Thursday 31 December 2009

The Sixth Day Of Christmas...

Customer Relations Department
Ye Olde True Love Gift Shoppe
Santa's Grotto, North Pole

Dear Sir,

Your increasingly strident demands for various items to be sent to your true love have resulted in Miss L. Toe being signed off sick due to stress.

Having seen the latest item you have ordered, I am not surprised. While we would have no problems in supplying you with a goose, your stipulation that the goose should be a-laying is, we feel, somewhat unreasonable. How, for example, is one to prevent the egg from smashing in transit?

Even if we could comply with this requirement, the chances of getting six geese in this condition, after so many people have opted for goose as their Christmas dinner, is, I would say, minimal. Ditto turkeys, so don't even consider it.

Yours faithfully,

Mr. E. Guest.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

On The Fifth Day Of Christmas...

Customer Relations Department
Ye Olde True Love Gift Shoppe
Santa's Grotto, North Pole

Dear Sir,

You'd think that we'd be able to supply five gold rings without too much trouble, wouldn't you?

Well, unfortunately, we seem to have had a bit of a run on gold rings. We had a visit from a fine lady the other day, and, as well as waltzing in on a white horse, demanding musical accompaniment, she went and bought twenty gold rings. Why exactly she would need twenty, I have no idea... and all different sizes too. And then she flounced out in the direction of Banbury Cross. Our last ring was purchased by a Mr. Smeagol. He was very keen to know if the ring could withstand high temperatures.

Please accept our sincere apologies.

Miss L. Toe

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Fourth Day Of Christmas...

Customer Relations Department
Ye Olde True Love Gift Shoppe
Santa's Grotto, North Pole

Dear Sir,

Re: Catalogue Item #365 Birds, Calling (4)

I regret to inform you that we have been unable to proceed with this order as you failed to indicate which phone company and tariff you wished to employ. O2 do a very nice deal, but their birds only call friends and family on a fixed BT landline. Orange and Vodafone have calls to birds, but only on "09xx" prefix Premium Rate numbers, and I doubt that this is what you have in mind for your true love.

Please do not hesitate to call if you have any further queries.

Yours faithfully,

Miss L. Toe

Monday 28 December 2009

Monday Madness...

In all the excitement, I nearly forgot it was Monday... Time for a cat photo (or two!)

Third Day Of Christmas...

Customer Relations Department
Ye Olde True Love Gift Shoppe
Santa's Grotto, North Pole

Dear Sir,

I am writing with regard to your latest order, namely French hens (3).

Be advised that the above items are currently out of stock. This is due to industrial action by French farmers and lorry drivers (they always seem to strike over Christmas, between you and me I think they just want to extend their holidays a bit!) and their blockade of the ports.

French hens are vastly overrated: they are generally on the scrawny side and smell of garlic. Have you considered buying British? Sussex and Orpington are quite nice, you know.

If we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours faithfully,

Miss L. Toe.

Sunday 27 December 2009

Preliminary Model For Blackfen's Minor Basilica...

Following the initial lottery win which inspired a few sketches of the proposed basilica, we have received a scale model of the same...

I believe the method employed here is known as "structural gingerbread"...

Sadly, I had left my camera at home, not being aware of the architectural bid being put in today, but fortunately I had my trusty mobile phone camera to hand. I doubted that the structure will survive the predations of various children at a party this afternoon (the stained glass is actually made from sugar), and I wished to preserve a record of it for posterity.

The attention to detail is quite amazing, and inside there is a lego altar with a priest and two servers. I was pleased to note the presence of altar rails.

Perhaps next year we might arrange a High Mass, and I might even suggest a few jelly babies in the congregation...

Second Day Of Christmas

Customer Relations Department
Ye Olde True Love Gift Shoppe
Santa's Grotto, North Pole

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your recent order.

Sadly, it was directed to the Cookery Department of our Nursery Rhymes Section by mistake, and one of our more enthusiastic elves proceeded to make a very nice mock-turtle-dove soup using the last two turtle doves in stock.

We currently have turtle-dove feather boas at a special reduced rate for loyal customers.

Sincerest apologies,

Yours faithfully,

Miss L. Toe

Saturday 26 December 2009

On The First Day Of Christmas...

Customer Relations Department
Ye Olde True Love Gift Shoppe
Santa's Grotto, North Pole

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your recent order for the super-deluxe partridge/pear tree combo.

We regret to inform you that it has not been possible to dispatch the item at this time, as the partridge sustained serious head injuries after being hit by a falling pear.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused, and hope you will continue to shop with us,

Yours faithfully,

Miss L. Toe

Friday 25 December 2009

Our Saviour Arrives...

As I have mentioned before, this is, for me, the most heart-stopping moment of the whole Mass, and especially at Midnight Mass. Now, in the silent watches of the night, the Word is made flesh, and He consents to dwell with us, in all the tabernacles in all the churches in the world...

The Crib...

I put up a couple of photos of the Crib when it first went up. Obviously, the baby in the manger was missing. So now he has arrived, here's another photo...

With Very Best Wishes...

...for a blessed Christmas to all my blog readers.

Thursday 24 December 2009

Christmas Preparations Back On Track...

There were several children at Mass this morning, and I could sense the rising excitement, which was, I have to admit, infectious. I was, as a result, feeling less Scrooge-like than I did after yesterday's débacle. Nevertheless, the thought of battling against hundreds of highly excitable children and their exhausted and frazzled parents meant that I set out for Bluewater with more than a little trepidation!

My favourite car park was pretty full, and there were several cars circling, like barracuda round an inflatable dinghy, but a quick prayer to St. Joseph resulted in me finding a prime spot, much to the disgust of another motorist who had also spotted it, but who was trying to sneak in by driving the wrong way... as I had the right of way, I scooted in. Hah!

There were a few items I knew I had to buy, and I headed for those shops first. Some places were running sales already, and I couldn't resist buying a few little treats for myself... after all, I was saving so much money by buying stuff which was on special offer... But, although the mall wasn't as crowded as I had feared, I still didn't have much in the way of inspiration for several of my presents, and I ended up working my way right around the whole of Bluewater, dumping stuff in the car boot, and then going back for round two. (That picture of the shopping centre isn't from today, by the way...)

After four and a half hours' intensive shopping, I decided that I had earned a little rest, and headed towards the Krispy Kreme Donut shop. Having given up chocolate for Advent, the sight of all the chocolate toppings made me go weak at the knees, but I was able to resist, and had a snowman jam doughnut (I confess he had a couple of chocolate flavoured buttons) and an apple and cinnamon doughnut, along with a spiced apple and cinnamon steamer. This drink tasted a bit like an apple-flavoured lemsip, without the gritty tablet taste, and it was surprisingly delicious.

Then, feeling a slight twinge of guilt at the stuff I'd bought for myself, it was time to get back home. I even remembered to stop off to buy some milk, which cheered me up... though I have no doubt that I will discover I've forgotten something.

It was quite a relief to get all the bags inside. Sylvester came and had a sniff, and then walked off in a huff when he realised that there were no cat biscuits or toys, and no meat products.

It's now 5pm, and, having had a cup of tea to refresh the flagging spirit, I have a little time in which to change some sheets, wrap the presents, (before I forget who gets what) empty the bin, feed the cat, and then get myself ready for Mass (this takes longer than you might think... when I try to get myself prettied up, it requires more plaster and paintwork than the Sistine Chapel ceiling! At least the hair and nails were done yesterday!)

I hope that everyone else's preparations go as smoothly. Merry Christmas to one and all !

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Christmas Preparations On Hold...

I'm not very successful when it comes to preparing for Christmas - preparing in the physical sense, that is. While I enjoy shopping, I do not enjoy food shopping, or shopping when I have absolutely no idea what I want to buy, and I loathe large crowds.

So Christmas shopping is particularly irksome, especially when trying to buy presents for male relatives. As a result, I always leave Christmas shopping until the last minute, because I keep hoping for inspiration... or, at least, a few clues from the male relatives' spouses!

I had planned to go shopping today as it was payday. I got up early, did some chores, and then went to collect some dry cleaning. I attempted to pay for it using my debit card. Ooops. No dice. Card declined.

Now, I knew that today was payday. I had received the payslip on Monday. So I rang my bank. After waiting for over half an hour, I was told that the BACS system had crashed overnight, and so there was a delay in crediting accounts. No idea when the late credits would be completed, though it was guaranteed for later in the day. How much later? Would the shops still be open? No idea. No offer of help.

My planned shopping trip had to be put on hold - luckily I hadn't gone all the way to Bluewater before finding out that there was no money in my account. I kept ringing the bank to check my balance, just in case I could still get to the shops.

In the meantime, being stuck at home, I settled down to finish writing my Christmas cards (every cloud has a silver lining!) Finally, at 2pm, the money went through. I immediately scooted out back to the dry cleaners, the bank, the post office, the chemist... and then it was time for my appointment with the hairdresser, so no chance to get to Bluewater.

For me it was just mildly inconvenient - after all, I can go shopping in Bluewater tomorrow (though shopping on Christmas Eve must surely count as a penance, if not as grounds for sectioning under the Mental Health Act!) But I feel sorry for the people who have had shopping orders and delivery times (organised weeks in advance) cancelled because payments didn't get through in time.

The banks are very quick to charge customers who go into the red, through no fault of their own, because an expected payment was delayed, perhaps by no more than a day. It will be interesting to see what compensation will be offered to customers adversely affected by this error. I won't be holding my breath! I will, however, be considering whether I want to stay with Abbey/Santander in the New Year...

More Inconvenient Truth...

No, not climate change. Stem cells. Adult stem cells.

And it's very good news, which is probably why we haven't noticed a huge celebration in the mainstream media.

A chap called Russell Turnbull was practically blinded in one eye when ammonia was squirted into it. He was treated using stem cells from his other eye.

So, let's get this clear. This is yet another example where adult stem cells have actually succeeded in a clinical treatment programme. No ethical dilemmas involved. Not some hypothetical, jam-tomorrow, treatment-maybe-in-the-future which involves the wanton destruction of human life, with the possible added complications of tissue rejection or cancerous growths.

But, for some strange reason, the funding nearly all seems to focus on embryonic stem cells.

What happened to evidence-based scientific research?

Twitch of the mantilla to John Smeaton.

Monday 21 December 2009

A Date For The New Missal...?

A friend alerted me to the following, which he described as "a scooplet." I'm not entirely sure about that, but here is the information anyway...

Archbishop Mark Coleridge, the Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy, told the meeting that it is now anticipated that the new Missal will be published in early 2011.

In preparation for the publication of the new Missal an international catechetical resource is being developed. The multi‐media resource, to be used by English speaking nations around the world, is being prepared by Frayneworks, a work of the Sisters of Mercy in Melbourne.

Its preparation is under the direction of Fr Peter Williams, the Director of the National Liturgical Office.

Entitled “Become One Body, One Spirit in Christ”, it will be completed by the end of 2009 and will be launched in London this month by Bishop Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds and Chairman of the Leeds Group (of English‐speaking Bishops’ Conferences).

It will be available for distribution throughout the English‐speaking Catholic world by the end of February 2010. The resource will be launched in Australia at the national representatives in liturgy gathering to be held in Perth in early February 2010.

I'm not convinced that we need any catechetical resource other than the admission that the previous ICEL translation was seriously deficient, and that the new translation is much better.

It's not rocket science...

Britain Soldiers On Valiantly Despite Adverse Weather... (Not!)

I should be used to it by now, but the British inability to cope with slightly adverse weather conditions never fails to amaze me.

We had warnings of snow last week. After February's fiasco, I expected better preparation. Silly me!

On Wednesday, while I was out on break duty, (Sod's Law in operation) it started to snow. However, the flakes were tiny, and didn't settle. On Thursday afternoon, there were severe weather warnings being issued for the South-East. We were assured that the gritters were out in force, and there was plenty of rock salt to go round. Thursday night, while I was in the Parish club, the snow arrived.

After chucking a couple of snowballs at a passing cleric (well, it was his fault for trying to take a photo of me clearing the car windscreen) I drove home carefully. There was very little evidence of any gritting having been done, but because the snowfall was fresh, it was easy enough to drive slowly through it.

Friday saw a major freeze, and this meant that there was more danger from ice. The main roads were now fairly reasonable... but the side roads were a joke, and none of the pavements appeared to have been treated... so walking anywhere other than the middle of the road was pretty much impossible.

Meanwhile, other parts of the country were hit by snow. Airports were closed, which one can understand, but the Eurostar trains ground to a halt for hours in the Channel Tunnel, which seems bizarre. Apparently it was the wrong type of snow: too fluffy.

The weekend was cold, but there was no more snow in our corner of the world. I had a lazy day today, as I was planning to get to the evening Mass at Blackfen. At about 4:45pm I heard a lot of revving of an engine, and a squealing noise. I stuck my head out of the window, and saw that there had been a fresh snowfall (onto all that slushy ice) and a bus had ground to a halt just at the top of the hill on my road - it is a very steep hill, and winding as well...

I immediately left the house. This was just as well, because I then encountered a traffic tailback which meant that a journey which normally takes 10-15 minutes took two hours. No evidence of any gritting, and soft fluffy snow on top of ice or slush, meant that several cars were fishtailing, and quite a few were unable to go anywhere at all.

I made it to church just in time for Mass - which was sublime. Luckily the journey back only took 45 minutes, as most of the rush hour traffic had gone.

The bus was still stuck on the hill though!

Pro-Life Video & Song...

John Smeaton, National Director of SPUC, alerted his readers to the following video - not sure I agree with him on how great it is - I think the music grates, and I'm not too keen on the lyrics!

However, the message conveyed is vitally important, and the images of the developing baby are amazing... and besides which, I have lousy taste in music, so other people may actually like it...

Monday Madness...

Sunday 20 December 2009

Blackfen's Crib...

Our Crib has been set up, all ready for the arrival of Jesus...

Children's Crib Service...

This afternoon saw the Children's Crib Service at Our Lady of the Rosary. St. Francis of Assisi, credited with organising the first "live" Christmas Crib, has much to answer for...

Seriously, though, this is a great occasion, organised by the Children's Liturgy team from the 9am Sunday Mass. There are readers (usually the older children) a sensible girl is picked to play Mary, a reasonably sensible boy is asked to be Joseph, a more or less tractable baby is identified as a possible candidate to play Jesus, and then the other youngsters are invited to attend as shepherds, angels and kings.

It makes an interesting study... little girls never want to be shepherds. They don't really want to be kings either. Calling them "wise men" doesn't make them any more appealing. It's definitely a girly role being an angel... Anyway, there are no rehearsals, and so it's all done by careful marshalling and prompting, with carols sung in between the readings.

The children usually show up early in order to get changed. I heard blood-curdling yells, and went into the small hall to investigate...

Various angels were behaving in a most un-angelic fashion, though most of the noise was actually coming from the kings and shepherds... Once inside the church, the angels seemed keen to have their photos taken...

The shepherds, on the other hand, didn't seem at all concerned with fame and glory. One shepherd was wielding a particularly hefty stick, but, under his mother's eagle-eye, didn't seem to be inclined to use it on any of the other shepherds... The youngest shepherd appeared fascinated by the reader...

One of the kings needed a little coaxing to join the others...

... and then needed a little more pastoral encouragement to stay put!

Joseph was looking somewhat boot-faced: I think the girl he had hoped would play Mary didn't show up...

... and yes, Baby Jesus is dressed in pink. Boy babies cannot always be guaranteed in time for Christmas. At least she didn't howl the place down.

Eventually, all the children got to go up for the final prayers and the blessing. One year, a couple of shepherds decided to settle old grievances by bashing seven bells out of each other. This year was somewhat more peaceable... although one of the kings couldn't resist chasing one of the shepherds around the choir benches... and one of the shepherds started to chew on his sheep...

It was all fabulous fun... made all the more so because I didn't have to organise any of it!

Congratulations to all involved.

Fourth Sunday In Advent...

Advent is drawing to a close. Now that school has finished, I'm starting to feel a bit more Christmassy. The start of the holiday has been a bit frenetic: visiting a friend, going to the cinema, and, today, practically a whole day spent in church... at least I get a lie-in tomorrow.

However, for some strange reason, I still haven't managed to write my Christmas cards.

Tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow.

Saturday 19 December 2009

A Christmas Quiz...

No, not mine. Much better, trust me!

Patricius, over at Singulare Ingenium, has a Christmas Quiz all about J. R. R. Tolkien, and two of his most famous works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There are 25 questions, and it's a multiple choice quiz, so you can have a total guess if you're not sure. It's quite a challenge, and there's a prize of a book up for grabs: The Ring of Words: Tolkien and The Oxford English Dictionary.

Go on... you know you want to!

Friday 18 December 2009

Yippeeeee !

Yes, the holidays have arrived! No more school until January 4th.


Wednesday 16 December 2009

Fun & Games...

Teaching Science can be so much fun...

I was reacquainting myself with this experiment after school today prior to demonstrating it to the students as a special Christmas treat. Despite having done the experiment several times, I have never managed to make the jelly baby scream...

...and yes, that was my evil laugh before dropping the jelly baby into molten potassium chlorate!

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Photos From Gaudete Sunday...

Earlier in the year, there was an article in The Suppository which was rather uncharitable towards His Hermeneuticalness. So many people felt rather strongly that Damian Thompson and Fr. Z ran campaigns to raise money for some rather nice vestments.

Gaudete Sunday provided the opportunity to bring the vestments out again, and we also were fortunate enough to have a High Mass on the Sunday morning, so the entire kit and caboodle got an airing!

I took photos, keen to see how the "rose" colour would look with my snazzy phone... last year, I had to use my camera phone, and the very small lens has a distorting effect on colour balance.

Monday 14 December 2009

HSE Guidance On ‘Festive’ Songs...

It seems that the Equalities Commission and the HSE have turned their attention to favourite Christmas songs...

The Rocking Song
Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir;
We will lend a coat of fur,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you:

Fur is no longer appropriate wear for small infants, both due to risk of allergy to animal fur, and for ethical reasons. Therefore, faux fur, a nice cellular blanket or perhaps micro-fleece material should be considered a suitable alternative. Please note, only persons who have been subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check and have enhanced clearance will be permitted to rock baby Jesus. Persons must carry their CRB disclosure with them at all times and be prepared to provide three forms of identification before rocking commences.

Jingle Bells
Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

A risk assessment must be submitted before an open sleigh is considered safe for members of the public to travel in. The risk assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly if passengers are of larger proportions. Please note, permission must be gained from landowners before entering their fields. To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we would request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.

While Shepherds Watched
While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around

The union of Shepherds has complained that it breaches health and safety regulations to insist that shepherds watch their flocks without appropriate seating arrangements being provided, therefore benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available. Shepherds have also requested that due to the inclement weather conditions at this time of year that they should watch their flocks via CCTV cameras from centrally heated shepherd observation huts. Please note, the angel of the lord is reminded that before shining her / his glory all around she / he must ascertain that all shepherds have been issued with glasses capable of filtering out the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and Glory.

Little Donkey
Little donkey, little donkey,
on the dusty road,
Got to keep on plodding onwards,
with your precious load

The RSPCA have issued strict guidelines with regard to how heavy a load that a donkey of small stature is permitted to carry, also included in the guidelines is guidance regarding how often to feed the donkey and how many rest breaks are required over a four hour plodding period. Please note that due to the increased risk of pollution from the dusty road, Mary and Joseph are required to wear face masks to prevent inhalation of any airborne particles. The donkey has expressed his discomfort at being labelled 'little' and would prefer just to be simply referred to as Mr. Donkey. To comment upon his height, or lack thereof, may be considered an infringement of his equine rights.

We Three Kings
We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

Whilst the gift of gold is still considered acceptable - as it may be redeemed at a later date through such organisations as 'Cash for Gold' etc., gifts of frankincense and myrrh are not appropriate due to the potential risk of oils and fragrances causing allergic reactions. A suggested gift alternative would be to make a donation to a worthy cause in the recipients name or perhaps give a gift voucher. We would not advise that the traversing kings rely on navigation by stars in order to reach their destinations and suggest the use of RAC routefinder or satellite navigation, which will provide the quickest route and advice regarding fuel consumption. Please note as per the guidelines from the RSPCA for Mr Donkey, the camels carrying the three kings of Orient will require regular food and rest breaks. Facemasks for the three kings are also advisable due to the likelihood of dust from the camels' hooves.

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose?
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

You are advised that under the Equal Opportunities for All policy, it is inappropriate for persons to make comment with regard to the ruddiness of any part of Mr. R. Reindeer. Further to this, exclusion of Mr. R. Reindeer from the Reindeer Games will be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence. A full investigation will be implemented and sanctions - including suspension on full pay - will be considered whilst this investigation takes place.

Monday Fun...

"But... For Wales...?"

I do like You Tube. I was chatting with Leutgeb the other day and she reminded me of the quip by St. Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (it's in the film: I don't know if St. Thomas actually did say it!) where he says to Sir Richard Rich: "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?? "

I thought I'd see if I could find the clip, and, sure enough, here it is... among several other witty lines. They don't make films like this any more!

Saturday 12 December 2009

Gaudete !

Although I had been organised enough to buy my Christmas stamps this year, I was less successful in getting an Advent wreath sorted. I was sure I'd be able to get purple and pink candles from the local art and crafts superstore (they sell everything else for making Christmas decorations and wreaths, and they had them last year) and so I was pretty horrified to discover that their selection of coloured candles had been seriously downsized... there were lots of red, green, gold and white candles, even black candles (I really don't want to begin to think about why anyone would want black candles!) but no purple ones.

After frantically scouring the shops, and even quite a few internet outlets, I managed to find some purple and pink pillar candles. They were a pretty sorry sight, with the purple ones being more pink than purple, and they really smelled ghastly. I was so annoyed, I didn't bother trying to find any greenery to pretty them up a bit, I just stuck them on a glittery-gold plate...

I haven't bothered with a tree for many years, mostly because I've always gone away for Christmas itself, and leaving a cat at home alone with what is effectively a climbing frame and dangly cat toys is asking for trouble. I do, however, always hanker after a Christmas tree: being of German extraction, one would expect nothing less! Some friends of mine decided to help me out this year, and they bought me a ready-decorated tree... so I put the tree up on Gaudete Sunday...

Admittedly, it was printed on a plastic sheet...

However, after looking at it for, ooooh, all of five minutes, I realised that I just couldn't live with it. I was, after all, my mother's daughter, and I had been brought up with very strict rules of tree decoration.

I decided to look for a small Christmas tree in a pot. After trying a couple of florists and a supermarket, I thought I'd pop along to the local DIY superstore. Most of the trees were far too big, but I spotted a reasonable-looking specimen sitting forlornly on a table. Unable to believe my luck at such a swift and satisfactory result, I made a beeline for it. I was promptly accosted by a middle-aged woman who appeared out of nowhere...

"Excuse me! That's mine! I have only just put that pot down while I looked for my husband!"

Scouring the shelves, I eventually found another candidate. It was less Christmas-tree-like than the first tree, but I hoped that the branches would settle once I'd put on some decorations - my mother had always needed to allow for settling overnight. Triumphant, I brought home my prize...

...which suddenly, at home, began to look rather less Christmassy than it had in the shop. In fact, it had rather a spindly, hedge-like quality about it...

I had assumed that the branches were held up by twine, and that they would spread out once the twine was removed. Unfortunately, on closer inspection, no twine was in evidence. I rang my mother for advice, and sent her a photo. "That's not a Christmas tree," she opined, "that's a spruce!"

I was able to confirm this, as the label declared that the plant was a spruce... but I had assumed that, as a spruce was a pine tree, a spruce was also a Christmas tree. Apparently not...

Undeterred, I went to unearth my old Christmas tree decorations. I particularly wanted to find my super-snazzy, candle-shaped, tree lights. Alas, I discovered that the candles were almost as big as the branches they were supposed to sit on, and the branches couldn't take the weight. So, no lights.

I did, however, manage to decorate the tree eventually... and, having done that, I decided to see if I could find my Christmas crib, which had been packed away somewhere safe...

Imagine my delight on discovering that, along with the carefully-packed crib, I had wrapped up some purple and pink candles for my Advent wreath...

So now I feel I can observe the rest of Advent properly! Gaudete!

... I still haven't managed to write any Christmas cards though!
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