December in London is bleak. We wake up in the dark, and come home from work in the dark (or at least M does). Bookended in the middle of that darkness are gloriously sunny moments, but they are few and far between; otherwise, rain prevails.
Adding a little bit of light and sparkle to the flat is an obvious choice. But how much? We don't have much room, especially now that Little M's paraphernalia covers 90% of every surface.
Having just moved back home, I ventured into our mysterious, dusty attic to search for our Christmas ornaments. I was sure we'd stashed some before we left on our African adventures. After a lengthy search amongst old, zipperless suitcases, broken picture frames, and bags of clothes destined for the charity shop, I found our tiny crystal tree, a string of twinkle lights and a few baubles. Not much, but exactly enough to inject some light and cheer into our tiny flat.
It seems to me that the key to minimalist Christmas decorating is to put up those things which you love, which are beautiful, or which have special stories to tell. For example, the "Noel Santa" on the right hand side of the mantle-piece was given to me by a mosaicist named Mohammed who used to work with us on our archaeological digs in Tunisia. Whenever I look at the tiny pattern of pebbles making up the design I remember the hot, dusty summers spent sifting through Roman remains, the early morning calls to prayer from the mosques, and hot cups of mint tea shared with Mohammed and his family at the end of the day. The memories have nothing to do with Christmas, but that little ornament brings all that light and heat back into these cold, wet, December nights.
Perhaps as Christmas draws nearer I'll stop by the local florist on my way back from the coffee shop to buy some holly and mistletoe. I'll pop them into a vase and place them on our coffee table to add a little cheery green into the wintry atmosphere.
How do you decorate for Christmas? Elaborately? Simply? Why not share links to photos of your Christmassy home in the comments below?