As one year draws to a close and another begins, it's a time of both reflection and anticipation, of memories from the past year and plans for the one to come. I have made a small collage of some of my favourite images from 2015. They are photos that make me stop and smile for what they are or for what I remember happening at that moment.
However we all choose to celebrate Christmas, it is an important way of structuring the year, a punctuation in the yearly cycle of our lives. There is the inevitable frenetic build up to the big day with all the food to prepare, presents to buy, the decorations and tree to put up. Added to this there are school nativities, Christmas parties, panto trips, Santa's grottoes and so on to fill up the diary.
In the time between Christmas and New Year there is a lull; the kids are happy, the fridge is brimming with leftovers, there's time to get out for some much-needed fresh air and there are fewer demands on your time.
At this time I always find myself reflecting on the year that is about to end but also planning and looking forward to the new year.
But not forgetting that although Christmas is a time of celebration it is also a time to remember loved ones who are no longer here or to consider others who are going through a difficult time.
Not far from us in York, many families have had to leave their homes because of the flooding. There is never a good time for such disasters to happen but it seems so much harder at this time of year. Watching the footage on TV makes me grateful that we were able to spend our Christmas in comfort and with our family.
I am not one for making resolutions that involve abstaining from this and that or deciding to join the gym. I prefer to think about things I have enjoyed doing in the past year and to try and make sure we do more of the same in the year ahead.
So for me, a few things I want to do are:
1. Enjoy the outdoors. Some of the nicest days we have had in the past year have been outdoors with the kids. These are definitely our happiest times and I would like to do more of this. I subscribe to a newsletter from Get out with the kids which has some great ideas and tips. 2. Camping. We took our tent to France in the summer and the heavens opened for three days solid yet we still had a great time. If anything, this has shown us that we can have fun living under canvas whatever the weather. The Cool Camping website always provides plenty of inspiration for campsites to visit. 3. Knitting. I got out my knitting needles in 2015 and started clicking away. I found the knitting therapeutic and the fact that I made myself something I would definitely go out and buy was an incentive. There are so many inspirational websites and stores like Loop Knitting and locally Little Lamb Wool, that sell beautiful yarn or online communities like Ravelry that offer free knitting patterns. 4. Getting creative. My husband bought me a printmaking book (Print Workshop by Christine Schmidt) for Christmas which has some great ideas for projects that are do-able on the kitchen table. 5. Writing. Find more digital writing avenues. I have been a journalist for 16 years and have seen huge changes in the way we communicate with readers. I started out on newspapers when websites were in their infancy. But now digital media really has taken over and journalists have had to adapt to this and master the new technologies. 6. Photography. One of the things I enjoy about writing a blog is taking the photographs. I would like to master some of the more technical aspects of digital photography. I enjoy playing around with picmonkey for editing and collages on my blog. 7. Make mini movies. As well as photography I would like to create some short films of our happy times. I love the short family films that photographer Xanthe Berkeley makes. 8. Clear out the clutter! A classic one for this time of year. So much seems to come into the house that something's got to go.....this one will send shivers down the backs of my husband and kids' spines...I will need a day to myself for this one! There is even a book called Stuffocation:Living More with Less arguing that we are in fact happier with less. 9. Organise my photos. We have hundreds of digital photos which I would like to store properly. I also want to get prints of the ones I really love and put them in albums. I never quite trust the 'cloud' with my treasured memories. I came across this website that has some good tips for tidying up your digital snaps. 10. Catch up with old friends. In my Christmas cards to and from friends from far afield we always say it would be great to meet up in the new year. I would love to make that happen in 2016.
So there you have it - my resolutions etched not exactly in stone, but on the blog, there to remind me at the end of next year of what plans I managed to fulfill - and those that might shift into 2017...
**Happy New Year to you all - and thank you for taking the time to read my blog**