Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Getting Festive

This post is a little late due to the busyness of the Christmas holidays, therefore please attempt to transport yourself back in time, imagining yourself as you were about a week prior to Christmas day. The food shopping is yet to be done, as is that last minute gift shopping while you’re still pondering who you may have potentially forgotten or whether or not to get 'x' anything. There's still plenty of time for the anticipation of the festive period to build up, and most of us students are only just thinking of travelling home for the season.

My little family of three, being made up of my mother, sister and I, don't have many traditions but as with many, the Christmas holidays mean the practise of a few. One of these is going to some form of carol service, usually not the same one each year. Although I was raised as a Christian, going to church and Sunday school every weekend, I no longer follow the religion. However I do still admire it to a point from a far and feel almost a sense of homeliness or belonging in a Church. I am aware that Christmas means the return to Church services and some forms of Christian practises for many in the UK, my family is not a part of this - We simply enjoy a good sing song and feeding nostalgia. (Not to cause any offence to anyone! I do offer the most sincere apologies if the blasé approach to Christianity or most religions in general. Please feel free to comment on this post or message me via any other platform if this is something you wish to discuss as I appreciate I may a tad naive when it comes to such a topic.) I don't really discuss religion with my mom (although I know she holds the Christian faith dear to heart) or sister so it is quite wrong of me to speculate their views and can only really speak for myself.

Anyhoo, this tradition is different in the way it is implemented each year, we visit various concerts and occasionally go back to the ones we really enjoy. A little variation stops things from getting dull, I guess. This year it was decided we would travel up to Exeter, the nearest city to home, to watch the Cathedral choir's Christmas carol concert. (Nice alliteration there) What broke my heart a little was the fact that my sister was unable to join us when the date came around due to commitments at university. Unfortunately, this is just a fact of life sometimes but all was not last as my mother and I were joined by a very close family friend, basically my grandmother except for the blood relation.

We arrived in Exeter a couple of hours before the performance was due to start leaving us a good amount of time to grab a coffee and have a stroll around the Christmas market. After the journey a little walk was definitely needed before having to sit down for the duration of the concert. While Christmas markets may not be a strict family tradition, they are one of my favourite things about the holiday period as well as being something I enjoy all year round.  So many pretty treasures to be found! So many original gifts to discover! Then of course you have the generally heart-warming atmosphere as groups of people huddle round the light and warmth radiating from each hut or stall, or maybe it's just me that gets that fuzzy feeling from these kind of things. All the fairy lights and tinsel helps with the cuteness of it all too.

For once I didn't buy anything, which shows a huge amount of restraint on my part. I must apologise for the fact that I only had my phone with me to take photos, not that makes a difference from usual, but obviously the quality of photos suffers as a result. I haven't been able to include a lot of photos as some simply wouldn't have been worth it. I am sorry about this, as it seems a shame you miss out on some of the beauties that stalls had to offer.  But maybe that's a good thing as there's less for me to ramble on about! Gotta look at the positive side!

Everyone has a need for a notebook, whether they realise it or not. My addiction to pretty notebooks and stationary was something I managed to curb last year, but I felt that old demon rise when I spotted these! Leather bound, all original designs  with a little clasp lock... My hearts beating fast. Whether it's blog organising, journal writing or.. well I could think of a hundred and one reasons for why I need another notebook.

If you do not know my love of crystals and silver jewellery then you do not know me at all! Once I spied this stall you couldn't drag me away, the collection of amber was gorgeous. It just so happens that although being a stone I've always admired, for it's beauty and healing properties, I'm still missing a piece of amber in my crystal collection, be it in rock or jewel form. (although amber isn't technically a stone, but a fossil) I must have stood there admiring every piece for a good half an hour before I was dragged onwards without a single purchase. *sob**sob* (spoiler alert: it turns out my mom had bought me a gorgeous pair of amber earrings for Christmas!)

The Concert

Due to safeguarding issues (the participation of children in the choir) I was unable to record any of the performance to share with you - but again maybe that's a blessing, considering the quality I would have been capturing in! Look at me with all these silver linings!
No matter your religious perspective, churches are places of peace and sanctuary (or at least they should be). Cathedrals give a very similar vibe, only bigger and more detailed and beautiful architecture.

Regrettably the performance didn't really meet my expectations. The choir may have sounded beautiful but they simply weren't powerful enough for the space they were in. Usually I find it quite an uplifting, almost spiritual, experience yet not this time despite my heightened expectations. In all honesty I found the whole thing a bit amateur, something that was definitely not reflected in the ticket prices! But look at me being a negative Nancy, I'll stop myself before I go any further, complaining about the song choices (most of which were unheard-of carols written by the local choir master, not quite what I had in mind...). Oops, too late!

Let's get back over to that brighter side of life, shall we? The children were adorable, and my little family tradition was kept up another year. Family time is always nice, especially at Christmas and after going my longest time in Cardiff without a home visit (5 weeks). For someone who really struggles to get into the Christmas spirit, it did warm my heart a little and prepared me to smile through all the rest of the exhausting social expectations and celebrations. Plus I got to belt out Rudolph the Reindeer, Walking in a Winter Wonderland and Ave Maria in a public place without being stared at for once!

How did you start off your Christmas celebrations? Do you have any traditions you keep up every year? Let me know in the comments! 

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