The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. (Mencius, Chinese philosopher 372-289 BC)

Friday, 28 December 2012

A Tribute to the 27th & 28th December

As my family doze peacefully upstairs and I sit in my pyjamas enjoying the silence, my thoughts turn to the joys of the bridesmaid period of the Christmas period - the days between Christmas and New Year. These days are so often dismissed as unnecessary interruptions between the festive periods of Christmas and New Year when workers have to return to their offices, party goers nurse interminable hangovers and children break their precious new Christmas gifts.

This morning I want to buck that trend and present you with the 5 reasons why we must stand up for these neglected days (so neglected they haven't even been given a name - they are merely numbers!) and shout that we must treasure these days as the oasis that they represent.

1. There is nothing you have to do!

After weeks of preparation for Christmas - the buying of presents, the cooking, the wrapping up, the incessant hoovering and dusting and polishing, the decoration of trees, writing of Christmas cards etc etc - and months and months of work - isn't it great to have a couple of days when you don't actually have to do anything! How often does that happen in anybody's life? No deadlines to meet, major meals to cook or shopping lists to complete.

2. There is loads of delicious food left  AND YOU ARE NOT SICK OF IT YET!

We still have ham, turkey, Christmas pudding, mince pies, Chocolate log, DOUBLE CREAM, wine, beer, real coffee AND AT LEAST 3 BOXES OF UNOPENED CHOCOLATES. Turkey sandwiches still taste good and the Christmas cake is only 1/4 finished. With the threat of Use By Dates hanging over you - nibbling is positively encouraged.

Picture from Liverpool Daily Post

3. There is loads of great Telly left to watch - and you have time to watch it

And you still haven't seen the programmes you recorded because you didn't have time to see them on Christmas Day. "Call the Midwife!" anybody? "Doctor Who?"

4. The kids still love their presents

The "Signs of Spring" were given the Sylvanian Family school this year. They are rarely out of it. The Dubmeister is now the proud owner of an iPod Touch - it's his new best friend. Cue plenty of familial harmony and lots of time for Mum and Dad to do their own thing; like build that IKEA chest of drawers that has been waiting patiently since the 14th December.

5. The days between Christmas and New Year were invented for family days out

Cinderella at The Rose
With nothing to do what could be better than a family trip out. We were at the Rose Theatre in Kingston yesterday watching "Cinderella" (fantastic and witty - highly recommended), there is The Hobbit and The Life of Pi on at the cinema, walks in dripping wet woods and the Christmas Decoration House which we still haven't visited. With no deadlines to meet and new gloves and hats to try out - why not?

Speak soon

PS - Many apologies to those of you who have to work on the 27th and 28th December - but even you must admit that going into work on those 2 days is better than using up 2 days of holiday which you can save for a long weekend in May.

PPS - If you are wondering why I have not included the 29th in this tribute post that is because by the 29th I am sick of all of the above and would rather eat rusty nails than another turkey sandwich washed down with Christmas Cake.

PPPS - Pictures above taken from and

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A Sylvanian Advent No. 4


The Shepherds hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
Today's Sylvanian Family Advent picture is brought to you by E and features the Heavenly host on the roof of the stable, the Holy Family, shepherds and a very glamorous donkey. When asked why the wise men were not in the picture E explained that they did not arrive until later - which is absolutely right and puts Daddy in his place.

You can read the relevant bible extract here and view the other 3 Sylvanian Advent pictures here, here and here.

This comes with the very best of wishes for a truly wonderful Christmas.

Speak soon

PS The Secret Angel (as featured on Mumsnet's Advent Calendar) "Big Reveal" coming soon! Have you guessed yet?

Monday, 24 December 2012

A Sylvanian Advent No. 3


"And there were shepherds living in the fields near by. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and they were terrified."

This week's advent picture shows the night of Jesus' birth. M has re-created the scene in the shepherds' field above Bethlehem where the shepherds were visited by the heavenly host with wonderful news. You can read the bible story here.

Later on today, being Christmas Eve, we bring you the scene in the stable on the first ever Christmas day.

Speak soon

PS You can see the Sylvanians re-enacting the meeting between Mary and the Angel Gabriel here and the arrival of the holy couple in Bethlehem by clicking here.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Who's my Secret Angel?

Clue Number 1

The Secret Angels have been busy already.

Found on my pillow last night. 
The angel clearly knows that I like History. They must be an intuitive, thoughtful person who has done their homework. They also have access to my bedroom.

Who can it be?

I successfully carried out my first errand without detection early in the morning. My "target" noticed - but is yet to guess who was responsible!

Who will crack first?

Speak soon

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Who's Your Secret Angel?

My lovely wife is a lady of many talents.

She is particularly talented at initiating new traditions. She started one such tradition last Christmas which we have decided to resurrect this year - The Secret Angel.

We run it like the draw for the third round of the FA Cup. We find a hat - this year it was one of M's bobble hats. We write our names on tiny slips of paper and then fold them up before placing them in the woolly receptacle.

We then take it in turns to solemnly draw a scrap of paper from the hat. The person we draw is the person for whom we are to be the Secret Angel in the days that remain of Advent. Our task is to run errands for that person in secret.

The big reveal is on Christmas morning.

Last year I got lucky. E drew my name from the hat. E was six last year and liked to express her love by leaving little notes for me like the one to the left. She cunningly disguised who she was by never signing her name. I loved finding her notes on my pillow, in my sock drawer and even in my briefcase and have kept a store of them in my bedroom.

I was the Dubmeister's secret angel. I was less successful than E - attempting to make his day by placing a chocolate bar in his blazer pocket only for him to wander around for a week without thinking to put his hand into his pocket. The chocolate bar melted.

So, the tension is mounting. Who is my Secret Angel? For whom will I be running secretive errands for this week?

Find out  more soon!

Speak soon

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Sylvanian Advent No. 2


Joseph went from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register with Mary who was with child.
This week's advent picture is brought to you by E and features the arrival of the Holy Family in Bethlehem on the day of the census ordered by the Roman Emperor Augustus.

You can read the Bible account of the story here. Next week we bring you the night before the first ever Christmas.

Speak soon

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A Sylvanian Advent No.1

The Weekend Picture No. 29

"The Angel said to Mary - do not be afraid ... you will give birth to a son and he will be called Jesus."  

The Signs of Spring love the cute little animal toys "Sylvanian Families". They have so much of the stuff that we gave them a corner of the sitting room in which to display and play with it at the beginning of the summer. That corner has now grown into half of the room. In fact, if we want to access this hub of the home we have to knock first and then pick our way gingerly across the carpet for fear of kicking over one of the country cottages or stamping on the baker's morning work.

Dad Etc has bowed to the inevitable and combined the SOS's love of these creatures with the season of Advent. E and M have combined to create 4 tableaux to re-tell the Christmas story for you.

Today's picture was created by M. It retells the story from Luke Chapter 1 when the Angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells her that she will bear the Son of God.

Next week E brings you the scene in Bethlehem on the day of the census.

Speak soon

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