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december frenzy...

Adele Nozedar is not only one of our cottage owners, but also the author of several books including The Hedgerow Handbook - Recipes, Remedies and Rituals. Adele does a monthly blog post for us on nature, foraging, the Brecon Beacons or whatever is on her mind


Right now, I'm facing my usual confusion about Christmas. I love the colour, the glitter, the lights...seeing peoples' decorations through soft misty windows, the dustbinmen wearing santa hats, the feeling of anticipation, the music and, most of all, Christmas trees. But what I am finding, more and more, is that the rising tide of STUFF, the material goods that not only come in the wake of all the good cheer but which seem to be the priority in order to bring about that good cheer in the first place, is something that I find just TOO MUCH. We all of us, after all, have a lot of STUFF. And I'm getting really fed up of it.

And yet choosing a gift, wrapping it and giving it to someone, is a lovely thing to do. What a dilemma...The experience of Christmas cards, too, has changed over the years. I don't know if any of you are familiar with the fabulous 'Mapp and Lucia' books by E.F. Benson; he writes about a very snobby little town, based loosely on Rye, where the townsfolk apply their own rules to the new trend of sending Christmas cards. I don't have the book to hand right now, but Benson describes a lovely little scene where the townsfolk choose cards to impress each other, keeping an eye on who is buying the cheaper ones in the selection. In this case, it's not the giving, but the spending that counts! I love getting cards, but they seem to be getting scarcer as more and more people make do with e-cards. I usually make my own, but last year was a bit of a disaster since after I had made them, written them, addressed and stamped them, I mislaid the lot.

A few years ago, in an attempt to halt the tides of my own materialism, I elected to make my own presents too. One year, I got a bunch of lovely hazel sticks, cut them to about 20" long, and decorated them with ribbons and feathers. I presented these as Talking Sticks, the perfect accessory for talkative/argumentative/noisy dinner parties or families. The idea is not original; it's a Native American 'invention', and only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk. (Come to think of it, they would be good in board meetings, too.)

I realise in retrospect that giving people lumps of wood with ribbons and feathers on was perhaps a bit confusing, although people were for the most part kind. The embarrassing bit is always giving someone something like this and then they hand you a flat shiny package with something very expensive in it. Oh NO! >>BLUSH<<

In subsequent years I have made other pressies; Christmas Cakes baked in plantpots, home-made scrapbooks, games I have invented...but I worry that these still dont hit the mark. Ultimately, it's still all just 'stuff'.

This year, rather than anything in a box which is going to add to the clutter, I have decided to give experiences. Something which won't fit in a box but which will hopefully be fun and which will allow me and the recipient to be able to spend time with one another; I'll be giving garden foraging experiences, cooking dinners, babysitting...all sorts of things. Whether nor not I will actually find those cards is another matter...In the meantime, here's a picture of my dogs, Finlay and Pearl. They are shown here seconds before they made the stick levitate, just as the battery in my camera died.