Yesterday was publication day for my novella A Lion Is Not Just For Christmas, and because I’ve been so busy working on the book, I haven’t had much time to prepare for Christmas.
I’ve always loved the run-up to Christmas. Not the commercial side of things – I really hate it when the shops start selling their decorations in October! No, for me it’s the little touches which remind us that this is the season of goodwill as well as a religious celebration.
When I was a child, my sister and I each had a Christmas calendar with a small present every day. Nothing fancy, maybe just a pen or a rubber, Christmas-themed stickers or even a little chocolate Santa. Simple ways of saying “I love you” and “I know you”. I’ve carried on the tradition with my own children, starting with toy cars, pencils, miniature dolls, tiny puzzles etc., then graduating to nail varnish, make-up, socks, small humorous books etc. as they got older, and then only at the weekend otherwise it would be ruinous!
This year I even have my own for the first time as a grown-up, courtesy of my ever-thoughtful daughter.
Another thing I love is the lighting of candles. I’m originally from Denmark, and one of the highlights of the lead up to Christmas is the advent wreath. It has four candles, and on the first Sunday in Advent we light a candle in the afternoon when it gets dark and let it burn about ¼ way down. Next Sunday we light the second candle and burn it ¼ way. And so on, until on the last Sunday in Advent all the candles are lit in a staggered pattern and are allowed to burn down fully.
Advent wreaths can vary, from pine twigs on a straw base (yes, that’s right!) to glass, metal, and even silver, which you can decorate as you want. I’ve opted for a small and simple one this year, as you can see from the picture.
Christmas preparations are quite different in my novella. And, of course, with a lion featuring as part of the story, it’s a little on the wild side!