Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas

It's hard to sum up the spirit of a season in a few short sentences or capture the magic of a miracle in words.

Christmas this year was busy and exhausting and joyful and wonderful.

There was exuberance and calm, extravagance and magic, and through it all, a small boy who soaked up the season like a sponge and then radiated its glory to everyone he met.  

Tonight, as I sit and and look back over the photos I took and the memories I made, I feel nothing but gratitude. Gratitude for family, gratitude for a season of celebration, gratitude for a small boy to share it with, and gratitude for the awesome opportunity to open up a miracle for him and shower him with that special sort of magic that only comes at Christmas.

  

 

Friday, 21 December 2012

Oh Christmas Tree!

IMG_1788IMG_1789IMG_1791IMG_1794

Lessons Learnt from Decorating the Tree:

1. Erecting the tree is a serious business. Appropriate headgear must be worn.

2. Filling the bucket with gravel is man work. No interference necessary.

3. No matter how you try to market it, fairy lights will never be as interesting to a two-year-old as a bucket full of gravel.

4. There must be some (rather heated) discussion over whether carols or cheesy Christmas tunes are the most appropriate music to accompany the tree decorating process.

5. Cheesy Christmas tunes will start to grate on the nerves at exactly the same moment that the (rather heated) discussion about the correct way to place the fairy lights begins.

6. It will take a matter of minutes for the bottom two branches of the tree to hold 80% of the decorations.

7. Re-distribution of decorations (and fairy lights) must be done stealthily to avoid upset.
8. When tree decorating gets dull it's a relief to have a bucket of gravel to fall back on.

9. If you own a single glass ornament, it is guaranteed to get dropped.
10. When tensions begin to mount, turn off the cheesy Christmas tunes and dim all the lights. Against all the odds, magic has been created.

IMG_1809IMG_1830IMG_1832
IMG_1835
IMG_1813

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Light in the Dark

IMG_1614IMG_1615
IMG_1616
IMG_1626

It seems to me that the world could use a bit more light just now. It could use a little magic, a little sparkle, a little hope to get us through the darkness.

And so we've twisted lights around the branches of the mulberry tree that grows outside our door. The lights shine in the darkness, and the world is a little brighter.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Advent Candle

IMG_1747 

Every night, when his story's finished, I light John's advent candle and turn off the light.

For a moment, there is nothing but blackness as I snuggle back under the covers with my boy, and then a hush comes over the room as we see the angels circling on the ceiling.

Silently, nestled close together, we watch the spectacle unfold; the flickering flame, the twirling windmill, the tiny silver angels spinning through space and the shadows dancing about the walls.

"Let's put our hands together," I whisper, and John sits with his palms pressed tightly together, waiting for my prayer.

For a moment, I say nothing, unsure how to begin, and then thankfulness drops from my lips in a simple list of gratitude. The words are simple. The sentences are few. But it feels uncomplicated and true and real.

And even though I've never fully understood the hows and whys of prayer, in those quiet moments beside my boy something intangible is touched upon, and when we've both said "Amen" and I've opened up my eyes, I'm no longer sure whether the patterns circling on the ceiling are just shadows from the candle or the feathery tips of angel wings after all.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Advent

IMG_1521
IMG_1601
IMG_1527
IMG_1708

Every day, John asks me: "It Christmas time now mummy?" and every day I tell him "No, it's not Christmas time yet, it's Advent. It's the time when we get ready for Christmas."  

And even though his little face falls and he sighs a little exaggerated sigh, I can't share his disappointment, because, for me, Advent is as important as Christmas time itself.

Advent seems to have become a forgotten season in a country that can't wait for Christmas, but really Advent is a period of preparation.

It's about waiting, and promise and an expectation of joy. It's about the simple magic of a candle flame and shivers of awe at the first chorus of carols.

It's about a dining table covered with glitter and a kitchen floor dotted with holly berries. It's about floury worktops and lists on the fridge and a sense of urgency that stays with you throughout.

It's about washing windows and polishing wood, and making cards and buying gifts. It's about bringing greenery in from the cold and planning magic in secret.

It's about cold churches that smell of pine by day, and glow from within by night and it's about thinking and praying and opening our spirits to the possibility of change.   

It's about making ready for a miracle. I can't imagine Christmas without it.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Little Donkey

IMG_1593 
IMG_1593IMG_1588IMG_1585

I thought he'd be a shy donkey or a reluctant donkey or no donkey at all. But instead he was a happy, confident donkey who ran crazily about the church in his floppy donkey hat, sat happily by himself whilst he awaited his turn in the play, stood smiling and holding my hand whilst I read his lines for him, and made everybody smile with his crazy donkey cuteness.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but as little donkeys go, this one was close to perfect.

IMG_1565

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Miracle

IMG_1411

He stands there in a sudden burst of sunshine and he has no idea. He has no idea that he's perfect. He has no idea that he's beautiful. He has no idea that he's the light of my life. He has no idea that he's a miracle.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A Winter Walk

IMG_1447
IMG_1426IMG_1436IMG_1397IMG_1483
IMG_1455
IMG_1464IMG_1457

The sun shone, so I bundled us both in the car without a second thought for the cold and when we arrived the iciness of the sunshine startled us.

We ran across the board walk, the wind cutting through our coats and stinging in our ears, and only once we'd made it into the shelter of the trees did we slow our pace and notice the startling golden light that was pooling all about us.

We played pooh sticks on the tiny troll bridge, John climbed trees and clambered over stumps and I took photos of my boy and marvelled at the beauty of the clear winter's light that was captured on my camera.

And even though my toes ached and John's lips turned a little blue, but there was an uncomplicated joy in his smiles and a freedom to his run.

"I really happy now Mummy," said John, cuddling up to my leg for an instant as I walked and smiling up at me with big, honest eyes.

"Me too," I told him, ruffling his hair before he ran off again into the woods.  "Me too."

IMG_1421