Here comes the light!

Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap

Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The winter solstice has past, meaning the sun is on its return! Though I enjoy being indoors with my husband, cozy and warm in our house, I prefer the days to be longer. Many of you will probably experience the same problems I have getting out of bed in the morning. In summer, I can be up at 7 (not that I do), but in winter I have to get up at 8 and I’m still sluggish at 9. All creatures seem to have that, though, saving energy. When I’m snug in my bed, I can totally imagine retreating for the winter.

But, on the other hand, it’s so nice outside! The most beautiful images of the dawn with the sun so low. When we have snow (which we haven’t had yet and probably only will have in the new year), it’s a winter wonderland outside. It reminds me of paintings by Pieter de Bruegel. I want to go ice skating, build a snowman, throw snowballs and really generally have a good time! Which I will, no matter what.

The best part of Yule and Christmas alike is spending time with your family. Tightening the bonds whilst sitting together by the Christmas tree. Exchanging gifts and (for us) celebrating my grandmother’s birthday. Enjoying the food everyone brought, but not for the food itself, but for it being made by your family and eaten together.

So light the candles and enjoy the season! Brightest blessings!

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December Book Tag

The Dutch blog ‘Zon en Maan’ (Sun and Moon) hosts a bookish themed advent calendar throughout December in which I participate. There are several giveaways, which is fun obviously, but there are also activities to be done, and this is the first one.

Now, I am not familiar with these so-called tags. Apparently, they’re just questions centered around a theme or assignments of some sort. This one is centered around the festivities in December, which are not only Yule or Christmas and New Years Eve, but also Saint Nicholas. For us in Holland, it is a month filled with anticipation, especially for those lucky people celebrating with presents both at Saint Nicholas and Christmas. Anyway, the December book tag consists of several questions, so let me answer them!

– What book(s) will you read during the Christmas break?
Well, let me see. There is a classic Dutch novel that was distributed in libraries during November, about a boy who steps into a painting into the insect world, which I still have to read. In order to complete the afficionada level I signed up for with the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge, I still need to read at least one and preferably 2 books. I’m planning to reread the original Jane Austen novel and perhaps Death comes to Pemberly. It’s good I have enough time to spare, because I also won Teardrop through a Goodreads giveaway and that is also still on my to-read list.

– Which book do you hope to find under the Christmas tree?
Wow, there are so many books I would like to have! But one that I put on my wish list is Keri Smith’s Wreck this journal, which I’ve seen at a friends and which is both hilarious and creative.

– The best book to give as a present at Christmas?
That depends on the person it is intended for, obviously. But since I read it not too long ago and believe everyone should, I’d say PS I love you by Cecelia Ahern. Sad at the beginning, but really a story about life and continuing life. Just what you’d want with Christmas!

– The best book-made-into-film to watch during Christmas? 
Now that’s an easy question. It is a family tradition to watch A Christmas Carol, several times actually, leading up to Christmas. There are dozens of films based on this book, but I know it’s not the Muppet version, nor the Disney version. It’s actually a musical version with Albert Finney as Scrooge (which is the title of the movie). I just love the feeling of Christmas both the story and the songs (which, after years of seeing it, I know by heart).

– Which author would you like to join at Christmas dinner?
That would have to be either J.K. Rowling or Raymond E. Feist. They have both created magical worlds that I love, and I would like to know more about it and about how they came up with it (or how it came to them, how should I know how a writer’s mind works).

– Which book can bring you into the holiday spirit best?
All books that are about Christmas and are somewhat positive can get me in a festive mood. A Christmas Carol definitely, but the description of Christmas in Harry Potter also gives me a warm feeling.

– If you were to give one book to all the people in the world, which one would it be?
Is there one book that would inspire everyone, that would unite peoples and make wars something of the past? No, probably not, because people are so different. But what I loved to read was a book unfortunately not available in any language other than Dutch: Children of Mother Earth (Kinderen van Moeder Aarde) by Thea Beckman. It takes place a couple of centuries after WW3, and depicts a land where the Earth is revered and people work together on everything. Until, of course, a group of people remembering the legacy of warfare discovers this land. In my opinion, it shows a utopia that might be one day, which is why it would be my gift for the world.

– And finally: a wish for the readers of your blog  

I hope you all find a way to deal with whatever might be going on in your life, living it to the full, and accomplishing what you set out for!

Time with friends and family

Yule and Christmas traditionally stand for the return of light and hope to the world. Candles are lit, songs are sung and we feel happy because the longest night has passed and the days will lengthen again.

For me, part of the tradition is to spend time with family and friends. Enjoying eachothers company, sitting cozily together with the light of candles and small lights in the Christmas tree. Eating together, all different dishes in a variety of settings. Yesterday we had dinner with three teams of my club, where 2 of us cooked the entire meal. They have been doing this for 6 years, and traditionally, the food is only just edible. In the invitation therefore, they refer to it as a ‘contingency plan’. Yesterday was no different. The two ladies had made paella, but as I don’t like fish, I got macaroni instead, which was cooked to a mash. Dessert was OK, though it didn’t work out exactly the way they planned. Yet, even though the food wasn’t very good, we all had a great time dining together, talking and laughing all night.

Today I will dine with my in-laws. I have no idea what we will get on our plate, as my mother-in-law refuses to tell anything, but it will be great. In addition my fiancée and I have bought “the nightmare before Christmas” and we’ll try to convince everyone it is fun to watch 🙂 Christmas day we’ll spend time together at home and gourmet with my little brother (yes, little, even though he is way taller than me by now and likes to call me ‘dwarf’) and my grandmother. The 26th we’ll all make something nice and spend time with the family, unwrapping gifts and hopefully eating nice things.

Lots of things planned around Christmas, but all around a central theme: spending time with family and friends. I hope you will all have a great time! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!