really like the look of candles on a tree. The gliders, the ball and cup, and especially the Yahtzee, were the perfect gifts. He had the best Christmas he's had in years. Decades. We've decided this is the way the rest of our Christmas' will be-old fashioned and low-tech.
And now it's Boxing Day. We are hoping to get out for a walk around the loch, just waiting for the morning update on conditions out there to be posted online as there is no sense walking the mile to the loch only to find the paths are closed owing to excessive mud.
2012 will be over in six days. We've made our resolutions both as a couple and as individuals. We're moving house in the spring-smaller house in a smaller town-so we've been going through Paul's lifelong accumulation (hence the 300+ books donated to OxFam, fondue sets, furniture and clothing to the charity shops). We're beginning to rattle around this house like two dried peas in an emptied lozenge tin, downsizing is clearly a right decision for us. It's time to let this house go to a family with children who need a back garden, and wonderful neighbours, which ours are on all sides.
Life isn't perfect-the son and grandson are in America and we miss them both so much we have to not think about it. Easier said than done at the best of times but the horror in Connecticut makes it sooo much harder to be apart from them. What could anyone have done, yet I kept saying to Paul that I just want the grandson here so he's safe...but he's no safer here than anywhere else. Dunblane is south of us but people in our town have kin there and the unhealed scars of that horrific March morning were ripped open for most Scots 11 days ago. What can anyone say, there are no words.
Likewise no words for any of the other tragedies in the US and the UK. We were again horrified when those firefighters were murdered Christmas Eve morning, and when several people here were killed in traffic crashes as they braved the flooded and mudded motorways in an effort to get home for Christmas. The rains continue to pour down on the South of England, where there are now landslip warnings and people are not even safe if their houses escaped the flooding-one landslip in Wales crushed a row of homes and people barely made it out alive.
What will 2013 bring?