Monthly Archives: December 2007


This was Rosamundi’s suggestion to describe my intake of alcohol. Mind you, she also described it as binge drinking, seeing as virtually all the alcohol I drink is imbibed in a short space of time.

Not so this year. As Honorary Auntie M’s eyesight deteriorates and she becomes unable to drive after dark (without turning into a pumpkin), it is now me who provides transport when we go to see Father Christmas at Havenstreet. So no longer am I able to indulge in a free glass of mulled wine while we wait. To add insult to injury, Honorary Auntie M is really tee-total so she doesn’t even benefit from my abstinence. And while the alcohol level of the wine is probably quite low, I can’t drink it at all because I’ve taught the boys that the only way to be completely sure you’re not in danger of driving while under the influence is not to have any alcohol at all. I know for a fact that, because I don’t drink as a rule, I could be under the limit and yet still not really safe to be in charge of a vehicle! However, I did succumb when the local farm shop offered me a glass of mulled wine diluted with a huge amount of lemonade – and very nice it was too.

But as though that weren’t enough of a reduction in my alcohol intake (by about a quarter!), Father Christmas had another shock in store for me. I’d bought in my miniature bottle of sherry for the purely altruistic purpose of leaving the man in red a glassful out to wash down his mince pie. And what does he tell the Smudgelet? He says he’s gone off mince pies and wants a choc-chip cookie instead, and that because he doesn’t drink and drive he’d rather have a glass of milk. A glass of milk and a choc-chip cookie??? I hate choc chip cookies (at least, I hate the double choc ones which Smudgelet bought especially) and my annual alcohol quota is now cut by half!!!

Christmas surprise

There’s something rather magical about smuggling a huge, real Christmas tree into the new dining room through the rather convenient french windows under cover of darkness.
Smudgelet and Tiddles think this: Wonky Christmas tree in the new lobby is our tree this year but actually it’s just a chance to have lights showing through our new front-door window and to distract visitors’ attention away from the unfinished wetroom which I’m using as a store room at the moment.

But once they were both in bed (alas, my teenager no longer goes off to be so conveniently early!), I was able to do my smuggling trick. It’s now in pride of place in the new room, fully decorated and with lovely lights aglow. It’s got my favourite decorations on it, a fimo nativity set in bright colours and with such attractive designs. I must take a photo of those. I had to put the decorations fairly high on the tree to discourage Charlie, but he had other ideas than simply chasing baubles – he walked straight in and settled himself down to sleep contentedly under the tree.

People usually put presents under their tree

The boy is delighted with his new room, even though it isn’t yet finished and has loads of boxes stored along one side of it. He’s installed himself and settled in.


As for me, I’m still frantically trying to rediscover my lounge and my bedroom (especially the latter before Saturday… if you’re reading this, Melangell, you will have a bed to sleep in, I promise!!!) but am utterly delighted finally to have reached the work surfaces and floor after hours of excavation in the kitchen….
I took photos so that I would remember what it looked like before my brother returns and work recommences in January.

bright and shiny againMust remember what the kitchen looks likeKitchen - look, you can see it!

Thank you those of you who have been praying for Smudgelet in his round of misery. He stayed home from school yesterday and it was good to spend that time with him, talking and working together. He didn’t totally open up, but we were able to talk through one area that was bugging him, which was friendships. He’s delighted today to have his brother back too, and to have some lights for his mini Christmas tree courtesy of his wonderful honorary auntie M. I can guess at much of what’s going on inside but doubt I’ll ever really know. I just pray that God will grant him some peace and a real sense of joy as Christmas approaches.

Goodness, look at the time – I think I should be in bed, don’t you?

Santa makes an enemy

This Saturday I decided that Smudgelet and I needed some quality, stress-free time together. He’s been driving me up the wall just recently and we’ve got into a bit of a vicious circle as he’s creating so much extra work as a protest against me being busy working, I get irritable, he gets sulky and intensifies his silent protest by leaving doors wide open, leaving the milk out of the fridge, spilling drinks, leaving the taps running and lights on, putting the lid loose on the coffee jar so it all spills, refusing to do homework unless I sit with him, ignoring his single chore which is loading and unloading the dishwasher or deliberately doing it badly so nothing washes, dropping his clothes on the floor etc etc etc. I then get irritable, which makes him think I don’t love him and don’t do anything but nag and so goes into a sulk and steps up the protest another notch….. Get the picture?

Well, Saturday we decided that we’d get up early, slip clothes on quickly, and head out for the morning. A real indulgence – breakfast at the nearby garden centre which takes Christmas decoration to extremes! It was wonderful. We sat huddled together in the almost-empty cafe, gobbling full English breakfasts with decadent glee (though rather shiverily decadant seeing as Smudgelet had an urge to sit at the far end of the new conservatory instead of in the cafe and it was a particularly frosty morning.

Then we “did” the decorations. Oh, how I wish I’d taken my camera. There were wonderful displays – the same ones as every year but no less enchanting for that. A nativity, an Arctic scene with penguins and polar bears and seals, parachuting penguins, and a delightful lifesize Father Christmas sitting in a rocking chair by the fire and reading stories to two sleeping reindeer. They’re such gentle tableaux, with sympathetic choice of movement e.g. the tiny reindeer curled up asleep by the fire has a chest which softly rises and falls with each “breath”, the penguin just moves a flipper now and then, the lamb in the stable moves its head slightly. And the whole place is festooned with different decorations and lights, although both Smudgelet and I were disappointed with the trends this year which resulted in most of the decorations being really quite kitschy if you looked at them individually (though this helped me avoid spending money, of course).

Having been promised that he could buy a decoration and feeling most miffed that he didn’t like any of the “cheap” ones (if you can call up to £10 cheap) and I refused to pay for any of the more expensive ones he wanted (oh, it was like taking a moaning and demanding two-year-old, but I managed somehow to maintain my patience!!!), Smudgelet asked if he could go and see Santa. I decided you’re only young once. Even though we’ve had the “S” talk (and more recently the toothfairy talk ;o) ) , or maybe even because we’ve had the “S” talk, Smudgelet throws himself whole heartedly into the magic of Father Christmas. He happily went in, dragging me with him, to see the man in red …I suspect it was mainly with the mercenary intention of getting a present out of him, seeing as I wouldn’t let him buy anything!!! But he chatted merrily with Santa and was polite and friendly and not too demanding. Santa then dipped in one of his sacks, asking Smudgelet as he passed it over what he enjoyed doing at school. Smudgelet replied that he liked ICT and reading. Santa smiled – “In that case I think you’ll really enjoy this” he said.

As we left, Smudgelet was very restrained, waiting for permission before eagerly ripping off the wrapping from his cuboid (book shaped) present. He was sure it was going to be a new book. His face was an absolute picture when he finally opened it and saw what Santa had given him.

“Learn to count” dominoes :o)

Oh, hash it!

I seem to have suffered an attack of the censors.
The sharp pointy little sticks which one uses to represent the seasons and to impale one’s jelly tots onto are named after the rear plumage of a male hen.

Christingle (for Miss Lisa)

I wondered whether everyone would know what a Christingle service is. I love it – as do many people. Explanation to follow.

It originated about 200 years ago when a Moravian (I think) clergyman used it as a way of getting people more aware of the gift of Christ to the world. It’s become increasingly popular in the UK in recent years with many churches holding a special Christingle service some time in the pre- or post-Christmas period when the evenings are dark. The Children’s Society (charity) took the concept and promoted it quite widely too, which may be a reason why it is so widespread. Some churches present people with pre-made Christingles but we like to make our own, each sharing the materials and helping each other as we go.

First take your orange. The orange, being conveniently almost round but usually quite happy to stand upright rather than roll around, represents the world. It also fits quite nicely into the palms of your hands, just as the world is in God’s hand.

Then take four ######## sticks and stick them into the orange in each of the four “corners”. These represent the four seasons. Onto the ######## sticks go a plethora (or at least one) of dried fruits (and sometimes small sweeties) to represent the fruits of the earth which God provides and all the good things he has given us. The bounty of all the seasons and from every corner of the earth. (I get a bit irritated when they only give you enough for one or two raisins on each stick – it looks a bit paultry, hardly representative of the abundance that God has given us! – I think I may top our ######## sticks up a bit! :o) )

Next comes the ribbon. This represents the life and death of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, the love of Jesus which goes all the way around the world like a big hug. It is red to show that Jesus died for the world.

Into the top of the orange, then, goes a tall white candle. No prizes for guessing the symbolism of this bit. This is Jesus, the Light of the world.

When the Christingles are completed, we light one from the candles on our advent wreath. The church lights are put out and the flame is passed from candle to candle, christingle to christingle, until the whole room is lit up with these tiny lights. It’s lovely. It symbolises the passing of the Good News until the light of Jesus lights up every dark corner of the world.

The Christingles then come home with us, to stand on the mantlepiece, to be lit from time to time, and strangely somehow the part representing the fruits of the earth seem gradually to diminish ;o) The aroma from the oranges is lovely, of course, and feels really quite Christmassy.

Mmmmmm, cosy toes!

The central heating is working.
At least for now.
The plumber came, he saw, he redirected pipes (without completely dismantling kitchen – I just have a few cupboards to reorganise) and he left with the boiler draining merrily. Long may it last. We still don’t quite understand how it managed to drain some of the time but not others.

On the other hand Smudgelet has just arrived home from school with the news that it’s fancy dress tomorrow!!! You have to admire the optimism of some teachers, don’t you?