words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Joy to the world?

It’s that time of the year again. And depending upon who you are and what you have on your plate, you may use any number of terms (some of them none too complementary), to describe the week leading up to Christmas.joy

The picture on the right seems to sum it up beautifully.

Christmas is supposed to be a season of joy and happiness, celebrations and festivities. There is an enormous amount of pressure to appear happy, relaxed and joyful. But in reality, most of us are running on empty, and scrambling to keep on top of it all.

A bit like a duck on water, really. On the surface, everything is gliding along smoothly, but behind closed doors, in the crowded shopping centres, or in the car as we ferry people from one event to another, the mad paddling to stay afloat is happening.

What food do we need to take to this event? What time are the kids likely to get into bed tonight? How will I get them up tomorrow? What is on tomorrow? What day is it today? How will I find time to get groceries? What are we having for brunch with our friends? When will I buy food for Christmas Day? What are we eating on Christmas Day? How much is on the credit card this month? What time do we have to leave? Have the kids got clothes to wear to school tomorrow? Did I really promise to take the kids to the city to look at Christmassy things? Can I get out of it? WHERE THE HELL ARE ALL THE CAR PARKS?

These are just a few of the things that have been going through my mind lately.

It’s a bit like having an internet browser with 86 tabs open — ALL THE TIME!

It’s exhausting.

And I know I’m not the only one feeling like this.

In a season when wine flows freely, it seems tears are flowing just as freely.

Tears of frustration, tears of tiredness, tears of worrying about the financial pressures, tears as children leave pre-school, primary school or high school, and farewell their friends. Tears from parents and teachers. Tears from students who didn’t get the result they need to get into the tertiary course they wanted. Tears from children, totally overwhelmed and exhausted by it all. Tears from people who are missing loved ones — either separated by distance or death.

There is no doubt that there is an immense amount of pressure put on most of us this time of year, and what is supposed to be the Season of Joy is totally the opposite.

Sure, I could tell you to count your blessings and be grateful of how good your life really is, but I know you probably don’t have time to down a mince pie, let alone make a list of all the ‘positives’. And even if you did, I think indulging in a glass of bubbly and that mince pie you can’t seem to find time for, is a little more appealing at this time of year.

So, if you would rather poke yourself in the eye with candy cane, than attend one more crazy, frenzied event, the good news is we are almost there. And the serious business of relaxing can begin.

But in the meantime, I would like to leave you with the following video.

Over the past week or so, it has become my new favourite song. In a time when we are busy hurtling through time and space, getting ever so closer to the pinnacle of bedlam, this song provides four minutes of escape. It leaves me feeling less-stressed and feeling warm and fuzzy. It makes my kids smile. It gets us dancing around the house feeling happy. Even if it is only for four minutes.

I hope it does the same for you.

Wishing you PEACE and HAPPINESS this Christmas



Why you shouldn’t make New Year resolutions

As the year is beginning to wind down, and most of us are in the process of putting the final (or even the beginning 😉 ) touches on Christmas, some of you may be thinking about the next big event — New Year’s Eve.New Year resolutions

And what goes with New Year’s Eve? New Year resolutions!

I’m sure all of us at one time or another have made New Year resolutions.

I’m going to lose weight.

I’m going to quit smoking

I’m going to get fit

I’m going to get a better job

I’m going to save more money.

Blah, blah, blah.

Well, I don’t believe in New Year resolutions.


Because they never amount to anything.

Some research I came across recently stated that only 8% of people achieve their New Year Resolutions.

Just 8%. So why bother making them at all then, if they are just going to remain wishes and dreams until the next New Year rolls around and you do it all again?

People who make New Year resolutions are really just making a wish. Saying they want to achieve something, yet leave it to fate. As if by putting this dream into the ether will make it manifest before their eyes.

If you want to make next year better than this one, then you need to set GOALS!

Over this year, I have achieved some truly great things. Most of these were a result of getting serious about setting goals, rather than making a wish.

During the past few weeks, I have been thinking about what I want to achieve next year, and am now in the ‘goal-setting’ phase.

For those of you who think goal-setting is boring, you haven’t done it properly. When you set goals, you should become excited about what you are going to achieve. You should feel motivated. And you should come out of it with a plan on how to make it all happen. Which excites you even further. And having a plan helps you believe you can do it.

Over this past week, I have set my health and fitness goals for the year. I will be sitting down with my trainer and some like-minded people later on this week to clarify them further and to make a plan so I can achieve them. That is very cool.

During this week and next, I will be setting aside a good few hours to clarify and set my business goals for 2014. I already have a fair idea of what I want to achieve but I need to put it on paper and make a plan so these goals become a reality.

I have also been thinking of some more personal goals I want to achieve. These are not tied to my health and fitness, nor to my business. But rather, things that I would like to achieve just for me.

One of these is quite huge. It’s something I have wanted to do for a very long time, but the timing has never been quite right. Well, I am beginning to think the timing might be better next year, so it’s on my list. I have moments of believing I can do it, and then other moments when I question it.

Nevertheless, I am setting it anyway.

Because once something is on your goal list, things begin to happen.

So now that 2013 is drawing to a close, why don’t you think about some real GOALS for next year instead of wasting time with resolutions.

set a goal so big....

Why you can’t judge a book by its cover (or a Christmas tree for that matter)

What does your Christmas tree look like? Does it look like one fit for a designer store? Is it a real tree or an artificial one? Is it colour-themed, or is it a hotchpotch of different decorations?

Yesterday was the 1st of December so according to our family tradition, it was the day to put up the Christmas tree. As part of our tradition, we put on some Christmas music, break out a few Christmas treats and get to work.

My husband assembles the tree, puts on the lights and the kids and I decorate it — along with the mantelpiece. Yes, we are blessed with a mantelpiece, which is lovely for Christmas time.

Each year in the lead-up to Christmas, when the shops are filled with fancy decorations and themed Christmas trees, I think, “I must buy some new decorations for the tree”. But, as I pull out all of the decorations we have when it’s time to set it up, I can’t bring myself to throw any of them away. So really, what is the point of new stuff?

On first glance, our tree is a bit haphazard. There is no obvious theme. It is not colour co-ordinated and there are decorations on it (and on the mantelpiece) that have seen better days.

So why don’t I just throw them away?

Because they mean something to our family.

Some of them are lovely, quality decorations given to me over the years by some very dear friends. Each year, as I hang them up, I think of them.

Some of them are the first decorations my husband and I bought as a married couple, which we bought for our tiny, little (live) tree. Sadly the tree has died, but the golden bells and little apples are still going strong and always bring a smile to our face.

We also have baubles with our names on them and a decoration that represents each of us. Trev — the bearer of gifts; Nerissa — baker extraordinaire; Josh — always our little boy; and Laura — our dancing princess. We even hang the decoration we bought for our dog when she was alive. Just another way to remember her.

Our family - in Christmas decorations

Our family – in Christmas decorations

But by far the most precious decorations (and also the most shabby), are the ones made by the kids. Our kids are (almost) 11 and 8 now, so their decoration-making skills have improved over the years. However, we still have decorations they made when they were toddlers. These consist of simple Christmas shapes, which they ‘coloured’, or pipe cleaners fashioned into some weird shapes.

We have decorations from their playgroup years, which include a nativity scene that Laura made (okay, it was me) complete with animals and a baby Jesus. (Don’t look too closely at the baby, as I had such a difficult time with him!)

We have umpteen Christmas wreaths ranging from the gold-painted, macaroni on a plate-variety, through to one with patty pans glued around the outside of it. One of the macaroni ones has hardly any macaroni left, but I still can’t throw it away. And needless to say, those patty pans have seen better days. We also have angels that hang on the tree, their wings being the hands of each of my children at the age of 3 or 4.

Most of our decorations are handmade by the kids

Most of our decorations are handmade by the kids

Once they were old enough for school, my kids became better at making decorations. We have half a dozen or so ‘Christmas trees’ that the kids made at their Christmas clubs. Some more ‘loved’ (tatty) than others. We have a multitude of Santas, several reindeer and a sleigh! In fact, there is a section of our mantelpiece that is dedicated to ‘school Christmas craft’. And in another week or so, we will have more in our collection.

Some of our decorations incorporate a photo of the kids at a certain age, which is really cute, yet also serves to remind us just how many years have gone by!

Some of the decorations I remember making with the kids, and some of them I remember ooohing and aaahing over when they brought them home from school.

One of the most beautiful things about our collection of decorations is how they trigger conversations and memories.

“Remember when we made this?”

“Look how small your hands were!”

I can’t believe I thought that was a good job.”

“Look how cute you were.”

While many of them are old, and fit only for the scrap heap, I cannot bring myself to throw them away. Discarding them for something shinier and newer would be akin to discarding my children, their memories and their creativity. Every decoration on our tree has a special meaning and a special memory tied to it. It’s almost like a time capsule.

A time capsule of our family (including the gold painted macaroni wreaths!)

A time capsule of our family (including the gold painted macaroni wreaths!)

So if you are at our place this Christmas, don’t judge my tree by looks alone.

Yes, to the naked eye, our Christmas tree and surrounding decorations are a mish-mash of everything — nothing tying them together and no real theme.

But the truth is, the theme at our place each Christmas is family — something that is never out of fashion.

Merry Christmas xx

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Allison Tait

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words by nerissa

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