Tag Archives: christmas

‘Tis the Season to be … Creepy

·         Are you the kind of person who takes delight when people slip on ice?
·         Do you often wonder what dark plans that angel must be forging while stuck at the top of the tree?
·         Have you ever noticed that your snowman is in a slightly different position from before?
If you have, then you sound like someone who enjoys a bit of a scare at Christmas time and will surely love the brand new ebook from Chris Priestley – Christmas Tales of Terror.
In this specially written ebook you will find malevolent snowmen, carol-loving corpses and a toy with an evil mind of its own.  Chris Priestley is on top form in these atmospheric, clever and thoroughly chilling stories. Add a new kind of chill to the fluffiest of seasons with seven brilliantly conceived examples of why you’d better be good at Christmas time.
The book can be bought on Amazon for the very festive price of £2.48
To celebrate publication of this new collection, Chris Priestley has written a very special 247tale on the subject of A Creepy Christmas for Bloomsbury’s short story writing competition. The competition is then open to budding writers aged between 10 and 16 to create their own frighteningly festive story. For full details go to www.247tales.com, but you should know that the closing date is next week, so get scribbling quickly (or get your classes scribbling, as the case may well be – thank you, Bloomsbury, for giving me such great lesson material!)
And here is that story, for those of you brave enough to read on:

A Creepy Christmas

That end of the park was empty and Lilian’s footsteps were the only ones to trouble the pristine blanket of pure white snow. It was so beautiful, so magical. She was breathless with excitement and, looking back only once at her now distant friends, walked on.

Lillian’s neat and charmless park was utterly transformed. The grim old archway that stood as a lone reminder of the workhouse that had once stood here was smothered in snow and feathery snowflakes fell and tickled her face. Lilian stepped through the arch as though stepping into another world.

The park was unrecognisable here. Lilian felt she was walking through a deserted wood as she reached an area thick with trees where the snow was especially deep and her whispered footfalls were the only sound. She had never thought of the children who lived and died in the workhouse but now they came unbidden into her thoughts. She even thought she could hear them whispering.

Then looking up she saw children sitting in the branches above her head. They looked like roosting owls. They were ragged children, poorly dressed and pale, eerily lit from below by bright snow. Their thin, wan faces looked down at her with large eyes twinkling in the snow light. They bore an expression she thought at first was one of tragic longing, but which she realised too late was in reality some kind of terrible and cruel hunger.

And, before she could even scream, they jumped.

Chris Priestley (247 words)

Are you ready for the season?

I’m reposting this (with just a few small changes) from last November, as it’s that time again…

I really enjoy the lead up to Christmas. We’ve evolved a great family tradition that really helps to get everyone geared up for the season, using a refillable advent calendar. Ours is a pretty little series of hessian stockings with numbers printed on them, but we first did this using a stack of matchboxes which I’d covered in wrapping paper, assembled in a vaguely attractive pile, and painted numbers onto.

I have a lot of fun planning the filling of the stockings, and it’s a great way of building up excitement. Some days I’ll put chocolate or sweets in, some days it’s vouchers and others little toys or (now they’re older) little girly stuff like nail stickers, lip balms or charm beads. If something doesn’t fit, I hide it somewhere and put a clue to what it is and its location into the stocking.

The vouchers are everyone’s favourite though, and I print these myself. Mostly, these are family things and mark some kind of focused time that we don’t always remember to build into our busy lives. Some of the things I included on vouchers last year include:

  • trip into town on the bus to see the Christmas lights (and get a hot chocolate in a nice coffee place)
  • baking session(s)
  • crafts – making decorations or gift boxes to share the baking around
  • family movie night (sometimes this is cinema vouchers, sometimes a new DVD)
  • family games night (again, this might be accompanied by a new board game, or Wii game, or a set of pen and paper game ideas)
  • trip to the zoo (when they were younger, we took them to the local city farm to see the ‘reingoats’!)

As you can see, many of these are quite old fashioned and somewhat simple ideas, but they always go down really well. I think the girls like the mixture of family stuff, weird little toys (Hawkins and Yellow Moon are brilliant for these – the latter also for great crafty stuff), cutesy girly gifts and sweet stuff. It’s definitely a tradition I’m glad we started and we all get a lot out of it.

Family Friday: Peace and Love

As we near the midpoint of the traditional twelve days, a period of ‘time out of time’, I hope you’re all enjoying the holidays in whatever fashion works for you.

Here are some of the aspects of Christmas/Yule holiday tradition that I particularly enjoy:

  • all the light/fire references, reminding us that it all stems from a celebration of the return of the sun as the balance shifts from dark to light again
  • the greenery decking the halls, a lovely piece of sympathetic magic encouraging the non-evergreen life to remember that life goes on
  • the rich, warming, spicy food and drink (as I write this, I can smell a ham boiling away merrily in apple and orange juices with cinnamon, cloves and allspice) to nourish ourselves for the coming winter
  • the sense of self renewal which has become the tradition of New Year Resolutions, possibly stemming from a natural inward-turning impulse in these longer and darker nights

This is my last post for 2011, so: whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope you’re making great memories and that 2012 will be a great and positive year for you.

Family Friday: Advent Plans

Sorry, we’ve no pics of our stockings

I really enjoy the lead up to Christmas. We’ve evolved a great family tradition that really helps to get everyone geared up for the season, using a refillable advent calendar. Ours is a pretty little series of hessian stockings with numbers printed on them, but we first did this using a stack of matchboxes which I’d covered in wrapping paper, assembled in a vaguely attractive pile, and painted numbers onto.

I have quite a lot of fun planning the filling of the stockings, and it’s a great way of building up excitement. Some days I’ll put chocolate or sweets in, some days it’s vouchers and others little toys or (now they’re older) little girly stuff like nail stickers or lip balm. If something doesn’t fit, I hide it somewhere and put a clue to what it is and its location into the stocking.

The vouchers are everyone’s favourite though, and I print these myself. Mostly, these are family things and mark some kind of focused time that we don’t always remember to build into our busy lives. Some of the things I’ll include on vouchers this year include:

  • trip into town on the bus to see the Christmas lights (and get a hot chocolate in a nice coffee place)
  • baking session(s)
  • crafts – making decorations or gift boxes to share the baking around
  • family movie night (sometimes this is cinema vouchers, sometimes a new DVD)
  • family games night (again, this might be accompanied by a new board game, or Wii game, or a set of pen and paper game ideas)
  • trip to the zoo (when they were younger, we took them to the local city farm to see the ‘reingoats’!)

As you can see, many of these are quite old fashioned and somewhat simple ideas, but they always go down really well. I think the girls like the mixture of family stuff, weird little toys (Hawkins and Yellow Moon are brilliant for these), cutesy girly gifts and sweet stuff. It’s definitely a tradition I’m glad we started and we all get a lot out of it.

All I Want for Christmas Is No Surprises

“I want a Barbie car for Christmas.” My husband and I exchanged looks as our then five-year-old told a family friend this was her dearest wish for Christmas. It was December 23 and this was the first we’d heard of a bloomin’ Barbie car. Imagine our delight. Thankfully the extremely generous family friend went shopping and picked up a cute little purple Beetle for her (and she was still pleased with all her gifts), but still… 
So if we look a little shifty leading up to Christmas these days, you know we’re just wondering whether the kids still want what they said they did. Did we leave it long enough? If we’d waited, would they have changed their minds? What if we can’t get X in time? Argh! So yes, my dearest Christmas wish is for a complete absence of surprises of that nature.
This post is part of a blog party launching the lovely Cally Taylor‘s new book, Home for Christmas out today. Since her own gorgeous little bundle arrived just over a month ago, she’s going for the reduced-stress, stay-at-home launch. She managed to find time to co-write a cute trailer for it though! (see below)

The blurb says:
Beth Prince has always loved fairytales and now, aged twenty-four, she feels like she’s finally on the verge of her own happily ever after. She lives by the seaside, works in the Picturebox – a charming but rundown independent cinema – and has a boyfriend who’s so debonair and charming she can’t believe her luck! There’s just one problem – none of her boyfriends have ever told her they love her and it doesn’t look like Aiden’s going to say it any time soon. Desperate to hear ‘I love you’ for the first time Beth takes matters into her own hands – and instantly wishes she hadn’t. Just when it seems like her luck can’t get any worse, bad news arrives in the devilishly handsome shape of Matt Jones. Matt is the regional director of a multiplex cinema and he’s determined to get his hands on the Picturebox by Christmas. Can Beth keep her job, her man and her home or is her romantic-comedy life about to turn into a disaster movie?

‘Tis the Season …

to run around like a headless crazywoman, snapping at anyone who suggests it is in fact the season for rest and calm?  Preferably not.  I must say that since I discovered (and initially obeyed) Flylady a few years ago, I’ve managed to enjoy this time of year a lot more.  A little planning every day through most of October and November means that it’s not a scary thing that creeps up on you from nowhere.  I remember seeing a brilliant catalogue cover a couple of years ago (a Hawkins one) that read something like “We would like to remind our customers for whom it is often a surprise that this year Christmas will fall on December 25th”.  Funny, but often horrifically true.

So, if you’ve driven yourself (and/or your family) mad over this holiday period, I’d strongly recommend having a look at the Flylady’s advice.  As a typically reserved Brit, I find some of the American sentimentality a bit ‘in your face’, and the christian flavour sometimes comes across as a little heavy-handed for my taste, BUT the woman is annoyingly right about many, many things.  Although her focus is on housekeeping and home organisation, the effect of following her system and reading her daily emails is much more about self-esteem and feeling on top of things, rather than being constantly vaguely overwhelmed.