Last night was a perfect example of that for me. My husband had a friend over so that they could sample each others' Christmas whiskies so big daughter and I took the opportunity to watch a girls' film together (as opposed to a boys' film which usually involves aliens, espionage, shooting and lots of fast-paced, edge-of-the-seat action). We watched Sliding Doors, a film I remember going to the pictures to see when it came out (in 1998, doesn't time fly!) and knew that big daughter would really enjoy. A glass of wine, a roaring fire, a box of chocolates, a good film and a daughter to share it with - perfect! Oh, and something woolly, of course!
Last night was a good opportunity get the knitting needles out to start on a new project. Yes, yes, I know I'm half-way through a pair of socks and my Vivid sock yarn blanket will never get finished if I keep starting something new, but there's just something about choosing a pattern, finding the right needles, breaking open the band on a brand new ball of yarn (not something I always do but necessary with this yarn) and settling down to cast on that really fits with this time of year. I bought the yarn, luscious Sirdar Peru, chunky and soft with alpaca, a few years ago to make my sister in law a cowl for Christmas. She loved it and after knitting with the yarn, I knew that I had to make something for myself so bought more yarn to make a jacket - and I'm glad I did as it's been discontinued now. I'd made a Central Park Hoodie jacket that same year and then found a version with Viking cables so that was what I had in mind. It's just taken me until now to cast on. Yarn, I have discovered, has a definite pattern and time frame for itself in mind and whilst that might sound crazy, ask any knitter (or crocheter) and they'll agree with me completely. So now it's time for the alpaca yarn to become a jacket and it seems to be very happy with the idea.
Christmas was just lovely for us this year, and I hope yours was too. We take it in turns with other members of our family to host Christmas Day and this year it was our turn. Christmas dinner was a noisy, friendly, happy affair. Our timings were just right, our rather temperamental Aga behaved perfectly and even remembering that I hadn't decorated the Christmas cake in time wasn't the disaster it might have been. Big daughter and my brother took over decorating duties and our cake ended up looking like no other Christmas cake - we had candles, writing icing (including a few unfortunate orange splodges that looked like baked beans - not your usual Christmas cake decoration!), gold and silver nuggets, a jolly snowman and a moose that came IKEA many years ago - and big daughter laughed and laughed and loved every moment of creating a fun memory with her uncle.
Small daughter, to my delight, spent the day keeping tight hold of the knitted fairy that I'd made her for Christmas. She'd seen the pattern some time ago and asked if I would make her one (sometimes I think she imagines that I can whisk these things up overnight and it would be lovely if I could) so I thought that it would make an ideal present. I wrote down detailed instructions about exactly which colours to use if I ever got round to knitting it and then set to work whilst small daughter was in bed. I used to make quite a lot of knitted toys and had forgotten quite how fiddly they can be. Not only the knitting - cast on 7 stitches, increase here, decrease there, cast off - but the sewing together can take as long as the knitting itself. Here she is, and I'm very very pleased with how she turned out. I wasn't sure about the mix of colours when I was writing down my instructions, but now that she's finished, I think small daughter made good choices. I'm not always very good at faces but after several attempts this one was just the right kind of smiley. I still don't think she has a name but she's still appearing all over the house wherever small daughter is and has a special place in her bed at night. I think it's fantastic that although small daughter is growing up so quickly, she still wants toys like this and I know this fairy is going to be very loved which makes all the effort worthwhile.
In a few days' time it will be New Year. These days before it always feel a bit like the climb on a roller coaster before launching off into the New Year - hurtling, laughing, a little bit tense and breathless, and so many emotions that will come into play as the year unfolds. It's like sand on a beach when the waves have washed it clean and flat. There's always the chance to start something new, to create something good, to repair what's gone before. I like the infinite possibilities of it all.
I'm in a different place emotionally this year as I'm ready to face 2014. I spent five days before Christmas at a meditation retreat run by Art of Living (which I've mentioned before) at the very beautiful Florence House in Seaford just outside Brighton. Yes, it is a long way from Winwick and especially a few days before Christmas, but it was absolutely the right thing to do. I was all organised thanks to my Flylady routines and my husband had finished work for Christmas and was able to look after the girls and take care of the last few Christmas things that we needed to do. It was actually his idea that I went, which just goes to show what a wonderful man he is!
All I had to do was enjoy myself - which I did, immensely - even the two and half days of complete silence that were part of the course. I'll have more to tell you about it in future posts, but what the retreat has brought me is a sense of joy, of peace, of calmness in the Christmas madness, and a sense of purpose for next year. I'm even contemplating starting my own business which will take time, money, effort and more than a little courage, but I'm in a good place now to get my research done and see if it's something that will work for our family. When you tell people you meditate, many of them roll their eyes and assume that you're a bit mad - you may be one of them, and I certainly didn't see the point of it before I started - too slow, too boring, I have too much to do! - but now that I see what it's brought to my life, I think it's something that everyone should do. Closing your eyes for even a few minutes to concentrate on your breathing is enough, and helps us face the day - and the New Year to come, whatever it might bring.
I wish you every happiness for 2014.