Phew! I am pleasantly content - today I started the countdown to Christmas and am beginning to feel festive.
I have decided to behave quite normally in my preparations for the festive season - but I shall have to be more economical with the present giving, and everything else will be as it has been for the past 23 years. I have been slowly accruing presents since September and have rather enjoyed having to really think about the expenditure. T K Maxx has turned up trumps as ever, although I do think the quality and choice is not a patch on the past. Very few recognisable branded goods - but not too bad. The junior daughter has been coaching me as to where the special offers are lurking - so, thank you M & S, you have enjoyed a lot of custom from me this year. And - I am learning to hoard, then redeem, all sorts of money-off vouchers.
To be frank, I am rather ashamed of the cavalier way I used to shop. Being brought up short, as I have been, is no bad thing. Times have changed, and so must I. I resonated with the senior daughter's recent blog about not hoarding, and how it was so much better to actually use things up - which is exactly what I hsve been doing for the past 18 months. So - I have had many wonderful baths, luxuriating in bath oils that I had lined up prettily in the bathroom instead of enjoying.
Dear S, the husband of the lovely H, who helps me in the house, came today and took me to buy my Christmas tree. I climbed into his van, little trailer attached, and off we drove. I nearly died when, after I had chosen the tree, I was told the price. No No! That will NOT do. Down the scale we went - and finally we loaded our choice on to the trailer and we trundled home. I have to confess that I am rather enjoying myself. Life can be quite fun I have discovered, much more fun than it has been for years.
By the end of today, S had mended locks and broken security lights, rehung a kitchen cupboard door that kept fouling the dishwasher, put up the Christmas tree and fixed its lights, piled a whole delivery of logs in the drawing room inglenook ready for Christmas, and dismantled my bed so we could clean underneath it What a star! Much better than a resident husband - more biddable and more charming. The senior daughter spoilt it all for me by saying "Get real, Mamma, you paid him to do it" I know, but they were not jobs I could have done myself.
I then took the dogs for a long walk up the track. It was soggy, damp and muddy - why is it that dogs love the conditions to be so horrible? They raced about and snuffled and snorted, in and out of the hedgerows and ditches, as I trudged along behind them thinking of my Christmas arrangements, the decorations, the food, and all the fun to come.
Billy then went missing and my heart missed a beat. Suddenly he came flying up the field to my right, and I realised he was trapped - I had no idea how he had got into the field, and there was no visible means of escape. He started to panic, seeing me on the other side of the fence, and unable to reach me. He and I are joined at the hip, so I knew he was getting distressed. The fence was solidly wired to ground level, and I too started to panic. Luckily I saw a small tunnel through the grass under the wire, and was able to persuade him to elongate himself enough to squeeze underneath. What a welcome, licks and whines and how I hugged him. Maud just stood, disdain written all over her face, and then when he rejoined us, she turned her back on him and caried on up the track.
Two days ago, Billy had caught his first rabbit. I do not actively encourage the dogs to catch rabbits, but this one looked as if it had been hit by a car, or perhaps was diseased. I called Bill over, and he quickly despatched it. Much kinder to do that - he was so proud of himself. It was his baptism - he is now a grown up boy.
So - the countdown to Christmas. The invitations are lining up on the mantelpiece, the first cards have arrived, we have started our Christmas choir practices, my tree lights are twinkling at me to decorate the tree itself, and all is right with the world.
17 hours ago