It's not been the easiest week in the run up to Christmas so far, for a number of reasons, the most obvious here being the wet and windy weather that has decided to frustrate us with it's presence.
There was one day however, that regardless of the rain, we decided to call it a day workwise and head out to find some fir cones to help decorate the house. We headed over to Alum Chine, a ten minute car drive, and enjoyed a slow stroll down through it to the sea, which in the bad weather was rough and edged with crashing waves. The cones took a bit of searching for, as the squirrel population had accounted for most already, but we managed to collect a whole bag full, most of which were from Pinus pinaster (Maritime Pine). They are hard and closed at this point, but hopefully will open up a little when they are in the warm of our house for a couple of weeks.
All of the decorations are now up, and so is the crib. I started to make it a couple of years ago, and each Christmas a little more is carefully added. The figures were hand painted last time, and this year I'm making a small corral in the back left hand corner. A little hay in it for the animals will finish that part off. The angel is typically too small and fairy like. To me, an angel should be much larger, and if truth be told have much more gravitas about it, as they are not only 'bringers' of good news such as in this story, but are also sometimes sent to carry out less pleasant tasks such as the destruction of 185,000 Assyrians. Not the task of a cherubic fairy! So, where to find my angel? I doubt it will be in Toys R Us.
The original crib before this was one that my father had brought back from Germany many years ago. It was smaller than this one, but still beautiful in it's own distinctive way. I passed it on to one of my daughters this year, as it had been in a box in the loft for long enough. It's important to pass certain things that matter down through the generations, for some sort of continuity.
My father was a lovely man, and I am learning more about him in the twenty or so years after his death than I did when he was alive. He had a good taste in classical music (although some of the opera pieces are a bit heavy for my taste). He loved the forest, and understood the beauty of it's silence. He loved being around mountains. All these things I too enjoy, but like him, not because of him. For me it's important not to dwell too much on the man that once was and is no more in my life. We both shared some time on this earth together, and that was a blessing indeed. While there is no doubt that he left his fingerprint on my character in a big way, he doesn't entirely define who I am now, that is up to me alone, and how I now live my life. Of course he is in my thoughts every day in some way, but so are my wife, daughters, work, and my relationship with God. Understanding the man more now, I trust that he is in a better place, and that one day we will meet again (if I can find him in the crowds). For now though, the piece of cold granite that marks his final resting place will remain just that. I will take the warmth of his character with me on my own personal journey instead. I leave you with a Christmas song that he enjoyed. To me it speaks of the peace to be found on Christmas Eve more than any other song, and makes me remember my father with warmth and a smile whenever I hear it.
Going to see 'The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug' on Friday with all the ladies in my life. See the rest of you at the weekend.