5 happy things – another necessary one

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.

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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

p1070541I 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.

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8 thoughts on “5 happy things – another necessary one”

  1. I am so sorry about your grandmother. It is hard when people are far away. We grieve not only for their loss but also for our lost opportunities. Also, of course you are sad when a friend announces her pregnancy. That does not mean you don’t want her to be happy it just means you are reminded of what you don’t have right now. It sounds like you have had a difficult time lately. I hope things get a bit easier.

    On the bright side, you do dressmaking as well? That is interesting. I am going to have to go back through your archives and see if there are posts about things you have made. I used to sew a little but haven’t in years and probably have forgotten all I knew.

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  2. I’m really sorry about your grandmother…It must be tough on you, but it’s good that even in the sad times you are looking out for small things that make it a little brighter. The Polish advertisement is wonderful! This year is almost over – let’s hope that the next one will be much better!

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  3. I am so sorry about your Grandmother/Grossmutter. WHat a rotten time for it to happen. You’ve got a good attitude to your grief and sadness by dwelling on what is good. Sending you many best wishes,xx

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  4. I’m so sorry to hear that, what a horrible year you are having. Sending lots of love x

    Carols also make me emotional, I always tear up when I’m singing them. I have a weird history – I’m an atheist now but was brought up CofE and music was a HUGE part of that (my dad was organist and choir master and my mum led the guitar band, while I sang in the junior choir) so I have many memories of Christmas at church and the beautiful carols, and it’s now the only time of year that I go to church.

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    1. Thank you, Janet. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who finds carol services special. I think having a complicated history with church is normal, particularly in England. I didn’t know you have such a musical history, though; it sounds really special.

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  5. So sorry to hear about your grandmother – it’s hard to let go of the ones we love – and I certainly can relate to the grief that’s connected to ‘lost opportunities’, so to speak. I’m thinking of you and sending positive vibes! All the best, and rest assured – better times will come, even if everything seems somewhat bleak right now.

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