Thursday, 21 December 2017

The Irony of it all...

Hello everyone - it is 1.50 am and I have just remembered that I have a pre-Christmas post to write as it is the 21st. Thank you to those who have written the previous lovely ones -thanks to Joan's post yesterday, for example, I have just been thinking of favourite poems and feel more Christmassy already - a feeling I really need!

The irony of it all is that I have just been working on and have finished, the edits of a very Christmassy Christmas book due out in 2018, which is why, 4 days away from Christmas 2017, in the 'real' world outside my head, I still have to write and send cards, buy and wrap presents, and the only decoration we have up as yet are some fairy lights in the garden and a sweet little baby Jesus pebble on the mantelpiece which a very kind neighbour painted and gave me (a baby Jesus pebble is a pebble with the baby Jesus painted on it - it isn't the pebble equivalent of Jesus' face in a slice of toast)


ANYWAY  - having filled my book with as much Christmas atmosphere as possible, I now have to try to fill my home. Tomorrow I hope that teetering piles of books and laundry will be joined by teetering piles of (badly) wrapped presents and a Christmas tree and a crib. I am also going on the hunt for a yule log, stollen, After Eights and Celebrations chocolates, all of which I did buy but have been raided by my family (I joined in). I have bought crackers but have mislaid them, and we have a crib so that will go on display but I think it is in the attic. I haven't made a Christmas cake or pudding and will need to find some. My husband will cook Christmas dinner - he always does, (and is very good at it) as I am not good at the timings and ruined one for my parents many, many years ago...

But even if my husband and I haven't yet got Christmas under control and our house does NOT look like an article in 'Country Living', my children are all home, and we have a warm house and enough money to buy food.  I meant to write a follow up to my post about my Silent retreat and now I realise that it is too late, but it does all tie in.


The main thing I discovered from my wonderful week long  silent retreat last month is that in the deep silence I met, exhausted after a period of intense work, and feeling at times very bored/ and or sad,  a great kind gentleness and love in the heart of it all. My week was full of synchronicities/blessings. I slept and walked a lot, I prayed, I had a robin sing to me (OK - a robin warn me off his territory - I do know my birds!) in the retreat house garden - ( a garden very like the one in 'The Secret Garden') and I found an old edition of 'The Secret Garden' in the Retreat House library- a lovely little book which I read in bed, drinking hot chocolate. I went to daily mass and I ate lovely meals (in silence) and I cried about my parents and I walked in the woods and looked out at the same hills Gerard Manley Hopkins looked out at (he lived at St Beuno's and wrote some of his best poetry when he was there). It was lovely.

I am sorry I am having problems uploading photos and this is so haphazard a post - but I hope that we all can find, in all the often stressful, perfectionist, expectations of Christmas, whether we are religious or not, and even if we are not in a Welsh retreat house, that we still can be aware of and make space for a gentle love for ourselves and others in the heart of our lives, under all the noise. I hope that we forgive ourselves and others for the inevitable squabbles and failures - be they culinary, organisational or character-led - of the season - and as writers, that we find the holiday, if not relaxing, at least sufficiently interesting to give us inspiration for stories in the coming year!! I hope we can all rest and read books and laugh and sleep and not get too worked up about what we should or should not be doing. I also hope that I get a chance to listen to a robin sing and don't long to run away back to my Silent Retreat!

Happy Christmas and sorry that I haven't managed to upload any personal pictures to decorate this post - just imagine an un- Christmas -decorated house with only a small baby Jesus pebble as yet, but fairy lights flashing on and off in the front garden, trying to give the impression this house is more ready than it is....Happy holiday!

3 comments:

Sue Purkiss said...

Lovely.

Penny Dolan said...

Good hunting for all your Christmas items, Anne, have a very Happy Christmas holiday and an easier New Year.

Joan Lennon said...

Your quiet time sounds as if it sank deep - thanks for telling us about it, Anne.