As I write this, I have the fan on and am sipping an iced latte. In conditions such as these, when the peonies are in full bloom outside of the window, it can be more of a challenge to turn my thoughts towards Christmas. After all, we are only in July. Christmas is months away. Thinking about Christmas now is like taking a hot water bottle to the beach.
It is just those kinds of thoughts which creep up on us no. Especially if we have got stuck into our organising already.Thoughts that try to persuade us that we should take a break. Just this month. We deserve it. We have already made our lists and started putting money aside…
Don’t listen! It is so, so easy to do. I have been there in previous years. When you give in to that siren call, that is when you end up dashing about in December like a mad thing because there is so. much. to. do.
Keep up the good work
So this month, my advice comes in two parts; one general, and one specific. The general one will not surprise you. It is to keep on keeping on. Whatever baby steps you take now, you are making your life so much easier come December. Every time you drop a few coins into your savings jar, you are making a lovely cushion for yourself for later in the year. Each list you have made has freed up some space in your mind that you can use for something much more pleasurable…like enjoying the peonies! Don’t stop now.
By this point in our series, you have hopefully planned your own path to the Christmas of your dreams. I never wanted to write a prescriptive plan that had us all doing exactly the same thing in the same months, as that would never, ever suit everybody (or anybody?). The upside is that because you have planned this to suit yourself. So you are much more likely to keep up with it. The downside for me at least is it makes it slightly harder to write because we now reach a stage where we may be doing different things.
This brings me on to my second piece of advice. I feel fairly confident that none of us has finished our Christmas shopping yet! Hopefully, we have all made at least skeleton lists of who we would like to give gifts too. Maybe you have started jotting down a few ideas. Maybe you have seen the perfect thing for someone and bought it and stashed it away already. Hopefully, your savings jar is looking nice and plump by now. With this in mind, I am going to share an idea I had several years ago, which I hope will help you with your gift-giving.
You see, for me, giving a gift is like giving a part of my love. If I have bought something, I will have thought about it really hard first. If I have made something, I was thinking of you the whole time I worked on it. But sometimes…sometimes these things can get lost in translation. We are rarely going to be at the opening of the gift to explain them.
Some years ago now, I spotted a make-your-own-mirror kit which was in the signature colour of a friend. The mirror looked perfect for her. So I spent time making the mosaic tiles. As I recall, you had to spread out a gummy sparkly mixture to dry and set, then cut the tiles to size. Then I spent time making the mirror. I felt really proud of it when I wrapped it up. I smiled when I thought of her opening it. And…nothing. No mention of it at all. Not a thank you, not anything. Now, on one hand, I think gifts should always be thanked for, even if it is something perhaps you are not thrilled to receive. But on the other hand, after brooding over it, I realised that she probably had no idea that I had made it or the work that had gone into it.
Share what you were thinking
So now, as often as I can, I write a notecard to go with a gift to explain why I have chosen or made it. Not to elicit thanks or gratitude, or to gain brownie points, but just so the meaning does not get lost.
I saw this yarn and the colour made me think of you. I know how you adore green. Because you feel the cold, I knitted you this cowl.
I know you adore Agatha Christie when I spotted this Christmas novel by her. Thinking of you sitting back and reading it after Christmas dinner.
While I was on holiday, I discovered this tea in a tiny old fashioned grocers. When I tasted it, I knew you would love it too.
I learnt to make candles this autumn. I hope you enjoy burning it as much as I loved making it for you.
It only has to be a line or two. Being given a gift by someone who has thought about you is just the most perfect and lovely thing, and I am fortunate enough to know some really truly wonderful gift-givers. And as we know, it is the thought that counts…so why not make sure the thought gets given along with the gift?
Plain white index cards are what I use. The kind that is sold to make revision notes on, and write them with a fountain pen. You might like to do similar, or to use the back of an old Christmas card, or to tie up a little scroll, to use a pen in your signature colour, to spritz the card lightly with a Christmassy room scent…the possibilities here are endless, and you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you like.
Until next month, keep on keeping on!