Posted in Acting, Christmas, Family, Home, Life, writing

Happy New Year

I know, I know, it’s almost 2 weeks into 2017.  Most people have stopped wishing each other ‘Happy New Year’ by now.

So much so that when someone said it to me yesterday I had to do a double take, and was so stunned into silence that a slight stutter in response was all I could manage before they were out of earshot to hear me return the sentiment.

Well, the darling laptop is home! Finally.  I realised, from finding my last blog entry, that it was 6 months ago that she ‘died’ … and I’ve survived that long! I know, right?

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As explained to friends the other day (via messenger chat, on the laptop! Woohoo!) … 2 months for the actual fixing (she had to be sent back to the manufacturer’s regional HQ across the Irish Sea since the repairs were beyond the capabilities of the little local repairman – so much for supporting the local High-street!) followed by 4 months of trying to scrape together enough money to spare to pay him. Yes, it’s that bad. It wasn’t even that much in the grand scheme of things; but to us, me, it was. I even did the Mrs Claus thing again this past Christmas, with all the good intentions that a short-lived regular income would pay off the small list of items I had prepared.  No such luck.  It got frittered away on Christmas luxuries like feeding the children and paying unauthorised-overdraft-charges and late-payment-fees at the bank.  Still, just about managed a couple of Christmas presents; a pile of Christmas cards which ended up never getting posted (Sorry!)

(It’s a whole other story what I think of a certain bank charging £££ for my account having accidentally strayed a whole 70p into the red for LESS THAN 24 HOURS – it was actually about 7 – before I found a little bit of cash to pay in to bring it back to normal)

But, this post isn’t about that.

In all honesty, I’m not sure WHAT it’s about specifically… in which case, I apologise for boring you!

What did strike me, on the school run yesterday, was that when I originally started writing here; I intended to at very least, write a short entry each day.  I even had a handful of titles, themes, trains of thought, to start me off.  I sometimes wrote 2-3 a day and scheduled their publication so there would be one each day.  And…

…as with other ventures, it trailed off.  I began to tell myself it was OK if I maybe only posted every couple of days.  Which turned in to once a week.  If I was lucky… And then, the whole laptop gone thing didn’t help because we do have an ancient desktop in the corner of one room, which is nice and compact for a desktop and it’s surrounded by the computer desk meaning that’s where the printer and all my belov’d stationery happen to reside also; but…it’s ancient (in terms of technology) and therefore is very slow and for the most part unresponsive.

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I barely managed to file my tax return online using it, and that was only after putting it off for 3 months longer than I would have, simply because I lived in hope of getting the laptop back in time to file on there before the deadline of 31 january.

Even though the computer desk in the corner is usually…well, at one point, always was…one of my (very few) happy places; even sitting there once a day/week/month attempting to write a blog on the old PC didn’t appeal.

Concerns such as “The children play computer and other games in this room” or “I can’t curl up comfortably on the end of the sofa, laptop resting on the arm, and write from a position of relaxation if I want to” (Yes, I was that petty.) Besides, I had other stuff, like winning acting awards (YAYYYYY!), looking for somewhere to live, getting a new Christmas Job and such things on my mind.

What the heck, I thought, no-one’s reading anyway.  Well, 2017, that’s not the point, is it?

Then, it struck me…DOH!  There’s all the things I was using as excuses to not keep up the blog (regardless of readership!) and yet…there’s instantly the beginnings of a list of posts.  Woohoo!

So, in case you missed it the first time, and in an attempt to get in my 750 words for today… Happy New Year.  I hope yours has started as you wish it to continue.  Or at the very least, better than last year ended.

 

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Posted in Christmas, Family, Home

Christmas tree; Oh Christmas tree

OK, this draft was started 3 months ago!  I did mean to post it during the run up to Chriustmas.  Obviously.  It’s about a Christmas tree.  The Christmas tree in the picture was still up.  I was staring at it while typing,  I couldn’t avoid it! And then … well, life happened, stuff happened.  It always does when I’m trying to write something meaningful.  Or alcohol fuelled.  Although the case with the latter is that said alcohol invariably runs out and I’m left with random traces of what I was intently thinking when the thought process began…
I’m pretty anal when it comes to doing things properly, particularly around the house.  everything has to be done just-so.  Organised.  Planned.  In the same order each time.

If I’m out, working or whatever, and O/H decides to ‘help’ by doing the laundry, it ends up being more work.

If I have a laundry day, I have all the laundrybins emptied, bedrooms scouted for socks and pants hidden under beds and down the sides of cupboards; everything washed according to colour/material/owner/importance; at suitable temperatures and speeds; dried in a suitable method corresponding to the labels/requirements; then folded/ironed/flattened; and all put away carefully, all in the same day.

If O/H decides to ‘help’ ; it’s a hotch potch of things all washed at 60 on the ‘quick wash’ setting, chucked in the dryer; and piled into a washing basket and left to crease until the “cleaning fairy” comes to sort it out.

So, recently, now that I’ve been working my Christmas Job for a couple of weeks, I’ve been out of the home more than I’ve been in it.  And when I’ve been in it I’ve been trying to sleep.

And last year, he complained he was left to ‘do it all’ (i.e. wrap the presents) himself.  So, we’ve already had a present wrapping evening.

He brought the 4 (yes, 4, very large) boxes of Christmas decorations (that we’ve collected over the years in our various countries and locations around the world) and set up the tree (that’s 5 years past its 10-year guarantee and still looking good; so we’ve saved cutting down 15 perfectly innocent trees) ; and then, with the help of the children (ARGH!), and now, the Scout Elf (don’t shoot me, it’s our first year; and I have a friend to blame for introducing the idea); have been helping…D.I.S.A.S.T.E.R

Years ago, I was a stickler for everything being red and gold, only, on the main tree.  And NO LAMETTA!  (Mother had a phase of chucking far too much – although ANY is far too much as far as I’m concerned – lametta, very randomly, all over the tree after meticulously placing every other ornament; no I’m allergic to the stuff.  Emotionally.)

When we moved around; it was nice to have the odd ‘special’ ornament placed with pride to display, amongst the carefully selected co-ordinating decorations.

And, I have my preferred order of placement….you know….lights first; then all the gold ornaments, each varying size/shape group done seperately, then all the red ornaments, in a similar fashion, standing back in between the placement of each group of ornaments to ensure the feng shui is just right and the placements look even and equally distrubuted around the entire tree (from each angle from which the tree can be viewed, of course); followed by the intentionally clear and consice placement of the special, one-off, family heirloom ornaments, showing our family life over the years and around the globe.  Some represent family members who can’t be with us.  Others show images or are themselves reminders of the children as they have grown up, from their different Christmasses, to particularly delightful hand made ornaments from school.

Finally, any large expanses of green remaining (not much), is filled with some classy looking, thick and sumptuous tinsel, in corresponding colours to the rest of the decor.

And, last but not least, the angel we’ve had since our first Christmas together is then places atop the tree.

Not this year.

Nope.  I ended up coming home to the ready decorated tree that the children and O/H had decorated themselves.

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And I lacked the energy all season to bother removing everything and starting again.

So, I spent all December looking at it.  And it drastically reduced my Christmas viewing pleasure of “Christmas 24” and other such sappy seasonal film channels, since the tree was positioned in very close proximity to the TV.

(Incase anyone’s wondering, the tree train track is usually there, since it was given to #1 for his first, or second, Christmas; it’s just usually blended in better and more effective and pleasing to the eye.  Also, you really have to have the train running on it to enjoy the full effect…)

Lesson learned.  Stealthily decorate the tree in the middle of the night next year before anyone else gets their hands on the decorations boxes …

Posted in Acting, Christmas, Creative, Family, Holiday

The Christmas Kitchen is open!

Last year, when we were all higgeldy-piggeldy and made the last-minute, unplanned move back to the UK, and O/H was having trouble a) finding work and/or b) holding it down once he’d found it; I saw an ad looking for Mrs Claus for a local large hotel’s Santa’s grotto.  Not sure how I stumbled across it but, well, it just seemed like fun.  I thought, what the heck? I applied for it on a whim. Of course, I expected them to be looking for white-haired ladies with a few more years behind them. So I was surprised to say the least when I was actually offered the job.   Of course, I’m going for more of the “Santa Clause 2” Elizabeth Mitchell version of Mrs. Claus, than the Angela Lansbury or Judy Cornwell version …

It was the first year they’d had Mrs Claus at their Grotto, so it was pretty much a chance to make use of my acting and improv skills … which I hadn’t used in so many years.

Basically, Mrs Claus at this grotto, runs a ‘kitchen’, baking gingerbread.  Children, while waiting to see the big man, come in, sit by a table and get to decorate a gingerbread christmas tree with icing and dolly-mixtures. A far more fun and participatory experience than standing in line, probably in rain, or snow, for ages.  Of course, there are always people who find something to complain about.  But, as in any of my past experinces in face-to-face customer service, we tell ourselves through gritted teeth, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.  If someone had a problem with one aspect, it would be corrected.  Very soon, someone would have an issue with that correction.  If someone felt there was too much ‘waiting around’ (the word Queue is banned at Christmas!!), then procedures were put in place to streamline the process; then someone would feel that the new procedures were ‘rushing them through’ the experience…

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This year, there are changes; some of the ‘old’ things I miss; other changes are welcome, to both staff, and more importantly, wide-eyed excited visitors who constantly enquire when they will see Santa.  Nothing like building anticipation!

On Christmas eve last year, Santa asked me if I’d consider coming back {this year}. I thought about it for  a moment, and decided I would.  (Luckily, he said he would too, so, along with two of las year’s elves, I’m not the only returnee!)

For all the difficulties, discomforts and downfalls the job brought with it, spending the month of December watching, smiling and laughing, and interacting with countless amazed and excited children really is the best way of filling you with the Christmas spirit!

That, and watching Elf and Frozen on repeat for a whole month …

“Let it go….let it go….”

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(Update – amusingly, someone reviewed the grotto on a rather well known review site, part of which stated Mrs Claus didn’t look like Mrs Claus – which amused me since how does one not look like an imaginary character?! – and the majority of the review reduced things the reviewer didn’t particularly like to “stupid” and “boring”.  Yes, just those two words.  over and over again.  Great use of vocab, there, nothing like constructive criticism, is there?!)