Friday, 27 December 2019

Bah Humbug and all that

Long time readers of my blog may have guessed that I'm not exactly the hugest fan of Christmas.

The main culprit is my loathing of the over-consumption which more often than not tends to accompany Christmas. To add insult to injury, I'm working in the city centre which, having to deal with the hordes of what I call the Christmas Zombies in the weeks leading up to the day, makes it hard for me to get into any sort of Christmas spirit. OK, I admit it: my name is Ann and I'm a bit of a Scrooge!

It didn't help that Christmas wasn't exactly a huge affair in my childhood home, just a quiet family gathering, enjoyable but leaving no lasting impressions beyond those faintly rose-tinted nostalgic ones inherent to childhood memories.

After I left home, I didn't really do anything special for Christmas for years, and in fact it was only after I met Jos that I started putting up a tree of my own, enthusiastically at first, but only after much coaxing from Jos as the years went by.


This year, we put up the Christmas tree on Friday the 13th. The date was purely coincidental, by the way.

I was home early that day, so before proceeding with the task at hand, we briefly hopped into the garden for some outfit photos. As you can see, I was wearing totally un-Christmassy colours. So there!

It had been another one of those interminably grey days, so I had to fake a bit of sunshine by wearing lots of yellow. My whole outfit was based around the blue Diolen dress I'd pulled from my wardrobe, its print a mixture of huge yellow hued flowers with two borders of sea shells near the hemline.

More yellow was added in the form of a long-line cardigan, opaques, a round buckled belt and one of my ever-growing collection of beaded necklaces. The blue of the dress was repeated in the glass beads decorating the flower stems on my Art Nouveau style brooch.



Before the pleasurable task of decorating could begin, we had to assemble the fake tree we've had for nearly 20 years, a good quality one bought from a local garden centre.

The next hurdle were the fairy lights, which we usually struggle with, but once these were in place, it was time for the boxes of baubles to come out of storage. Most of our decorations are vintage, some of them heirlooms from Jos's family, while others have been picked up from charity shops and flea markets over the years.


The little wren - one of a pair bought from a garden centre many years ago - and the squirrel - an irristible charity shop find - are modern, but more than make up for this in cuteness.

Top left and bottom right are permanent scenes from Dove Cottage, which really comes into its own during the dark Winter days.



I hadn't been feeling all too well on Friday, putting down the stomach cramps and nausea I had to either a bug or tiredness, but whatever it was, by Saturday any discomfort had disappeared without a trace.

We were off on our usual charity shopping trip, and this is what I wore. The red wool-blend skirt was a recent Think Twice find and scouring my wardrobe for the perfect top to wear with it, my eyes alighted on this black floral print blouse. This was a Think Twice find as well, bought several years ago.

Made from a velvety fabric, I'm a fan of its bishop sleeves, deep V-neck and its slight peplum, making it ideal to wear untucked. And then there's the fabulously cheerful floral print containing every colour under the sun.

Spoilt for choice I opted for a lilac belt to accentuate my waist, a blue chunky ring and green beads.


The day's shopping trip wasn't the most successful ever, but I still managed to find this vintage bouclé jacket in scrumptious berry shades, its broad shoulders possibly indicating its 1980s origins.

I couldn't wait to wear it, so that's what I did for yet another edition of our favourite flea market on Sunday. I pinned a yellow felted flower corsage to it, found in a quirky shop in Narberth, Pembrokeshire, and wore a purple mohair charity shopped beret. The sage green faux fur scarf was an impulse buy from a local supermarket about two years ago.



I was wearing one of my favourite dresses, another black floral one, its print featuring orange, lilac, green and white. It has got a solid black cowl neck and cuffs as well as a wide circle skirt, which I've twirled on the blog once or twice before.

At my waist, another lilac belt, a shiny vinyl one with an oval buckle. On top, a green cardigan, its shank buttons added by me, replacing the originals which I didn't like. The floral brooch is another old favourite.



Just two weeks after the previous edition, the flea market wasn't even remotely filled to its full capacity, and it wasn't all that exciting. Still, these gorgeous wooden Scottie dog bookends caught my eye and insisted on coming home with me.



I selected some cards of large vintage buttons from our friend Ilona's stall. At € 1 per card, she virtually gave them away for free. This was a special price for me, as the cards were marked between € 3 and € 5 each. Isn't she a sweetie?


It will probably come as a surprise, but these two brooches were the only ones I found. The only affordable ones, I should add, as some stallholders' prices are beyond ridiculous, telling me that a particular brooch is "old" upon seeing my horrified expression.


The following week was my last full working week this year and after a relaxing weekend, which I'm skipping for now, there was one more day of work on Monday 23 December.

I couldn't wait to get away from the crowds on Monday afternoon, even if they do not much trouble me from my vantage point on the 5th floor. On the bottom left you can see Antwerp's cathedral tower covered in scaffolding and decorated with a lighted Christmas tree. The photo on the bottom right are the fairy lights in one of the trees at street level, as seen from one of the office windows.



And then it was Christmas Eve, the first day of my longed for holidays.

My Mum used to host Christmas Eve, and after she passed away, we kept up the tradition with my Dad. Now that they've both passed away, it's just dinner for the two of us.


The table was laid with my parents' best dinner service, a wedding present back in the late 1950s. The tablecoth, which used to cover the dining table when I was growing up, is making an appearance as well, while the cutlery used to belong to my paternal grandparents.

And even if it triggers bittersweet memories, it always fills my heart with joy to be able to use these family heirlooms.

So, another Christmas has come and gone, and the ghosts of Christmas past have been laid to rest for another year. 

The Scrooge in me cannot wait for normal service to be resumed, but in the meantime I am making the most of my time off by not doing very much at all.

See you soon!


38 comments:

  1. I also will be happy when, especially , my eating habits will be normal again. I don't like over eating and drinking at all, but I do it!! Why?? Ha ha, only human after all.

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    1. I'm happy to say we didn't indulge in much over-eating in the holidays, but I definitely ate too many snacks and biscuits ;-) xxx

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  2. Ann I can understand the little scrooge in you. Great you use the family heirlooms for christmas.
    I am in love with this wonderful bouclé jacket in berry ❤️ and your cute squirrel in the christmastree. So many wonderful things in this post.
    By the way, I love your unchristmassy style :)
    A very huge hug, Tina

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    1. Thank you Tina, I love using family heirlooms, which hold so many memories. It's like having my Mum and Dad with me in spirit. xxx

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  3. You know - i'm totally with you about x-mas.....
    Love your table setting, very elegant!
    And well done to wear yellows and other brights to cheer you up - and us too via photos! The new jacket is a beauty and the bookends are supersweet....
    Enjoy you leisure time!!
    Hugsies! xxxxxx

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    1. Thank you Beate, I certainly enjoyed it all, in an unconventional way, obviously! xxx

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  4. You're like most people in having mixed feelings about the holidays. They trigger complex memories. And the burdens are real, including the common belief that we're supposed to be happier than we are. My perspective is that any time off work is reason enough to celebrate, so I'm glad you get to enjoy that.

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    1. You're quite right about that, Ally, and I enjoyed every minute of my time off work! xxx

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  5. I was really looking forward to Christmas this year as family were coming to stay, but to be honest I think I prefer a nice quiet Christmas.

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    1. We had a nice time on Christmas Day with my husband's children and grandchildren, but I was still glad that it was over! xxx

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  6. I'm with you on Xmas, it seems an awful lot of fuss about nothing and I'm always happy for things to get back to normal after we've caught up with friends. I feel a bit sad for people who live for Xmas - they must be lacking joy in their lives for the rest of the year.
    I love the blouse in your first outfit photo and that delicious dark floral dress in the second. The buttons are lovely and a very good price indeed. The bouclé jacket is such a cheery colour and a great fit.
    I hope you and Jos and Phoebe are all enjoying some quality time together. xxx

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    1. Thank you Vix and I knew that you of all people would be with me. I don't really get what all the fuss is about. But spending quality time together was the only thing that mattered, really. xxx

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  7. Doing very little is just fine by me, too! Christmas is just far too consumerist; I wish it wasn't because it's a time of year I really enjoy. Firstly with my own children and then with the grand children and children find Christmas a very exciting time.

    You Xmas table looked lovely and how brilliant you were using family heirlooms. As for mine - mostly charity shopped!

    I loved all your outfits and accessories; the boucle jacket is fab and I just love that purple beret. I've been looking for berets as I left two in the caravan and have only found two so far...

    Your buttons and the beautiful book ends were fab finds - well done!

    Happy New Year!
    xxxx

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    1. I'd probably make more of a fuss if we had any children to celebrate with, but even Jos's grandchildren are well into their teens and twenties by now. I love the idea of a mostly charity shopped Christmas table. I hope you'll find some more berets soon! xxx

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  8. I LOVE the Scottie dogs! I'm glad you got to have the kind of quiet time you wanted and I hope you have a good rest during your time off. xx

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    1. Thank you Gisela, and I hope you had a relaxing time as well. xxx

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  9. That dark floral blouse with bishop sleeves and a V neck looks so lovely on you. I like the lilac belt you paired with it and the skirt is very chic too. I also like your dark floral printed dress. You look great in all of these outfits. Your finds are nice too. Those vintage buttons are adorable. The brooches are wonderful too.

    I can understand why over consumption annoys you. My husband also hates it, that is probably why we stopped buying each other presents for Christmas. I do like Christmas, but I don't like what it is turning into. Your Christmas tree looks lovely. I didn't have the time to put one this year.

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    1. Thank you Ivana! My husband always has to nag me into putting up the tree, but I do enjoy it once it is up! xxx

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  10. I love the longline yellow cardigan and ditto the bouclé jacket. The scottie dog bookends are great too.
    Your table looks absolutely beautiful, a lovely tribute too.
    I hope you are all enjoying a good rest.xxx

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    1. Thank you Sally, I do hope you had a lovely Christmas as well. I loved that photo of Ziggy with his new toy on IG ;-) xxx

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  11. I'm also not a big fan of Christmas for the same reasons as you. It feels more and more like just another reason to consume far too much.

    I love your Christmas table and all the memories it provides. I do the same, with my Grandmother's dishes.

    Wishing you both health and happiness in the New Year!

    Suzanne
    http://www.suzannecarillo.com

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    1. Thank you Suzanne, and isn't it lovely to be able to use your heirlooms? Wishing you, Robert and Zoë all kinds of good things in the New Year! xxx

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  12. I really like that yellow and blue outfit! What a pretty dress and the yellow cardigan so cheerful with it! :) I always enjoy Christmas - while we do tend to give a lot of gifts in my family it can be little things - I went to all the trouble of obtaining a special set of nail polish not available in Australia for my sister, but I think she liked the cheap and cheerful coca cola can i got her from the boys with her Auntie name on it! It's a special time of year for us all and I'm glad I got to spend it with family again this year.

    Hope you had a merry Christmas :) Have a happy new year :)

    Away From Blue

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    1. Thank you Mica, and I think Christmas is always better when celebrated with children, who can still find magic in the little things! xxx

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  13. I enjoy Christmas form the point of view that it brings family together but the fuss and nonsense is all a bit much. I hate the feeling that I'm expected to be jolly and upbeat, and I hate that tradition means you do things because you have to rather than because you want to. It spoils it for me, that said I did enjoy Christmas this year. Andy wasn't feeling festive either so we mindful of that and did what we wanted and left what we didn't which was really rather nice.
    How lovely that you have those heirlooms to use.
    xx

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    1. I completely agree with you Hazel, there is no point in feeling jolly when you aren't, is it. In the end, we did enjoy the family Christmas with Jos's children and a quiet New Year's Eve playing board games with friends. xxx

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  14. I totally agree that consumerism and crows are so awful these days and it's difficult to avoid them if you work in the city centre!. Poor lady!
    However you did a great job dressing up and looking fabulous!. Love your yellow and blue ensemble and the delightful art nouveau brooch.
    Love that you found that perfect match for your red skirt. Your new top has a lovely print and lots of possibilities to mix and match!. Also lovely black floral dress and fab color combo, so cool!. Your jacket is a beauty too!, and it looks cosy!
    So lovely that you dressed your table with some heirlooms, it looks gorgeous!.
    Best wishes!
    besos

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    1. Thank you so much, Monica, and thank you too for understanding my plight ;-) But there's no reason not to get dressed up, is there? xxx

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  15. For so many years, I've "done" Christmas, with two trees, a village and all kinds of decorations, but since Vizzini none of that makes an appearance, and to be honest, I don't miss it. I have my Christmas tree at work and got to see it every day, and that was plenty. I love your vintage decorations and your family dishes and flatware - what a lovely tradition! I don't blame you at all for feeling Scrooge-like at this time of year, Ann.

    Looking very bright and colourful in your wonderful outfits, as always. You make my day merry and bright!

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    1. Wow, two trees and a village! Well, we did have more decorations in the past, but only manage the tree these days, even if Phoebe is very goods, and has only ever accidently broken one bauble last year ;-) Aww, I'm so happy to have made your day merry and bright! xxx

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  16. Those are lovely decorations on your tree! I love Christmas, as I enjoy the decorations and food and long break, but appreciate that it's not fun for everyone.

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    1. Thanks Mim! I do appreciate the break that comes with Christmas, though. xxx

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  17. I love your Christmas tree and the fact that you’ve slowly collected decorations over the years.

    Love the floral top and red skirt combo, too.

    The Scottie dog bookends are very cute. I have a vintage deer figurine bookend that I adore. I imagine you’d use yours on your many, marvelous book shelves. I have been telling all and sundry about your wonderful post where you shared all the books in your home and I’ve been telling everyone that I want to have shelves full of books when I have my own home. X

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    1. Thank you so much Jess. I do love picking up the odd ornament over the years. And aww, that's so sweet of you to tell people about my post sharing my book shelves :-)) xxx

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  18. I get where you are coming from. I LOVE the church and carol aspects of Christmas- the true meaning of Christmas for me but all the trappings- yes, I could do without all of that. But I adore the church services, Advent, carols etc!
    Your heirloom decorations and the dinner set are beautiful- a nice way to remember your parents.
    The bookends are cute and what a result with the buttons!

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    1. Thank you, Kezzie, and in you're absolutely right: the true meaning of Christmas is often lost in a maze of trappings these days. xxx

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    1. They are, aren't they? My friend was very pleased with them! xxx

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