So it’s almost the big day. The Christmas cake and pudding has been made for some weeks which threw my senses into the Christmas spirit even if no other part of my body followed. The kitchen was filled with nutmeg, cinnamon and fruit smells whilst I sipped a snowball, the first of many! Lol! It seems as though the whole country was late in feeling Christmassy this year and then December arrived and suddenly Christmas songs blared out in shops and on the radio along with Heart beginning their sleeps ‘til Santa countdown. This was a refreshing change to the usual pattern of it beginning in August. Even Rufus my rabbit is now in the Christmas spirit!
My cousin and I revisited our childhood Christmas’ by losing ourselves for a few hours in Hamleys. We also enjoyed a visit to the Hyde Park winter wonderland and browsed the German Christmas market before warming ourselves up with a coffee and some roasted chestnuts; another smell which alerts us to the holiday season. I took my friends little boy to see Santa the other week and as a new twist, it also included a 3D film about the reindeer. I’m not sure who enjoyed the trip more, me or him? What did I ask Santa for; well that would be telling! Cards then began to drop through the letter box on a daily basis. Christmas is one of the few times of year when the postman delivers something other than bills and junk mail! Wouldn’t it be nice if we all still wrote letters to each other; I used to love to receive a letter to read over breakfast. The advent of modern technology has unfortunately diminished the nation’s letter writing skills. Text messages encourage brevity and the notion of even a good long phone call seems to be less and less popular. Now don’t get me wrong text messages do serve their purpose and I’m not about to join the English language experts debate on text messaging being responsible for the declining standards of spelling, however in my own experience I have found that they often can cause misunderstandings and fail to convey true emotion. With this in mind, I had four very enjoyable phone conversations with friends and family today. You would think with all these wide ranging methods of communication people would never lose touch but sadly there are people who you have no contact with from one month to the next, yet the sign of true friendship is that when you do meet up with that person it is like you have never been apart, as I found with an old school friend at my annual festive get together this week. Anyway getting back to Christmas cards, where did this tradition come from? I watched Victorian Christmas the other day and found the origins to this and many other traditions; we have a lot to thank the Victorians for. Henry Cole sent the first Christmas card in 1843 as it would have taken a long time for him to have written letters to all his friends. Those he had left over he sold. The popularity of these was helped by the post office introducing a half penny stamp for Christmas cards. This was made possible by the expanding railways which made transporting post faster and cheaper.
Another tradition we owe to the Victorians is the Christmas tree. They became part of the British Christmas after Queen Victoria’s husband put one up at Windsor castle in 1841. They were of course at that time decorated with candles; an accident waiting to happen if you ask me. My partner and I put up our tree and dusted off the nativity scene the first week of December in preparation for an early Christmas dinner party I arranged. Aside from the desire to catch up with some very good friends of mine, my partner and I also attempted to play matchmakers for two of our friends. Sadly it was apparently too early for me to acquire a sprig of mistletoe! It was a most enjoyable evening and I enjoyed making the years first mince pies. Now these pies go back to the 13th century when European crusaders returned home with recipes from the Middle East. By the Victorian era, meat was no longer used in these sweet treats but suet remained an ingredient as it still does today.
The Victorian era has long been a fascination for me and with so many Christmas traditions being a result of that period too; when my partner was off work we decided to go and visit the Victoria and Albert museum in London. I got a bit of a shock having to pay for a train ticket for the first time in eight years! The museum was rather a let down; we had misunderstood it to be a museum of the Victorian era when in fact it is a museum of art and design, simply named after Victoria and Albert. Then to add insult to injury, the fashion room is currently closed much to my disappointment.
At the time of writing, I have now been officially unemployed for almost a month and the time has flown; I almost wonder how I ever had time to work and I still haven’t completed half the things I intended to. It is now starting to hit me however that this is not a holiday and the job search now needs to begin in earnest; the financial situation has not been helped by my continuing shopping addition! After all the perfect Christmas dress is essential for any girl; or in my case two but they were a bargain in the sale. The quest for the ideal dress is never easy but just think of poor Kate Middleton who needs no less than five dresses for her first Royal Christmas day. I did resist the urge for a gorgeous pair of heels I saw in Topshop; thinking about it though that may have been a mistake given that according to a Metro survey, 13% blokes would like their girlfriend to wear nice shoes. Talking of shopping, the present’s bill hasn’t helped either but I so enjoy giving people a thoughtful gift. This year I did the majority online which was far easier than battling the shops, except for the fact that one parcel has still yet to turn up. Some think tanks estimate as much as a 16% rise in online shopping this Christmas. Perhaps this online explosion of choice and price cutting has led to the demise of Barratts and La Senza; both now in administration which one close friend of mine has felt acutely.
I have done some productive things with my time since leaving work though. I spent a week volunteering at another local primary school; this time with the children in the last year there. I greatly enjoyed it; some of the children even got me Christmas presents. Whilst doing this experience I also had some good news, I have an interview for my teacher training course so fingers crossed I’m on my way to becoming a teacher.
Now with little time left to wait for the special day which cheers up the long winter, I must get on with the rest of my wrapping and make some paper chains. Merry Christmas readers!