Snow vs sand and a sprinkling of Christmas spirit.

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.

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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.

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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!

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27 thoughts on “Snow vs sand and a sprinkling of Christmas spirit.

  1. wrightsolution

    I know its mad isn’t it?! I remember in the UK (at least back when I lived there) it was about Guy Fawkes paraphernalia coming off the shelves to make way for the xmas stuff. In the States they have a bit of conflict as they have to deal with Thanksgiving until around November 25. But in the Philippines they really went all out early: http://wrightouttanowhere.com/2011/10/23/may-i-be-the-first-to-wish-you-merry-christmas/ September takes some beating! I have to admit that I enjoy Christmas less than I used to. Its so hard to do it over and over again when the different countries keep changing the goal posts. But enjoy…little kids make it special!

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    1. jenny Post author

      It really is mad, it’s one long consumerist merry-go-round (I feel like a real grumpy old woman saying that, but there you go, I still think it’s true!). But yes, I think you are right, little children really do make Christmas sparkle at it’s brightest.

      I love your post on Manila Christmas celebrations. September is seriously early! And those ladies do not look particularly like it was getting them in the Christmas spirit! But then if I knew I had three months of listening to Christmas carols and wearing a Santa hat, I think I’d look miserable too. There is a limit, even for Christmas fans! :o)

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    1. jenny Post author

      Thank you, Norma. I really appreciate your comment. I found this challenge a tough one, but an interesting one.

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      1. Norma

        I know sometimes they are tough even I find it challenging sometimes. But the good thing is, it’s left to ones interpretation – no hard and fast rules. I enjoy participating and definitely enjoy the contributions by others as well 🙂

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  2. sustainabilitea

    Enjoyed the photos and the story. I love Christmas, too, (and am religious), but even though I already have some Christmas gifts in my gift box and am thinking about it, I wish the stores would wait a bit longer before going with Christmas themes. But then they’re always ahead of whatever season or holiday, so I’ll just live with it. Can’t wait until the day after Thanksgiving to start putting out the decorations, though. 🙂

    janet

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    1. jenny Post author

      I know exactly what you mean, Janet, it all feels a bit too commercial at times doesn’t it. I’m so pleased you enjoyed my post and photos.

      Once the decorations up things really start to feel Christmassy – enjoy. I think our little one will be ‘helping’ decorate the tree this year…I’m not sure it will look the prettiest ever, but it will be a lot of fun! :o)

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    1. jenny Post author

      Thank you, Cathy, that means a lot to me. I do love these challenges for making me think outside my usual comfort zone occasionally.

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    1. jenny Post author

      Thank you, Amy. I really appreciate that. I’m definitely not usually a minimalist photographer, but this challenge has definitely made me think about the style a little bit more. One of the nice things about doing these challenges, I guess. :o)

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  3. alan

    There are few different things in the picture and each tells a story of the landscape in different parts of the world so I think they do fit the bill. Very nice photos.

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    1. jenny Post author

      Thank you, Tina. You are very kind, I really appreciate that. I like the idea of minimalism, but it just is not my life!! I guess somethings are better appreciated in contrast! ;o)

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  4. rainbowspinnaker

    Your post brought back memories of living in Australia, where presents had to be on a ship by mid-October if they were to reach US west coast by Christmas. And celebrating Christmas in a heat wave seemed bizarre – I have a picture of my two-year-old son unwrapping a present wearing nothing but shorts.

    I think both photos are a wonderful example of minimal, and such a holiday contrast!

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    1. jenny Post author

      Thank you for your kind comments. I’m so pleased you liked the photos.

      Wow – mid-October?! That really is a case of essential early planning! Yes, celebrating Christmas in hot countries feels strange for us too! Instead of a Christmas afternoon walk, wrapped up in coats and gloves and scarves we’ll probably be walking along the beach in shorts and tee-shirts. Lovely, but it just doesn’t seem as festive, somehow!

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  5. Indah Susanti

    The photos are excellent for the challenge! Beautiful photos, I love the second one..
    Sometimes it’s good to escape from such social activities..this year we will spend Xmas and New Year in somewhere warmer. Actually the past two years we spent our New Years in tropical countries and I enjoyed it so much. It felt good to swim in warm sea water on the first day of the year 😀

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    1. jenny Post author

      Thank you, Indah, I really appreciate that. Those are the real, unprocessed colours on that second one – I could not believe the blue of the sky!

      Yes, I completely agree with you about that first day of the year in (warm!) seas! Hope you are going somewhere amazing. Have you decided yet, or still thinking and planning?

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  6. Pingback: Photo Challenge: Little Bear Fire | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice

    1. jenny Post author

      Thank you, Sue! I really appreciate you comment. We loved both holidays. Christmassy and special, but away from all the hype. It was quite refreshing. But we are also really looking forward to a family Christmas at home this year. :o)

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  7. Cindi

    Great post, and your first couple paragraphs capture the reality of living so far away from people we love.

    I enjoyed reading of your past Christmas trips! And I think the two photos were very appropriate for this challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. jenny Post author

      Thank you, Cindi! I really appreciate your kind comments. Yes, Christmas away from loved ones is a whole different ball game. I’m sure you will have had similar experiences. I’m so glad you liked the photos – it was an interesting one for me this week! :o)

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