Solstice, Christmas and New Year

Way back in the summer when we were missing seeing friends Scarlett and I hatched a plan to hold a festive open house at some point in the week before Christmas, possibly on the solstice. We thought we would invite all our new local friends and work mates to come to our house for festive food and drink. We had plans for mulled wine, nice music, maybe a fire pit as it grew dark…

I’ve thought of her and I talking about that plan several times in the last few weeks. Smiling a little at our naeivity in believing back in the summer that life would have returned to any sort of normal just yet, feeling happy that we had such a long prospective guest list given we’d only been here just over a year when we were talking about our plans, feeling amused that our one big wish really once we moved here and suddenly had all this space was to be hosts as often as possible and how the very window when that all started to fall in to place became the time it was simply not something we could do.

In fact the week before Christmas was actually slightly fraught. A computer problem with our car which had baffled two local garages and a local friend with some technical knowledge and a whizzy gismo which we’d hoped would if not fix it then at least diagnose it had all failed. So with an MOT looming which would fail with this particular dash board warning flashing up we had taken the car to the nearest specialist dealer in early December. Which happens to be nearly 100 miles away, so the best part of a 200 mile round trip – and six hours driving. We had driven all the way there, sat in the showroom with high hopes of a speedy fix only to be quoted a very large sum and told they didn’t have the part in stock so we’d need to come back the following week.

Which we did, having reframed the situation as at least something out of our hands and to be made the best of. So we managed to do some Christmas shopping while in the city, treated ourselves to lunch and marvelled over the last time just the two of us would have been out doing Christmas shopping, realising it would have been 21 years ago before Davies was born. Then we got a phone call to say the car had not been fixed and it was going to need further investigation and would we be prepared to take a courtesy car home instead. The following week we were told the new part had been ordered but was not expected to arrive until February!!! Then, in the style of a Christmas miracle we had another phonecall to say they had sourced the part, fitted it, MOTd the car and were able to deliver part way down to us if we could meet them.

Again, we will gloss over the massive amount of money all of this cost and focus on having gotten our car back months earlier than anticipated. By happy coincidence a Rum friend I had arranged to meet on Solstice day as she was bringing her children to the mainland to see Father Christmas had left Rum early due to likely ferry cancellations and was available to meet up when the car was being delivered. So we managed to make that trip into town a worthwhile one too – even more so because Ady came so I was able to drink cocktails with my friend over lunch because he was happy to drive me home again. Silver linings…..

Which freed us up to celebrate solstice in our usual way with an outside fire and some candlelit exchanges of how nature has blessed us this year. I had been up at first light hoping to see the sunrise but it had been a cloudy start to the day, my solstice swim was also cloudy but as the sky grew dark for the longest night we were suddenly treated to a lovely colourful sunset as the sky cleared, the moon rose and we were able to see stars and the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter. We had the telescope out to see the craters on the moon and it was a lovely evening.

Seeing in the light – mug of tea at sunrise
Seeing out the light – bonfire, sparklers and candlelit blessings at sunset

Ady’s work rota was very well timed with his four days on, four days off pattern meaning he had 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th December off so we enjoyed a lovely Christmas Eve making and decorating Christmas crackers, watching films and eating nice food.

Christmas Day itself was a wet day but we managed a dash outside in our Christmas jumpers to snap our traditional photos. We completed a 1000 piece Christmas themed jigsaw puzzle, spoke to family on video call and ate even more lovely food.

In line with children not being children any more, ecological and environmental conscience and matching wants to needs the pile of gifts under the tree this year was probably the smallest ever. Wrapped in fabric (which was folded back up again afterwards for using again next year, and the year after that…) and mostly items to be consumed, used up or otherwise sustainable.

New Years Eve was spent gathered watching the various TV seeing in of the new year including Hogmanay with Susan Calman, which was very exciting because we were part of the virtual audience for it when it was recorded a short while ago. It had been great fun celebrating New Year slightly early as part of around 100 other audience members all via zoom. Everyone had been told to bring along something to toast the new year in with and there was proper Auld Lang Syne dancing and cheers-ing at ‘midnight’. We saw Deacon Blue and Amy McDonald sing and various Scottish celebrities were either in the studio or on zoom call in too including Karen Gillan and the winner of GBBO. We really enjoyed the rewatching and were delighted to spot ourselves as part of the giant mosaic audience too.

We also watched the fireworks / drone display at midnight on BBC which never fails to make me slightly teary but this year really had me dripping into my prosecco. What a year 2020 was eh? So, so many memorable moments, good, bad, remarkable, amazing and awful.

New Years Day marks both my parents wedding anniversary -49 years for them this year and Davies and Megan’s anniversary of being a couple – 2 years for them this year.

I saw off the slightly woolly remnants of seeing in the new year with a bracing swim. It had not been arranged as a group swim like we did last year when there was a large number of us, piped in to the water and retiring to the local pub for hot soup afterwards this year. But around 8 of us were there at the same time, a few family members were also around and so a socially distanced swim (very easy in a great big loch) happened with us circling the boat moored in the loch where someone lives, so he came out to his deck to wish us all happy new year and then rowed to shore to join us for soup and cake around a small bonfire on the beach afterwards. A couple of passing walkers called over to say Happy New Year and chat including a lovely older gentleman who said it was the first time he had talked to people in weeks and it had made his Christmas. I’m certainly not advocating general socialising but I could also very much see the huge benefits which this rather impromptu gathering generated with everyone outside and very much keeping their distance from each other in the sunshine.

Who knows what 2021 has in store for us. I suspect nothing any less memorable than 2020, but hopefully with the balance tipped further towards good things. Happy New Year to all our readers.

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