The Gallery 125 – Beginning to look like Christmas

Is it me or does Christmas start earlier each year?  Is it just me that’s getting annoyed by this?  Probably not, but what can we do about it?  The earliest I’ve seen Christmas stuff this year was during the summer at a superb English Heritage pile near Hexham – they were setting out their Christmas cards by popular demand!  People actually spend their summer picking up bits and pieces they’re going to need at Christmas!  Why can’t they do what normal people do and get them in the January sales, stick them in a box and forget about them for 11 months?

Anyway.  Now that we’re well into December I feel I can allow myself to get a little festive.  What with one thing and another, our Christmas tree went up a whole week earlier than last year, giving me a whole extra week to pick up dropped needles, keep the kids from trashing it and stop the cats from pretending they’re ornaments.  Normally, it’d be this weekend coming, less than a fortnight to go, before the tree went in but I’m glad we got it early this year, the garden centre was starting to get a bit low on stock!

Have to admit I do love having a real tree, there’s something powerful about the smell that triggers all sorts of memories – the enormous tree we used to have at mum and dad’s when we were growing up, the one you needed ladders and climbing gear to decorate – and don’t forget to put the star on top before standing it up otherwise it ain’t getting one.  Just smelling the pine (and the tinsel, the baubles, etc) makes me feel warmer, like I’ve got a roaring log fire to settle down beside.  It makes me think of old movies on TV, classics that everyone gathered round to watch.  Makes me think of the Christmas edition of the Radio Times, the only issue I buy, and going through it with a marker pen to circle all the things I’ll be watching – in my imagination!

So.  For me, the proper start of Christmas is when the tree goes in.  And here it goes:

#Listography – Top 5 things that make Christmas Christmas!

Over at Kate Takes 5, she – and her fellow contributors to this Linky – have been expounding on what makes their Christmas what it is.  I’m trying to get back into “normal” blogging, so here’s my list.

1.  A good movie.

This has to be something the whole family can watch and enjoy.  My personal favourite Christmas movie is “The Muppets Christmas Carol.”  It’s got the right blend of humour, Muppet action and a cracking good Christmas story.  Other movies just don’t cut it.  I’ve expounded elsewhere on my dislike of “The Polar Express”, stuff like “Elf” just doesn’t work for me.

2.  Foooooooooooooooooooooooooood

And plenty of it.  The fridge is usually stuffed with goodies that need to be consumed before the diet kicks in on New Year’s day.  So there’s sides of smoked salmon, a slab of beef for Boxing Day, the Christmas Goose (with at least 2 home-made stuffings), more bacon and black pudding than you can shake a stick at.  I could happily spend the Christmas period just grazing through the kitchen and not eating a proper meal once.  Apart from the big day, of course.

3.  Church on Christmas Morning.

This has to be done!  Belting out the carols, inhibitions reduced by the glass of Buck’s Fizz that did service as breakfast.  There’s hymns (or special verses of) you only get to sing on Christmas day, and they’re usually thumping good ones.

4.  Decorating the house.

Inside, not out.  Not a fan of the outdoor decorations.  But stuff strung around the rooms, decorating the pictures around the house with tinsel and cards, the telescope (see the Silent Sunday pic from a couple of weeks ago), the tree.  We’ve now got 4 sets of lights, 3 of which work, 1 of which I was given by my parents for our first Christmas in Edinburgh.  It’s a great job for all the family to get together and do.  Usually we’d be waiting until the kids had gone to bed and then re-arranging stuff to look right, but this year the kids did a wonderful job and we’ve left it alone.  Perfect.

5.  A Big Bag of Mixed Nuts.

Or, as they’re otherwise known, the rest of the extended family.

Now.  Do the right thing, head to the Linky and enjoy everyone else’s contributions.  Many of which will have pictures and all of which will undoubtedly be better than mine.

Back to Normality – ish…

Phew! What a blast NaNoWriMo was! I know regular visitors here will have seen the protected posts kicking around, they’re the temporary storage for the project now formally known as Script WIP. NaNo didn’t so much provide me with a novel as 50,000+ words of basics for a script that I now want to polish up as a TV series for CBBC. There’s a ton and more of work to do on it before it’s anywhere near ready so if I’m not around as much as I could be, that’s what I’m working on.  On top of that there’s still 2 of us doing the work of 4 at work, split across 2 sites and the usual chaos that Christmas throws our way.

Christmas, in fact, is now taking up a lot of time.  And it seems to be taking up more time the more the kids grow up.  We’ve got our eldest in her Primary 7 pantomime on Wednesday, somehow having to juggle 6 of us into the 3 seats allocated – and knowing the space they’re putting on the show, this is going to be interesting as most of the other families going will be doing the same.  Last weekend we had 3 parties in 2 days, just about getting the kids tired of seeing Santa.  And if I hear “Merry Christmas, Everybody” one more time I’m going to hang the DJ.  Aaaaargh!  And all of these parties required presents!  Not content with the pile of stuff we’ve already bought, we needed an extra set of presents for each kid for each party!  Man, our local toy shops do well out of these things!  I’d love to say that we’ll be more organised next year and get some presents in advance but my better half hates having stuff clutter the house – and pre-bought presents apparently fall into the category of “clutter”.  I’m seriously considering going completely Sheriff of Nottingham next year and banning Christmas.

Several of my favourite Apps have had upgrades whilst I’ve been more offline than usual.  Tweetdeck has gone all blue and shiny and I don’t like it.  Fortunately, the CSS hacks I wrote about previously still work and I’ll be posting a complete CSS file to replace the one they’ve given us here as soon as I’ve worked out how I’d like my Tweetdeck to look.

Anyway.  Stuff and things are happening.  I’ll be back to the usual rounds of Galleries, Silent Sundays, Recpie Sheds and Reasons to be Cheerful for the forseeable – doubly so if I can get ahead of myself and write some stuff to go out automatically over Christmas.

Meanwhile, kick back, open a home brew and put on the new Arena album.  It’s very, very good.