I found December quite overwhelming. I’m usually pretty good at managing all the festive madness (lists are my superpower!) but this year felt a little more challenging than usual.
Juggling all the balls of work and home and school and Christmas and birthdays, alongside the additional and most important part of keeping everyone fully healthy and well so we could see family between Christmas and New Year, was a lot. Looking back now I realise that I didn’t actually have anything extra to do (other than multiple lateral flow tests for all five of us!), it was more about all the extra things I (and everyone else around me) was feeling.
The pressure of wanting to make the season as magical as possible; plus all the uncertainty about whether any new restrictions might come into play and ruin plans; plus seeing how virulent the new Omicron variant of Covid19 was becoming almost tipped me over the edge but I just about managed to hold it together long enough to get everything organised, fulfil all of my work commitments and do fun things with the girls.
Sadly our mini-Christmas with my Mum and Stepdad and a much anticipated trip to London with Ella had to be postponed as my body had other ideas and I ended up being really quite poorly with a rotten cold during Chrimbo Limbo. I’m grateful it was just a cold and nothing worse – it’s just been a while since I’ve been ill in any way at all so it really took it out of me. We’re hoping to rearrange everything for January instead.
Despite the overwhelm and no-one really feeling very Christmassy there were of course lots of really lovely moments this month as well and I’ve tried to focus on those as much as possible.
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately in December…
A Girl Made Of Air: I’m about halfway through ‘A Girl Made Of Air’ by Nydia Hetherington and enjoying it so far. It has similar vibes to ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern (which I read earlier this year and absolutely loved) and at the same time it’s really quite different in the narrative and style.
It’s definitely intriguing and I have no idea how it’s going to finish, which to me is always a sign of a good book. The timeline of the story moves back and forth a lot so it’s a book that needs concentrating on – I’m only managing short bursts of a chapter or so at a time at the moment. It has beautifully descriptive details which transport me instantly to the different settings of the story and I almost don’t want it to end.
Strictly final: It was a good one! I’d predicted who the three finalists would be after the very first episode back in September and I was right! It was sad that AJ and Kai had to drop out due to injury. They were so gracious about it and I really felt for them. I think the right couple won in the end and I’m absolutely thrilled for Rose and Giovanni – they 100% deserved first place even though John and Johannes gave their very best. Strictly Come Dancing is one of the very few things I actually watch on TV and I wish it could run all year round so that we don’t now have to wait until September for the next series.
Pantomime: We really missed the pantomime last year when everything was cancelled because of the pandemic. It’s become a family tradition over the last five or six years or so and it’s one I fully intend to keep going for as long as I’m able to. I was thrilled to find out that this year’s performance of Snow White at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre would be going ahead and booked tickets as soon as they were released.
The show was very funny and the actors were brilliant. Their rendition of ‘The Twelve Days Of Lockdown’ had me cry-laughing – you know the kind where your shoulders shake and your tummy hurts and tears roll down your face but no sound actually comes out of your mouth because you’re laughing so hard? Yeah, that.. Next year’s pantomime is going to be Cinderella and I’m already looking forward to it.
Be slow: ‘Be Slow’ by Harrison Storm is my new current favourite song which I am playing on repeat on Spotify whilst I’m editing in the evenings. I’m also loving Ed Sheeran’s new album ‘=’ and Adele’s new album ’30’, both of which I was lucky enough to get for Christmas.
Curating The Curious podcast: I’m not typically a very auditory learner – I much prefer seeing things written down. However, when I do the ironing on a Sunday morning ready for the week ahead, I’ve created a little habit of listening to a couple of different podcasts on Spotify. I have a long list of podcasts that I want to listen to and at the moment I’m working my way through Curating The Curious, created by LeAnna Azzolini who I have followed on social media for a long time.
This month I’ve listened to interviews with Stormy Solis, a photographer I greatly admire, and David duChemin, who I’d not heard of before but now want to learn as much as possible about. Stormy’s story of humble beginnings and how she created a life that she now loves was very inspiring and the thing that’s really stayed with me from her episode were the words: “Listen to the whispers”.
David’s whole way of being was calming and interesting and left me wanting to know more – his whole philosophy on life fits so well with my own and there were so many things I took from his interview that I ended up with 2 whole A4 sides of notes (and not much ironing actually got done!). He was fascinating and intriguing and his ideas made me think differently and challenged me and I found myself nodding along too. Well worth a listen (to any of the episodes) if you get the chance.
Activity Advent Calendar: The Activity Advent Calendar that I put together last year was such a hit that the girls begged to do it all over again this year. It’s a lot of work and there are usually some days where we don’t quite manage to do it all but if it brings that much joy to them then I’m absolutely here for it. I switched out some of the activities from 2020 and added in a couple of new ones instead – ice skating this year! – as well as continuing with old favourites and traditions, like festive hot chocolate and writing Christmas cards and wrapping presents. I think they enjoyed it. There have already been conversations pondering what might be in next year’s version so I’m calling it a win.
Gingerbread house: Another tradition we’ve had since the girls were small has been to decorate a gingerbread house every year. I couldn’t find one last year so it ended up being gingerbread biscuits instead (just as much fun and just as tasty by the way!) but this year I managed to snap one up early and I hid it away until the Christmas holidays. I think it might just be our best one yet! Of course it was demolished within a few days of being built and decorated – that’s all part of the fun too.
Orange garland: We made our first ever orange garland last year and I loved the way it filled the house with it’s warm, citrussy scent so I decided to make one again this year too. I’ll make one more next year I think and then we’ll have a full set of garlands to decorate our tree and/or mantlepiece with.
Festive bakes: Ella made a batch of her signature chocolate and olive oil cupcakes (decorated to look like Christmas puddings) which somehow all mysteriously disappeared within a few days. I love that she’s confident enough to make them all by herself now with absolutely no input from me whatsoever.
Earrings: After Lola had her ears pierced in the summer, it was Ella’s turn this month to get her ears pierced as one of her birthday presents. She was a little nervous beforehand and did go very pale afterwards, bless her, but she’s pleased with them and they really suit her! She chose a pair of pretty, little, clear, crystal studs and is already excited to swap them out for different earrings in a few weeks time when they’ve fully healed.
Ella’s 15th birthday: December is a month full of festive birthdays in our household, and Ella’s birthday kickstarts the celebrations in the first week. She turned 15 this year and I still can’t quite believe it! She’s taller than me now and becoming the most wonderful human. She opted for quite a low-key celebration, choosing for us to go bowling as a family followed by a pizza takeaway for dinner. She was thrilled with all of her presents (which consisted mostly of books of course).
Neil’s birthday: The husband also has a festive birthday a few days before Christmas so throughout December our house is a curious combination of Christmas cards and decorations mixed in with birthday cards and balloons all over the place. It’s become a tradition in the last couple of years that he has birthday doughnuts instead of a cake. We ended up with a takeaway and tv rather than going out for dinner and a movie (purely because of work and childcare circumstances) but we’re very much hoping to be able to rectify that in the new year.
Christmas: Christmas Day is only ever just the five of us at home and it’s usually relatively quiet. We always open Santa sacks and presents from under the tree in the morning before calling various family members to wish them a happy Christmas. Last year Ella put together an awesome Christmas Quiz for us all to do – she works really hard on it, it takes her ages and she loves doing the research and putting it all together. I’d asked her to do another one for us this year as it was so much fun so we did that in the afternoon before eating our Christmas dinner in the evening. It was declared “The best Christmas dinner you’ve ever made Mum” (!) so that was really heart-warming to hear.
We were all very lucky with our Christmas gifts. The girls were thrilled with their Poooli printer (Ella, a mini, portable, thermal printer for her to use with her bullet journal), Instax polaroid camera (Mimi), and beanbag chair (Lola, for her bedroom). I got Neil tickets to see Olly Murs live at a local venue later on in 2022 and he got me an Instax camera too, which I love! There were also LOTS of books.
The final chapter of 2021 has now closed and we’re just about to start a brand new year. Of course no-one has any idea what 2022 is going to bring – hopefully less disruption to school life, more time with the people who matter, far less time spent indoors and the ability to travel confidently again *crosses fingers and toes*.
We have some plans in place for 2022 that we are very much hoping will go ahead and there are lots of blank pages too that I’m hoping to fill with happy memories and meaningful moments.
I hope that overall December was a good month for you and that you found plenty of little things to love, even if it did look and feel different to how you wanted it to because of Covid or any other reason. I hope that the start of the new year is as positive as possible for you, and that you carry health and happiness with you each day as you move through the next set of twelve chapters in your life.
Here’s to 2022 and everything it brings.
Stay well x
(Joining in with Sincerely Anna and #LittleLoves)