Friday, 11 December 2015

Countdown to Christmas: Week 2

It has been a difficult week.  Tiger has been very ill with high fever and severe headache all this time.  It took three visits to the GP to find out that Tiger has a middle ear infection, which most likely resulted from his weekly swimming lessons.   There is no a lot to be done apart from taking the prescribed antibiotics and waiting for the bacteria to be gotten rid of.  The infection is a nasty one, causing such a spliting headache for Tiger that he (and consequently, I) has been woken up by the pain several times in the night for the past week.  Hence, all external activities have been cancelled, with Tiger spending most of his time lying on the sofa.  He is only well enough today to play with LEGO and his train set.

Compared to how active Tiger normally is, this week has been very boring for him as all external activities have been cancelled due to his being ill.  With all my not-so-well-planned December plans out of the window, luckily we have been able to manage some continuity with the daily unwrapping of Christmas-related storybooks.

  and rewatching a Christmas classic:

When he felt well enough to get off the sofa, we continued to look through the RI space-themed advent calendar, watched the second week of the Angel Trail, and made tin can lanterns that turned out to be very pretty.

At the very beginning of the week Tiger felt really terrible so in order to distract him from the physical pain that he was experiencing, my husband had the brilliant idea of introducing Tiger to a classic movie that he (my husband) has always wanted them to watch together:

No, Tiger will not be getting any Star Wars-related presents.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Countdown to Christmas: Dickens' Carol

We have read A Christmas Carol in the past two Christmases such that the book has become a part of our Christmas tradition.  This year, however, I think it would be a good idea to expand our scope a little wider by reading the other Christmas stories written by Charles Dickens at Tiger's bedtime so that A Christmas Carol does not become the only Dickensian Christmas story that we know.

However, even though we are not reading A Christmas Carol this year, we find ourselves not being able to get away from it totally.  As a result of Tiger being ill with fever most of last week, we found ourselves having a lot of time on our hands that we could spend on video watching.  To my surprise, Tiger watched the 1999 movie version without his usual complaint that most movie versions are poor substitutes for the original storybooks.  There have been numerous movie adaptations of the story, but the 1999 version is the one that stayed most true to the original, and it helps that Patrick Stewart (who played Scrooge) is a most excellent actor.

After we watched the movie, we thought we might as well review our knowledge about the origins of the story:

What I find interesting about reading/reviewing the same story each year is that not only does the story become part of our family's tradition at Christmas time, but my own understanding of the story grows with each reading.  This sense of getting to know a story at a deeper level with each passing year comes with no surprise.  What is perhaps surprising is how easily recognisable many universal human values, such as compassion and redemption, are in this very traditional, English story.  Then again, isn't that what every good classic story is supposed to do?

Another reason for us not being able to completely ignore A Christmas Carol this year is that it is currently being discussed in the BerkerleyX Book Club, which is another free MOOC offered by edX.  Tiger and I looked at the first week's coursework, which we felt has helped us consider a few points that we had not discussed in our previous readings. 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Countdown to Christmas: Week 1

The best way to describe our first week of Christmas countdown is that it's a mixed bag.

After announcing that I am not going to come up with 24 different activities this December, I found the advent calendar that my mother-in-law bought for Tiger when he was a baby and thought it best to take it out and use it before Tiger's childhood is over.  So, I stayed up on the night of November 30th to do some last minute brainstorming and managed to stretch my initial short list of activities to fill 24 days.

Since I have the habit of over-preparing than under-preparing most of the time, I wrapped the Christmas-related books that I borrowed from the library in Christmas wrappers to act as another form of advent calendar (just in case the other one doesn't work, for whatever reason), so that Tiger can unwrap one book each day to read a Christmas-related story.  That's the least we can do, if we don't do anything else for the month.

I really needn't worry, because the RI has a space-related advent calendar ready so we have been unveiling it each day, after I read aloud a section from our spine book for the month, The Christmas Almanac.  The book covers a broad spectrum of Christmas-related issues from history to traditions, both religious and secular.

There is a section in the book explaining the origins and different ranks of angels in the Western tradition which coincides with the weekly video of the Angel Trail organised by the National Gallery, so we watched the first episode of that.

The rest of the week was interspersed with the making of mince meat,

as well as mince pies.

We would have done more this week if Tiger hadn't been ill with high fever most of the time.  In fact, he spent most of the week lying on the sofa, recovering from nights of broken sleep.

He is still suffering from fever as I type.  We are taking him to see the out-of-hours doctor in a little while, since our usual GP does not work on weekends.  I hope next week will be a better week.

This post is linked up to Christmas In A Box ~ Week 1 Link Up.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Countdown to Christmas: The Beginning

Our countdown to Christmas has begun with the consumption of mulled wine and mince pies, as is my little personal tradition.

I started accumulating the mince pies from the supermarkets at the end of November, having forgotten that I had already done a survey of the various mince pies last year.  I was wondering what to do with the over supply of mince pies when my attention was turned to the homeless.

Ever since the extent of homelessness in the UK came to our attention in May this year when we studied about the Victorian poor, I have become more aware of the signs of the current rising food and housing crises around us, for example the increase in the number of food bank collection points in town and the number of people selling The Big Issue (a magazine sold by homeless people).  The trend is both worrying and upsetting.

We already make regular donations to the food banks and to the charity shops, but I feel compelled to do a little more this December.  I thought about volunteering at a homeless shelter over Christmas, but knew I would be too upset when I come face-to-face with real people who are in such a desperate situation, so this year I will just make donations of winter clothing and 10% of our weekly grocery to the shelter, including all the extra mince pies that I have bought -- although I seriously think that homeless people have bigger problems to worry about than having mince pies to eat at Christmas time.  Maybe next year I will find the courage to actually go and help out at the shelter.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...