Because every family has the crazy Aunt who tries to get into the otherwise lovely family portrait!
A new routine for us this year. Walks with Murphy! The day started hot but an afternoon of walking beside the lake we get to enjoy the shelter of the palm trees and the cool breeze on our skin.
I am lucky enough to be God-mother to two wonderful children. A little girl around the corner and a fantastic teenage boy in the UK. They are both very different and both very dear to me. Today I am celebrating the birthday of my God-son Myles. This year he becomes a teenager. I really enjoyed seeing him when we stayed with his family in the UK in January. He has grown and changed since I last saw him but he is still essentially the same, funny person that I remember.
I'm sure my friend will think I am mad when she sees that her repetitive chore has become my photo of the day!
Today was a sad day. Is there ever a good time for a funeral? Not for a 30 year old. Not for his wife and kids left behind. Not for someone who only stood in our house last month looking healthy and happy. Cancer sucks. Would he have wanted to know that he had only eight precious days from going to his GP to his final breath? Would he have done anything differently?
In the words that were spoken about him there was description after description about what a "gatherer" he was. He was the one that would ring around and arrange bbq's, camping trips, get togethers. His ability to gather friends together was going to be missed. At the end of the service was a challenge. To think of life as a relay race. To see Mitch as having run his segment and holding out the baton to the next person. We were asked to go away determined to spend our time well. Spend it in the presence of family and friends. To be gatherers. To live the rest of our lives with as much passion and enthusiasm as Mitch had lived his.
This Christmas-time is the perfect time to live this message. To reach out to friends and family that we have not spoken to in a while. Ring your aging relative. Accept that offer to get together with friends. Invite some kids around to make a mess in the kitchen.
A big part of this weekend was spent making and eating! Hundreds of cookies were baked and then iced, ready to give away as gifts. I have my Christmas Girls Night Out tonight and everyone brings a $10 wrapped gift to do "Secret Santa" The best part is the swapping and stealing that goes on as we unwrap a gift according to the numbers we have pulled out of the hat! This year I found a lovely white china serving plate half price in a sale. It brought a previous budget breaker into the perfect price range. I've put some of this weekends cookies onto it, added some edible glitter and wrapped it in cellophane. Another layer of Christmas paper to hide the contents and I am ready to put it in the boot of the car. I can't wait to see who gets it. I will show you what I bring home tomorrow!
Christmas cards seem to be a dying art. I've noticed a drop in the number of cards we receive each year. Maybe people are more environmentally aware, maybe the cost of the postage is getting too much, maybe we all have less time to sit and write.
I like a physical card. Especially from my overseas friends. Many of our friends put a photo of their kids inside and it is exciting to see how much they have changed from the previous year. I know many friends are on Facebook now and maybe the idea of the annual keep-in-touch is less needed.
Our postage here in Australia has gone up significantly in the last two or three years. If I go into the Post Office with four cards I can no longer hand over a $10 note and get some change back, I'm left scrabbling for some extra coins to hand over. Even though we have started to be sensible and reduced the number of cards we post I still handed over $100 to our local Post Office last week to post this years overseas cards.
Every year I question "Is it worth it?" I hope so. I know I love the feeling of opening a card from a friend, seeing an envelope covered in little stickers from our Japanese students, or the shaky handwriting of an aging relative.
I 'm not ready to let this art die out just yet.
It was an overcast day, warm but not hot. We needed some fresh air and decided to bring Murphy to a local dog beach. It was so much fun to watch him run around without a lead, interacting with other dogs and bounding back to Rhiannon for reassurance every now and then. I swear he has a smile on his face in this photo!
In Ireland there is a beautiful shop called Avoca. When I was home last December my sister bought me some Avoca baubles to hang on my tree. They are rustic and simple. Twine and wool baubles.
I don't want to pull the labels off just yet! They remind me of the evening we bought them. If I close my eyes I can go back in time, hear the Irish accents around me and feel the crisp cold air on my cheeks.
For me Christmas is a time for nostalgia where every decoration has a story and the simplest of things can bring a lump to my throat.