Day 22: What still needs to be done…?

As someone who is both very organised and loves Christmas, there is rarely much that still needs to be done at this point every year. I generally wrap presents and do cards in the first week or two of December so that all that is left by this time of the Christmas countdown is to relax and soak up Christmassy atmos! 

That said, it is around this time every year that I start to get the pre-Chirstmas eve jitters over the mammoth task of cooking all day. Although it is a job I love and I choose to do it every year, I still get nervous that everything will go wrong and it will be a disaster. It hasn’t happened yet, but there is always a first time!! 

This year, however, Christmas Eve cooking is going to be that little bit more stressful as what also still needs to happen is two more services back in Berko! Aaaarghh! So, I will be preparing as much as I possibly can before 1’oclock. Go to the graveyard with the famalam, drive to Berko, do two services and then drive straight home to cook the final bits and enjoy Christmas eve with everyone. 

So havingsaid that there is always very little left to do by this point, in writing it down there’s actually lots! I’m going to lie down…

Lex xx

Blogmas Day No 22

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Day 21: What Does Christmas Smell Like…?

One of the biggest things I’ve notices and reflected on a little since living alone is that my flat sells different to how i expected. I expected my flat to smell like my family house, but it doesn’t. It obviously just smells of me!! It’s not a bad smell, and actually having lived alone for three months now, it’s comforting, it’s just different to home. 

So this year Christmas will smell of home. 

Christmas smells of cinnamon (well at least it does in my house when I’ve been at the Yankee candles!) Christmas smells of blown out candles, best smell in the world. Christmas smells of warm after a cold afternoon walk. Christmas smells of food, roasting, tasty food. 

Christmas smells like Christmas, inexplicably Christmassy. 

Lex xx

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Day 20: A Day in December life…

8:00am- My alarm goes off and I summon the courage to get our of my warm bed (While I have now worked out the heating, my flat is big and with one person in it it is still a bit chilly at times!) 

8:30am- Sort out some sort of Breakfasty type thing and prepare for another busy December day.

8:45am- Walk across the road and help the Sunday school children get sorted in nativity costumes

9:00am- Get dressed in my “costume”. I’m subdeaconing this morning, so I need to robe up.

9:30am- Morning Eucharist with nativity, so I spend an hour processing around, trying to remember to bow in the right places and holding up words/ doing actions for the children during the nativity. 

10:30am- The service finishes, grab a quick coffee with some of the church peeps (by peeps I mean OAPeeps)

11:00am Drive home to MK

1:00pm- Lunch at home 

2:00pm-3:00pm- Festive afternoon laziness. Nice. Introduced Dad and stepmom to Nativity, they loved it.

4:oopm- Carols by Candlelight at St Mary’s Bletchely, home church. Good to be back!! 

6:00pm- Drive round to a local street that go mental with their lights to take them in, pretty festive flashing!

9:00pm- Apprentice final, woot woot!! Last Apprentice date with the Rews of 2015, good times 

10:30pm- Sleep!! 

Lex xx

Blogmas Day No 20

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Day 19: 5 Things to be jolly about…

It’s a jolly time of year. It’s always so much easier to be jollier at Christmas. And this year there is much to be jolly about…

  1. I get to spend today with my favourite boy! I miss Noah so much living away from my family most of tyhe time. But today I get to babysit him all day and we are gonna have some jolly fun times!! 
  2. The end of term! I hate to be a cliched person working in the education sector, but the end of term really does make me very jolly.
  3. Some time at home over the festive period, with time off and living close enough that i can shuttle between work and home. I’m spending some time in the bosom of my family’s bosom. 
  4. I’m not ill yet!! This time last year I was sick and didn’t get better until March (seriously!) So I’m jolly that as of yet, I don’t seem to have the lurgy. 
  5. I received the best gift in the form of our exec principal informing me that they were extending my contract to a second year… Yessssss! 

Have a holly JOLLY Christmas! 

Lex xx

SOUP & SALAD

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Day 18: Favourite Christmas Memory…

Christmas is one of those times when memories blend into one. It’s hard to pick out individual times that have been favourites because childhood Christmases have become one big blob of awesome, rosy memory stuff. 

I guess there are a few that stand out though…

I must have been about 6 or 7 when I was given a full fairy dressing up costume by my Nanna and spent he rest of Christmas day (and possibly the next few days) being a fairy and refusing to take it off. There were many jokes made about putting me on top of the tree that year… how we laughed…

I was definitely 8 the year that I got a toy microphone that both clapped and laughed (My love of standing up and showing off suddenly becomes clear!) the same year that my brother got the first Spice Girls album. I spent that festive period treating EVERYONE to shows. You’re welcome guys. 

Then I must have been about 10 or 11 the year that my brother and I had decided that it would be funny to ask for puppies, knowing that we’d never get one. On Christmas morning my dad bought in the cat carrier with two stuffed puppies in (complete with leads). That stands out because for one brilliant moment we thought they’d actually gone and done it!! 

I guess one of the things that I love about Christmas most is making more memories every year… looking forward to new ones next week. 

Lex xx

Blogmas Day No. 18

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Day 17: A time you made a snow angel…

Isn’t it warm?! Seems to be the thing that I find myself saying to people and hear as a main topic of conversation. It is really, very unseasonably warm. I heard yesterday that it got up to 17… in December?! Madness!! 

I don’t know about you, but it is denting the Christmassy feelings a little because it isn’t cold and crisp like a good British December day should be. I just wandered across to work without a coat, what’s going on? 

So to maybe remind us of Christmases past,when there was perhaps a whisper of snow lingering about the ground and it was most definitely chillier, putting us all in the Christmas spirit, I’m going to recall a time of making snow angels. 

This particular angel occurred in 2009. My first Christmas working at Bridgebuilder. It had snowed overnight and we were trecking in so we could go  for our staff Christmas lunch. We had no school’s work booked in so had a pretty free morning and the snow below us lay untouched and unplayed with. What else were two student youth workers going to do?! I made a snow angel and made our office manager take a photo, then we hid behind a bush waiting until our boss arrived and pelted her with snowballs, happy times! 

The snow angel wasn’t bad, but it did result in  me getting very wet pants that I then had to sit in throughout lunch, less happy times. 

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Alas, no snow angels this year…

Lex xx

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Day 16: Favourite Christmas poem…

So, again, today I’m sharing a poem that I’ve used in some of the many services that have happened over the last few weeks. This poem in particular my boss and I read instead of a bible reading for the senior school’s final chapel services of term, it went down petty well. It’s funny and different enough, but with a real truth and point to it. 

Its by a buy called Godfrey Rust, and his work can be found here. We actually used loads of his Christmas stuff this year. His poem ‘Baby’s crying’ made for a very moving and poignant sermon at a carol service last week and then I used his collection of shorter poems/prayers as intercessions at the same service. 

Anyway, the poem I’m sharing is called ‘Gabriel’s Revelation’…

Gabriel’s revelation

Shepherds, they say, were the fools of their day,

the ones who were butts of the jokes—

Fred Flintstone with sheep, Homer Simpson asleep,

imperfectly ordin’ry blokes.

 

They’re nobody famous, just some ignoramuses

anyone might string along—

neither pious or holy, they take things in slowly

and often get much of it wrong.

 

So they’re out on the down, looking over the town,

feeling vaguely that life’s passed them by,

just minding their own, prob’ly having a moan,

when an angel gatecrashes their sky.

 

Well, the herdsmen took fright at this startling sight

(some rustic expletives were spoken)

while the seraph looked round at the desolate ground

and decided his satnav was broken.

He’d expected to come to a media scrum

for a major announcement like this,

to communicate to the good and the great

the arrival of endless bliss. 

 

Celebs should be present, not a handful of peasants

at night on a freezing moor:

such a strange target market for heralds to hark at—

yet he’d seen something like it before.

 

He’d been sent to appear somewhere north of Judaea

to an unmarried teenage maid

with a tale so alarming he oozed his most charming

“My dear, you must not be afraid!”

 

He explained her behaviour had put her in favour

with the heavenly powers that be,

and to tell her bridegroom that she’d have to make womb

for a special delivery.

 

To the angel’s surprise she looked straight in his eyes

and said, “Fine, but I don’t figure how,

because Joseph and I haven’t yet… “ he said “My,

we don’t need go into that now!”.

 

He covered his fluster with angelic bluster:

“Don’t question the method—believe!

He has strategies still to accomplish his will

of which you could never conceive!”.

 

He was struck by her youth and the staggering truth

he had just so abruptly confided

when the girl bowed her head and quietly said:

“Let it be as the Lord has decided.”

 

It was going quite well (though he then had to tell

the fiancé, and scared him to heck—

a small jobbing builder who hardly fulfilled an

ideal foster-God-parent spec).

 

Now the nine months are through and the baby is due

and it’s time to inform them of why,

so here he is talking to these faces gawking

wide-open-mouthed up to the sky.

 

As Gabriel hovered, he felt deeply bovvered:

this was really a bit of shambles—

teenagers, brickies, now this group of . . . thickies—

they seemed such extraordinary gambles.

 

Here’s God planning to save everyone from the grave

and you’d think he’d be quite risk averse,

keep his cards to his chest and use only the best—

not entrust everything to the worst.

 

It was almost as though he was trying to show

that he didn’t need forceful or clever—

give him any lame horses or dodgy resources,

he was going to fix it, whatever.

 

Gabriel thought back a bit, and it started to fit

when considered from this point of view:

given all the great nations to pick for your station

why else would you come as a Jew?

 

He thought down the ages of prophets and sages

whose hopes of success seemed like zero—

Abraham, Nehemiah, David, Ruth, Jeremiah,

each one an improbable hero—

he thought of the stories of unlikely glories,

of Jacob, sold off without pity,

of Gideon the nerd and Elisha—absurd!—

and a brass band that blew down a city,

for that’s how it is, this behaviour of his,

it’s his modus operandi

to choose the obscure or the dull or the poor—

frankly, anyone who’s handy,

and at last it was plain to his angelic brain

that the God he was messaging for

would be nobody now so that all—anyhow—

would be somebody for evermore.

Gabriel took out his scroll and let it unroll

and said “OK, you lot, listen up.

Those who’ve told you the prize is reserved for the wise

would appear to have sold you a pup,

 

for a Saviour is born this remarkable morn

and his name it is Christ, the Lord”—

then he added a bit that seemed awfully fit   

but that Luke somehow didn’t record:

 

“One day this child will see men reconciled

in a world that’s been turned upside down,

where the best will be worst, the last will be first

and a beggar can carry a crown.

 

You’ll find him down there, in a room cold and bare,

and it looks like a pauper’s birth,

but what’s born here is peace that will spread without cease 

till it reaches all people on earth.”

 

Then the angels joined in with a heavenly din

Deo Gloria in Excelsis

for the child that’s now grown, and the grace that’s been shown

is ours—and everyone else’s!

 

Lex xx

blogmas-day-no-16-teenella

 

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Day 15: Favourite Christmas Story…

I thought that today I’d share a story which I love using, and have used as part of Christmassy chapel assemblies this year at work. It isn’t strictly very Christmas perse, but it does show how the Christmas story is the start of a much bigger story that all links together. It has a lovely message to it. 

The Tale of The Three Trees…

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up.

The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: “I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I’ll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!”

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. “I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I’ll be the strongest ship in the world!”

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. “I don’t want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they’ll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.”

Years passed. The rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.

The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, “This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell.

“Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest. I shall hold wonderful treasure!” the first tree said.

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, “This tree is strong. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell.

“Now I shall sail mighty waters!” thought the second tree. “I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!”

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven.

But the woodcutter never even looked up. “Any kind of tree will do for me,” he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenter’s shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feedbox for animals.

The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, nor with treasure. She was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead, the once strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail on an ocean, or even a river; instead, she was taken to a little lake.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard.

“What happened?” the once tall tree wondered. “All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God…”

Many, many days and night passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams.

But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feedbox.

“I wish I could make a cradle for him,” her husband whispered.

The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and the sturdy wood. “This manger is beautiful,” she said.

And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake.

Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through with the wind and the rain.

The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, “Peace.” The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun.

And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man’s hands to her.

She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.

But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth tremble with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God’s love had changed everything.

It had made the third tree strong.

And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God.

That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

Lex xx

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Day 14: Christmas Tree Reveal…

So, the full onslaught of Christmas service madness I mentioned before has well and truly started. Three services Sunday, Two today, three tomorrow. It’s all a bit bananas and I am having to plan my time expertly to ensure I get everything done and still have time to eat and sleep…something that didn’t happen much last night!

With this in mind, I am mixing up some of my prompts, with the intention of choosing some of the lighter writing ones for this week while I am super busy.

So, as I’m not currently at “home, home” and haven’t yet seen our tree, and don’t have a tree in my little flat (although I nearly did!) I will share one of the many trees that I get to call partly mine because they are in my many sites of work. This evening as I went in to church to go and lead evening prayers, and it was semi dark and it was just me, I was struck by just how beautiful St Peter’s tree is.

So I’m revealing theirs…

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Right, now I’m off to complete this evening’s to do list! Festive!!

Lex xx

-POP

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Day 12 & 13: How are you counting down to Christmas & when did you stop believing in Santa…?

So, yesterday was the first day that I managed to fail in my aim to blog every day up until Christmas day. Ooops. A thousand apologies, but it was my work Christmas do on Friday and so Saturday morning was a little tough and then I was busy for the rest of the day. So you are getting a bumper edition today! 

First off, how am I counting down to Christmas? Well the way I would have loved to be counting down was with either the Yankee candle calendar or the gin calendar, but i thought spending £25 on candles or £150 on gin was a little much in the end. I do have three calendars though. There is my advent candle which my auntie buys me each year, I love candles and light some most evenings, so this is a lovely thing to have. My other advent calendars are a standard picture one with chunks of the story from the Bible. And then a Wilkinson’s own version of Lego (“Blox”) one. It’s really good as it only cost £5 and it’s fun to build things everyday. What isn’t fun is that there was obviously no thought that went in to what went in which day. So i currently have loads of half built things or bricks that can’t go anywhere yet. What say’s counting down to Christmas better than a headless Snowman and a decapitated Santa head?! 

The other question for today is about when I stopped believing in Santa. I think I was probably quite old. I was probably 11, so considering my brother was 15/16 at that point he managed to be really nice and not ruin things for me. I had every reason to stop believing as my dad always played at church for the midnight communion, which means there was always someone up to sneak presents in to stocking s and take sneaky bites out of mince pies. But the final deciding factor that made me stop believing was when I was out shopping with my mum and I saw my letter to Father Christmas in her handbag. Busted! I like that I believed for so long, it was magic!

Something I do feel like I need to apologise for on this topic, is for that one year when I’d read a book about reindeer and what they ate, meaning I left a mushroom out for Rudolph rather than a carrot. Sorry to whoever had to nibble that raw mushroom!!

Lex xx 

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