So there I was thinking I was sure to be crowned Domestic Goddess of the year when all hell broke loose. Not five days ago I was lecturing you lovely people on how to deal with the horror that is Christmas these days, when I opened my eyes and suddenly realised that opting out is all very well when you live in the Outer Hebrides, or if you’ve got skin as thick as a feather filled cushion, but if you live five minutes away from most of your Christmas loving relatives or if you’ve got a one year old relying on you to bring Santa to his door, then there is no other choice than to grit your teeth and get on with providing Christmas in the nicest, cosiest, least screechy way possible.
So I take it all back. Reality bashed me on the head and told me that Christmas my way is a lovely illusion and any hopes I had of delegating anything were quite frankly laughable. Monday morning I fastened a little boy with the worst nappy rash you have ever seen into his pushchair, loaded my bag with everything a Mommy needs to do battle with Christmas shopping, tied up my trainers and went out to do battle with consumerism. It was, to put it mildly, beyond hell. Old ladies were keeling over with heat and exhaustion, men were standing aound looking fuddled and asking any woman willing to make eye contact, pertinent questions (she’s about your size…), kids were screaming, Father Christmas was drunk, Finley was miserable and my feet were three sizes bigger than usual. And none of it would matter if I’d got what I’d gone out for, but there was nothing left, so I bought a lot of rubbish and hated myself for it. When I was just about at the end of my tether, I stepped out of Woolworths loaded with selection boxes and it was snowing! Finley couldn’t believe his eyes, everybody was laughing and just for a teeny moment it felt the way Christmas is supposed to feel. Great big flakes of chunky white snow that would have been heavenly if I was wrapped up in a snuggly dressing gown with a cup of hot chocolate in front of the fire…
Yes, but what does it mean? said Mark, when he first came across BrocanteHome.
Well, I explained, the French translation of the word "Brocante" is "article of trifling value".
I knew it, he said, you are wasting your time dilly dallying with articles of trifling value, when you could be teaching Finn the capital city of every country in the world, or indeed, darning my holey socks, or filling the freezer with enough food to last us into the next millenium!
I could be, but I’m not, because to me the word Brocante sums up everything I love about my life: the tiny pretty things that make me smile when I haven’t got a penny, peonies in jam jars, lavender lining my pillows, splashing in puddles on rainy days, appreciating everything we’ve got and knowing that everything we’ve got is all we need right here, right now, mismatched china, the joy of good food, treasures I find in dusty old antique shops and lovely old twigs Finley drags home from a walk in our lovely tree lined street…
Well thats ok then, he said. Not really understanding. Maybe not understanding at all, but cosy and comfortable in a house filled with articles of trifling value that make all the difference. A house filled with love.
Teeny sepia photographs, framed in glittery little frames and used as place-holders at a deliciously decorated table.
Use your computer to antique images of family members at Christmasses past and delight everybody with a vintage take on the traditional Christmas Dinner.
If you are a woman, the likelihood is that except for a few very precious moments that make all the heartache worthwhile, you hate it. Men just don’t seem to carry the burden in the same way that we do. This Christmas, do things differently. Step outside yourself and the multitude of lists buzzing round your head and remember only what is important.
When all around you are a bit too merry, you still haven’t done all your shopping and Marks and Spencers is out of turkey, take these words, from Simple Abundance to heart, and peacefully, quietly and authentically enjoy the holiday…
"..Be of good cheer. Be not frazzled, frustrated, nor frantic, for I bring you tidings of comfort and cheer. If you do Christmas at your house, you can choose to do it your way. Whatever that way may be. You can consciously decide to be happy, loving, fulfilled, generous, peaceful, contented, spiritual, joyous, calm, festive and emotionally connected to the important people in your life for the holiday this year.
Or you can, unconsciously, choose to be a wreck."
To me, Christmas is about children. Nothing else matters. Now that we have Finn, Christmas is blessed with magic we had forgotten and every little detail counts because when there are children around you never know what is going to fire their imagination. Take the tree. Apart from being obsessed with mobile phones and TV remote controls, (which probably says too much about my fun filled days!)Finley likes balls. To him, baubles are lovely, sparkly, glittery balls, just waiting to be kicked as far as his chubby little legs will let him. (The Wayne Rooney gene comes from his Dad). Never mind the fact that my gorgeous collection of baubles are both hand painted and old: baubles are twinkly balls and that’s the end of the matter. Thus, our titchy little tree is stranded on top of the cabinet, a fuzzy pom pom of a Norway Spruce, decorated with flowers and peacock feathers and in a part of our living room we can neither see, nor enjoy late at night when Christmas trees are at their sparkliest best. It was either that or find Finley flattened by it, in an effort to select the bounciest bauble of all.
And after all the trouble I went to, to make the house as twinkly and tasteful as possible, the only Christmassy thing Finley really likes, is a ludicrously ugly Father Christmas wearing sunglasses and a bandanna that sings "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" which has him creased laughing and jigging about like its the most wonderful thing he’s ever seen.
Which is, I suppose the magic of Christmas.
Who cares if the child has got bad taste and can’t appreciate the subtlety of vintage ornaments…
I love Sharon Osbourne. No, really I do. If my Mum wasn’t as perfect as she is, I’d ask Sharon to adopt me. She’s gorgeous, the perfect matriarchal combination of tough and tender, and whether she’s cuddling her kids or searching for the X Factor, she is always the epitome of warmth and kindness.
There is just so much to love. From the fantastically, fabulous bejewelled Eiffel Tower (Yes please, Santa!), to the tiny little checked office off the kitchen, the abundance of floral paintings you just can’t buy in the U.K and I don’t know whether I dreamt it, but I seem to remember the most perfect white shelved pantry, stocked to the brim with all manner of lovely foodie things. Call me sad,in fact call me what you like, but I would sell my soul for a pantry like that.
And then there is the bedrooms, beautiful decadent furniture and Super King sized beds draped in velvet and covered in feathery cushions, cosy enough to live in. Not to mention the pretty bathrooms, the glam rock living rooms, and oh my life, the gorgeous gardens.
Such a pity her dogs have got such appalling house manners.
Creamy Winter Hyacinths planted in vintage china cups and saucers.
“If I had but two loaves of bread,I would sell one and buy a pot of hyacinths to nourish my soul.”
Just to remind you that what is beautiful is essential.
Have a lovely day.
No.1: Breakfast in Bed.
Indulge your inner princess with a morning spent in your boudoir. Get up early, run yourself a bubbly bath, then dress in your most decadent nightie (frou frou ladies?), take the phone off the hook and climb back into heaven. Total bliss…
- No men! This is your time. Your body is your temple, Darling, and what God has created, let no man try to seduce.
- No kids or pets. Do you not understand the meaning of self indulgence? Banish them!
- Luxurious bedlinen. Accept no compromise. Only the finest antique linen or the crispest Eygptian cotton will do.
- A room with a view. Fling open the curtains and let the morning sun bless your pampered soul.
- A gorgeous tray arranged with the most enchanting little treats. Strawberries and chantilly cream, rose truffles, pancakes stuffed with berries, hot chocolate and champagne. A girl needs sustenance.
- Cushions and pillow in all shapes and sizes. All the better to recline upon.
- A good book. Find something girly or inspiring. Try Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro. Failing that Vogue never fails to satisy the true fashionista and the Sunday Times "Style" supplement is always fun in a sarcastic kind of way.
- Breakfast at Tiffanys. Hell why not flick on a DVD and make a day of it?