Sunday, 25 November 2007


Don't hate me. Today we went shopping for Christmas stuff. Not presents, not things to post to the far corners of the earth, but for decorations which we won't be putting up for another four weeks or so. Don't hate me; it was a nice break from the general madness and mayhem we've been living through these past few weeks.

The girls were delighted; Little Fish loves overcrowded shops with so much stuff to grab hold of and twist and pull and turn into new and interesting shapes, whilst Mog likes looking at lights. I meanwhile like looking at the flowers (our Christmas shop is in a garden centre) and kidding myself that I too could have a perfectly manicured garden with no more effort than that involved in gathering stacks of flowers into the shopping trolley and handing over large wads of cash. Thankfully sanity normally reasserts itself fairly quickly and I remember I might have to actually plant them out in the garden for them to make the garden look good, and that planting isn't something I enjoy doing when it's cold and wet and muddy and sluggy. Sluggy? The kind of weather we have right now when outside is so unattractive that the slugs slime their way into the kitchen through the catflap and take up residence in the recycling bin. I love my life, did I mention that?

I digress. Today we went to the Christmas shop. We took my parents which was an added bonus for the girls (and an added reason not to spend a small fortune on plants which I would then leave stacked up outside the kitchen until eaten by slugs and dumped straight into the compost bin. Yes people, I have no gardening skills but a large compost bin. Actually the compost at the bottom of the bin has been there so long that when I did try to get some out a few months ago to plant marigolds (which were munched by the slugs in record time) and strawberries (which died) I had to cut it with a knife. People, I have created my very own peat. Cool huh?). Apparently I digress again, sorry. Garden on my mind. Retail therapy also on my mind and thwarted by the presence of my parents who would, not unreasonably, expect me to actually make some effort to keep the plants alive. And slug free.

So, to the Christmas shop. This year our Christmases will apparently be either blue and white and filled with snowmen, or brown and gold and filled with frosted teasels. Who frosts teasels? Except possibly to put at the top of stockings on Christmas Eve to discourage wandering fingers until daylight. No, I'm not that cruel. My grandparents used to do that with holly though. Hearing that story is a part of our Christmas ritual. Of course for me to perpetuate that I would have to grow holly. I suppose it might be slugproof, perhaps I should give it a try sometime? But we aren't here for the garden (despite many parentheses to the contrary). Christmas shop! Steering our way past the ultra modern ultra fashionable bits (and past some poinsettia which were pink and yellow rather than red tipped - what's the point of a yellow poinsettia? It just looks dead before I've even got it in the car. ) we hit the main decoration grotty grotto.

Here the girls are in wonderland. Flashing lights, twirly sparkles, mock Victorian trains with fancy glowing lights, jingle bells and sleigh bells and Father Christmases sitting on wreaths and teddy bears reading stories and Red-nosed-reindeer chasing penguins. Real trees, fake trees that look real, fibre optic trees, gold and silver and holographic trees, finely wrought metal trees with little crystal drops and giant inflatable trees with fat snowmen on the top. Giant snow globes, battery operated snow globes (no need to shake, the snow shoots endlessly out of the top of whatever is inside. Odd but acceptable when this is a chimney, downright weird when it is an angel or a Santa Claus - projectile dandruff perhaps?), LED projectors, outdoor illuminations second only to Blackpool, and a small stand dedicated to more low-key decorations. The kind which might actually fit in an average sized sitting room with a bit of room to spare for furniture and children.

And it's here that I find one snow globe which looks rather nice. Paperweight sized, smooth to the touch, unobtrusive but quietly beautiful. Inside the outline of a barn with a star on the top. Two figures bent over a very small blob in a manger. No bright colours, no cheesy plastic grins, no animation; just gentle, quiet, snow, and a silent Nativity scene playing itself out without the need for distractions. Did I mention I like our Christmas decorations to have a Christ-centered theme to them? No? Well I do. To spout an overused cliche (at least in overused in our church at this time of year), I like to remember the Gift as well as all the wrappings. Except that we do have a tree. And bells. And candles. And cute fluffy things the girls bring home from school. Ok, Ok, I know my stance makes no sense. Anyway, this pretty little snow globe is actually looking as though it might find a place in our home. I know the girls would enjoy watching it. It is a nice weight, comfortingly solid.

Turning the snow globe over to check the price, I notice that it is musical. Bonus! So what tune would you expect it to play? It is a Nativity scene under glass. In the Bleak Midwinter? Away in a Manger? Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel? I'd settle for The Little Drummer Boy at a push. Alas no, although the sound it produces is indeed a very gentle tinkle tinkle, a volume and pitch I could live with, the tune it produces is in fact Santa Clause is Coming to Town. Lyrics here on the offchance you are the one remaining world citizen who hasn't heard it on every radio station, in every shop for the past three weeks. I'm still confused. Who thought that would be a good song to match with the Nativity scene? And yes, it was definitely a Nativity, not a jolly fat red man getting stuck in a chimney. Are Mary and Joseph supposed to be singing this to the baby?

So no Snow Globes for us this year. Not that we needed one in the first place, but thwarted spending is giving me a rash. I keep being outbid on ebay too (Grumble grumble moan moan).

Stir up Sunday today. Did you make your pudding? My Grandma (yes, the one with the holly) used to make ours; every year she used this Sunday to begin the Pudding for Christmas the following year. Once made they would stand on a shelf in her garage and be fed every month or so until by the time Christmas Day came around there was no need to add brandy in order to set it alight at the table. Fun times.



Alesha said...

Sigh...I know...ditto to everything you said about Christmas.

(Except maybe the slugs part - don't see many slugs around my house. Now if you're in the market for ants, mosquitos, fleas, ticks or spiders - those I have plenty of!!!)

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, I wish Christmas could just be "unplugged"!


Tia said...

The most annoying part of that shop is that now, 14 hours and a decent(ish) night's sleep later, I still have "Santa Claus is coming to town" playing through my head on a repeat loop.

Bah Humbug!


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