What does Christmas mean to you?

25.12.2013. It’s Christmas Day. Merry Christmas

But what does that mean? What does Christmas mean to you? It’s an interesting question and one that tends to start a healthy debate. Does it mean presents and gifts? Does it mean food and drink? What about excess and greed? Or goodwill to all men?
Christmas means so many things to many different people and I think that your perspective is very much driven by the type of Christmas you experienced as a child, which is why it is so important to teach our children of the real meaning, rather than focusing upon the excess that is commonplace at this time of year.

I have a lovely day today. Present opening first thing – everything went down really well and then a walk with the dog to allow my daughter to try her new rollerblades, followed by a chillax, before a quick shower and shave ahead of leaving for the inlaws for Christmas Dinner. A few family games – Pointless really lived up to its name – and then back home.

An ideal Christmas Day, very in keeping with my new philosophy around simplicity.

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It’s Christmas Eve…..

24.12.2013. It’s Christmas Eve and he’s on his way. Yahhhhhhhh!

What’s your favourite memory of Christmas Eve? I think mine is the whole build up, from waking up as a child, knowing that there is just one sleep to go, through getting all of the final trimmings sorted during the day, to sitting down and watching a film, getting the milk/ mince pie ready for Santa to finally going to bed full of excitement.

Today’s been very similar to be fair, although looking at it from an adults eye is rather different than a child. Overall very relaxing, a little work in the morning, followed up by some family time mid afternoon, a birthday party at friends late afternoon and our favourite Christmas film – Miracle on 34th Street – this evening. The only thing missing was a roaring fire, which we felt wasn’t appropriate as we didn’t want Santa to burn his bum!

Christmas certainly changes as you grow older, but it’s still a magical time, if you allow yourself to enjoy it, rather than get caught up in the whole process. I think that we have got it about right this year and the home feels lovely decked out with the tree and decorations.

Looking forward to tomorrow and seeing my daughter excitedly open her presents – I remember the first three of four years of her life, when it would take her two or three days to open her gifts, as she would play with each one. I suspect that we won’t be waiting for the final present to be opened this year!

So, Merry Christmas everyone.

Three sleeps to go…

22.12.13 – only three sleeps until Christmas is with us once again.

A day of final preparation today, last minute shopping (well technically not last minute, given that there is still two days to go) but certainly felt like it was last minute in the city. Lots of people had the same idea as me and all decided to buy things all at the same time, I’m sure, given the lengths of the queues.

Decided to let the train take the strain, rather than drive in. All the carriages needed was a steam train at the front and they would have looked contemporary! They were dreadful, dirty and must have been 40/50 years old. So much for the great British railway!
Arrived at one of the less fashionable stations which I’m glad to say is in the midst of a major rework – not before time I must say!
Looking at the pictures though, it will look pretty impressive when complete.

So the city was busy, the shops were packed, temperatures were soaring (the parents at least) and the language was sometime very rudimentary, but we made it through and after a return journey on a slightly more luxurious train ( very slightly), I eventually settled down with a nice glass of red to watch the final episode of Homeland. What a disappointment! Just when I was expecting a twist in the tail, it just fizzled out! Very unusual for such a franchise, who often leave a tease for the next series.

If there isn’t to be another series, the end was very poor. After some strong story lines, that was a disappointment. We’ll have to wait and see.

I’ve had better days….

19.12.13. It’s safe to say that I’ve had better days than today!

I found out that the interim role that I’ve been undertaking has been advertised, not for a permanent replacement (which was expected) but for a more senior interim person – feels like I’ve been given a kick in the balls, if I’m honest! Especially considering that I then had to spend the day in a management meeting with a team that presumably knew about the plans but didn’t say anything.

It’s not unexpected, the challenge I suppose of coming from the wrong side of the fence – in this case from the company that has recently been acquired! Nonetheless, it certainly put a dampener on the festivities leading up to Christmas.

Onwards and upwards!

After yesterday’s storms, woke up this morning to clear blue skies – what a contrast. Went out for an early morning walk on the banks of the Thames and took some amazing photographs (even if I say so myself). I really enjoy photography and have commenced a diploma course to really get to understand what it takes to create consistently great photos. Didn’t appreciate just how complicated it all was before starting the course, but certainly getting to grips with it all now.

I’m probably more suited to landscapes that portraits at the moment but I’m just in the process of ordering proper backdrops and lighting kit so watch out the fashion world, I’m gearing up….

As my daughter informed me earlier, only six more sleeps until Santa arrives. Need a good day tomorrow to clear up a lot of things so that I can concentrate over the weekend on getting all my presents sorted and wrapped – nothing like being on the last minute.

Any ideas for the wife who has everything?

The weekend is upon us…

13/12/13. Friday the 13th. So far, nothing spooky has happened but you never know, I may get lucky tonight!

Now that would be spooky!

The penultimate weekend before Christmas and we are getting all geared up. Panto tomorrow and then a Christmas Dinner on Sunday with my folks who always go on holiday over Christmas and New Year. Panto should be fun. We’ve been going for many years with the same group of kids who all met at nursery. Not too sure how many more years the tradition will last but hey ho, let’s make the most of it whilst we can. “Oh no you won’t” I hear you shout…..

Funny old day, travelling again for a relatively short meeting, but one that was much more insightful than many. I’m sure that Virgin trains restrict the 3G signals on their trains to encourage you to buy their wifi – I simply couldn’t get a signal today so unable to take advantage of the 4 hours on the train.

I did catch up on some reading though, which is always useful, as well as listened to some music. The track that sums up the day is Ho Hey by The Lumineers. Great song.

What do you think?

Towards a simple life….

12/12/13 – We are fast approaching that time of the year when all hell breaks loose and families are thrown together for a feast of jollity. No wonder the divorce rate goes up. Expectations are set way to high, fuelled by the media promoted vision of the great family Christmas.

I think it’s all gone way too far and I’m striving to go back to a simpler world, where the important things matter. Not how many presents you’ve got, or whether your presents are more expensive than mine. No, a simpler existence where we celebrate the time together, think about the good times and look ahead to the many good times ahead. Oh and watch the Queen!

I’ve started this move to a simpler life today actually, by moving on a couple of lease cars. The cars were lovely, but expensive and in reality were more about the image that they portrayed than anything else. I’ve replaced them with a couple of older vehicles that will do what I need them to do, in comfort and will over the course of the next few years, lose very little in value.

I sense that this desire for a simpler life is becoming more relevant these days, or is it just that I’ve reached an age when it suddenly hits you that the ‘things’ don’t matter – it’s the experiences that really count.

So, I turned off the PC, sat down and watched a great film with my daughter snuggled up on the couch – it was great! The feeling and the film. Interestingly, the film was all about the realisation that you become what you become through experiences and not the things have you have. There is a great line in the film – the number of gold medals that you win does not make the man. By the way, the film – Cool Runnings. I’ve watched it many times and it’s still funny, still a great story and still inspirational.