For as long back as I can remember I have craved to live in the countryside, in an old house with wooden beams and lots of history to go with it. Even as a teenager I would dream big and get myself all excited about the possibilities. One day…. Until that day came, I contented myself with buying ‘Country Living’ Magazine. This is, as one would fully expect, a magazine about the ideals of living in the country. For me it was the eye catching photos of traditional houses, with furniture older than the people who reside there; the muted colour schemes; the home made knickknacks to be found in every corner of the living space. Every month I faithfully bought the magazine, so that by the time I got married and Gary and I moved into our first home, I had accumulated hundreds of copies.
Our first home was a one bedroom, first floor flat in the village we live in now. We saved up and decorated it using ideas I had obtained from the magazines. We had herbs growing in the living room, a tiled (!) floor in the hallway, a wormery (!!) in the kitchen and sisal carpet throughout. Most of the curtains I made by hand using beautiful Laura Ashley material and flowers were hung drying upside down throughout. This was quite a newly built flat and I’m fairly certain the country look jarred against its modernity. I was, however, as happy as the proverbial pig in muck, surrounded by a beauty I could only dream of for years.
Nowadays, we are blessed to live in a two hundred year old cottage in the middle of the same lovely oldy worldy village. I have my wooden beams and wood burning stove. We have our wormery in the compost heap outside now in our garden, dried flowers hang from beams instead of curtain rails and my son grows our herb garden just outside the kitchen. We also own a large bathroom off a tiny kitchen; a chimney breast which goes straight up through the floor of the older three’s bedroom and which one could walk around and through, should one have wished to and we have doors that have to be cut to fit the hole. Yes, no standard measurements in this house at all. My mother in law (hi Heather!) says it is quirky, just like me! And so it is. I am living my dream.
Anyway, I digress. When we moved to Ireland I gave my whole collection of magazines away to the local charity shops as it would have cost too much to move them with us. Because of a change in job, we could not afford for me to buy them anymore, so I made a promise to myself that each Christmas I would buy the December (Christmas) edition of the magazine and take an hour or so on my own, with a latte, and devour it in peace. This I have done. I have the Christmas editions going back to 2006. Each year I buy the new one and peruse the old ones. They remind me (decoratively speaking) of the Christmas I want to have with its country simplicity, using the loveliness of our home and nature to beautify.
I love this tradition and until this year it was just for me.
Thing is the girls are growing up quickly, and as time slips through my fingers at an astonishing rate, I am once again reminded that I need to be making memories now. And so I grasp at every opportunity I can to spend time with and nurture my girls, for one day very soon they will be making memories for themselves, with their own families. Our time is now.
So with that in mind, I invited the girls to join me in my Christmas magazine fest. This was met with immense excitement and much planning from my twins. We chose a night when the little ones would be in bed and T11 and Gary would be out fencing. Whilst I was tucking the little ones up, the older girls lay a blanket out on the floor and made hot chocolate and tea in their Great Granny’s tea set. Add to that the roaring stove, the magazines and some chocolate Hobnobs Gary had bought especially for the occasion and we had ourselves a very special night (it doesn’t take much in this house!):
After we had flicked through the magazines, chatting about the things we would like to put into action for this Christmas, we drew some ideas together on paper, whilst watching the Christmas special edition of The Good Life. In this episode Tom and Barbara set out to prove that a simple homegrown Christmas is the best Christmas of all. We agreed whole heartedly as we tidied away and the girls went up happily to bed.
That night was so special for all of us. The girls already assume it will happen each year from now on, and enjoyed it so much they are planning something for the same time next week! And I learnt that something shared, however personal and special it seems alone, is undoubtably better when there are two little enthusiastic, beautiful girls to share it with. Thank you L11 and C11, you have made a lovely tradition even lovelier, simply by being there. I love you both so much.