Helen Martin, our new columnist, is starting to forget about pre-Christmas pressure and embrace the festive spirit.
“As I sit here, the light’s just starting to fade, my tea’s forgotten, my to do list abandoned. I’m at the in between stage of feeling pre-Christmas pressure and starting to relax fully into the spirit. That festive feeling is bound up in a plethora of traditions old and new, but really it’s about magic.
When you’re young you could probably quite confidently power 20 flying reindeer with that feeling bursting out of you. Imagination, abundant excitement and merriment, like a dancing potion, an arrow, a shooting star of possibility. As I get older, I’d describe this feeling as a blissful beam that occurs sporadically and appears to make the world glow. You can sleep at night, but there’s something in the air. How does the magic appear? I’m not entirely sure.
We all have our own idea of Christmas spirit. For me, it’s about creating and giving handmade gifts, and to complement my craft attempts, I’ve enjoyed buying presents from independent businesses. As I said last month, I love to see them fly. My main focus throughout the holidays, and main gift recipients, are those shooting stars of our future — the kids. In our house we’ve been making simple yarn star and tassel ornaments, inspired by yarn star ornaments, Martha Stewart’s yarn tassel ornaments, and cardboard yarn ornaments. We’ve also been potato-stamping cards and planting mini gardens in tall glass jars, topping the soil up with tiny collected shells. I accompany our crafting with music, a jolly film, twinkling lights, and hot cocoa – classic components to make us feel the spirit of the season.
As book lovers, we’ve sent two books to a child through BookTrust. Going through the attic and our wardrobes, we discovered several coats we no longer need and have donated them to charity. If you’re in London, until December 24th you can donate your coats to Wrap Up London. Through Centrepoint, we’ve also reserved a Christmas dinner place for a young person. Check out The Salvation Army and Shelter for many more ways to help make Christmas a little brighter for others.
Last week I felt the true buzz of festivities, as I spent an evening painting pottery accompanied by tea and cake at Kiln, Bristol. There was something about the iciness of the night, warm glow of festooned lights and calming process of painting that was a top combination. I’d recommend painting a bauble or two if you can. Next week I plan to fill the house with the scent of dried orange slices and cloves. I’m also going to stir a cauldron of rum truffle mixture, conferring with my icing sugar-smudged recipe that’s been handed down to me. And I’ll drink steaming cups of lapsang souchong, the campfire scent reminding me of the outdoors at this time of year.
The sun has been lacking recently, so rather than look yearningly at pictures of the southern hemisphere, I’ve been looking at the grey sky and trying to reflect on its moodiness, bare branches and chill in the air. Wrap up for brisk and beautiful walks outside, and appreciate the warmth of inside. Sara Tasker of @me_and_orla believes winter’s the time to embrace hidden beauty, and I agree.
I’m planning to devote at least some of the time just before and after Christmas to simple joys, minus the pressure of time constraints, or errands to complete. I’ll be with family and friends, walking, dancing, wearing our finest and most leisurely pyjamas/outfits, reading, feeding the cat Christmas morsels and getting excited over stockings. When we remember, we’ll attempt to snap those special candid photos of these moments.
It’s a good time to stop and be thankful. I might even make an Oh, So Thankful Jar, care of the Homesong blog. You may just need a reminder that actually there’s a huge amount to be grateful for. Whether that’s the electrician who goes out of his way, the lovingly decorated Christmas tree in your lounge, a heartfelt and thoughtful gift, laughter at breakfast – or simply the fact that you’re here now, surrounded by those you love. It’s the magic of Christmas and there’s no reason for it not to continue throughout the year. As Dr Seuss says: ‘Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand.’
Here’s to a magical Christmas!”
Helen is the founder of Lionheart, an independent lifestyle publication. Each issue features inspiring, thoughtful and passionately created words, photography and illustration. From interviews, style and interiors, to poetry and stories, it’s a roaring 96 pages of print. Find it on Facebook, Twitter and Insta.