Way back when in the days before our lives were filled with the colour, the chaos and the merriment of three tiny people H and I used to spent the last few days of each year pretty much in hibernation. We’d usually have to work a few days but other than that we cosied in, pulled up the metaphorical drawbridge and settled down to enjoy ourselves. And more often than not we’d find ourselves sat at opposite ends of our dinner table, while the tree sparkled under as many fairy lights as we could get on it, and a suitably cheesy movie played in the background. I’d have my knitting, or be cutting for a quilt, or making felt tree ornaments and there was a year when I concocted a whole series of beaded snowflakes and stars, and H would be sketching, or painting, or just playing with his newest colours, watching them swirl under the brush and working out how they all played together.
I wouldn’t swap those days for the Christmases I have now, but I remember them fondly. And it seems I don’t have to, because the apples haven’t fallen too far from the tree.
One bitterly cold morning we pulled out a box of t-shirts and lovely bits and bobs with which to decorate them that we were sent by Buytshirtsonline and set to making the most wonderfully brightly coloured decorated shirts we could manage.
And while the girls may have surprised us by picking Minions over Olaf for their transfer of choice, it came as absolutely no surprise that they went straight for the pink and the glitter sparkles when it came time to decorate them.
Kitty went for stars on the sleeves, some more stars on the front and a fetching variety of squiggles, while Elma decided that more was definitely more …
… and poured puddles of paint onto all the bits of her t-shirt that we could reach, and a good deal of herself.
The t-shirt we solved by folding it over on itself and distributing a bit of the paint around the place, the tiny girl had to be referred to the bath and some ferocious scrubbing to get clean!
I think Elma might be onto something with her decorating style though (and if she turns out to be a fabulous textiles designer in years to come you heard it here first), it was wonderfully messy and a lot of fun and it was never really going to matter what the shirts looked like in the end (though for the record the girls are very proud of their creations).
I love to make things, and I love to spend time with my family; especially the relaxed sort of time where no one has anywhere to be, or has to rush off to start supper or unload the washing machine or any one of a dozen chores that keep the household ticking over, and I suspect the best way to pass that on to my children is to lead by example; to make and bake and create, without pressure or expectation, and to pull them along for the ride.
And it appears that they are all too willing accomplices! I know that when I look at these shirts I don’t see Minions and a trail of falling glitter so much as the memories of Michael Buble playing in the background, Elma’s down of concentration as she tried to squeeze out even more pink paint, Kitty making stars, happy smiles and the memories of a morning spent in the sunshine.
It’s definitely how Christmas should feel, but it’s how the rest of the year should be too. I think that the lull over Christmas, the holidays that don’t involve actually going on holiday give me a great excuse to do all the things that I want to do as a family but which logistics or the conveyor belt of domesticity get in the way of and have me think “another day”. But it shouldn’t take a holiday or a box of sparkles in the post. We paint and draw in some form or other most days but I think that if I truly want to pass on my love of creating then I need to pull out the big projects a little more often and not put them off because it’ll be time for supper soon, or we still need to hoover or fold laundry, or, well, you know how that list goes.
I’m not exactly unhappy about the amount of messy creativity in the family, it’s just I can’t be the only one with a few projects tucked away in a cupboard, waiting for the perfect moment to bring them out.
I just need to keep reminding myself that now is the right moment, that materials are always replaceable and that you’ll never end up with a masterpiece if you don’t play at scribbling first.
And as for leading by example; well occasionally the children have been known to entertain us with a strange and mysterious notion called sleep, and while they did so, H and I found ourselves once again at opposite ends of the dinner table. He spent Christmas sketching
and claims he might finish painting around Christmas 2015. Meanwhile I entertained myself with a this:
And I’m loving every stitch of it!