This time of year can be hard for many people for so many different reasons. There is the stress of added financial pressures, of keeping up appearances, adjusting to the end of another school year (at least in our part of the world) and the uncertainty of the year ahead. Perhaps we are spending Christmas apart from our nearest and dearest or we have lost someone close to us and it is felt more keenly at a time when traditionally, family comes together. If you're feeling overwhelmed, whatever your reason, be kind to yourself, and if you are able to, surround yourself with people you love and those who love you back, who value your friendship and who's company you treasure. Be grateful to have this choice. If you know someone who lives alone or is just feeling lonely, reach out. Just reach out. You may not know exactly what is going on in their lives yet a simple act of kindness is a great gift if it comes from a place of selflessness - and it costs nothing. Be kind. Always be kind. We cannot control the thoughts and actions of other people, but we can control how we choose to treat others. And I choose kindness. Every time.
I chose this photo to share with you so you can see how Christmas Day is going to look at our place. It must be strange to people reading this on the other side of the world to see that it is summer here. It has been such a gloriously hot day today that I have the doors flung wide open at the moment to let in some of the breeze.
Don't let the tranquility of this photo fool you though. My husband's extended family and some family friends are coming to spend the afternoon and evening with us on Thursday and with around 25 people here, this place will be filled with wonderful food, noise, mess and chaos (and probably a broken glass or plate if my sister keeps up her record - heehee) which is how we do Christmas. This is our first time hosting for Christmas so we've had to do a little bit of furniture rearranging to accommodate everyone, but we love the idea of having everyone all together at the one table. See all the gaps on the kitchen shelves? That's not due to tidiness - we have reached our crockery and cutlery (and seating) threshold hosting this number of guests and every plate and glass we own is on the table.
Our family went on a little outing up into the hills a few weeks ago to collect some pinecones to decorate our table. Spray-painting them was a fun little activity for my husband and the girls. The hydrangea were foraged on another little outing yesterday. I did have a little laugh to myself while gathering them as some other people must have had the same idea since it was quite obvious that the bush we chose had already been "pruned" and only the topmost, hard-to-reach heads were left.
Merry Christmas, dear readers. Thank you for reading. Thank you for your comments, support and advice throughout the year. I have loved sharing parts of my creative and family life with you this past year. You can expect more of the same from me for as long as I feel I have a voice to lend to this community of bloggers. This is my last post for 2014 as I will be devoting my time and attention to my family and friends over Christmas and the summer holidays. I will still pop in and read your blogs when I can and will no doubt share a few pictures of my view on the world over the next six weeks on Instagram. Or I may not. In any case, I won't be far away and I will see you all again in 2015.