Christmas countdown

It’s six days since I posted – the longest gap in posts since I started my blog eight months ago. At the risk of repeating myself – WHERE is the time going? I had a problem accessing my blog for a couple of days but before that? No excuse. I have been busy though. The trees are up, the cards are written, the presents are bought (mostly) and wrapped and the freezer is filling up (I managed to free up one shelf – we are now on a mission to eat the contents of another so that I can restock it with more interesting vittles.


Over the years my Christmas decorating has become more minimalist as the ceiling-height real tree of my children’s childhood gave way, first to smaller artificial one, and last year to a white twig pre-lit which I decorate with ‘crystal’ trimmings.  I’m very happy with my twig tree (which looks SO much better in real life than in a photograph) but the children, now in their thirties and all with homes (and thus Christmas trees) of their own,  looked singularly unimpressed when they first encountered it.   The artificial tree was relegated to the open porch and when I drive into the close and see it lit up welcoming me home; I really like it there. I used to make a point of not putting the tree up until mid December after my younger son’s  birthday as I liked to separate the two but he’s lived away from home for thirteen years now so I’ve decided that I can drop this tradition. I doubt he even realises, much less is bothered!


I like candlelight in the evenings but not the black sooty marks that candles make on the walls. Imagine, that which doesn’t end up on the wall or permeating the soft furnishings, is ingested. I used to have a white fireplace and you would not believe the black stuff that wiped off it even after burning just one candle. I now use tiny battery operated, flickering tealights inside pretty coloured glass containers and I’d defy anyone to know that they weren’t real without actually looking inside. The ‘flames’ on the red wax candles not only flicker, but actually move just as real ones do. The Nativity scene was inherited after my mum died; it has been around for as long as I can remember.

Elf book

Last year my daughter-in-law bought the children an ‘Elf on the shelf’ which caused lots of laughter and got the youngest granddaughter uncharacteristically jumping out of bed each morning without being asked even once! The idea of the elf is that he was sent from the North Pole and flies back there each night to tell father Christmas about good/bad behaviour. Each morning, by the time the children awake, the elf is back at home and in a different place, sometimes having done something a bit naughty – he might have been peckish and be found upside down in a box of cereal, or perhaps hanging from the light fitting. Parental imagination is tested to the limits by Christmas day!   The accompanying book tells how the magic may disappear if the elf is touched:  “There’s only one rule that you have to follow, so I will come back and be here tomorrow: Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won’t hear all I’ve seen or I know.”  My granddaughters LOVE it. The book was written in 2005 but I wish it had been around when my children were small.

We’ve had our Gymophobics (click here if you have no idea what I’m on about ) Christmas lunch. Forty six to be served at once – the plates were hot, the food and the service excellent. I didn’t hear a single complaint and for £11.95 a head for four courses, they did us proud. Some far more expensive venues could learn from them, especially regarding the hot plates. I have a few other Christmas celebrations to attend but have sadly had to decline the one with  The Ladies Dining Group (six of us who take it turns to cook for each other) as I’m already booked. I love that I have lots of friends but too often I find myself apologising because it has been ages since we caught up.

Time was when one of the big pre-Christmas tasks was an outing to buy ‘the dress’ for the works Christmas party. This could take hours, possibly over several shopping trips. I am so glad that those days are behind me.  The ‘need’ for new has diminished and with a few choice items in black or wine velvet or lace,  I’ve got just about any occasion covered.

Postscript…Husband has criticised my spelling of vittles. I am well aware that it can also be spelt as victuals. However, as a recent student who studied the origins of English language I stand by my spelling which is the original one!






  1. I love the picture of the Nativity with the three candles next to it. It sounds like you are well-prepared for Christmas. I wish you and your family a wonderful celebration and best of everything.


  2. Christmas elves! great idea. Young great grandson is already being dressed up for Christmas by his impish mum: he has reddish hair & she dresses him up as an elf!! I am impressed by your organisation……


  3. I’d never hear of the Elf on the Shelf, but I saw it in a paper or magazine recently and now on your blog. I expect he will pop up everywhere now, ha ha!
    Your pared down Christmas sounds lovely. We have a real tree but I don’t go in for buying lots of knick-knacks, the house is already over-stuffed! I would like more fairy lights but the lord and master her complains even when I want two sets on the tree. “What do you want more lights for? We have table lamps.” Well, that’s men for you. I don’t push it, after all he lives here, too!
    Candlelight is pretty but I am so aware of the danger of setting light to something that we rarely have candles lit, pretty though they are. I’d not known about battery-operated candles!
    Margaret P


    • You will be all-elfed out! I discovered today that my grandsons have a mischievous elf too. He apparently has a habit of climbing the Christmas tree at night! Do hope you are feeling better.


  4. You’re doing great with your blogging, Eloise! I like your trees and your candles. I never light a real candle anymore, but we do have two of the battery ones. They do look real! The country or cowboy culture around here would say vittles, too. Enjoy your parties!


  5. I enjoyed reading your blog post today and I can identify with so many things! I have two trees too; one fake and one real. But, I still haven’t put up the fake one yet and if I don’t do it, my children will complain. So, it’s on the list for tomorrow. Isn’t the Elf on the Shelf a cute idea? My little grandson has so much fun each Christmas season to see where the Elf appears each morning. My gifts are wrapped and I am looking forwarding to start my Christmas baking. I love this time of year. My best to you, Pat


    • Oh I love it too, Pat, but it is a busy time. I like to make sure everything is done by mid December so that I can enjoy the social events…even if its just coffee and mince pies with friends.


    • Oh, I don’t feel that I have been very organised this year because I left it late. I usually have things all sorted by the start of December. Yes, it is lovely to have good friends. I very much value friendship.


  6. Your trees look lovely, you are quite organised with the Christmas jobs, I don’t have that much to do now.
    We don’t have lights on in the lounge in the evening as I prefer candlelight.


    • Thank you Marlene. I dislike a bright centre light in the evening, unless reading…in which case it is an essential for me. I like the cosines of lamps in corners and candlelight.


  7. Love the idea of Christmas elves, someone posted what their elves got up to last year and it was lovely to see, but quite glad they weren’t around when our lot were small, thinking up stuff for them to do might have tipped me right off the tightrope I felt I was on at the time!


    • You do have a point there, Sue. When I think back to Christmases with my small children, I am probably guilty of rose tinted specs! It was all rather stressful, wasn’t it? But oh, those little faces on Christmas morning.


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