Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Yuletide Warmth

 I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
"I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
 And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
 Hen­ry W. Long­fel­low
Christmas is almost upon us. We have been very busy decorating and baking in preparation for welcoming family and friends to our home. Here are some glimpses of what Christmas looks and sounds like in our house.

Flower, candle and ornaments above and below

This is one of our many Nutcrackers

Our house is filled with holiday decorations, treasures that we have accumulated over the years, some homemade and some gifts; each one holds memories and is lovingly displayed and then carefully packed away for another year. We pick out a real Christmas tree each year and it is brought in and decorated about a week before Christmas.

Hand painted bauble from Switzerland

Our tree top angel has seen many Christmases

This season is all about food, friends and family in our house. Here is a glimpse of appetizers for a gathering of friends and family. Our Christmas dinner includes turkey and all the trimmings, we start with appetizers including oysters (a remembrance of a Christmas my husband spent on a farm in France over 30 years ago) and end with the traditional plum pudding bathed in brandy and flamed before serving.

Appetizers for gathering of friends and family

I have a particular weakness for seasonal sweets: shortbread, sugar cookies, nut crescents, maple cookies, fig pinwheels. This year I made a Gingerbread Trifle (gingerbread cake, apple compote, apple brandy, custard and cream) which was very tasty and not too sweet.

Fig Pinwheels and Chocolate Drop Cookies

Shortbread with snowflake design

Sugar Cookies and Nut Crescents

I love having flowers in the house, especially at this time of year when the garden is devoid of them. Pictured here are a beautiful amaryllis, white lilies and Christmas Cactus.


Amaryllis Bud

White Lily arrangement from friends

Christmas Cactus (blooming at Christmas too)

We fill the house with music, from early music to modern.  We start Christmas Day with a recording of Christmas Bells and then a selection of Christmas music on a tape my husband made 35 years ago.

Years ago we started the tradition of reading Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" aloud in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It is a wonderful book to read aloud - the richness of the story makes each reading different and we find new things every year.  Dickens used to give readings of his works and today there are performances by many groups mixing the story with music.  I also enjoy the old Astaire Sim movie version of the classic and hearing Dylan Thomas recite "A Child's Christmas in Wales".

All this is part of our Christmas.

We send along our best wishes for peace, warmth and friendship. However you celebrate the season, I hope it brings a glow to your heart, a tear to your eye and a smile to your lips.

"We wish you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year" is the music on this card image that I call "Woofers and Tweeters":

"We wish you a Merry Christmas":

Happy Whimsy Wednesday, until next week