winter holiday

As each year ends and a new one begins, I find myself becoming two different people... one busy and bright, the other quiet and still. I have come to regard the dark days around the winter solstice as the turning point of the year rather than the human construct of the first of January, and so once the glittering rush of Christmas is over I am full of the sense of slowly moving forward, of newness and inspiration and the hint of green shoots.

The week before Christmas is like the first movement of a symphony: the major key, the bright notes, the excitement, the great crash and wonder of Christmas Day... and yet hidden away in the music is the quiet song that will come into bloom in the second, slow movement which begins to break through about today... the minor key, the mystery, the stillness, the calm quiet of the winter holidays. Then, the white light of New Year's Eve, the beginning of the third movement, double forte, the resolution of the music and the season, the start of all things new... that time is still to come.

So, the busyness and bustling, the making of mince pies, the mulling of wine, the sweet sentimentality of carols and the rustling of paper and presents is over and the 'other' me is here, sitting by the fire, listening to the snow melting, watching the twinkling shadows of the lights in the green depths of the Christmas tree branches, thinking, dreaming... and reading. Finally getting a chance to catch up with my favourite blogs, the newspaper articles I've saved and the books I've been piling up for later.

There has been so much of interest and inspiration to feast on... I thought I'd share a couple of links that have caught my attention over the last few days.

I discovered the wonderfully well-written blog Spitalfields Life only recently... an illuminating read on any day of the week but especially absorbing over the month of December as we have been treated to the tale of The Death of a Linen Draper, the brilliantly Dickensian true story of a horrible murder which took place in the east end of London nearly two hundred years ago in 1811. It's in ten installments and we are up to number eight today. Do go and read it, it's as good as a novel.

Another place I would urge you to visit is this great post, which I found via the lovely Greenolive. Holly at Decor*8 asked the question "What’s the one thing you’ve read recently that has resonated with you and made you think? Why?" There are nearly 100 responses... every one makes you think, all of them are thoughtful and wise, and many lead to new paths and directions. So many talk of love and loss, creativity and perfectionism, the way that the stillness of winter moves us in different ways... it is well worth reading through them, maybe a few at a time over the holidays. I was particularly struck by this excerpt from a poem by Lynn Unger, which seems to encapsulate the essence of what I try to do each day, and why:

Come down. Try to remember
a life gentled by daily acts
of domestic faith—the pot
set to boil, the bed made up,
the table set in calm expectation
that when the sun sets
we will still be here.

Wintry favourites from Flickr: 1. Untitled, 2. 2009 Ornament Swap - garland in window, 3. Winterzeit und Kerzenschein, 4. Untitled


Clare Wassermann said...

what a lovely post. enjoy the stillness.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

I do so identify with this Sue. I had my own hour of stillness earlier today utterly on my own followed by another hour with the baby asleep on my chest. Silence for the first, silence broken by his soft breathing for the second hour.
Hope you enjoyed your Christmas and all that came with it.
Loved the extract from the poem too, loved it, loved it, loved it!

hens teeth said...

Sue, you sure have a perfect way with words.
Your words are from the heart and I do not have the ability to pluck the words from mine.
As for the Figure Reducer....I should imagine I would be very lumpy at both ends of the garment!
Happy New Year to you. x

Gigibird said...

I did have 20 mintues on my own earlier when Tiny Tim chopped wood but I spent the time fretting as to what he might chop off with his axe or electric saw!
I really enjoy this part of December as Christmas has been and gone but no one is quite ready to get back to normal...

Reading Tea Leaves said...

A lovely post Sue - this time of stillness is to be relished and enjoyed. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

Jeanne x

Jackie said...

ank you Sue for introducing us to that amazing record of life. I can't wait to get back to it in the morning.

Kate Fernyhough said...

I remember hating this as a teenager, the deflation after the excitement of christmas. Now I'm desperately waiting for the quiet to start...wearing out the kids as much as possible!
Lovely little poem, and thanks for the links to other blogs I hadn't heard of any of them.

Heather said...

Very, very true. And the season is very much like a symphony--- I think we are in the slow, settling down part...wishing you a restful and peaceful new year~

A time to dance said...

You always give me something to think about and you write with such beautiful imagery...I feel always feel lost for words after reading your posts...I am just enjoying a little peace before returning to work, I havent got the reading done which I planned but I do have a polly to entertain...every blessing to you and yours in the coming year...H

rossichka said...

Hello, I came across your blog some months ago and I love reading it!
i think you have a gift for writing - you simply know how to use words in order to reveal your thoughts, feelings and heart... This is the most wonderful and exciting description of the winter holidays, I've ever read!

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Janice Perkin said...

what alovely post - I look forward to reading you again next year - take care

日月神教-向左使 said...