Advent activity #21

I was struggling a bit this morning, what with the relentlessly doomy tone of the news and the feeling that while it’s OK to feel blue in general, the last week before Christmas has always been my happiest time, even when I was generally doing badly, and feeling blue this particular week was NOT FAIR.

And as I was sitting feeling sorry for myself the doorbell rang and it was a neighbour whom I last saw when he was in the middle of a combined mental health and housing crisis and I almost didn’t recognise him, not just because he’d had a shave and a haircut for the first time since I’ve known him but because I’ve never seen him outside his front door before, his agoraphobia having prevented it for just over six years. I got to know him during lockdown #1 because I started shopping for him, so he had come round not just to drop off a Christmas card and a bunch of flowers, but to ask me whether I needed anything from the shops, which he was so pleased to be able to do that I conjured up a need for lemons just to be able to join in. (I always need lemons, more or less.)

So now I am feeling buoyed and every time I look at the flowers I smile, which is excellent timing because today’s task is to MAKE PRESENTS FOR MUM AND DAD, which I am going to suggest you interpret as an instruction to give something – a cup of tea, a phonecall, the gift of having hung out the laundry before they remember to do it – to someone important, because it might make them smile like D’s visit has me.

And if you need a smile yourself, here’s Doris Day:

Advent activity #6

If you are my eighty-five-year-old neighbour then you have already done this twice, because you weren’t convinced by your first effort, but if not then today is the day to MAKE CAKE. I think technically this probably means Christmas cake, but I will allow any type of cake, or – in extremis – toast. I’m able to make very little since our oven went kaput last week and the people aren’t coming to fix it until Tuesday, so I will be spending my Sunday decorating the tree (that was supposed to happen yesterday, but the lights have also gone kaput; I am not having a good time, electronically) and listening to proper old-fashioned Christmas Crooner music, beginning with Doris Day’s version of Winter Wonderland. Most non-recent Christmas songs don’t come with a video, but this one does and it’s extremely Christmassy, so do take three minutes out of your day to watch as well as listen.

Advent Song for December 11: Winter Wonderland

I’ve got two versions of this song for you today, because the Bing Crosby below is the perky, lilting version we all know but there’s a gorgeous version by Doris Day, with an equally gorgeous video, which only doesn’t win out because it’s a little too slow to be truly uplifting. So take your pick.

I’ve also got two pieces of good news for you! The first is that despite a cold, three nights of eating and drinking, Scottish-style, followed by an evening out with internet weirdos last night, I am feeling almost as jaunty as Bing today, for reasons which remain unclear but I’m taking advantage of it by getting a lot of work done (except for just now).

The second, probably of more value in the long term, is that 2019 is set to see the biggest ever reduction in coal consumption.