This has been another hard week, as 2016 apparently decided that one lot of grief isn’t enough for me. On Tuesday, my German grandmother died. I never really knew her growing up, as we couldn’t afford family trips to Germany. But she did fly out for some of my major life events – college graduation, my wedding – and since I moved to England, I’ve tried to go visit once a year. Sadly, I didn’t make it out there this year. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 2 years ago, and I was planning a trip in January. If only I hadn’t decided to wait. 😦 I am very sad to not have her around any more, but at the same time she has been a lot of pain, so in a sense there is a release now. But it’s still hard, especially at this time of the year.
The same day, I also found out a friend is pregnant for the second time. Obviously I am really happy for her, but I must admit the timing did make me feel really sorry for myself. I’m pretty much over that now, though, thank goodness.
However, I am making the most of the festive season by metaphorically wrapping myself in fairy lights. I’m doing as much festive stuff as I can, and really trying to distract myself with happy things while I grieve again. So here are my happy things for this week. What are yours?
- This Polish Christmas advert
It is beautiful, and I saw it for the first time on Wednesday. It was like watching Oma. It made me cry an awful lot, but in a happy way. I hope you love it, too.
- This color combination
Pretty stunning, isn’t it? It really does make me happy.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is one of my favourite places in the world, so getting to visit is always a treat. Opus Anglicanum is about medieval English embroidery, and was absolutely stunning. The level of detail was phenomenal! It was also fun to look at the recurring motifs – Trees of Jesse, peacocks, the nativity, and saints (with a high proportion of female saints, actually) were ones that I noticed, though no doubt there were many more. There was also a video of someone using the techniques that would have been used at the time (primarily split stitch and underside couching) which was strangely hypnotic. I also went with a friend from near home, and had lunch with a different friend I haven’t seen in about 5 years. She taught me to knit & also inspired me to take up dressmaking, so it was great to catch up & discuss our current projects. We both left inspired to make stuff, which I think is the ideal outcome.
I’ve never been to the V & A at Christmas, either, and I loved the stars they projected in the atrium.
- New wall decor
I know, slightly inappropriate, but it did make me laugh a lot! R got this several years ago when he had an online business selling film memorabilia. He just found it again last week. So up it went!
- A candlelight carol service
I love carol services! They always make me really emotional. There’s something really magical about Christmas carols, isn’t there? I’ve been wanting to go to the candlelight service at the church in the city centre for years, but never managed it until this year, when I asked a friend to go with me. It was excellent, though there were several I didn’t know. I also heard “Jesulein süß” in English for the first time, and learned that “In the Bleak Midwinter” was set to music by Gustav Holst, which makes it a local carol as well as one of my favorite wintry poems.
I was also thrilled to see Madeleine L’Engle, one of my favorite authors, was in the program. Someone read this poem:
Into the Darkest Hour
It was a time like this,
War & tumult of war,
a horror in the air.
Hungry yawned the abyss-
and yet there came the star
and the child most wonderfully there.
It was time like this
of fear & lust for power,
license & greed and blight-
and yet the Prince of bliss
came into the darkest hour
in quiet & silent light.
And in a time like this
how celebrate his birth
when all things fall apart?
Ah! Wonderful it is
with no room on the earth
the stable is our heart.
I think it’s a beautiful poem, and couldn’t be more fitting for this year. I’m so glad I’ve heard it.