One week into November and my Christmas planning is well under way. The madness of our modern world! I appreciate that it is utterly bonkers, but it is also just part of the reality of living half the world away from friends and family.
Not actually being with our nearest and dearest over the holiday period feels a little better when I know they will be opening something lovely and thoughtful from us that shows that we’re there in spirit at least. Making/buying something, then getting it all wrapped up and posted in time to actually be under their tree on Christmas day morning takes a good four to six weeks, sometimes more including the postal time. Before we moved out here I was much more likely to be panic buying in the week before Christmas, but that is just not an option now. Not unless people want their gifts in February!
Christmas has got to be the least ‘minimal’ time of year in my calendar. All that food and fuss, festivities, traditions. I am not religious, but for me it is such a special time of year, giving the chance to celebrate the bonds of family, love and friendship. I love it.
The first two years we were married, we went off adventuring over the Christmas break. We’re both really close to our families, but I think we both also relished the opportunity to start our own Christmas memories and traditions.
Our first was a winter wonderland break in stunning rural northern Finland. It was magical. Certainly it was the most snow I had ever seen. It is still one of our all-time favourite holidays, which we would love to repeat some day. And that is despite such short daylight hours in Finnish mid-winter that we permanently felt like reaching for an imaginary light switch in the sky. But we skied, we snow-shoed, we sledded, we hiked. It was amazing being out in the vast expanses of snow, everything looking so crisp and clean.
The second year we went for something completely different and jetted off to Cape Verde. Hot, sunny, beach, surf. A winter sunshine winning combination. It was supposed to be a dive holiday but the sea conditions had other ideas entirely, preventing us from getting a single dive in. Despite the setbacks to our dive plans it was a wonderful break, and the beaches were breath-taking. Huge long vistas of deserted sand and rolling waves. Towering, sheer-sided sand dunes. It was another holiday where we did a lot of walking, taking in the breath-taking, pared back natural landscape.
When I was thinking about the ‘minimalist‘ WordPress weekly photo challenge from Jen Hooks, I struggled to find photos in my archives that I would class as minimalist. I’m pretty sure that the two I’ve gone for don’t really count either!
But looking back at these two photos and the holidays they represent, there was something inherently minimalist about each. One a blanket of snow over a lake, the other a wall of sand. They seemed somehow fitting.
Perhaps not technically correct for minimalist photography, but with the right intentions. Certainly, they’re more fitting than anything from our last Christmas photo album. With a little one in the house for our first family Christmas together, there was nothing minimalist about it whatsoever. A pattern I expect to continue this year, and a good few more to come!