I’m wrapping up the blog for Christmas, but first let me share our Christmas traditions.
It’s Christmas Eve! Where did 2017 go? As you read this, me, Mr T and our girls will be squished in a car full of presents en route to the North East. We’ll be spending Christmas Day with mum, dad, my sister and her family. It’s a flying visit, though, as we’ll be heading back home to Nottingham on Boxing Day morning, ready for Mr T’s family to spend the day with us.
I am so looking forward to being with our families this year. 2017 has been a rollercoaster ride, to say the least, with all sorts of drama and upheaval with some of our precious friends and family members being seriously ill or going through tough times. That’s what makes me long to be around our family at Christmas time, even if it does mean notching up some miles to be with them.
The Christmas traditions continue.
a) Lego building.
It’s always a bittersweet time of year, as Boxing Day marks the anniversary of Grandad Tractor, Mr T’s dad. As I shared with you last year, in the midst of our grief and loss, a very special family tradition began (Lego memories and building a Christmas tradition). That boxing day and every one since, we’ve gathered around a dining table with the rest of the clan to build a Lego set. The first Boxing day, we build a Lego VW Camper van and since then we’ve built a Mini, Wall-E and a Volvo digger.
This year we’re building a Lego Volkswagen Beetle, and we are really looking forward to the challenge! I think Youngest will be keen to display it in her bedroom as it matches the colour of her walls.
b) Kate Rusby’s annual Christmas concert.
When do you start to feel Christmassy? For me, I really start to feel ‘Christmassy’ after we’ve been to Kate Rusby’s annual Christmas Concert in Nottingham. This year was my 6th year. If you haven’t heard of Kate Rusby, you really must listen to one of her albums. She has the most beautiful voice. Her Christmas concerts bring a contemporary twist to carols that have been sung in pubs in Yorkshire, and in other pockets of the UK, for centuries. I highly recommend you listening to her new Christmas album ‘Angels and Men’ on Spotify, or visiting her website, katerusby.com, where you can watch her Christmas Concert on demand over and over for the bargain price of £5.
I absolutely adore Kate’s concert. She chatters away to the audience as if we’ve all popped around to her house for mulled wine and a mince pie. She’s funny and down to earth, too. The carols may differ from the ones you know and love (there are 3 different versions of Whilst Shepherd’s watched) but Kate and her talented musicians have everyone singing along by the end of the show. Please check her out! She’s an absolute gem!
c) Christmas Open House.
Another tradition we’ve started over the last few years is our Christmas Open house, usually the 2nd or 3rd Sunday before Christmas. We invite neighbours and friends to come to our house (kids come too) for mulled wine, mince pies and a natter. These days, with busy lives, it’s all too easy to go through the year without having much chance to speak to the people on your street. We’ve had a few new neighbours move in this year, too. Hosting a Christmas open house such a simple idea, but everyone really enjoys getting together and getting to know each other better.
How was it for you?
Has 2017 been a wonderful year for you and your family or will you be glad to leave it behind as we usher in a fresh new year? As I say, this one has been a tough one. Yet, there have been some real blessings too, like my new job as an area manager for Community Money Advice, the national debt advice charity. I absolutely love helping to support the staff and volunteers at twelve debt advice centres across the East Midlands. I also work as a volunteer at one of the Nottingham centres, Cornerstone Money Advice.
Out with the old and in with the new.
Two years ago I took the momentous step of leaving my job as a pharmacist in the NHS. Today marked another milestone when a letter dropped onto my doormat along with the Christmas cards. It informed me that as of 31st December 2017, I will no longer be a registered Pharmacist. It was a strange feeling, but I have no regrets. I love my new job and funnily enough, my experience working with GPs and helping them save money has helped me in my new role too.
Giving something back.
Every year we are reminded of all the blessings we have in our lives, so at Christmas time, me, Rich and the girls look for ways to give something back. This year, as well as filling shoeboxes with gifts as part of the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Shoebox Appeal, we took part in the #FoodbankAdvent campaign, (#FoodbankAdvent : Give something back this Christmas with a reverse advent calendar). We started our reverse advent calendar on the 1st of November and in early December we were able to take our donations of food and non-food items to one of the 400+ Trussell Trust foodbanks in the UK, The Hope Centre, Beeston.
I’ve been really heartened by stories of others who’ve joined us in giving something back this year. Like the 11-year-old boy from Letchworth who is giving up all but one of his Christmas presents this year, asking his mum to donate the money she would have spent to the town’s foodbank (HERE).
This year, as always, our family will be looking forward to going to church to celebrate the ultimate Christmas gift, Jesus Christ. After some of the trails we’ve faced and the ups and downs we’ve had in 2017, (and there have been a few), there’s even more reason to rejoice in the knowledge that because of God’s greatest gift, his Son Jesus Christ, we have hope for the future.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33b
The Christmas Scale.
So let me finish up with a video I discovered recently. Sometimes the greatest gifts can be hidden in unexpected places. Did you know, the greatest message the world will ever hear is contained in one simple scale?
Merry Christmas Everyone.
I’ll be taking a much-needed break from my blog over the Christmas period to spend time with family and friends.
Before I go, I’d like to take a moment to say a big ‘thank you’ to you, my readers. Whether you’ve only just discovered my little blog or whether you’re a regular reader, I am so grateful you’ve taken the time to stop by.
May you have a very special Christmas and a Happy New Year!