Stella has been taking holiday art classes with her Waldorfy pre-school teacher from 2014 and it's wonderful to have lovely Xmas crafts in the house again. The reindeer above is one of my favourite things ever.
I've never had a nativity scene up for Christmas before, and wouldn't have were it not for this remarkable fold-out cardboard one I picked up secondhand for R20. It's from the 1950's with intricate fold-outs for the kings and the shepherds, hosts of angels overhead.
But it was the family scene which really sold me. Set up on the bureau in the dining room it is just at eye-level for a little girl we have, currently deeply enamored with her family, with concepts of nurturing and loyalty and love. I knew she would love it.
I'm not a believer, and the Christmas story doesn't have the significance for me that it must do for practising Christians. But it represents two things which I do hold dear: the power of stories to teach us lessons and give us a sense of belonging through magic and mythology, and the strength of the family bond. These are the things I celebrate at Christmas, and this little scene captures both of those for me.
We did our annual Christmas book advent too. Each year I think the girls may have outgrown it, but each year they start anticipating them in November and I find myself trawling the secondhand book stores for a few new titles to throw in the mix, and looking for bulk deals on wrapping paper. They love them and the reappearance of our family favourites - Father Christmas and The Jolly Christmas Postman, plus other vintage and more modern titles - gets us all in the Christmas spirit.
There was some Christmas baking too ...
... in this case the freshly spray-painted fuel tank from Husband's project bike, curing quietly in the oven one warm night.
But there was some of the more traditional kind too - annual Christmas cupcakes for the security guards who work our neighbourhood.
We visited FC, and handmade a few gifts (much anticipated little boy cousin due in March!), I watched - and cried through - Love Actually, Husband and the girls attended the traditional Christmas Carols on the water one evening, while I stayed at home with a tummy bug, but I managed recover in time to outdo myself with a Christmas pinata!
It was a good Christmas.
But it was a hard year, and 2016 still had a couple of gut punches it was saving until the very end. Fucking hell.
I'm always partly sad and partly relieved to see the back of Christmas. It was lovely but it was busy and now that it's done, now we can relax for a couple of weeks before bracing ourselves for the next year.
We're clearing the debris today, and packing for the beach. Tomorrow we leave on holiday, and that's a different kind of magic - one which we are all very much looking forward to.
Bye bye x