Last Post (of the year, that is)

So here we are, it's the last day of the year 2012 and now that there's a bit of a lull (with Christmas over and the New Year festivities yet to commence) there's just enough time to fit in a final post.

What a wonderful 'family' Christmas it's been! I always find it so hard to get any actual painting or writing done during the holidays but I have managed a couple of commissions and cards:

and there have been plenty of opportunities to get creative in other ways:

As well as having to be very creative with the budget; finding (or making) and wrapping just the 'right' gifts, stocking the fridge and larder to capacity to ensure everyone has enough of their favourites to eat,

there's been the house to decorate; outside, with the door wreath and twinkly lights, and in, with the table top floral centre pieces, decking the halls (the balustrades) with holly and mistletoe:

 and of course the all-important star of the show; the Christmas tree!

That our 'children' are all grown up now changes nothing; they still expect all the traditional elements of Christmas magic to fill the house and the very fact they are happy (and, thankfully, able) to spend the holidays at home with us at all, fires me up with boundless energy and enthusiasm to ensure no-one will feel disappointed.

Inspiration for the Christmas spirit has come in bucket loads; from the many kindnesses of friends and neighbours, - including next door's very fat and cuddly cat. Paw-Paw,  who took up residence and simply refused to leave:

From the countless cards and greetings that have poured in from around the globe - and through the wonders of social media, over the internet too - which I'm afraid I myself succumbed to this year:

From many of the heart-warming films, dramas and Christmas 'Specials' that have filled our TV screens and sitting rooms with both laughter and tears throughout the season (including the thrill of seeing my daughter on the popular TV show 'Britain's Best Bakery':

From trips to the theatre:

the highlight of which was Matthew Bourne's simply magical new Ballet:

And finally from seeing all the beautifully decorated streets, shops and markets of this wonderful city I feel so fortunate to call home:


By the end of the Christmas Dinner, when I could finally loosen the waist band, kick off my pinching shoes, and sit back, I looked around at all the smiling, contented faces gathered around the table:

and my heart filled to bursting with joy and gratitude; all the stress of weeks of meticulous planning, endless traipsing to the shops and late nights, up to my elbows in Christmas lights, flour or sticky tape, simply melted away.....One thought prevailed above all else; 'Gosh! How lucky am I?' while remembering absent friends and departed loved ones:

 and offering thoughts and prayers for those less fortunate:

Of course, like everyone else, I'm sure, I've over-spent, over-shopped and, most certainly, over-indulged....but, hey, I can worry about all that next year. Today is a day I love because I can eat the very last of the mince pies, the Christmas cake and the chocolates totally guilt free as the diet doesn't start till tomorrow.....and I know, with a tweak or two, the camera CAN lie, thankfully! (suck in those chubby cheeks, Yvonne)

But Ah tomorrow, that special day, full of promise for a fresh start....a new beginning of a brand New Year. Who knows what it will bring? My lovely new wall calendar from 'Nostalgia at the Stone House' is waiting to be filled:

What I do know is that from the outset it will be filled with good intentions and probably impossible-to-keep resolutions.....My only hope is that, for once, I'll actually be able to stick to them!

No, that's not my only hope of course! Above all else,  I wish for a Healthy and Peaceful future.... for the whole planet....and, more specifically, for my loved ones and all my wonderful friends.



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