Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas 2017

This year at church, we had an Advent Flock which travelled around the Parish. At every home the flock visited, a little lamb was left behind, to be reunited with the flock on Christmas Eve at our Crib Services. Our children were invited to make extra sheep too, so the flock had grown somewhat by 5.30pm after two services. 

This Christmas, if,  like the shepherds and kings and our Advent flock, you are coming to the stable - or you find yourself in a situation you did not expect - remember that God is with you, now, two thousand years after the birth of Jesus. 

In the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, may your Christmas journey lead you closer not just to the heart of Christmas, but to the person of Jesus whose birth we celebrate.

Happy Christmas, everyone. xxx

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The building of a snowman

There's something about snow in the UK - it seems so rare that we get any of the decent stuff, that when we do, we go a bit mad!

On the one hand, it causes massive disruption. People aren't used to dealing with snow, so they don't cope with travel disruption or school closures and the like. (And yet years ago, when snow was more common, everyone seemed to manage much better - have we become softer in our modern day, I wonder?) Huge shout-out to everyone who keeps vital services going in these circumstances!

On the other hand, it gives folk a chance to play and enjoy the beauty of a changed world. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk down from church in near-silence, looking out over the fields. It also gives you a chance to cosy up inside if you like to look at the snow but not venture out in it.

Well, Mr Squidge enjoys playing. As I write, he's building an igloo in the garden.

He's already built a snowman, and that's what I want to share with you. Thing is, I was chatting on messenger to Squidgeling J - who, you may remember, is away at university. Bristol had seen snow today, but it hadn't settled; Squidgeling J wanted to know about the snowman.

Via a mixture of photos and messages, (live streaming the build was optioned at one point!) we had a conversation that lasted as long as it took to build the snowman.

He started out rather lumpy and looking like a giant white jelly baby.

Then I realised this was his body when Mr Squidge added a head.

Arms came next - one giving me the thumbs up, the other looking like Mr. Snowman had worked out on one side...until Mr Squidge made it look like his hand was on his hip. I was posting messages to Bristol every few minutes...'he's got a nose'...'there's an arm'...

A face. 'Creepy' was how Squidgeling J described it. And I have to say, it was a little disconcerting to have an eyeless snowman staring at me through the patio windows.

Oh, didn't I mention that? This four foot high snowman is built right outside our lounge and stares in at me, while I sit warm and cosy on the sofa...

Anyway. Mr Squidge added buttons and proper eyes (wine bottle tops) and then we found a hat. Mr Squidge had a colleague who celebrated her last birthday by asking everyone to come in wacky head gear, because she had unfortunately lost her own hair due to chemotherapy treatment. (Sadly, this friend died a few weeks ago.) Mr Squidge had joined in with the spirit of wacky head gear and bought himself a fez. A proper felt fez. And that's what we gave Mr Snowman.

Only for a short while - don't want the snow and wet to ruin the fez! However, the final choice of headgear was actually a santa hat, which doesn't matter if it gets wet.

Mr Squidge didn't half look pleased with himself...

Anyway, he's just come in because it's too dark and cold to do much more on the igloo, and I'm finishing this as he's making a cup of tea and warming a mince pie or two.

Whether you are a lover or hater of snow, I hope it doesn't cause you too much inconvenience over the next few days and that you manage to get some time to enjoy it, too. At least build a snowman, even if he's a tiddly one!

Friday, 1 December 2017

A Community of Christmas Trees

Our local Parish Church - the big one, in town - is holding its annual Community Christmas Tree Festival. As usual, my own church set up a tree, decorated by our Starting Rite members. (Starting Rite is a 5 week course for parents and their babies, which explores baptism, and their logo is apparently feet!)

So, not too many words in this blog - but a few pics of some of the trees I admired the most. Have to say, though, they are all brilliant for different reasons - and there were 120 to see!

To start off, here's our St. Mary in Charnwood tree:

All the babies who'd been on the Starting Rite course gave a sock, and had their name added to it.

The teeniest, tiniest toes were Charlotte's - right at the top of the tree.

Keeping with children - this was one nursery's egg box and cereal packet tree...

If I remember right, this was a school's craft club...lots of very clever ideas on the one pallet tree...

There were two 'book' trees, but I liked this one because it was made out of thick tomes which described all you needed to know about every aspect of citizen's rights, supplemented with tags describing people's responses to the help they'd received from the Citizen's Advice Bureau...

Lots of guiding trees in evidence, but this was my favourite - a treeful of Brownies, made out of plastic cups...

And where there are guides, there are usually scouts! A tent tree - complete with papier mache scout, cub and beaver heads peeking out of it...

Huge tissue paper flowers on this Gardening Group one - each large flower's about two feet across!

Now to a treeful of angels. Book folding seems to be a big thing at the moment - I'm torn between loving the finished product and hating to see pages creased. But this tower of angels looked amazing.

You've heard of the Great British Bake Off - well there was a tree decorated as the Great British BISQUE off, by the pottery club of the Grammar School. I have never seen so many gingerbread men. And I loved the bunting made from cake cases...

Now, my favourite tree of the lot. Made by a group called Charnwood Threads, the idea was simple - here's a white triangle of felt/fabric. Now decorate it using needlework.

Biggest triangles are probably 4-5" from base to tip

Oh my - I could've posted so many more photos of the individual decorations, because they were all exquisitely stitched. But here's a flavour...

Frayed fabric strips...

A string of felt tree lights...

Minute patchwork hexagons...
Simple threads...

 And the prize for the biggest variety of tree types in one submission? This one  - a winter wonderland of trees made from knitting, paper, felt, card, books...have I got them all?

In a break with Squidge Christmas traditions, I will be putting up a tree Chez Squidge tomorrow - mainly because I'm cooking an early Christmas dinner for eleven (!) on Saturday so we thought we'd better be a bit festive. Pictures will follow...even though it's only about three feet high.

Right, I'm off to defrost a 12lb turkey. See you later!