I'm struggling to feel festive this year, although it's just possible that the cold snap we've just hit will change that a bit - frost is at least pretty even if it's treacherously icy underfoot now (after a year out of action post hip replacement, and then last year with a broken ankle my mother is under strict instructions to take care).
An unseasonably warm November means that there are still a number of trees around here dressed for October rather than December, so the fact that it's only a whisker over 2 weeks until the big day is unexpectedly discombobulating. On a personal note the news a couple of weeks ago that a much loved primary school teacher had died suddenly, and the less unexpected but much more devastating news that a very dear family friend died on Monday has cast a damper on things.
In an attempt to be positive, I can at least say that both have underlined what's important about this time of year; to make the most of the time you have with those you love. Both women gave unbounded love and kindness and will be missed more than they could maybe know.
My Christmas tree is also up, and after a couple of duds, I've got a good one. Two years ago the tree kept falling over, ridiculously, and in slow motion each time. It was hard to sleep for the worry of an impending crash and the job of cleaning up hundreds of pounds worth of Christmas decorations shard by glittery shard. It is terrifying to think what Christmas decorations would cost to replace like for like (I couldn't) they're getting stupidly expensive and after almost 30 years of collecting bits and pieces, the tree in its full glory is potentially the most expensive item in my flat.
Last year's tree smelt strongly and upsettingly (in absolutely equal measure) of what we think was either badger or fox urine. It also dropped a lot of its supposedly non-drop needles, possibly as a reaction to the indignities it had suffered. There was nothing about that aroma that made us feel festive, we were stuck with it for a whole month as getting a tree up the stairs into my flat is a considerable commitment in itself.
This year's tree fits perfectly in its corner, has so far remained resolutely upright, and doesn't really seem to smell of anything. I thought it might be a bit tall for the room, but it's slim enough to work, and looking at it has genuinely been a solace. It cost me £20 which seems like more than a bargain for something which providing so much quiet joy.
Something else that I really enjoyed making was a final Stoorbra sock, supersized onto bigger needles and with DK yarn to make a satisfyingly generous Christmas stocking - you can get a book and a whisky bottle into it. I doubt the baby it's been sent to will be getting either this year, but it's a great pattern from Alison Rendall, available on Ravelry HERE. I'm a slow knitter with a full time job, it's taken me on average 2 weeks per sock every time I've made these - which means if anybody is feeling inspired to knit a really spectacular Christmas stocking you should just have time!