Celebrating quietly and looking forward to the New Year

Today is already the Fifth Day of Christmas.

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We have five little booties hanging from a red ribbon on our mantlepiece to mark the passing of the days and we are enjoying reading our post-Christmas books. We always save reading Wenceslas until Boxing Day (26th December) and The Twelve Days of Christmas and the Babouschka stories come out on Christmas Day. We love singing around here and especially love a rousing song of Good King Wenceslas and The Twelve Days of Christmas :-).

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I had meant to write before, but we haven’t been feeling too good here, so I have been too exhausted to write in the evenings, which is when I usually write.  My husband has had a virus for over three weeks and my daughters and I have sore throats on and off and are easily tired out. We are trying to keep the virus at bay with regular diffusions of the “Four Thieves” oil combination (Clove, Lemon, Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Cinammon) as found here. I also rub the Onguard oil from Doterra on the children’s feet and have been known to drink it in warm mulled apple juice :-). I  really do think it is helping, but we are not on form right now, so we are staying low key and have had to cancel many of our lovely arrangements with friends, which is a shame, but can’t be helped.

The lead up to Christmas was actually very nice and slow. (I think starting earlier with my preparations helped a lot). On the 23rd, we spent a lovely day with friends running around a National Trust place near us, eating spicy biscuits and doing a winter trail.

On Christmas Eve, my daughters and I went to a Christingle Service at a local church; something we have done for many years. It always marks the start of Christmas for us. The service was beautiful and all the children were involved in setting up the stable. The Nativity story was told to us in such a detailed and imaginative way; it engaged both young and old alike. The sun had set as we left the Church and it felt like magic was in the air; as we imagined the imminent arrival of baby Jesus and of Father Christmas (!) during the night.

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There was much excitement as the girls hung their stockings, wrote their notes to Father Christmas and prepared a mince pie and a small glass of Baileys for Father Christmas and a carrot for the reindeer. The girls also received new pyjamas on Christmas Eve – something we have done for many years and is awaited by them with great anticipation! We also look at the Norad Santa tracker to see where Father Christmas is. It really captures the girls’ imagination.

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I managed to finish the Phoebe mice I have been knitting for my daughters. It was a close call and I was up until late on Christmas Eve still sewing the eyes, eyelashes and nose on (!), but it was so worth it. My daughters were delighted and are really loving their new friends Lily Lou (in blue) and Phoebe (in pink).

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My eldest daughter even said today that she loves her doll more every day. How to melt a mama’s heart 🙂

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I realised late on that I never did a gauge swatch and I think I used the wrong yarn too! (I was trying to use up  yarn I had left over from some ponchos I made my daughters last Christmas), so they may well be on the larger size! I also found I had quite a few gaps around the face and neck, so I wove the gaps together as neatly as I could. The Phoebe in the pink dress needed a scarf to hide her rather gaunt looking neck! But my youngest daughter is happy with her so that’s all that matters.

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Their dresses are also different lengths. I blame late night knitting!!!….

My daughters have asked me to knit them a cardigan each as they think they are feeling the cold! So I have printed out the Phoebe Mouse Sweater pattern to take away to knit when we go on holiday to the Canary Islands in a few days time. They will hopefully be nice and warm in their cardigans on their return to the UK in January 🙂

I made a start last night as I was itching to get knitting again.

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It is nice to be knitting with no deadline this time. I was up until 1am on more nights than I care to recall! It’s no surprise I am a bit worse for wear now, I suppose?

The girls made us some little homemade Christmas presents too, which we have hung in the tree. These are mine:

And these are for my husband to hang in his van:

My eldest also made her sister a secret Christmas skirt at her Dressmaking class. She has made her sister very happy!  I was so pleased to find this fabric in mid-December, as a lot of shops were running out of pretty, affordable Christmas fabrics and my youngest loves gingerbread men.

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I still haven’t finished the sewing projects I started here as we didn’t end up seeing many friends or any relatives in the weeks before Christmas, due to my husband being ill, so I have put these projects on hold until the New Year, when I will have more time.

On the 27th we had a dear friend round for food, fun and several rounds of charades! It made a nice change from just being us ( even if it wore us out somewhat…). She is a dear friend to us all and sometimes looks after our daughters for us for a day, so my husband and I can have some much needed time together.Our daughters just adore her: she is quiet and thoughtful like them and creative with a good sense of humour, so they are well matched. 🙂

We made a selection of sweet treats to enjoy over the festive break. We try to make them with minimal sugar and wheat free. Some were better than others, but my daughters are used to these experiments 😉 and very much enjoyed having lots of biscuits to choose from!

As for the Nature table, it is full now. The fourth week of Advent brought the Shepherds to the hill, the Inn Keeper, the Angels and of course Baby Jesus on Christmas Day. I made these figures eight years ago. Mary isn’t in the right colours and I could definitely improve on them now that I have better sewing skills (I first learnt to hand sew in our Parent and Child group, when my eldest was two and this is where my love of making things for my children and for the Nature Table began), but somehow I never do. They belong to the Nature Table and what would I do with them otherwise? They are imbued with something special from all the years of walking the star path!

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Here is the angel (who climbs the blue silk ribbon star path) telling the Shepherds the good news on Christmas Day.

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And here are the shepherds arriving at the stable the next day with their sheep in tow.

The three wise men  have begun their journey to Bethlehem, where they will arrive on the 6th January ( Epiphany).

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They are making their way across our lounge to the Nature Table; a little way further each day. We don’t have camels, so are making do with these elephants (I just noticed one seems to be going backwards – Oops!)

The Christmas Play that our daughters performed for us was great. We weren’t allowed to take photos, so that we were fully present and didn’t distract them, but here is our entrance flyer and Rudolph 🙂 We were impressed how well it flowed and the igloo I mentioned here worked out well for all the costume changes too. 🙂

That’s our Christmas so far. Here are a few more photos of things that appear on Christmas Day.

We will be leaving for the Canary Islands on the 31st December, so I have a fair bit of packing to do until then and will have to take our decorations down tomorrow too 😦 . I am putting together, the things that we traditionally do on New Years Eve, to take with us and thought I would share them with you, despite this being a very long post and my being rather tired… I hope it makes sense!

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We are going to choose five stars each and write down something we enjoyed in 2016 on each of the stars. It can be very simple, but it is a great way to focus on gratitude and the good things that have happened in our lives. We will then hang them up as a garland, using the little pegs. In years gone by, I have cut out little leaves from green paper and pegged them to a branch as shown in this photo.

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The burlap will be tied around some greenery (that we hope to find) and we will write our wishes for 2017 on paper and tie it all up to be burned, so we can send those wishes out to the universe. Last year we burned them in our wood burner.

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We also do another lovely tradition that I thought I would share here in case any of you would like to do the same? There is something similar in the book All Year Round.

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I have gathered up these treasures to take with us.

You will need:

  • Dark blue tissue paper
  • Walnut halves – one per person
  • Little birthday candles – one per person
  • A pack of angel cards
  • Crystals and coins – for the abundance corner
  • A key and shells – for the adventure corner
  • Hearts – for the love corner
  • A pine cone, a toadstool and greenery – for the healing corner
  1. Lay the dark blue tissue paper into a shallow dish, such as a glass baking dish.
  2. Create a health, abundance, love and healing corner, so one of each in the four corners of your dish, by placing the above mentioned items there.
  3. Fill the dish with water to three quarters full – the walnuts boats will need to float on it.
  4. Place the little birthday candles in the walnut halves, fixing them in place by melting a little candle wax to the bottom of the walnut boat.
  5. Divide the angel cards evenly into four piles and place a pile in each corner.
  6. Now think of your intentions and your hopes for the New Year. Take it in turns to light your candle and gently set your little walnut boat afloat in the centre of the dish.
  7. Let your boat surprise you. When it arrives at its destination, take an Angel Card from that Deck.

Simple, but oh so beautiful and  such a lovely ritual to do with friends and family. I have found the cards and destination to be very apt over the years we have done this.

Enjoy! 

Hoping that you are enjoying the Festive season and are staying warm and well.

I will be back later in the New Year. Wishing you a wonderful start to 2017.

Joining Nicole for KKCO