Saturday 29 December 2018

Christmas 2018

   This Christmas has been...well, it's been. I found I wasn't all that aware of it until about 7pm on Christmas Eve. Of course I'd done all my shopping, wrapping, posting and decorating - everything that needed to be done - but in all honesty the Christmas spirit didn't really reach me until then. I was working too hard on the run-up, I think. But I realised something while sitting down to a Christmas dinner of pheasant and mead, and that was that while I love Christmas day, as I've grown older, it's the season as a whole that I adore. I found that I was more excited over December 1st than the 25th, and to be honest, I'm so happy with that realisation. I'm growing up, but I haven't lost the love of Christmas like so many others do!
   Spreading the excitement over the month took so much pressure off of the day itself, and meant that no one single day had to be 'perfect' - the myth of the perfect Christmas is, after all, a thing. Come December 1st I open advent calendars, break out my Christmas mugs and bowls, swap from regular post-workout protein to a really thick and rather decadent salted caramel protein, stop drinking any regular tea and switch to winter spiced black or rooibos and so on, put spice in everything, cranberries in every porridge, light a scented Yankee Candle - always 'Christmas Eve' - at breakfast every morning, among so much more. It all lasts until the very end of the month, through and past Christmas, and I truly love it.

   Christmas day was great, of course, filled with chocolate but, but, this year I did not eat so much that it hurt. I just felt a bit sick. But that's allowed. My husband loved his gifts - Cayde's Last Stand, a peregrine falcon mug, Red Dead Redemption bottle opener & sawn-off shotgun, and a Sea of Thieves t-shirt and silver coin. I had some rather wonderful gifts too, including Johan Egerkrans' The Undead, some of my favourite over-priced Matcha and the entire Malloreon book series. But the thing is, our birthdays are so close to Christmas that we have to buy double the gifts, and we generally agree that the birthday gifts should be better than Christmas, so we divide them up appropriately. So as dull as the gifts I gave him might seem, for his birthday I gave him a giant hardback book from the Bodleian University about Tolkien and his life and work, the Gamecube copy of Lord of the Rings, Return of the King, a wonderful eagle from Demiurgus Dreams, and a dream catcher I made for him from 2 roe deer antlers, some embroidery thread and some analine-finished leather, which I'm so proud of and will be sharing here in a couple of weeks, once I get a good picture of it.

   Yes, birthdays that close to Christmas. You could argue that it's unfortunate - and it is, in a way. It's more expensive, it lumps all the celebrations into a single pocket of the year, and it can somewhat diminish the occasion, but it also means we can get gifts in the sales pre- and post-Christmas, meaning better things for less, and a greater variety of desserts and birthday cake alternatives are on the shelves. I bought Seeg an ice cream log - chocolate ice cream surrounding vanilla ice cream, surrounding a thick rod of praline, all set upon a chocolate biscuit & hazelnut praline base. It should tick every box.
   But, more than that, I'm actually quite fortunate. My dad has said he feels sorry for me, getting all excited about Christmas, then it's all over in a day. The above 'Christmas Season' jolliness renders that concern needless, but as my husband's birthday is so close to Christmas, it means that the festivities are prolonged. And with my own just a week and a half later, by the time that has come and gone, I'm really quite tired of the festivities and more than ready to go back to normal. So the first two weeks of January are a funny mix of tame and well-behaved indulgence. I tend to opt for healthier things that I love for my own birthday because I'm so sick of sweets - so high-protein blueberry pancakes rather than chocolate porridge, and some lovely roasted chicken or some such rather than a birthday take-away. Cake, however, is mandatory. Unless there's a good-looking ice cream log somewhere. This year, however, I'm relying on a sticky toffee cake from my sister. We shall see. Failing that, I...well I suppose I'll cry. I made our wedding cake with 1000% success rate despite having never made a cake like it, but I'm so hit and miss in the kitchen that I no longer trust myself to make even myself a birthday cake. Though I did make a rather large purchase from Protein Pick & Mix which included a few birthday cake protein bars - a Grenade Carb Killa, because you just can't go wrong with those, and birthday cake Battle Bites. And a chocolate protein pudding. All low sugar, high fibre and high protein. My birthday is also a training day this year, after all!

   Yes, it has been a wonderful season. But, unfortunately, it hasn't all been blissful merriment. Myth of the Wild has suffered this Christmas with some unhappy customers. The US customs office has had some severe delays and has resulted in many packages to the US not arriving in time for Christmas despite orders placed before my deadlines, and those deadlines themselves are two weeks before the final posting date (according to the UK and US postal offices) to avoid exactly this. So I'm extremely disappointed, as are they, and there's nothing at all I can do about it except apologise and ask for patience. And, to top it off, I have been brought down a little further by a single angry customer, from whom I anticipate a strongly negative review very shortly. All I can take away from it the confidence that I handled the matter professionally and politely, and that I stuck to my guns rather than letting myself get bullied. Rudeness won't be rewarded by the bending of rules which have been put in place for good reason in the first place. More than that, however, it's not right to say here. But it has shaken me, I admit. Literally. I was trembling for 2 hours after it occurred, and I gave up trying to write and just sat on the PS4 instead because I just couldn't think straight. But I am also so proud of my attitude. Not once was I anything less than optimistic and polite, and I give myself a pat on the back for that rather than let it get the better of me.

   Anyway. Christmas and two birthdays - and, speaking of which, Facebook has prompted me to begin a fundraiser for a charity of my choice, and as my mum is so severely afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis, for whom I care full-time, I figured the MS Society was the obvious choice. So if you can spare a few pounds, please do head over to the fundraiser page and contribute. There is no cure for MS, and there likely never will be - not for those as far gone as my mother - but the research gives hope to the newly-diagnosed who they can still help. And I tell you, after my experiences with my mum and her MS - in short, she can presently no longer sit up by herself, feed herself, and I've not heard her speak even a single word in months - I'm not sure what I would do with myself if I was diagnosed tomorrow. So the deeper we can get into research and the closer we can get to management, the better.

   Anyway, I'm raring for the new year. I have some prosecco flavoured BCAAs for January, a new 10kg barbell plate, some ideas for a new and rather difficult collection on Etsy, I've got the notes all ready for the end of my book and now all that needs doing is putting them into prose, and though I still have one more book of the trilogy to write, I've found my mind drifting ever more often onto what my next story will be, and who the main character will be. The characters tend to just form on their own from images, games, movies, songs, art and so on that kind of mash together until they become someone. I never force it, and I'm proud of that fact. As for who I choose, that happens naturally, too. Right now, I have a few individuals in mind but I'm giving them the chance to grab my attention. A world will generally build up around their profession or talent, and a story from that. There is one individual who is stepping forwards further than the rest, but they don't have much of anything about them, while a profession is also presenting itself but it just doesn't match with the individual at all. So I'm giving the rest a chance rather than locking anything in. It'll be a while before I get to it, but I like to have a solid idea in mind before I finish whatever I'm presently working on. Which means, really, I want a solid idea and more than just scaffolding around a plan in a year's time.
   I am immensely optimistic. I've also sold more copies of The Zi'veyn in a period of four months as I had The Archguardians of Laceria in two years! And rightly so, for it is immensely better.

   We have more hopes for the year ahead, but they're not simple and quite unstable, too, but all we can both do is work hard, keep our feet on the ground, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. And with Brexit happening in three months, it's made things much, much harder for us both.
   But we have to have hope, right?

   What do you all have planned for the new year?


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