Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Today was a rather lovely day of family and work. It is usually about this time of year that I have to decide whether I am going to go all bah humbug and not feel very Christmassy at all, or whether I shall be singing Jingle Bells all the way. Officially, I adore the run-up to Christmas; that is what I always say. That is what I believe I believe. Then reality buckles under the weight of expectation, and I go grumpy. I start muttering under my breath about all the damn things that have to be done: the lists of presents, the finding of all the godchildren's postal addresses, scattered as they are over the British Isles and the west coast of America, the decorating of the house, the cooking of special Christmassy foods, the traditional fret that the lovely present I got for my brother-in-law in October now looks shoddy and gimcrack. And then there is the spending of the stupid amounts of money. At which point, I break out the gin.
Yesterday, I made the strict policy decision that I was going festive. The halls shall be decked. I was helped in my Christmassy mood by the discovery that the present cupboard was a perfect Aladdin's cave. I tend to buy presents throughout the year, as I find them, and put them in the present cupboard, and then, because I have no memory, I forget all about them. This year, possibly because of my book-crazed brain, I really did have no recollection at all. I was starting to panic about whether various online retailers would be able to deliver through the weather, when I thought: I'll just have a look in the cupboard. I must have got something, I thought.
It turned out I had got practically everything. I could not believe my eyes. I deserve a PhD in shopping. They are really good presents, too. I am slightly overcome by my own genius.
Since I had started rummaging, I decided I should get out the Christmas decorations. Here was another delightful surprise: they were much prettier and more pleasing than I had remembered. (There are times when the no memory is a rather wonderful thing: you get nice surprises like this one.)
In order not to overwhelm myself, I am doing rather minimal decorating this year. A bauble here, a wreath there, a splash of silver and red, and the thing is done. I am making good the omission of hundreds of actual Christmas objects with a mass of candles. I have a stupid number of votives, and have put in an industrial order for tea lights, and so the drawing room shall be filled with little flickering lights. It is giving me an inordinate amount of pleasure.
Into the newly decorated house came the adorable great nephew, for a Monday morning visit. He does not yet deign to speak, but smiles and laughs and points. He also very graciously allows the dogs to nudge him and kiss him, as if he is a small emperor, getting his due deference. (They have a very sweet adoration of small people; nothing cheers them up more than children in the house.) Then I took a nice beef stew to my mother, and helped the Heavenly stepfather with some important computer business. In an excellent piece of compound barter, he gave me a book by Disraeli's father, published in 1812, called Calamities of Authors, which could not be more lovely or appropriate. Then I came home, and defied calamity to write 879 words.
All of which is a very, very long way of saying: it was a good day. And you know I do not take that for granted.
Pictures of the day are of the Christmassy house. These were taken last night, with no flash, which is why they are all rather red and slightly out of focus. But in some ways, blurry red pictures could not be more appropriate, at this time of year:
And here are some from today's morning walk:
As you can see, it was mostly trees and leaves, today. But there was also the burn:
And the dear old hill:
And of course the dogs: