December is always a very busy month. An American friend of mine who now lives in Australia commented recently that Australians celebrate Christmas very enthusiastically - that every work and social group, and every group of friends seems to feel the need for a Christmas celebration. I think it's not that Christmas itself and its traditional meaning has special significance for Australians, I think it's just that Christmas gets caught up with other occasions of celebration - the coming of summer, summer vacations, the end of the school year, several days away from work. There's a general feeling of winding down, of laxness, of the pause that comes before a new year of new starts.
I like this time of year. I like the feeling of tidying up the year's activities at work and I catch up with friends I don't see often throughout the year. And I go to some parties. I no longer go to many parties, and sometimes I no longer feel enthusiastic about doing so. But at Christmas it's particularly ungracious not to make the effort and I know I almost always enjoy myself once I'm actually there.
This past weekend I went to two wonderful parties. On Saturday a neighbour held a party that was perfect. There were luxurious and generously sized canapes, waiters filling your champagne flute the instant the level in the glass lowered and, most amazingly, a piano and four singers performing songs from my favourite old musicals - Carousel, Kismet, South Pacific - and Cole Porter standards. We were even encouraged to sing along. And all I had to do to get home was take the lift up one storey. A perfect party indeed.
Then on Sunday there was afternoon tea with my knitting group. Lots of bubbles and tea drinking, finger sandwiches, strawberries and cream, scones with jam and cream and small cakes. And, of course, knitting and knitting chatter and knitting laughter. The high point of the afternoon was our Christmas gift swap. Everybody brought a hand-crafted Christmas decoration to be randomly received by another. The variety and ingenuity of the gifts was astounding. There were, of course, knitted and crocheted decorations - stars, baubles of many kinds, santas, Christmas trees, and tiny, delicately knitted garments. There was also embroidery, petit point (I received a perfect tiny petit point reindeer) and beading and probably much else I've neglected to note.
I'm not sure why, but I decided to make some bunting. I love the look of colourful bunting and like the idea that it can be recycled for various occasions. So I searched for my mother's old pinking shears (and miraculously found them) and proceeded to cut out triangles of bright fabric until I couldn't bear to cut any more.
I was very pleased with the outcome, and, if I can ever summon the energy to do more cutting up of fabric, would like to make some for myself.