This will be my first Christmas as a fellow blogger.
|Little cherub in the greenhouse.
Almost everyone whose blog I follow has been busily preparing her home for Christmas. I've seen lovely festive wreaths, beautiful little cardboard village montages, mantlepiece displays of much loved, vintage and other collected ornaments, Santa paintings, prettily decorated Christmas trees, brass wise men, homemade handstitched Christmas decorations, well-loved children's handmade decorations, Christmas baked goods and so forth. In addition, I've been treated to the most exquisite photographic snowy and frosty scenes and have been introduced to the intricate works of art created by hoar frosts as well as other scenes of twinkly Christmas lights and falling snow and it has been a truly wonderful experience sharing all of this with each of you. So, THANK YOU!
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|Penstemons in the garden provide bell-shaped flowers for Christmas.
I live in South Africa where we have summer at this time of the year, as you all know. So, your Christmases are very much more traditional and of the kind I grew up knowing through stories and pictures alone. Our Christmases are always HOT. At times, we literally overheat. So, we don't "do" all the elaborate, intricate decorations and huge turkey dinners, unless we choose to celebrate on Christmas Eve, when everyone hopes for a bearable evening.
Our Christmases are generally a lot "tamer." We put up trees and decorate them, hang some pretty lights, buy Christmas crackers, set the table prettily and so forth, but don't do nearly as much decorating as those of you who live in the Northern hemisphere do.
In my own home this is possibly even more so, as both of our children celebrate their birthdays in December. Only once their birthdays are over, do we start to think about Christmas. Traditionally, we'd pick and decorate our tree the day after our son's birthday. Now that they're young adults, we have simmered down even more. I think this is largely a mild form of protest against the hugely commercialised side of Christmas, but we do always ensure we're together as a family and that we have a special meal, and our fairy lights are put up in the garden, as we tend to gravitate outdoors to enjoy al fresco meals on most evenings at this time of the year.
|More Christmas colours to be found in the garden from my bromeliads.
Last year was the first time we did not put up a tree of any sort. When our children were young, we always had a real tree, not too large, but always a nice size. Over the years, we opted to buy a potted tree and use that each Christmas until it got too big to carry indoors comfortably. Next up, we had a small, table top artificial tree. My daughter is keen to rekindle that side of things this year, although my husband and son say they'd really rather we didn't. As we no longer have any decorations (I gave them all away), I wonder who'll win out on this one ;)
|Red floribundas for Christmas colour.
This year, my daughter and I also enjoyed participating in the South African Santa Shoebox Project. Each participant elects to buy gifts to fill shoeboxes for a self-nominated number of underprivileged children. It's such an enjoyable activity, as not only do you select and buy all the small gifts to be added to your box, you are required to cover and decorate each box for the recipient child to have as a keepsake, as well. We filled ours with toiletry items, clothing, toys, sweets and educational goodies. It's surprising how much can be fitted into a large shoebox! And, all the while, you are thinking of the child/children for whom you're making up the surprise. That, to us, is a very special part of what Christmas should be all about.
We also like to deliver a box of treats and essential groceries to a family we personally identify. This is not hard to do in South Africa, as we have large numbers of informal settlements, or "squatter camps," on the outskirts of most urban areas. I know of a number of families who like to do similar things at Christmas time.
So, in essence, what this all means is that you won't be seeing any Christmas decorations and festive displays on these pages - well, certainly not in the traditional sense. I, however, will continue to enjoy the magic you've been sharing on your pages, knowing that during the cold, bleak months creating warm, glowing, decorative interiors and preparing delicious hot meals is absolutely essential to the Northern hemisphere experience of Yuletide!
|Decorative leaves providing Christmas colour in the greenhouse.
Enjoy all your planning and preparation for Christmas, but do give thought to those less fortunate than yourselves.