A Christmas Diorama

Anne here, continuing our daily Christmastide posts for the 12 days of Christmas. When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do in the lead up to Christmas was to make a diorama of the nativity scene in a shoebox. I made it all from scratch. A diorama is just a scene, and there are all kinds — military ones, dolls house ones, there’s no limit. But today I’m talking about a Christmas diorama.

First I’d paint the shoebox and thatch it with glued-on grass. And scatter more dried grass on the floor, for hay. The manger was usually the tray part of a matchbox, also lined with dried grass. And a star, stuck on a piece of wire hovered above my stable.

The people were the most fun. I used the old-fashioned clothes pegs as a body, and pipe cleaners for arms. And I’d clothe them in scraps of fabric; Mary in blue, Joseph in brown and the kings in whatever fancy fabric I could get hold of. My godmother, who always spent Christmas and Easter with us, was clever with all kinds of craft and could always be relied on for snippets of glittery braid and things like that.

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Christmas Tree Delight

Christina here, recovering from the frenzy of preparations and celebrations of the last week by quietly contemplating our lovely Christmas tree. It’s the first time in days that I’ve had a chance to just sit down and do nothing, and to really soak in the festive atmosphere and the beauty of the decorations. Our tree is a real one and its wonderful scent hits you the moment you walk into the room. The twinkling lights remind me of sunshine on snow, something I was lucky enough to enjoy just a few weeks ago in Sweden. And then there are the many ornaments, always a delight to unpack and hang up each year …

Just about every one of them has some memory attached to it for me. There are the tiny Japanese fans reminding me of my time living in the Far East, as well as a more recent purchase of a red Chinese lantern-shaped bauble which did the same. The little silver angel that conjures memories of my two girls helping to decorate the tree when they were little (I bought them one each). A crystal twist from a long-ago trip to Devon, where we stopped at a shop that produced its own glass marbles and ornaments. The silver wreath and ball, bought in the US when visiting family in New England. The mini stocking that was a gift from my mother; the red tassel an indulgence for myself from the Victoria & Albert museum. A red Christmas tree shape purchased because I felt our tree needed more red colour. And not forgetting the Brussels sprout bauble which I bought just for the fun of it as I’m the only person in our family who actually loves sprouts! They are all precious in their own way.

How about you – do your tree ornaments hold special memories? Do you perhaps have weird and wonderful baubles created by your children at school? Or decorations inherited from loved ones? Whatever they are, I hope they bring you as much joy as mine do!


Another Christmas Quiz (2023)

Anne here, and since Christmas is less than a week away, I’m offering you  a Christmas Quiz. However, since I’m working madly towards an imminent deadline, I have recycled some of the questions from my previous quizzes. How many do you remember? You might know some, you might not, but as always, this is just for fun.

Write down your answers as you go, then pop over to the link at the end to see the answers. Then come back here and tell us how you went.

1)     Which Christmas carol might have been sung by Regency people?
a) Hark the Herald Angels Sing
b) The First Noel.
c) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
d) We Three Kings of Orient Are.

2) The first member of the English royal family to display a Christmas tree was        a) Queen Adelaide in 1820
b) Queen Charlotte in 1800
c) Queen Victoria in 1848
d) Queen Caroline in 1825

3) Mince pies in the Regency contained:
a) ground nuts
b) dried fruit and meat
c) minced steak
d) chicken and other kinds of poultry

4). Stir-Up Day is:
a) The last Sunday before Advent, when the minister traditionally gives a fiery sermon to stir the congregation from sin and complacency.
b) The day when in the country, the winter hay is turned, to prevent it going moldy.
c) the day when all the members of the family gather to stir the Christmas pudding.
d) The day when the foxes are stirred from their dens to prepare for hunting on Boxing Day (26th December).

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Christmas Cookies

MerryChristina here, relaxing with a cookie and a glass of milk after all the seasonal festivities. The day after Boxing Day always feels like a chilling kind of day, when you can just sit down and take it easy. And what better way than with a cookie and some milk/tea/coffee (whatever is your preference)?

AsaI’m sure that many of you bake special treats for Christmas and in our house that’s gingerbread. Or more specifically, Swedish pepparkakor, which are less spicy than their UK counterparts. Every family has their own recipe handed down through the generations, and in my case it’s very special because my great-grandfather owned a bakery. So the cookies I make each year are the same ones he would have sold from 1901 onwards – I love that I’m carrying on that tradition!

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Christmas Movies

Christina here. It’s December and the countdown to Christmas has started in earnest. For my younger daughter and me, that means watching seasonal movies. It’s part of our traditions and we try to fit in at least one a day. Finding them isn’t hard – there are entire channels devoted to them here in the UK (is it the same where you are?), so there’s plenty to choose from. Some of the streaming services have their own offerings too, so the difficulty is usually agreeing which one to watch.

The knightThe quality does vary though, I have to say. We started this year’s movie marathon with The Knight Before Christmas, which starred Vanessa Hudgens (of High School Musical fame) and Josh Whitehouse. It’s about an English knight from the 1300s who is magically transported to present-day America. (Why there? Who knows!) There he meets a high school teacher who is disillusioned by love since her ex cheated on her. Their meet-cute is that she almost runs him over, so she thinks he’s hit his head and is therefore imagining himself to be a medieval knight. She takes him in until he regains his memory, and of course, they fall in love. I didn’t have very high hopes for this film, which is just as well because OMG, the anachronisms! Not least of all, the fact that he can speak to a modern woman and they understand each other (apart from the odd “egad!”). As someone who writes time travel stories, I would have liked him to be a little more surprised by some of the things he comes across in the modern world, but he takes everything in his stride. I really hope no children watch this and think it’s based on proper historical details, but apart from that, it’s a bit of harmless fun and quite charming.

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