Monday, 8 January 2018

12 days

I am a great believer in fully enjoying the Christmas Season ... and I have no problem continuing to wish people a Merry Christmas up until Epiphany, even if many of those around me seemed ready to take the decorations down not much after Boxing Day.

So I thought I'd share the edited highlights of my Christmas Season 2017/18

On the first day of Christmas we were with Matthew's family for a fairly loud, moderately chaotic, fun family Christmas. Much as I love Birmingham city centre, I'll admit that a walk up the Clent Hills, out in the "proper countryside" in the morning (even if it was cold and grey) was a treat; and after four years of hosting Christmas at ours it made a nice change for someone else to be cooking the Christmas dinner!

On the second day of Christmas we had a much calmer day, spending some time visiting Matthew's granny before coming back home.

On the third day of Christmas we headed to the Catholic Worker Farm for the Holy Innocents Retreat. I appreciated the chance for some spiritual input, some good discussion and opportunities to reflect, as well as a reminder that Of Gods and Men is a very, very good film.

On the fourth day of Christmas, for the past as many years as I can really count, we'd have been arriving at a Taize European meeting this day, and my thoughts were with those who were gathering in Basel. I admit, staying away was tinged with sadness, but it also felt right not to be there this year. Instead we stood outside Northwood Military Base which was also a very good place to be. I was reminded, though, that however brightly the sun is shining, you should always wear two (or more) pairs of socks at a vigil in December.

On the fifth day of Christmas it was my family's turn to gather together. Fish and chips was the response to everyone having already filled up on turkey earlier in the week, and a very good idea it was too. I avoided Monopoly with my brothers (a wise move if memories of my teenage years serve me well) and instead spent most of the afternoon being a puppet traffic light (as you do) for a slightly excitable three year old.

On the sixth day of Christmas, I did very little, because down time is good too, right. I finished a book, and started another one. I also tidied my desk... which may not sound either particularly noteworthy or particularly enjoyable but a proper sort out can be quite therapeutic and it is definitely a more usable and less frustrating space now! One of the nice things about this holiday is it felt very unpressured, and I have appreciated time to relax and recover from a busy term. 

On the seventh day of Christmas, we went to see Paddington 2 at the cinema, and if you haven't seen it you definitely should! I laughed and yes, I cried. In a contrast to recent New Years which have been busy and tiring and full of people contact we opted for the complete opposite ... and while I did stay up until midnight, I was in bed not long after!

On the eighth day of Christmas a fairly dreary start gave way to bright blue skies and sunshine which I took advantage of to get outside for a brisk walk, but it was definitely cold enough to justify curling up with hot chocolate and marshmallows when I got back. Plus we more-or-less finished writing our Christmas cards (as I said, its still the Christmas season!)

On the ninth day of Christmas we spent a wonderful day with good friends: there was good food and good conversation, a fair bit of singing and a whole lot of laughter. It was a lovely way to continue the Christmas celebrations and we appreciated the invitation.

On the tenth day of Christmas I went back to work. As expected it was the usual fairly manic beginning of term rush. I try to always remain actively conscious that it is an immense privilege to genuinely enjoy the work I do and to be able to be very content to return to work (which doesn't necessarily mean I didn't want to roll over when the alarm went off!)

On the eleventh day of Christmas, I caught up on lots of the jobs which have been on my to do list for, well, in some cases, quite some time! That sort of suggests I'm now actually up to date, which is never really true, but a few other things are bit more organised than they were. I won't pretend I worked all day though either, because I didn't, and a completed quirkle (a fun and relaxing colour-by-numbers thing I just discovered)  is one of the things to show for the day.

On the twelfth day of Christmas I was at the Sanctuary and back in the classroom. I never cease to be amazed by how wonderful my students are, and it was a pleasure to be back with them after the break. A trip to Birmingham airport doesn't necessarily sound like the most exciting way to fill a Friday evening but it was lovely to welcome Lydia back safe and well - she's been the key person missing from our Christmas celebrations and it is nice to have her back. 

Actually, we did stretch our 12 days slightly, because we waited until Saturday to exchange Christmas gifts with Lydia; and it was yesterday evening before the Christmas decorations finally came down and we declared the season more-or-less closed.

So here's one final "Happy Christmas" to you all!

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