Posted by: christinelaennec | December 2, 2012

O come o come…

December arrived in very Christmassy fashion indeed, with sleet and snow:

Snow on December 1st, 2012, Aberdeen.

Snow on December 1st, 2012, Aberdeen.  View from our bedroom window.

In previous years, our tradition has been to get our Christmas tree from the Forestry Commission, in Tyrebagger forest on the outskirts of Aberdeen.  It’s a charming place to get a tree, but scores 0 out of 10 for wheelchair accessibility, especially if there’s any form of precipitation.  So this year we went to a garden centre instead, and lo and behold we were all able to pick out a lovely tree together:

Michael and the Dafter contemplating (and photographing) potential Christmas tree candidates.

Michael and the Dafter contemplating (and photographing) potential Christmas tree candidates.

The Dafter was taking photos, and then had a wee collapse while we went to warm up with a cuppa in the restaurant.  I don’t know what people make of me just stroking her hair while she sits at the table with her head resting on it!  After about 20 minutes she was able to sit up again, and we enjoyed watching the snow come down and the sunset fade into darkness.  We were sitting by one of the upper windows:

Mains of Drum garden centre, Aberdeenshire, Dec. 1st 2012.

Mains of Drum garden centre, Aberdeenshire, Dec. 1st 2012.

The Mains of Drum garden centre is only a few years old, but is built in a very traditional style, and run by a local family, so I’m happy to give them our business. It is very nearby Drum Castle, and its architcture echoes that of its much older neighbour.

We all enjoyed listening to the soundtrack of The Polar Express in the car.  The Dafter has rather strict rules along the lines of Christmas celebration needing to be kept until December 1st, so we’d both been waiting to break out the Christmas music.  Her reason is a very good one:  she loves Christmas so much that she doesn’t want to spoil it by starting too early.  As I have to write all the USA Christmas cards before December 1st, I managed to negotiate listening to a Christmassy CD while doing so (Shawn Colvin’s Holiday Songs and Lullabies).

The Christmas tree will wait outside in the back garden for another week, which should hopefully encourage it to last until Epiphany.  But we put the other Christmas decorations up around the house.  Here’s one of our favourites, a hand-carved Santa in a kilt.   We were given a flying Santa by a friend in Illinois, who sent this Scottish version to us for our first Christmas here:

A kilted Santa, carved by a friend.

A kilted Santa, carved by a friend.

And I managed to put the fairy lights over the mantlepiece mirror without too much cursing, although the Dafter was rather amused by my antics.  I love taking out the Christmas angel in her snowglobe, and the tiny Spode plate that was from my Granny’s Christmas china set.   The delicate wooden candleholder was brought back by a close friend from Germany last year, and the candleholder with the moon on the right was made by another dear friend.

Christmas decorations on the mantlepiece, December 1st 2012.

Christmas decorations on the mantlepiece, December 1st 2012.

This morning was the first Sunday in Advent.  Because it was treacherously icy out, I took my neighbour Betty to church in the car.  We usually both walk, but neither of us wanted to take any chances of her falling (or me for that matter!).  She’s passionate about the hymn “O come o come Emmanuel,” which in our church is always sung on the first Sunday in Advent.  I particularly love hearing all the Scottish voices around me rolling their rs in the chorus:  “Rejoice! Rejoice!”.  One of the smallest Sunday School children was chosen to light the first Advent candle, and had to be lifted up to do so.

I love this season.  Not only because I am very selfishly looking forward to yummy food, a chance to sit around and not do very much, presents, singing carols, and so forth.  But also I really love the idea of the coming of the light.  It’s especially potent in a place where, in a few weeks’ time, the sun will rise at 9 and set at 3 (and not be particularly noticeable if there’s bad weather).  As a Christian, I find the story of the Creator of the universe being born in the form of a tiny, helpless baby very appealing.  I find great comfort in the fact that even the smallest flame suffices to conquer the darkness.  But even if I weren’t a Christian I think I would still love the idea of new life and new hope being on the horizon.  In this sense, every season really is Advent.



  1. What a beautifully Christmassy post, but a shame about Tyrebagger as it is a most interesting place. I’m not excited about Christmas yet (to be honest, I dread it these days, which is a shame as I used to love it), but I hope I can get into the spirit of it soon. I love your kilted Santa, he’s braw!

  2. Lovely post. I am happy the Dafter got to come help pick a tree. I agree with her about not starting Christmas too early. I began my decorations yesterday but still have much to do. I do it in stages. I have a small collection of the Spode Christmas china and it is very special. Glad you have a bit of your granny with you through her plate. I too hate the dark of winter. My husband has started his light therapy again.

  3. I certainly “…love the idea of new life and new hope being on the horizon.” A special time of year for everyone.

  4. Loved this post, Christine and so happy that your precious Dafter was able to go with your for the Christmas tree!

  5. Lovely post Christine and I love the kilted Santa! We’re always a bit late in getting Christmassy in this house – decorations and trees don’t go up until nigh on Christmas Eve. I’ve noticed a lot of my friends on facebook have got theirs up already. Funny how different families have different ways of doing things isn’t it? Love Judy.

  6. Like tearoomdelights, I dread christmas, but I can relate to some of what you like about it. The idea of bringing out items which remind you of people who you don’t see so often now, has an appeal to me.

  7. We believe in Christmas season beginning December 1, too, and hate it when Christmas eclipses Thanksgiving. I’m not a big believer in much decorating (more work for me), but I’m outvoted. Thank heavens the girls do most of it now! I loved your thoughts on Advent. Amen and amen.

  8. Oh, and if you like “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” here’s a link to a Celtic version:

  9. I love the idea of light at Christmas. I have the tree lit, my little votive candles going and I try and avoid having our main lights on. lol, it is a little dark but it has such great atmosphere. somehow it makes me feel relaxed and comforted and the world seems a gentler place for a bit. I like your “flying Scotsman”. 🙂

  10. Dear everyone,
    Thanks for joining in the spirit of Advent, even those who aren’t so keen on Christmas. I do agree that Christmas shouldn’t start until December, although as you say Judy everyone does things differently. Ellen, thank you so much for the link! Marjorie, not only do I really love the Spode Christmas china design, but remembering sitting at my Granny’s Christmas table and using that very china makes even a tiny little plate so powerful somehow. All those memories and love invested in it. Things are not always just things… as oldblack will confirm.

  11. Bringing out the precious, memory-filled things is such a special part of Christmas.
    I get teased rotten about my love of candles and ‘atmospheric’ lighting at this time of year, as my family blunder around in the artful twilight.

    So glad you were all able to get out to choose a tree together.

    • Linda, clearly you are not alone in the atmospheric lighting department! Yes, it was great we could choose the tree together.

  12. What a delightful post — I feel your sweetness and the deep love.. glad you are making happy memories even during difficult time.. God bless you all!

    • Kristeen,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. As I’ve said here before, we have a great deal to be thankful for, chief amongst the list the fact that we all get along really well together and have fun even when the situation isn’t great. Bless you too.

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