It's December already?
How in the world that happened I have no idea. But suddenly, it's winter.
Outside there's a hard, cold frost, it's snowing lightly, and the birds are feasting gratefully on windfall apples and their own special bird crumble to keep out the bitter cold. The weak thin sun is low, low, low in the sky. We've had quiet, still, freezing fog. The radio is playing carols and advent music. There is chocolate on the mantelpiece to unwrap each time we open a little door on the advent calendar.
I love this time, yet I always, always get caught up in a rush of fear and panic as I begin to realise that a turkey needs ordering, decorations must be found, food must be shopped for and made, and... presents!
Does that word fill you with the same fear as me?
I am pathologically unable to think about Christmas before the first of December. It seems all wrong. Yet the price I pay is the surge of alarm and terror that is running down my spine right now. What, for who? Where from? How much?
But, still my beating heart! Calm down. Take a deep breath. I am determined to do things differently this year. I desperately don't want to get caught up in shopping madness and plastic packaging hell. I want to stay calm, I want to stay quiet this winter.
So, it seems, do many others. There is a tremendous creative undercurrent rising up from the art, craft and design world. Let me quote to you from the wise pages of the Purl Bee*:
"Breathe. This year may be different. There's a new feeling out there. A feeling of what is really important, of what brings us back to ourselves and to our families and friends. For so many of us who knit and crochet, we find rich meaning in the process, in the sensuality of natural materials, in the deep connection to an ancient craft. To me, this is what feels real this holiday season."
It's wonderful to feel part of something bigger here, to sense the energy and passion that others are sensing, to feel like we can make a difference*. You might have noticed the little link button right down there at the bottom on the left hand side of the page. Some time ago, I took the handmade pledge, and I intend to stick to the spirit, if not the letter, of the law (as far as I am aware, you cannot buy handmade noise-cancelling headphones of the sort coveted by teenage boys). Each year, I try to make as many presents as I can, and this year I want to improve on that by reducing the packaging I use and thinking more carefully about every aspect of our Christmas celebrations. It matters.
If you need any more incentive to join in, read this inspiring list of 101 Reasons to Buy Handmade compiled by Poppytalk.
1* They also have some gorgeous ideas for crafty presents that made me ache with desire.
2* A movement, or a non-movement? Something to think about here.