December Reflections 24: traditions


‘Anything done once is a tradition,’ my husband says. ‘Anything done twice is a very long-standing tradition.’ Traditions take root easily and, given the right circumstances, grow and grow. The Christmas crib is a genuinely long-standing tradition, having been invented by St Francis and therefore being Older Than Protestantism. This particular crib has been a feature of the Jowitt family Christmas for as long as I can remember, so that’s almost as old. The angel with the violin showed up at some point in the mid-nineties, and that began the tradition of adding things to the crib. Next came the dragon and the penguin; the other animals and mythical beasts found their way in gradually over subsequent years; and I’ll swear I’ve never seen that triceratops before today.

The one figure conspicuously not present is of course baby Jesus, who is placed there after midnight mass. The shepherds and kings are lurking out of shot, too.

Traditions can be comforting and meaningful and also fun. They can get a bit out of hand if you’re not careful, and sometimes it’s helpful to pull back a little. After all, they can be reinstated with little difficulty if it turns out it’s Not The Same without them.

December Reflections 22: this year was…


… a slog. I’ve got to a good place, objectively speaking, but getting here has been very tiring. I feel as if I’ve had to put a lot of effort into simply keeping things ticking over.

And does the road wind uphill all the way? Yes, to the very end.

In 2016, I have:

  • got a new job
  • published a novel (this feels like a little bit of a cheat, because most of the work happened in 2015 and earlier. But still!)
  • completed the first draft of another novel (and my goodness, that felt like a slog)
  • got my head around my finances

I’m in a better place financially than I was at the start of the year; I suspect I’m improved in terms of confidence and perspective. I know all that, but I don’t feel as if I’m in any sort of state to appreciate it.

I think the major lessons are, firstly, not to jump straight into the next novel, or, if I must, to only write when I feel like it; and, secondly, to book my holiday well in advance of any fainting in coils. When I say ‘holiday’ I mean, ‘annual leave’, but you know, an actual holiday wouldn’t hurt either.

Some pretty appalling stuff has happened this year on the world stage. I’ve dealt better with that than I would have done last year. A couple of bereavements – longstanding family friends – were more difficult.

It’s been a year of getting through things. I seem to have got through them. Here I am. That’s probably worth celebrating, but I don’t quite have the energy to celebrate.


December Reflections 20: snuggle


I am not much of a one for stealing my partner’s clothes, but we did swap dressing gowns several years ago. I like this one, because it’s a practical colour and I don’t overheat in it. I can just put it on over the top of whatever I’m wearing and attain, and remain at, a comfortable temperature.

… I’m not a terribly snuggly sort of person. Can you tell?