I love this time of year. Here in the northern hemisphere, the days are noticeably getting longer. Everything is beginning to spring. Lambs in the fields. Snowdrops in the hedgerow. More light. Still muddy, but slowly, everything becomes easier. Today marks the mid point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Winter turns to spring
It’s no accident that so many different societies choose to celebrate this time of year. Let’s face it. Who doesn’t like an excuse to celebrate? Especially after dark days and wintery weather. Brr.
Imbolc was yesterday. Candlemas and Groundhog Day are today. There is also the Chinese New Year that started on 28th January. Each one celebrates light and the new growing season, in their own way. So many traditions and myths. I’ve had a word with our local badger sett and they would prefer if I didn’t haul them out to check for their shadow.
We love to celebrate. We’ve made candles, cakes and lanterns in past years. How could we resist a craft project to celebrate the season? This year, we are making hand cranked storytelling craft. This is how we did it.
We used a small box, such as one that held tea or matches, or even a toilet tube, and cut out a window in the front.
Next we cut a strip of paper, which is as tall as the window in the box. Drawing a series of pictures, adding words and anything else that helped to tell our story.
Made four holes. Two in the top and two in the bottom, to put the rods through, which the paper strip rolls around. We used old felt tips, that had run dry, and pushed them through the holes as shown above.
With the pens in place, and using sticky tape, we attached one end of the picture strip to one of the pens. Rolled the paper around the pen, before sticking the other end of the strip to the second pen. Bit fiddly, but we got there in the end.
Carefully twisting the second pen to pull and wrap the paper strip around it. Transferring the paper from one pen to the other. And back again.
So many stories to tell and share. Encouraging children to tell stories. Voicing the tales as well as sharing the pictures.
I made a quick version to show the children, before we started. Not polished, but they got the idea.
Whether you light a candle or make a cake, I hope you find some way to celebrate the change of the season. Where ever you live.
Happy Candlemas/ Imbolc
Linking up to Fiona’s #Trash2Treasure linky. Have you been upcycling this month?
I have a dream every year. To make a homemade Christmas. Every part of it handmade. Admittedly, there is also part of me that would quite happily go away for Christmas and leave it for someone else to do, but that’s unlikely.
It does appeal.
I had a feeling this year, that it had been less of a homemade triumph. Then sifted through my photos last night, I realised that there were lots of little bits of homemade goodies. I had made socks as gifts, handprinted wrapping paper and, not forgetting, the home baked food.
First up, I seriously loved seeing all the presents wrapped up in the hand printed paper. A couple of sheets weren’t quite dry when I was wrapping the presents. I left them in front of the Aga to dry over night, which confused the children, when they came downstairs in the morning. They thought I was hiding something behind the wall of wrapping paper.
I did try to persuade everyone that they should leave everything wrapped. Pine trees and snowflakes held together with ribbon. What is not to love? Alas, they missed the vibe and preferred to see the contents. Ah well. Can’t win them all.
(As an added bonus, the paper is easy to re-use and recycle. Some I have already re-used to wrap presents, some I’ve stored for next year and the rest has joined my firelighter supplies. Very little left to go out in the recycling bin.)
Second success, apart from the Christmas lunch, was the Christmas pudding. I like to make our Christmas pudding round, and use a sphere as the mould. No photos unfortunately.
The resulting pudding, with its holly on top, would not look out of place on a Christmas card. We remembered to remove the holly, this year, before setting the pudding on fire. Nothing like seeing the blue flames lick around the outside of the pudding before settling in the bottom of the bowl, as if the pudding is sitting in a sea of flames.
Third success. No, not homemade pyjamas, (maybe next year), but my homemade fire lighters were a success. Each one is different. Depends on the recycling materials available. I’ve discovered one well known high street shop’s paper bags burn with a delightful green flame. I’ve found myself experimenting a bit more.
I made fudge and peppermint creams to give as presents. Some may have been kept back too. Yum. I also made three pairs of socks as gifts. I made them one after another. Felt odd when I had no more to knit. Twiddles thumbs. The yarn was mostly from my stash too. Great feeling when making homemade as there is very little packaging. Just the wool band and a paper bag.
I’m sure there is more that I have already forgotten. I guess I should include all the knitted mistletoe before Christmas. I’ve lost count of how many bunches I made.
And next year? I’ll start earlier. There will be more handmade gifts. And handcrafted food treats.
Either that, or we’re going away.
Word of the week is most definitely “homemade”.
Each year, it’s different. Each year, it’s the same.
Like many homes, Christmas Eve heralds the start of a procession of well rehearsed traditions for our family. Yet small changes arrive like new, unexpected visitors, jumping in to join in the fun. Ready to establish and grow roots as new traditions. Perish the thought that I should skip a well loved aspect of this time of year, in the rush to embrace the new. No, all of it must happen. Someone is sure to remind me.
When I step back for an instance, I can see the steady march of a family growing. As it should. I have no wish to see our lives preserved in some kind of perspex. No point trying to keep it all the same, but I do want to remember every mama-heart-warming moment. So here is a snapshot of our Christmas Eve. Not everything, but the bits, how ever small, I don’t want to forget.
I want to remember the bauble Eldest brought back from a german Christmas market. Hanging from the stag’s head above the fire. It was this year.
I want to remember the year Middle One decided to dress her artists mannequin as Father Christmas. It was this year too.
I want to remember how letters were sent via Elf mail to Father Christmas. Youngest anxious that this may be the year Father Christmas has no time to write back. He did. This year.
I want to remember how every year my Aga is packed full of food, cooking. Using every spare inch to cook or warm a vital part of our edible Christmas tradition. Every year. ( I may choose to forget how much smoke is produced from burning chocolate, billowing from the microwave. Let’s try and forget that one.)
Moving on. I want to remember the Christmas Eve that we bought rolls of craft paper and printed hundreds of trees and snowflakes, ready to wrap presents. Like this paper. Hanging the sheets from cupboards and bookcases to dry. So many that it looked like we’d chosen to wallpaper in the style of Wallace and Gromit. Wondering if the paint would dry in time. This year.
I want to remember the year that my husband turned up with a real Christmas tree on his shoulder, on Christmas Eve, so the children would know how it scented the room. An unloved tree that no one else wanted. Except us. We did. This year.
I want to remember. Just hug those moments once more. I am truly grateful for all this and more.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas.
Here’s to many more happy moments, that will be treasured for ever.