I'm sure you are all familiar with Matt's Word game by now , but if you have been to deepest , darkest Peru or somewhere equally remote , and have missed all my other entries , the details and rules can be found on Matt's blog page at ; http://miblodelcarpio.blog.co.uk/ .
Well here are the words that must be included today ;
BESIDE , SLANT , SOPPIER , CLEARED , TAUNT , LEAVES , REMAINS , ROOMS , AVERT , FOUND .
Paperchains and Tinsel .
Round about this time of year my thoughts always turn to Christmas and this year is no exception .
I have always been soppier and more sentimental than the average person and so the Season appeals to my romantic side and I have always loved Christmas time .
The shops are already full of all the modern requirements for todays idea of Christmas . All neatly packaged in shining boxes . Everything is 'all singing , all dancing ', with bells and whistles and readymade splendour . Plastic trees and drip-dry baubles and fibre optic lights . Some trees even come ready decorated , all you have to do is stand it in an appropriate place and 'voila ' ... instant Christmas !!
But I hanker after a more innocent age . I have been chatting recently , via the wonderful BlackBerry Messenger , with my dear friend Lucy Greenfield and we found ourselves reminiscing about the old Christmases of our youth .
Nowadays , my taste in Christmas decor tends to be understated elegance . All garlands of holly leaves and red satin ribbon and artfully wrapped , colour co-ordinated gifts beside a perfect tree dressed in tiny white pea-lights and silver baubles . Nothing garish , no clashing colours , all maybe a little too contrived . I insist on doing it on my own , no children allowed , the effect is everything .
But the Christmases of my youth , especially the ones when I was 10 to 12 yrs old , were full of homemade , homespun joy .
At the beginning of December we would begin the preparations . The main sitting room would be cleared in readiness for the decorations and the all important tree . We children would sit for hours making long paperchains from ready cut strips of coloured paper . These strips had adhesive at one end , which we would lick and link together to form garlands , which were then hung from the picture rails in all the rooms . It was quite a competitive exercise and my siblings would taunt each other , claiming that their chain was the longest and there was much playful pushing and shoving and frantic measuring ! We hung garish paper baubles and bells from the ceiling and put tinsel around all the pictures on the walls . Every table and window sill and mantlepiece held painted ornaments and faded ribbons and wooden Nativity scenes with 3 legged sheep and Magi with missing heads and every wall had strings of bright Christmas cards from all over the country .
And then there was the tree ! On Christmas Eve we all waited , full of excited anticipation as father brought in the best he could find in the local market . Dense and green with that glorious , unmistakeable 'pine tree' aroma of deep woods and fresh air and Christmas !! It was always far too big and we squealed with delight as it was put in its bucket of soil and placed in a corner of the room . Then out came the huge , dusty box of decorations , which had been sleeping up in the loft all year . Decorations that had been collected over the years and handed down from generation to generation and added to piece by precious piece , all full of memories . Decorations made from china and wood and real glass , not much in the way of unbreakable plastic in those days , all carefully wrapped in tissue and bits of the 'Times' . Sparkling orbs and silver bells . Strings of beads and little Santas and angels and rocking horses and Nutcracker princes . And tinsel , masses and masses of multicoloured tinsel .
We children piled it on until there was barely a bit of green pine needle to be seen and then the remains of the decorations were spread around the crepe-paper covered bucket at the base of the tree. Finally , the fairy for the top !! As the eldest , I was given the honour and I balanced precariously on a side table so that I could reach the top of the tree . My mother always had to avert her gaze as I stood on one leg and stretched and the table almost toppled as I placed the sequin-covered vision on the top branch , usually at a jaunty slant. Then we would all stand back and admire our handiwork . The lopsided , haphazard way it had been decorated only seemed to make the whole thing more charming , more in the spirit of the Season.
As I think about it now , I have decided to break with my habitual routine and allow my grand children to help this year and as we decorate the tree I shall be remembering those Christmases so long ago , with all of us working together , as a family , in harmony , rivalries forgotten . Singing Carols as we hung the baubles from the branches . Giggling and dreaming , safe and loved . Isn't that really what Christmas is all about ?