As part of my lifelong ambition to be a writer, I have been keeping a handwritten journal for over seven years. I do not write in it everyday – just when I remember and then I have to update several days activities all in one go. Some years over Christmas I have had to enter about four weeks from memory and with the help of the calendar.
So writing about my 23rd Decembers relies on sketchy information and unwritten memories.
The date coincides with a busy time for this amateur musician, wife and mother of grown-up children.
In 2006 our daughter came home for the holiday. It was her gap-year. I had a bad cold during the week before Christmas, so my journal was neglected. Our son was living at home that year. The chosen date was a Saturday.
The most interesting entry in my journal for December 2007 was that I had entered a writing competition and was thinking of writing a children’s story for another. We had another family Christmas with 23 Dec being a Sunday. Hubby drove my Mum to the morning service where our daughter and I were in the choir. In the afternoon she played her cello in the orchestra for the Christingle service and Nativity play and I played a recorder. As we were short of helpers to put the chairs out for the orchestra I phoned my son, who came and helped, but did not stay for the service, although he is a very talented musician.
In 2008 my writing seemed to be limited to keeping a journal. Even on the approach to Christmas I was finding time to knit a jumper. It being a Leap Year, the day in question was a Tuesday. My Mum had been able to travel with by train with our daughter to visit us for a fortnight over Christmas and New Year.
The following year some of our household were a little bit anxious on December 23rd. It had snowed. Our son sensibly decided to make the final stage of his journey home by train and had to be met at the station in the next town as he arrived after trains had stopped running beyond it for the night. Hubby told him the secret. Our daughter was already home and had no idea that our future son-in-law was planning to travel from Switzerland the following day. Fortunately he managed the journey with only a slight delay! I seem to remember I was knitting for her that year. In view of the weather it was a good thing that Mum had decided she was no longer prepared to travel long distances in winter.
My journal for 2010 is rather more detailed. Our daughter and future son-in-law had arrived and were having a short break at a country inn. We had taken them there and this was the end of their stay. Without a reason to venture out, we would not have driven on narrow country lanes in snowy weather. However, the scenery was beautiful in the winter sunshine and the lanes had been gritted on account of a funeral earlier in the week. We had lunch together at the inn and returned through the winter wonderland.
Friday 23 December 2011 was a Friday. I did my usual voluntary job in the morning and went to an extra choir practice in the evening for the service of Nine Lessons and Carols. Again I was knitting – I had the evening to myself. Our children had flown the nest and hubby was out making music with friends.
Last year it was just the two of us again. Both children had married during the year. Our son had followed the modern trend and his wedding photos include bride, groom and their two children! Our daughter had married quietly overseas. She was unable to return home due to visa restrictions. Our children have enriched our lives and broadened our horizons! Visiting offspring.
My journal records that before I went to choir practice our PC had crashed. I had been blogging for exactly 5 months. After Christmas hubby treated me to my very own lap-top! The morning service was rather poorly attended as people were waiting for the Christingle service and Nativity play. Hubby came to the afternoon service, but there was a pillar obscuring our view of each other. (The orchestra plays in a side aisle.) We had some refreshments afterwards and socialised.
December 23rd this year brought not snow, but gales and heavy rain. I did not put my nose out of the door. Apart from spending time on the internet I completed a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, which is one of a set of three I won in a raffle earlier this month. I did not learn until the following day that the town we visit at least once a week has suffered flooding. It was on Facebook rather than any news site! Flooding is becoming so commonplace that it no longer counts as news! My thoughts and prayers are with those whose Christmas will be tinged with sadness due to flooding and other circumstances beyond their control.
This is the second time I have reviewed the entries in my journals. The first time was for the ladies Bible study group. I was greatly encouraged about the way I have moved forward in faith over the last eight years. I have been released from depression and have found purpose and motivation, peace and joy. My Christian faith now makes a real difference to my life and I hope to be able to encourage others in their own journeys. I am very blessed in my friends and family. Although my family is dispersed at Christmas they will be in my thoughts from the eldest (my Mum) to our 18-month old grandson.
Recommended Christmas listening – Noël Nouvelet from Anne-Marie Sanderson and O little town of Bethlehem from Repressed Expressions.
May the blessings of Christmas be yours.
Written in response to the weekly writing challenge
First, we want you to go back through time, to the December 23rd of years past — one year, five years, ten, twenty; it’s up to you. Where were you on those days? Who were you with? What was happening in your life? What were you excited about, or worried about? What was next for you? What were you wearing? (What? Maybe that last one isn’t a deep question, but it’s an interesting one.)
Why December 23rd? Mostly, because that’s today’s date. We also love the idea of focusing on a relatively insignificant day; those days are full of the daily habits, everyday successes and stresses, and small personal moments that are the building blocks of our lives. (If December 23rd is a little too insignificant for you to remember well, feel free to pick another day — January 1st, your birthday, the first day of summer vacation — that jogs your memory a bit more.)