It feels curiously unhurried around here this morning. In my head the run up to Christmas is all about running around making extraordinary amounts of food, the oven on or most of the day spitting out mince pies and gingerbread men at appropriate intervals while I simultaneously clean the house, wrap the remaining presents and desperately try to finish off everyone’s Christmas presents. And while mince pies and gingerbread are on the list for today, all of the shopping was done yesterday (Pip and I left the house at 6.45am and returned at 8.24 having been to both the butcher’s and Sainsburys proving that while insane, it is definitely the way to go) and with a bit of luck and a following wind I should have done today’s to do list by lunchtime.
Perhaps it’s the unexpected advantage of having had a viewing for our house earlier this week so that it’s already tidier than we could ever have imagined possible, perhaps it’s having had so many days off ahead of the big day and finally letting my mind have a rest but it feels rather wonderful.
The last few days at home have been wonderful and I’m sure that’s contributed to the general sense of ease and relaxed excitement. We’ve made mince pies together, had a really rubbish go at potato printing to make wrapping paper (great stamps, wrong sort of paint I think), played a lot of trains, done colouring in, and sang every Christmas carol all five of us can come up with.
A couple of weeks ago I took a conscious decision that I was not not not spending the run up to Christmas desperately trying to pack everything in and busting a gut to get the impossible finished; I’ve been doing that far too often to far too long in the real job and what I need more than anything this Christmas is unhurried time. My plan of the summer, to knit all three a jumper for Christmas was looking unachievable quite a while ago when I realised that knitting my very very tall Kitty a jumper in 4ply just wasn’t going to happen, and then this week it had a major rethink. the original amended plan had been to do something else for Kitty, to finish Elma’s Christmas cardigan by her birthday and then power on through Pip’s Christmas hoodie in the remaining 13 days, all the while knitting John’s socks on the train too and from work.
Well Elma’s is finished, and I’ve turned the heel on the first sock, but Pip’s jumper is currently four inches of hem. I knew on Monday that I could knit like the wind and I would be done in time, except, I found I didn’t want to. Knitting, and any other sort of making is my expression of love to the recipient and love should never be rushed or be a chore. I wanted to make him this adorable jumper stitch by stich, treasuring the yarn, the memories of the shop in Paris where we bought it, and my darling little boy. I know I need to get it finished this winter because it may not fit by next but I don’t mind it being an Epiphany present after all.
Taking conscious decisions to step away from the stress is all very well, but the need to make something handmade, a Mama-made present for each of them is written through my core. John won’t mind that his socks come part knit, but I didn’t want Elma to be the only one with a finished something. So John and I came up with a plan; he took the children out on Wednesday and I spent the day at home, mostly on my own, and on Thursday I took the children to soft play for three hours where we met up with several of Kitty’s friends from her old school, and he pottered around at home and had a round of golf with his friends.
My day was spent sewing on buttons, sewing up a skort (yay for Oliver + S patterns) and inventing an apron all of which I am looking forward to telling you about in due course. It was the perfect way to unwork at the start of the holidays, to swap piles of paper for thread and needles, and I think it’s set the tone, and it meant that in one fell swoop I was done.
And so today we will whirl through the food prep, make cake, drew up for the crib service at church and watch our two little angels bring glad tidings and a sprinkling of tinsel. We’ll tuck them up in bed with the same stories we read every Christmas, and wonder how long it will take them to fall so deeply asleep that it’s safe for Father Christmas to work magic. It’s going to be busy and exciting and all the things that Christmas with a 6, 4 and 2 year old should be, but most of all, there will be peace, even in the noisiest moments.
Perhaps if our Christmas is to have a theme it is peace, and it’s what I wish for each and every one of you this Christmas:
May the joy of the angels,
the eagerness of the shepherds,
the perseverance of the wise men,
the obedience of Joseph and Mary
and the peace of the Christ-child be yours this Christmas