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Smile in a box

          The usual winter blues have set in, but they’ve been bluer, and “I’ve got this” as some people look forward to December 25th, my target is 21st December when the daylight hours turn around and I can start looking for longer days.

          I arrived home from work one day last week to one of those postcards through the door, you know the ones, “we tried to deliver your parcel but you were out”. I tend to reschedule my parcels for one day a week, it means I get them later than arranged, but it means just one day waiting in for the postman, so when this card said “delivered next door”, I went and knocked, racking my brain to think what else I had ordered.

          The neighbour smiled as she handed me the box. It’s shape made me smile too, I had received one of these before, and as if more hints of what was inside were needed… It was addressed to “Mum” ….

          A card in the box read “A smile in a box for you”, from Youngest Daughter.

          I don’t remember having a real Christmas tree before. Of course, there’s every chance we did, but if so, it must have been when the girls were very small, and well forgotten about because Eldest Daughter used to walk back and for to the Laundrette during Uni time, and came out in a nasty rash from walking through a pavement of dropped pine needles. I’m guessing we would have noticed the allergy if it had appeared at home over the Christmas period.

          The first christmas tree of our own that I can remember was a little tinsel one of the very inexpensive type. I don’t remember it as new, but I remember it the first year Eldest Daughter was fully mobile. We got out our little Christmas tree and tried to decide where to put it. It looked quite sad as the surviving tinsel branches were few and far between, so killing two birds with one stone I spread the branches around just half of the tree… And hung it on the wall out of Eldest Daughter’s reach.

          Christmas trees of later years were bigger with many little shiny decorations. . Hubby used to worry about the number of house fires caused by Christmas lights so we didn’t have lights on our trees. Instead the decorations I chose were reflective, when the light was turned off, the room would be in darkness, as would the tree, but only the slightest glimmer of light would be needed to bring it to life.

          We had gold and red decorations, added to a little at a time over the years. There were literally hundreds, and putting the tree up would take a whole day. The girls used to help sometimes, but the majority of tree decorating was down to me… That is until I discovered how much Mum-in-law enjoyed decorating a tree and then the “Christmas tree fairy” would visit each year and put it up (often when I was in bed all day after working the night before).

          Each year a different colour of round baubles would be added to the tree, blue was my favourite, but we also had purple. Just before we moved to our seaside, in an attempt to de-clutter and down-size, I gathered up all my purple decorations and gave them to a friend who was very much a “purple type person”.

          As the girls grew up and moved out, I abandoned the big tree in favour of less, and smaller decorations, and the big tree did the rounds, spending Christmases at various houses until it finally fell apart. Our first christmas in this house was taken up with a very different sort of “Christmas decorating“, but I eventually bought a little three foot artificial tree, which I believe I decorated with the blue baubles in the kitchen last year.

          In theory, this year’s tree will be potted into an outdoor pot and live in the garden all year to be brought back inside for Christmas next year. I’m not going to hold my breath, but I’ll see what I can do without promising anything.

          More from before : simply “In search of smiles“.

Mugshot – Pooh bear

          I’ve bought a couple of new mugs … Mugs are a bit like hats … I never really “need” a new mug, we have far too many, but if you give me just half a chance, I’ll buy a new one.

          I enjoy my coffee, I drink mostly de-caf, but I enjoy it anyway, and if I can drink it from a mug which makes me smile, then I enjoy it even more. We very often bring home a mug from a holiday, in which case the “holiday memento” excuse comes into play.

          A half excuse arrived after I was given a large mug for Christmas last year … I like a big cup of coffee so I always use the double coffee selection on my machine. I have a couple of large cups, but they’re too tall, I have to hold them at an angle. The one I had for Christmas last year was normal height, but wide enough to hold the double cup selection, and milk, without overflowing so, of course, I’ve been on the lookout for mugs of the bigger size ever since.

          I don’t remember many of the stories about Pooh bear and his friends, but I do remember the general gist of the friends and so can’t help smiling at their pictures. I remember the Tigger song well, and was spotted singing it again recently to Grandson, The Little Man. He was teething, and not feeling very happy … quite rightly so I might add, but even while teething it is pretty much impossible to cry when someone is holding you close and bouncing up and down to the Tigger song so that every cry you make comes out of your mouth as some sort of bouncy giggle.

          I remember Eeyore, he was always sad, and his tail was held on with a safety-pin, but even though he wasn’t the life and soul of any party, his friends always included him in their stories.

          Winnie the Pooh, and Piglet too ! I had forgotten about little Piglet … I think it’s way past time for me to brush up on a few of the friend’s shenanigans again.

          The human brain is programmed for facial recognition so that we are able to easily recognise others of our species. My brain, being a little bit strange recognises faces and other things which aren’t really there … or are they ? Once I point these things out to others they can usually see them too.

          For instance, when I used to be sitting in the dentist chair looking up at the ceiling trying not to think of all the nasty noises the dentist was making in my mouth, I used to concentrate on the Pixie face smiling back at me from the swirls in the ceiling …

          When we left the old house behind to move to our new house at the seaside, I had a number of “Strange goodbyes” to say to the faces I had befriended in the pattern of the vinyl floor in the littlest room upstairs …

          More recently, whilst waiting for the concrete floor to dry out in the littlest room downstairs I spotted a ” Cat lady” …

          … And let’s not forget the young girl pushing her brother on a swing in the “Squiggles” of the old floor tiles in the bathroom here before they were replaced.

          Now, bearing this in mind, it really is no surprise that the probably random lines forming the grass in the picture on my mug started tugging at my marbles … so much so that I began to be glad I had bought the mug for myself and not for a colleague in work …

          See for yourself …

          … I LIKE FUN WITH YOU AT THE OFFICE !

          I like fun

          With you at the office

          Can you make out any more hidden messages ?

Christmas cake

          We’re still waiting for Christmas 2020, but the girls sent us a Christmas Eve box full of goodies because we weren’t going to be able to celebrate together.

          Amongst other things, the box contained a small cotton bag full of marbles with a label “Mum’s marbles” attached to it… Needless to say, I’ve put them safe somewhere and can’t find them.

          Hubby doesn’t like Christmas cake so unfortunately the responsibility fell on me to dispose of this one. Having been dieting for three months with quite satisfying results, I had chosen my Christmas treats carefully, enough treats to feel that I had enjoyed them, but not too many do as to blow the diet out of the water. This added Christmas cake was very welcome, but very unexpected, so I hit on a plan to keep it as a “milestone reward” on the diet… It had a best before date of August 2021, so that gave me a good few months to hit the next target.

          I put a couple of pounds on over Christmas, as expected, but the sudden increase in niceties kick-started the metabolism again and I lost the excess the following week.

          I’ve had the odd hiccup here and there, also the odd migraine, taking away food that my body is used to can be almost as problematic as introducing something new, so even while dieting I’ve been balancing my sugar levels with a piece of fudge morning and night with my caffeine, and I still eat a handful of cashews each morning (albeit a smaller handful than I have been eating).

          Once in work, during one particular January which seems like an age ago now, I was called into the office for a “back to work” meeting after I had just returned from a couple of nights off with a migraine. After the usual questions and answers, a strange comment cropped up. “There appears to be a pattern in your sickness” …

          Well, speaking as someone who wouldn’t dream of going off sick unless I was actually ill, I was genuinely shocked at the suggestion that because my job changed slightly each January because of a post-Christmas lull in my normal work routine, that I wasn’t happy, and was going off sick so that I didn’t have to do the different work ….

          Sceptical was an understatement for their reaction when I explained the real reason I had more migraines in January than at any other time. I eat too many nice things over Christmas, and then cut them out again in January in an attempt to diet every year… New year, new me sort of mentality, and that’s what caused the migraines. I decided there and then never to diet again in January. Always to wait until February, and had the manager write as such in my notes.

          Sure enough … I was off work with a migraine the following year after dieting … in February.

          But my mind wanders… No surprise there.

          The main point of this post is to remind myself that I do have the willpower to diet if I put my mind to it. When I stepped on the scales in September they didn’t quite say “one at a time please”, but they did scream at me for allowing my weight to creep up to over two stone above the target I had set myself to reach by the time I was forty .

          Forty slipped by, I saw my target weight on the scale for about 30 seconds after a short illness before I was fifty and as sixty approaches, my feet hurt, my knees hurt, my hips and my back hurt and I need a rest half way if I attempt more than one flight of stairs.

          I broke the two stone down into targets of four half stones, engaged other family members for help and encouragement and began.

          Five months on and I’m celebrating my half way mark with my Christmas cake.

          I have just two more days left of “cake for breakfast” and then off I go again knowing that I’ve passed the peak of the diet and the rest is downhill all the way.