Christmassy Things


Can I say “Christmas” on a blog when it’s still October?

I didn’t feel excited about Christmas last year at all. I felt overwhelmed, tired, lonely and sad and that there was some kind of ridiculous pressure to do something fabulous for “Baby’s First Christmas” that I didn’t see the point in subscribing to. As it happened, I had a lovely day: Tracy invited us all to lunch and we stayed there until TTB really needed to come home at about 9pm and then he slept for 4 whole hours in a row which was his sleep record for approximately another six more months!

This Christmas feels a lot more exciting, possibly because I’m not sleep deprived and possibly because I can legitimately buy actual presents for TTB now. I’m making the most of being able to choose what he receives as from talking to my friends with older children, this does not last for very long and he will be wanting iphones and kindles by the time he is three or something. This year, he is getting as much Duplo as I can reasonably give without my family laughing about my Duplo addiction, among other things.

I’m ignoring all of the people who complain about Christmas things being in the shops too early. I think it’s great and I love seeing what designs and themes different companies are going with this year. Marks and Spencer are winning for me with their range, the illustrations are beautiful and I bought these three little tins as soon as they came into the shops (I’m nothing if not predictable). I’ve bought some Christmas cards too; I like to buy a variety and send people one I think they’ll like. People who I know don’t care just get a non-fancy one though. I like to send nice cards to people who appreciate them really.

christmas cards waterstones oxfam

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that we had a box of Christmas books as children and they’d only come out of the loft around mid December when we got the Christmas decorations out. Those books are I think my fondest memory of Christmas, really, and I’ve been slowly building up my own collection since I moved out. I enjoy searching in charity shops and the occasional look at ebay trying to find the same ones that are in the “family” box of Christmas books. I have three siblings and we are all fiercely adamant that no one person can have any of the books or toys from home so my mum keeps them all and TTB is allowed to play with/read them when he visits (and I get frisked on the way out, apparently). Making my own collection is satisfying though.

I feel quite a lot of responsibility to make sure that Tiny Tin Bird has good Christmasses. Don’t worry, this is only self-inflicted feelings of responsibility. I just loved it SO much as a child that I want him to experience the same. It’s been difficult for me to “break away” from my family, Christmas wise, but I’m feeling a lot better about it now and I think I’ve made the transition (in my head, I mean) from sister/daughter to mother/provider of the Christmas now.

Now, I know that something can only be called a tradition when it’s established and whatnot but I’ve been thinking about what I want to do for TTB and I’ve decided to give him new Christmas books at the start of Advent, perhaps even one on each Sunday of Advent, I’m not sure yet. It doesn’t really matter too much this year anyway and it will work out whatever way in the end. It’s all very well collecting beautifully illustrated and wordy Christmas stories but he won’t be interested in them right now so I’ve bought these ones which are more accessible to him at the moment. The sound book is fab despite being louder than I anticipated (or my mum, when I played it down the phone to her – the last button plays the whole song through!) and I’m sure he will enjoy it like he has been enjoying his Room on the Broom soundbook. The “Touchy-feely Nativity” has a fairly dodgy title (I couldn’t bring myself to buy “Touchy-feely Father Christmas“) but it’s nicely illustrated and has tactile bits for him to touch, as do the “That’s not my Santa / Reindeer” ones. The little Nativity Story one is a bit rubbish and was greeted with horror by my sisters as it says “feed box” and not “manger” but I only got it so that my order on Amazon qualified for free postage so I’m not too upset about that. I’ve got my eye on more books but there is plenty of time to buy more and I’m trying to restrain myself a bit!

I bought myself three new Christmas decorations from John Lewis (they’re in the top photo), I’m really pleased with them. I don’t have a theme for decorations and prefer to buy ones I just like, really. I’ve also been enjoying Christmas magazines. Yay! I haven’t bought magazines all year because I think they’re too expensive at the moment, but my mum has really kindly subbed me to Country Living using her Tesco points (thank you xx) and happily the first issue I get as part of that sub is the Christmas one. It’s all so pretty! I keep going back to this page:

because look …

a helper! This is like seeing TTB in a couple of years time and that makes me hug myself and do a little happy dance in my mind. I feel so incredibly blessed and lucky and thankful for my little boy and my family, I really do. He’s wonderful and I delight in him every single day. (Side note: today he has learned to open the door and climb onto the sofa and has realised he can reach onto Andy’s desk. NOTHING IS SAFE! Still love him but man, he’s a pickle. A very pleased with himself pickle though.)

I buy Ideal Homes Christmas issue every year for the calendar because it’s my favourite one. We are saving the October photo from the current one (2013) because it’s just exactly how we would like to make our dining room look. Me and Andy almost high fived each other when we were looking at it because we’ve been looking for inspiration for this room for ages. I don’t usually buy Mollie Makes because I think it is dear, but the beautiful knitted mitts on the Christmas issue lured me in and then I saw that it had a free calendar so I thought, why not. Turns out, the photos are all by Yvestown. Yes please!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lusted after this cushion!

Christmas magazines are one of those simple treats that feels really luxurious. Mmmm. Yes.

Finally, I MUST just show you this. My all time favourite Christmas book is Lucy and Tom’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes and sadly it’s out of print at the moment. Shirley Hughes is my favourite illustrator ever and I adore her work. I happened across “Lucy and Tom’s ABC” in the charity shop last week and it made me really happy. I’ve not seen this one before but it’s just like seeing more of Lucy and Tom’s world really.

Cross section drawings (with lots of detail) are one of my favourite things. This picture is perfect. I want their house!

I think this drawing of kite flying is JUST like standing on the hill looking over our town, it’s even got the church and then the hills in the distance. I can’t wait to read this with TTB when he’s older :-)

Ok, enough Christmas waffling. Back to your Hallowe’en pumpkins! x

25 thoughts on “Christmassy Things

  1. claire coffey says:

    I love that cushion too! In fact, I love it so much I have made my own versions of it too! I will send you the picture of it in an email – and it was really easy to make. So glad you are feeling upbeat about Christmas this year, it will feel very different from last year’s, enjoy every moment of reading TTB all those lovely Christmas stories! Claire x

  2. Brenda says:

    Hi Heather, What lovely Christmas bits and pieces, aren’t the Christmas magazines just the Best! I too love books, an Australian author you should look up is Shirley Barber, her work is stunning and I’m sure you would love it. A lot of her books are fairies but there are many “boy” ones to if you keep looking. Have a great day xxBrenda

  3. This is such a lovely post! I feel Chistmassy just from reading it. I used to work in retail and think it’s perfectly normal to be planning Christmas in the summer and getting the festive stock out in October so it doesn’t bother me at all. I like the sounds of these traditions. I bought my daughter a wooden nativity set from GLTC when she was tiny. It seemed pointless at the time as she was much too small to play with it, but every year I got it out and my two (who are now 4 and 6) love it and play with it so much, it makes me happy. xx

  4. Melissa says:

    I loved reading your Christmasy post because it made me remember the wonderful times I spent reading Christmas books to my two boys. They are both teenagers now, but they both often speak about our huge pile of Christmas stories I would read from every night. I am so happy to hear that you’ll be creating the same tradition with your own darling son. I too love Shirley Hughes, but her books are hard to come by in the U.S. so I really had to track them down. “Dogger” was a favorite! Our treasured picture books are now tucked away in our attic, waiting for me to read them to future grandchildren. Enjoy the season!

  5. Melissa says:

    I loved reading your Christmasy post because it made me remember the wonderful times I spent reading Christmas books to my two boys. They are both teenagers now, but they both often speak about our huge pile of Christmas stories I would read from every night. I am so happy to hear that you\’ll be creating the same tradition with your own darling son. I too love Shirley Hughes, but her books are hard to come by in the U.S. so I really had to track them down. \"Dogger\" was a favorite! Our treasured picture books are now tucked away in our attic, waiting for me to read them to future grandchildren. Enjoy the season!

  6. I really must start thinking about Christmas! The second baby’s Christmas is much more enjoyable – your son is more fun and the pressure is off. Hope you enjoy all the preparations and tradition making. X

  7. I’ll bet your mum felt the same way as you do about Christmas traditions and how to make it special for you and your sisters, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it, try to enjoy it and don’t worry about “perfect”. I love Shirley Hughes, her books are great, Dogger is my favourite. I love Christmas and I’ve been buying bits and pieces already. “Jesus’s Christmas party”, “The Snowman” (an integral part of my Christmas still!), “Dear Santa” and Brian Wildsmith’s Nativity book, and when he’s older “The Jolly Christmas postman”. are all good Christmas books, I love that part of your Christmas traditions, it’s super

  8. Christmas will soon be here!
    We had loads of Christmas books always when my three were young;actually about 24 so that we could read one a day for advent! I know they enjoyed it from about 3 years old onwards, and we still have the books as decoration!
    Elf elementary was a favourite, the story of an elf at school, and Jonathan Twoomey when they were older. And at 6 years, Flat Stanleys Christmas Adventure was the fave! You have years of fun ahead…. go enjoy!

  9. Julie says:

    I love the fox/bear cards. Where did they come from? We have a polar bear fan in our house and she would love them. I have collected books for my children and they come out at the beginning of December. It has got harder to add new age appropriate ones as they have got older as the best ones are definitely the picture books.

  10. Jocelyn Nelson says:

    Hi Heather, I do the Christmas book thing with my children too. We get the books out at the start of Advent and the idea (it doesn’t always quite happen) is to read a story each night. Then when the tree is out I put all the books under the tree since it looks so bare with nothing underneath until Christmas morning.
    I don’t really have theme for my tree either. When I was a bit younger I used to collect ornaments but I’m a bit ready for a change so I thought I would try to crochet a lot this year (having been inspired by Lucy’s many bauble and bird and star, etc tutorials)

    Also, don’t know if you know this but with a North Yorkshire library card you can read a lot of magazines online for free. It is through a service called Zinio and you can read them on your computer at home. They don’t have too many crafty mags unfortunately, but do have lots of food and house mags to look through. I often read one online and if it’s a good issue go out and buy it anyway! Here’s the link: I hope it works! I think you have to be signed into the library’s website with your card number and pin and create an account with Zinio- but it’s worth the hassle!

  11. Love love love your post! Over here in the Netherlands we first have to go past a few days after Sinterklaas to get all Christmassy, but after reading this I am completely hooked! Thank you for letting us have a glimpse of your Christmas memories.

  12. The Christmas books bring back memories! We too had a box in Mum’s wardrobe that were only allowed to come out on the 1st Dec, along with the Christmas music tapes! x

  13. Ooh, I did enjoy this post! It’s got me in the mood for Christmas now! :) The Shirley Hughes book is available on amazon, but a bit pricey. I have a few of her books left from when my children were little, I could look at her illustrations all day long. :) Thanks for this lovely, uplifting post. xxx

  14. It’s not too early to be thinking about Christmas at all. I try to have all my shopping and preparations done by the first week in December so that I can enjoy the run up to Christmas and not be stressed out by last minute shopping in overcrowded shops filled with grumpy people!

  15. Oh yes! Shirley Hughes is my favorite illustrator too!!!! YAY! I wish everyone knew about her. And I am very thankful to have a copy of Lucy and Tom’s Christmas, even though it is in tiny form (maybe that is even better). Thanks for the look into Country Living Christmas. It won’t be available here until mid-December so not sure if we will get it.

  16. I only discovered Shirley Hughes when my daughter got “Annie Rose is my Sister” as a gift. Oh my goodness, I had no idea how it went. The last page, where the little boy says something like “Annie Rose is my little sister and she’ll be that forever” has me in tears every time and the children think I’m completely nuts. In fact, they know that it’s not the best book for me to read. She captures siblings and loving families so well. I think your books tradition is a great idea.

  17. Oh Heather, you’ve inspired me to collect a Christmas books box for Baby R now. He has one thus far, acquired super-cheap from a local carboot sale. Touch and Feel Nativity Story, I think it is. Baby R LOVES the That’s Not My… books at the moment, so maybe I’ll have to get him the reindeer and/or Father Christmas one.

    I am lucky enough to have a subscription to Mollie Makes and was very excited to open up next year’s calendar… I’ve so loved using our one this year!

    Yay for Christmas!

  18. Kathy says:

    Late October is ok for Christmas. I feel a little bit christmassy too. I mean if you want your home nice you should start early, if you want to make most of the decoration stuff by yourself. Otherwise it might get a little bit stressful (I tried to cross-stitch some stuff last year for the 1 of December and still haven’t finished it *sigh*)
    For books I recommend the ones from ” Masahiro Kasuya”, I had them as a child and the artwork and illustration is so, so, soo nice. I don’t know if they are available in the UK. Those books where the special one I had as a child.
    But here in Germany the start to put on all the Christmas Cookies in August. Seriously, who wants to eat “Lebkuchen” and all the stuff in August? They’re so crazy about this stuff and I know nobody who eats it this early! Are they doing this in England too?

  19. Julie says:

    What a lovely post. I always give my boys a Christmas book as an early gift on Christmas eve. We can then read it before settling down to sleep. My oldest is 19 so we have grown quite a collection, the box comes out at the start of December every year. The big boys enjoy sharing some of their favorites from over the years with the youngest.
    I love Shirley Hughes too and managed to track down a copy of the Christmas book on ebay last year. It is lovely, I hope you stumble across one soon. I can highly recommend The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey for a little later on it is our favorite by far.

  20. Deborah says:

    Hi Heather. I too, absolutely love Christmas!
    We also have collected Christmassy books, tapes and CDs over the years, and it’s always so exciting to bring them out. ‘Father Christmas’ by Raymond Briggs (we have the 1973 edition!) is such a fun book to read. It is written in comic book style, and is one that you will enjoy as you show little TTB the illustrations. Another by Raymond Briggs is ‘The Snowman’-the DVD is enchanting! A book that enjoy is ‘Miss Read’s Christmas’ by Miss Read (Dora Jessie Saint). It is a lovely gentle read.
    Your Christmas this year will be so much fun withTTB, as you carry on with your traditions, and start some new ones as well! Xxxxxx

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