Safe to say, I would make a terrible wedding photographer. Because I am very bad indeed at taking pictures of the main event. So much pressure to sum up all that Christmas entails in a visual checklist - the bird, the table, the tree, assembled family, opening presents...
But in the plethora of obvious photo opportunities, it's the little moments round the margins that catch my eye.
In the quiet minutes when there is space to really look.
Those are the things I have come to enjoy photographing the best. Even on the days stuffed full of all things festive, the crispy edges can be the tastiest bit.
Christmas Eve always seems to bring with it a brief moment of calm. The house is ready, the lists ticked off, giblet stock and cranberry sauce made and filling the house with the finest smells of the season.
Tomorrow the jollity and the mayhem, the champagne and the celebrating and the cooking and eating will take over, but for a few moments this evening, all is calm.
And so I am stealing a moment to wish that your Christmas is merry and bright and that you enjoy each sparkling moment.
Replacing the sparkly strings on my olivewood decorations with invisible thread, it occured to me what a bizarre mix of big picture and minutiae this time of year brings.
Of course, we know that it's the big things that really matter - spending time with the people we love. But sometimes, there are satisfying moments to be had in taking care of the little details too.
In the last couple of years, I find myself far less hysterical about Christmas preparations. Enjoying taking care of the things which bring me pleasure and learning that it is fine to let go of the things which feel like a duty. Trying not to absorb the stress of others.
Am hoping this peace continues into Christmas Eve, when my shopping trolley and I do battle in the supermarket (securing a delivery slot was one of those little details which passed me by...). Though the shops are only shut for a day. Which leads me to believe that the frenzy of over-provisioning is just one of those traditions that my fellow supermarketeers and I just can't seem to let go of.
On Saturday, I had to stop by the house of a friend to collect something from her. When I rang the bell, there was a longish pause, then a great deal of scrabbling and fumbling. Uh-oh, clearly I should have called ahead.. She answered eventually and ushered me in apologetically. The hallway was full of bags and boxes in various piles. Evidence of a clear-out.
And it made me smile, because I recognised the impulse.The one that hits just before the decorations go up, the urge to purge the clutter and make ready for the season ahead. And there has been a little of that here over the last few days. Putting things to rights and attempting to pare back a touch.
The antlers were a birthday present - I just needed a little quiet time at home to install them in this spot, which is making me happy whenever I walk downstairs. And the boys have done such a good job of clearing the excess from their room, that I let them put up their teeny tree in all its gaudy glory.
And by the end of the weekend, the house was looking a lot more loved than it was at the beginning. Although our tree remains unpurchased and our outdoor lights are myseriously missing. We must have has Christmas gremlins last year.
The clearing also seems to have extended to my blog - what d'you make of the new look? It is designed to allow for bigger photos - a precursor to a resolution to get back to my camera in 2013.
Weren't we here last week? Beautiful sunrises and sick children. Well, we're re-living the experience.
I am feeling slightly caged beast-ish, but on the plus side, even if I haven't been able to head out to get anything done in the big wide world, I have at least been cracking on with a few projects at home which I wanted to finish. Two, I can't show you, but this one, I can.
For some years now, I have been slightly obsessed with Debbie Smyth. I saw her work with pins and thread in an embroidery magazine first, then in the flesh, and at the Knit and Stitch show this year, she was installing a piece, so I got to watch her in action and was captivated. I think it taps into some childhood memory of string art pictures and I have been meaning to have a go at my own version for a long time.
There's nothing like being confined to home to get me going. Some foam core, straight pins, thread tweezers, masking tape and computer word art print outs and all was good to go.
I printed out my chosen words using an outlined dotted line on my chosen font, which made it easier to space the pins evenly. The paper templates got masking taped to some foam core and I got stuck in with pinning. This takes a lot of pins - pretty much a whole tub for six letters. Surprisingly, it didn't take as much thread as I thought. But it is a great project if you have a load of not very good quality thread. Because a bit of bunching, knotting and textural fuzz all adds to the overall look of things.
The thread wrapping part was my favourite bit - a little bit random, not too neat. Meditative crafting at its best. The tweezers really helped with the fiddly bits too. A word of advice - if you have a shape within the letter (the holes in my g, for example), it is much easier to pin and wrap the inner shape, then place the pins for the outer shape. Gives you a little more space to work.
And when the whole thing was done, I thought I could just tear away the paper and be good to go. Well, yes, in theory. But in practice, it seems standard copy paper is much tougher than it looks and it took a long time and a great deal of care to get rid of the paper without dislodging the pins.
Chanelling my inner nordic self, turned out to be a much better idea than going for the 14 letter extravaganza that is Merry Christmas.
I love the way it looks and would really like to make more - different threads, playing with colours, being more spontaneous with how I place the pins. There are so many things that would be fun to explore. If my current run of luck continues, I might just have the opportunity too!