Friday, 4 January 2013

On The Eleventh Day of Christmas

Not eleven ladies dancing but the idea of snowflakes dancing lazily through the night air and these floaty, hooky ones coming to rest on the branches of my Christmas tree ...

... as well as a few (less floaty!) biscuit snowflakes on a blue glass plate that I love even though it is wonky and won't sit flat on the table!

Despite dire warnings earlier this autumn of the coldest winter for a hundred years in the UK, Christmas 2012 in the UK has been mild and green rather than cold and white, but no matter, snow remains indefatigably associated with what most of us regard as the essence of Christmas atmosphere. In my thinking, anyway. Never mind that while you may get a touch of snow on the peaks of the more mountainous hills in Israel, Bethlehem Down was most unlikely to have been covered with "snow on snow", "deep and crisp and even" that first Christmas two thousand years ago, even if it was knee-deep in shepherds, lambs and angels! As I say, never mind,  Christmas should be snowy! Even though it rarely is, in the UK anyway.

I think this apparently slightly perverse feeling, in the face of incontrovertible meteorological evidence to the contrary, is perfectly reasonable because actually it's nothing to do with the weather but everything to do with what happens when it snows.  Snow blankets the landscape and the world seemingly holds its breath. We open our curtains or our front door and we are surprised by a magical world where the ordinary and the humdrum look enchanting; everyday noise is muffled to an unearthly silence; beauty and light are everywhere and even as an adult it is hard not to experience wonder.

I think wonder is a commodity in shortish supply in the modern world, which seems more into debunking and rationalising with the head, than simply responding with the heart. Snow, when it comes, gives me a quick shot of what my ancestors in previous generations, I have a hunch, were more readily in tune with, but which, for inhabitants of the 21st C, tends to be quite thin on the ground. Not gone completely, but infrequent - found at the birth of a child, or by the side of someone whose life is ebbing peacefully perhaps, but not an everyday phenomenon. There may not have been snow on the ground at the first Christmas, but wonder was there in spadefuls and it's lovely to try and recapture a little of that for ourselves in Christmases millennia later

So my eleventh day of Christmas blessing wishes you the blessing of wonder in your life.

May you be blessed by the experience of wonder - at the vastness and complexity of creation, at the frailty and genius of humanity, at the beauty of nature, at the miracle of life itself and its origin, at the depths and lengths to which true love will go and may the blessing of winter stillness help you find silence in a noisy world because silence and wonder go hand in hand.


  1. Dear E
    Thought provoking yet again - you do have a lovely way with words. I really like your wonky blue plate and it complements the snowflake biscuits beautifully. I feel that we are still going to get the snow, as winter is by no means over yet, so perhaps we'll be able to experience that 'wonder'.
    Best wishes

  2. You write so beautifully - thank you for sharing your thoughts. 'Wonder' and 'silence' are definitely in short supply and I love the way ordinary has to pause for a while when it snows. Really hoping for a few snow days this winter and my money's on February! I also love those hooky snowflakes as well and want to find some of my own. Helen

  3. I do believe we would all be so much happier if we retained our childlike wonder and realised just how magnificent and fleeting this life of ours is.

    The snowflake biscuits look delicious. x

  4. Thank you again for your lovely thought provoking piece! I gave you a small mention on my blog and finally posted pictures of me wearing the apron you sent me ! Many apologies as the photo wasn't very good yet again but thank you so much. I do love your posts. Wishing you a very happy and spiritually rich and healthy new year!


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