I'm a day late with this, because when I went to post this yesterday I found Anna's post so moving I thought it ought to stay up an extra day. And my own post felt very trite in comparison, but here goes ...
As an author, I guess I come under the heading of “creative people”, even though I’m only making things up in my head. But I’ve always admired those who do some form of art or crafts, and would love to join their ranks, at least occasionally. That must be why, in the run-up to Christmas every year, I suddenly have the urge to be über-creative and do things with my hands!
The itch starts at around the end of November, when I dig out the little Christmas tablecloth I started embroidering about four years ago (or was it five?). I was all enthusiastic to begin with – I always am whenever I start a craft project of any kind – but as it took much too long and wasn’t finished for that first Christmas, I lost interest and have only added a few stitches each year since then. So I get it out again, determined that THIS year is going to be the one when I finish it off. (Trust me, it won’t be.)
Then it’s time to send out the Christmas cards, and I think “wouldn’t it be nice with home-made ones, perhaps a collage with the dogs in Santa hats or something?” But as the dogs won’t sit still with anything on top of their heads, I can’t take the photos I want and the whole idea goes down the pan. I don’t even contemplate any other form of card-making after that because I know it will look amateurish and I’ll just bin the lot and head for the charity shop to buy cards.
But there’s always the baking – my absolute favourite part of Christmas preparations (and that's a craft too, isn't it?)! Saffron buns, Swedish gingerbread cookies, cranberry bread and sweet aniseed loaves. Now these I do finish (although an inordinately large proportion of the dough for at least two of those things ends up inside me before they reach the oven). Is there anything more wonderful and tactile than dough? And the great thing about baking is it doesn’t have to look perfect, it just has to taste good!
Making Christmas candy is next, of course, another task I love. It brings back memories of cooking with my grandmother who was ace at anything in the kitchen. And it’s extremely satisfying when you have boxes of Christmas treats stored neatly in the fridge, don’t you think? Then they’re ready for when I finally get to relax after present opening and read a book from the pile that will (hopefully) have been brought by Santa.
Last, but not least, there is the present wrapping. I may have admitted to mild OCD in past blog posts, but when it comes to wrapping, it turns into full-blown obsession. I can spend hours selecting just the right box, paper and string for every present and even though I know they’ll be ripped apart in two seconds flat, I don’t care – I so enjoy making them look pretty!
None of this has anything to do with writing really, but I think all this creativity might unlock the author part of my brain at the same time. There’s a lot of time to think as you sew/bake or whatever and it’s relaxing too.
So now you know what I’m doing for the next couple of weeks – hope you’re all enjoying the preparations too!
Please come back on Sunday to hear from Liz!