I don’t think I’d be exaggerating the start of this new episode of my weekly blog by saying “what a week”. It has been every level of busy, stressful, weird, and disappointing. Nothing awful or terrible, you understand, but still, draining. And so, in today’s weekly blog, I’m going to concentrate on today being the first Sunday of Advent, and what I’ve been up to this weekend to start our Christmas preparations.
Advent means “coming”, and is a special time in the Christian calendar in the run up to Christmas, when Christians prepare to celebrate the Birth of Jesus. Traditions include special Church services, prayers, Advent candles, wreaths, and of course the humble Advent calendar. There are four Sundays of Advent, and so it often starts in November.
I have to admit I am still not feeling particularly festive. But I have spent today trying… It is still November so it’s not like I need to worry about not feeling the Christmas spirit just yet, but with so many people leaping into the festive season early trying to salvage something from the 2020 weirdness, it’s hard not to feel a little left behind.
Twinkling Lights and Christmas Trees
I had a couple of lovely early evening walks around my village in the last couple of days to see the Christmas lights that people have already been putting up (an excellent way to get One Hour Outside at this time of year. They are pretty. Some people do go all out, it’s definitely bigger this year than I’ve noticed before, but I quite like it – with our nights being so long in December and the days being super dull, it’s very nice to have those lights shining.
I put up a string of white twinkling lights in the tree by our front door, and plugged in our 19-year-old fibre optic tree in the dining room. I’ve also ordered another string of fairy lights, multicoloured ones this time, which I’m looking forward to putting up around our porch.
After seeing all the holly down in the Quantocks (read weekly blog episode 42) and over in Buckholt Woods (last week’s weekly blog – episode 45), I kind of want two real holly trees by the front door. Something like this from YouGarden.
And I am definitely on the lookout for a potted Christmas tree for the lounge (something like the Bruce from Patch Plants), instead of the artificial one we have in the loft that always just feels so, well, dusty. I just like the idea of using this as an opportunity to have living trees at home. I wonder how hardy Spruces are when kept as house plants?!
Do you have outdoor lights? An outdoor tree? Is 29 November still too early for you?
Family Advent Traditions
I think every family who celebrates it has Christmas traditions in the run up to the big day that have developed over the years. You may have a family trip to choose a tree, head to a garden centre (or two) to visit Santa, visit a particular town’s Christmas market, or maybe go to a particular carol service each year (what a shame that’s not looking likely this year). In my family, our Christmas preparations have involved Advent presents.
When we were living at home this included a present on each of the four Advent Sundays in the run up to Christmas day. Nothing massive, but Christmas themed gift at the breakfast table each Sunday morning, that got my sister and I excited for the countdown to the big day. Now we’ve left home, it’s a gift for the first Sunday of Advent. Normally this involves some kind of Christmas decoration, and that’s exactly what mum and dad sent us this year – a pair of brightly coloured wobbly skiing reindeers.
I think Advent Sunday presents are probably not commonplace, but Advent calendars certainly are. They’re a lot “bigger and better” these days compared to when I was a kid. I remember when they were just windows with pictures, and didn’t even come with chocolate. Maybe you go all out and spend good money on a luxurious beauty calendar, or one with tea, or stationery, or socks?!
Another one of our family Advent traditions is that my mother-in-law always makes sure my husband and I are all set with a personalised Advent calendar each December. I absolutely love that, it makes me smile so much that she goes to the trouble of putting it together for us each year, with sweet treats she knows we’ll enjoy.
This year’s calendars arrived in the post towards the back-end of this week; of course being lock down we haven’t been able to visit. I don’t know what’s in it yet, but it’s normally a daily chocolate or sweet of some sort. Although now we don’t live in Lincoln, there won’t be a voucher for a milkshake at Eskimoo’s, oh how I miss those shakes!
If you fancy playing along, I think I’ll share my daily treat over on my Instagram stories, just for fun. Roll on Tuesday!
All the Christmas Movies
With it being the first Sunday of Advent, and with the lights twinkling, it seemed okay to break out the Christmas movies. I do love a Christmas film, even those Hallmark ones that all have the same story line, there is just something so easy and relaxed about them. What is your favourite Christmas movie? Is there a Christmas film you have to watch when you put the tree up? Or maybe your family has a traditional “first film of the year” you have to watch together?
I am a massive fan of any A Christmas Carol film, and will happily watch a different version of this movie every day for weeks on end. There are just so many, I could fill Advent with one every day, I’m sure. I don’t have a specific favourite but I do really like the musical version from 1972, Scrooge, the Muppets Christmas Carol, of course, and I also love the new(ish) Disney version headlined by Jim Carrey. Oh, and Scrooged is a great classic!
Did you know there is a new version coming out this year? This is an animated retelling that starts with a Victorian version of the Charles Dickens tale before taking a dive into the imagination of one of the children in the audience, taking the story to a darker fantasy realm. I shall wait until next year to watch it once it’s out on one of the Video on Demand services.
I played Scrooge in my Church Christmas play, once, I loved having that opportunity to say those super well known lines – “If I had my way you’d be boiled with your own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through your heart!” Fun! Anyway.
Today I chose Home Alone. Did you know it came out thirty years ago? THIRTY? I’ve probably watched it at least once every Christmas since 1990, when I was ten, and still can’t watch the scene when Marv steps on that up turned nail… *shudders*. It includes one of my favourite movie songs of all time, Somewhere in my Memory, love it. I watched it on Disney Plus earlier today, followed immediately by Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, which is equally as good.
As I write this I’ve got Nightmare Before Christmas on in the background (which I know is more Halloween than Christmas, but I haven’t had my annual watch yet). And I reckon once I’ve published this I’ll head over to Amazon Prime and watch The Holiday, which is probably the only rom-com I actually enjoy watching. It’s just such a great story, a classic.
In fairness, looking back on today, it’s been a pretty Christmassy one. Lights, presents, shopping, movies, and traditions. And with plenty of time left to actually feel the Christmas spirit before 25 December rolls around. I hope it doesn’t sneak up too fast.
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. Tell me about how you’ve spent the first Sunday of Advent today…