On Monday evening, I had a Christmas night out with a group of girls that I grew up with. Before going for a meal, we went ten pin bowling – the first time that I had been in about five years. I don’t know why I hadn’t been in so long. I love bowling – probably because I loved Grease 2 so much as a child (I still like to sing ‘We’re going to score tonight’ whenever I’m near a bowling alley). Despite my love for the game, I never think that I’m much good at it. I blame this on being left-handed, although I admit that’s probably just a feeble excuse for my lack of skill. Or so I thought. On Monday, I came third. I felt so proud of myself – not so much for coming third, but for achieving a respectable score. It is so satisfying to do something that you think you’re no good at and find that you’re not as bad as you thought you were. Not only is it a confidence boost, but I think surprising yourself with what you can achieve does us all good every now and again. We may think we know ourselves inside out, but we all have hidden talents.
On the tenth day of Christmas my own way was to be ten pins a bowling, nine weeks a planning, eight hours a sleeping, seven scenes a snowing, six plates a spinning, fives Ro-o-ses, four simple pleasures, three finished parcels, two children’s gifts and a morning of charity.
I’ve used a bit of artistic licence with day nine (Sunday) of my alternative Twelve Days of Christmas. My choice, ‘nine weeks a planning’, refers to a carol service that I organised which took place on Sunday evening. I’m not sure that the planning did take exactly nine weeks, but it definitely took around that length of time; it was certainly way back in late September or early October that the planning first began and ideas started to emerge. The lyric had to refer to the carol service in some way as it was the most magical event: despite a panic earlier in the day that it might have to be cancelled due to snow, it ended up going really well with a much larger turnout than I would have ever dreamt of. The atmosphere was so festive and jolly, with performances from those aged two to seventy-two. It felt good to be part of something so beautiful.
On the ninth day of Christmas, my own way was to be nine weeks a planning, eight hours a sleeping, seven scenes a snowing, six plates a spinning, fives Ro-o-ses, four simple pleasures, three finished parcels, two children’s gifts and a morning of charity.
Having re-visited the music for The Twelve Days of Christmas, I’ve discovered that all of days six to twelve use ‘a + verb’, so I’ve doctored day seven to fit this pattern: from ‘seven snowy scenes’ to ‘seven scenes a snowing’…
On the eight day of Christmas my own way was to be eight hours a sleeping, seven scenes a snowing, six plates a spinning, fives Ro-o-ses, four simple pleasures, three finished parcels, two children’s gifts and a morning of charity.
It is the last Saturday before Christmas and social convention dictates that I – as a young(ish) unmarried woman – ought to be out and about somewhere, in a sparkly outfit and preferably with some mistletoe close at hand. Part of me instinctively feels the same: it’s a Saturday, it’s almost Christmas, hence I should be going out somewhere. Truth is, I’m having a quiet night in and I wouldn’t really want to be doing anything else. I can please myself with what to do (clearly Roses are involved, as these are quickly emerging as a festive staple for me). Having had a busy day today and another busy day tomorrow, I am actually extremely grateful that I don’t have to go out and instead of spending the night partying away, I will instead be getting eight hours a sleeping – just in time for some nights out next week.
On the eight day of Christmas my own way was to be eight hours a sleeping, seven snowy scenes, six plates a spinning, fives Ro-o-ses, four simple pleasures, three finished parcels, two children’s gifts and a morning of charity.
Truly a winter wonderland: all seven photographs were taking during a period of around fifteen minutes this morning (Friday). They appear in the order that they were taken, with the weather and the view changing spectacularly in that short space of time. The word awesome is over-used and largely devoid of its original meaning, but these scenes were genuinely awe-inspiring.
On the seventh day of Christmas my own way was to be seven snowy scenes, six plates a spinning, fives Ro-o-ses, four simple pleasures, three finished parcels, two children’s gifts and a morning of charity.
I am not cooking Christmas dinner. I am not at work. I do not give an enormous number of gifts. I do not have a long journey to make before Christmas. Yet despite all of these factors, I still sometimes feel stressed and harried by Christmas. I suppose it’s because Christmas acts as a deadline for any kind of normal, day-to-day activity; if you need to get something done by January, then in reality you have to get it done by mid-December. This requires an extra dose of organisation, as do all the activities and arrangements that go along with Christmas: presents, cards, extra social activities, etc etc. So it is perhaps inevitable that we all have a day when complete meltdown seems imminent – and my ‘sixth day of Christmas’ was that day.
On Thursday, the problem was less that I had several things to do and more that I was often trying to do a number of the tasks simultaneously. Despite pop-psychology claims that women are ‘wired’ for multi-tasking, there are moments when really concentration and focus on one thing at a time are needed. And yesterday, I failed to achieve this. I felt that I spent the whole day spinning plates, moving around from one to another to another, just trying to keep them up in the air.
Serendiptiously, I was spinning six plates: trying to sort stuff out for the car that I’m buying; trying to prepare a running order for a carol service on Sunday; trying to organise the material for the talking newspapers that I’m involved in; trying to do a few more bits for Christmas; trying to care for my niece for an hour; trying to have a shower – that’s how bad it got: having a shower became an item on my to-do list. But the day wasn’t totally bad. After I’d managed to succesfully spin all six plates all day, I sat down and re-created the fifth day of Christmas and munched on some Roses. Six, this time – but only to remain true to the song, of course.
On the sixth day of Christmas my own way was to be six plates a spinning, fives Ro-o-ses, four simple pleasures, three finished parcels, two children’s gifts and a morning of charity.
The Mission: Impossible theme tune has five beats to the bar. This rather unusual time signature plays a large role in its distinctive rhythm. My ‘fifth day of Christmas’ mirrored this, starting out with my own mission: impossible (buying a car, which was increasingly stressing me out as I felt I was going round and round in circles with it all) and gradually developing its own rhythm in which the number five was central.
1) Visited five car garages
2) Made five phone calls
3) Five items of post received
4) Knitted five coloured stripes on the scarves I’m making
5) Fives Cadbury’s Roses
Out of the five fives listed, I went with Roses for the song as I think these chocolates are a central part of my Christmas experience – as regular readers may have gathered from the numerous references to (and photographs of) them littered throughout December posts. Roses are a Christmas ritual in my family, with my mum and I taking great delight every year in opening a tin (well, often more than one tin over the course of the festive season!) and burying our heads in the contents. That smell is the smell of Christmas for me and I am glad to be able to give it such a prominent position in my own Twelve Days of Christmas…
On the fifth day of Christmas my own way was to be fives Ro-o-ses, four simple pleasures, three finished parcels, two children’s gifts and a morning of charity.