Here it is, Christmas Eve, and I'm not feeling even a tiny bit Christmassy...whatever that is. I'm not meaning to sulk or whinge. I know it's up to me to create my own feelings...ah, yes it is...so if you're feeling Christmassy then well done! You've done it all your self...with perhaps a little help from religious belief, music and advertising or Christmassy movies...yes, I've been watching them too. I suppose though, that I'm wondering why we make so much fuss and stress about one day of the year.
We went shopping yesterday and I commented to D that people all seemed very calm. He reckoned they weren't calm...they were stressed. Calm on the outside but struggling with inner turmoil. Look at their faces he said. No-one's smiling. He was right. I noticed one woman smile briefly when she spoke to another woman, presumably her daughter, but it was fleeting. People stood in the lines with firm faces and didn't acknowledge one another for the most part. I wonder if they were doing that terrible thing...standing in the supermarket queue...and going through that mental list to check if they'd forgotten something. Realising suddenly that they didn't end up putting the cranberry sauce in the trolley and wondering if it's worth giving up their place in the queue for the cranberry sauce...wondering if the turkey will be big enough...wondering if the pavlova will hold together this year...or if someone will get horribly drunk and ruin the day even after all this effort.
Speaking of queues...at Christmas time...why is it that the supermarket giants cannot employ enough staff to keep all the checkouts operating at all times for the week surrounding Christmas Day? I can't imagine their thinking in keeping people waiting in queues whilst there are checkouts closed.Unless of course it's to give us all time to remember the cranberry sauce.I reckon that their gift to the nation each year ought to be to keep staff levels up so that we all have a bit of flow happening when we shop. I think that if they did that and we forgot the cranberry sauce, we wouldn't mind popping back into the store after loading the car to grab it...and I'm pretty sure I'd be picking up some mangoes and other bits I ho-hummed about on the first trip around. What about you? I think standing in the queue waiting creates a kind of numbing depression that means by the time you get through and out to the car all you can think about it getting home for a good hot cup of tea...or something stronger!
Supermarkets...can be trying. Markets on the other hand can be fun and interesting. You never know what you'll find but you do know that you'll have someone to serve you and to have a chat with. I went to a local market on Sunday...it was the first time I'd been in although I'd driven past so many times over the years. I'm a convert! The market at Franklin in the old Palais Theatre is well worth a visit for many reasons. The building itself is exquisite...the lighting is poor so you have to give yourself a few minutes to adjust...the sense of intimacy is enhanced by the semi - darkness. Stalls were crammed in and offered all sorts of wares...everything from exotic oils, handmade soaps, freshly crafted loaves of rye, homegrown hazelnuts, locally produced Frank's Ciders, lush plants, jams, embroidered goods, bric a brac, jewellery and even fresh live oysters and mussels....and more! It was sheer delight to wander along and see the variety of goods on offer. Is this a typical market day I asked one of the stallholders...perhaps a little more than usual because it is Christmas, she said...but otherwise pretty much. I know I'll be going back. What a truly festive feeling I found there, compared to the dry and sombre mood at the supermarket. Not super at all really. Franklin Market by comparison is the Super Market!
It was a wet day and some of the outside stallholders packed up and headed off...what a shame for them...but I had a brolly with me and so decided to embark on another mission while I was there. I have driven through Franklin, a small meandering town built following the contours of the Huon River, probably thousands of times over the years I've lived in or visited the Huon Valley region. Every time I've noticed a sign for an antiques store and have never once stopped for a look. Motivated by D's interest in antique lamps and the proximity of Christmas, I decided to go and take a look in case I saw something suitable (and affordable) to add to his small collection.
I enjoyed the short walk from the Palais to the old bank building that housed the antiques store, rain pinging happily on my red umbrella...and boy, oh boy...what a treasure was in store for me! Nothing on the outside of the building prepared me for what was inside. I ought to have known from the size of the building...I ought to have been able to predict what I might find...but I was blind-sided by the few artifacts carelessly strewn either side of the small door tucked in atop a couple of unimpressive concrete steps. I opened the door to a wonderland. It was absolutely packed from floor to ceiling with marvel upon marvel. Memories were awakened as I browsed the hundreds, no thousands, or articles therein. I spent an hour or more inside...maybe two! Beyond the first two rooms...and I thought that was all when I first went in...I discovered another eleven! Yes...out back there were rooms and hallways and stairways filled with assorted paraphernalia of the past...I had a wonderful time. A museum of life it was...of human life. Testimony to the ingenuity and passions of people past and present. I'm not going to tell you about all the things I saw, but I have to say that treading the boards of the magnificent staircase leading to the upstairs rooms would have made the adventure worthwhile all on its own. So sturdy and strong and beautiful it was.
I didn't find a lamp to buy, but I did begin to look at things and look at the prices and thought that if I keep doing this I might find a 'good buy' one day. I realised that I had no idea of the worth of things...but also that if I'd found just the right thing I would have decided then its worth to me. I began to understand why there are people who love antiques...not just for their pecuniary worth, but for the links they give us to the past. Gosh I enjoyed myself...and I didn't spend a penny!
My Sunday made me realise how much there is to do close to home. How many of us drive past countless interesting and potentially enjoyable experiences to do something or see something further from home. What is it that drives us to do that I wonder? Do we not trust things close to home? Are we afraid of being seen? Is there some status to be gained by travelling far to see and do things? Perhaps there is. Travel is costly. It proves that you 'did' because you could! I've decided to make it a bit of a challenge for myself to explore all the good things to do that are close to home. I don't have a lot of cash for travel, but it doesn't mean that I can't spread my horizons in a different way; by getting to know this area better. I think it will be fun and I'll be able to share with you here what I find. I also rediscovered that I can really enjoy a day out on my own, in my own head, with my own company...doing what I feel like doing. It's a bit of a treasure that.
Taking myself back for a moment to that calm in the supermarket. I hope all the work you've done for Christmas is worth it. I hope you manage to relax and take a step back from it all and know that what really matters is taking a little time and spending it together...with whoever happens to be there with you...or if you are on your own to enjoy your own company. Do something kindly for yourself and if you're not enjoying being on your own then think about what you can do to change that. You can change your circumstances or you can change how you think about things. Great power in that! Those of you busy with family and friends, remember that you may have a neighbour who is lonely. An invitation for a meal or a drink and nibblies could make someone's day...perhaps a friendly chat over the fence? Be kind to yourself and to others. Employ a little give and take...and I'm not talking about gifts here. A little tolerance, a little gentleness towards our imperfections as human beings.
I do wish you all a very good Christmas. They will all be done differently but let's keep love and hope and peace and light at the centre of it all. Let's let go of the stress and the need to get everything just right. Think a little about those less fortunate...yes, we hear about them a lot and maybe we've donated a little here and there...isn't that enough? Well, yes, we do what we can...with the mindset we have. I'd ask you to remember that those hardships we see on the news or in the papers are not momentary or fleeting. They are minute by minute by hour by hour by day and night for days and weeks and months and sometimes years and decades. Please remember to count your blessings (if you are able to read this you are incredibly blessed...think about it)...and have yourself a merry little Christmas.