Alas, those days belong to childhood. Along with your graduation certificate, your last days of education signal an end to having all the time in the world to relax and do nothing. From then on you never have to freedom to dream. It is gone, along with your childhood.
Except for a few days each year between Christmas and New Year.
Those last few days of December, for me and my family, are the only time in our hectic whirlwind of everyday life when we organise and do absolutely nothing at all. We simply loll away the days doing just as we please. And all you need to do it is time.
So here is how we've been spending our time doing nothing, these last few days. Just in case you find yourself with time on your hands and nothing to fill it, and you want to do just as we are:
- Read the sublimely wonderful The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Isn't this the most beautiful book you've read all year?
- Read Thea Astley's Coda and ponder how easily Grannie Abuse can happen in civilised society. This is a book that will really get you thinking. What do you do when you can no longer live safely at home but you're certainly not ready for the Passing Downs Old People's Home?
- Read The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume (online here) - a murder thriller set on the streets of Marvellous Melbourne and first published back in 1886. This Australian classic novel is a real page-turner!
- Dip into Randolf Caldecott - His Early Art Career by Henry Blackburn (online here) - a fascinating memoir written back in 1886 soon after the artist's death. You'll love the wonderful pictures and the stories behind them contained in this entertaining book. If you can find an original edition like mine then I think you will appreciate why I am enjoying this book.
- Browse through A Family of Readers - The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature by Roger Sutton and Martha V Parravano, editors of The Horn Book Magazine. If you like to read about books as much as I do then you'll enjoy this guide to selecting books and its essays of how books are read to and by children today. I am.
- Play Board Games: Mousetrap, Monopoly and The Great Penguin Bookchase - the world's first board game about books, which, as I'm sure you can imagine, is a great favourite this Christmas. Strange, but I always lose these games. I personally think the others cheat...
- Pick fresh strawberries from your garden and eat them outside in the shade of the trees dipped in whipped cream with real vanilla and sugar. (It there anything more sublime than eating strawberries straight from your own garden?)
- Invent special Christmas cocktails. Raspberry Gin made from fresh raspberry coulis, gin and lemonade is a winner, let me tell you.
- Drink coffee from lovely Japanese pottery cups.
- Eat fresh white bread sandwiches filled to bursting with turkey and lettuce with cranberry sauce.
- Have a French Champagne tasting.
- Work in the garden tying up the tomatoes and eating the first cherry tomatoes of the season while nobody is watching.
- Watch The Hedgehog video together on the telly.
- Dutifully munch your way through the Christmas chocolate Santas. Lindt are tall, hollow and elegant; Caffarel Santas are short roly-poly skittles full of Gianduja. Personally, I like the skittles.
- Eat out at friends' places.
- Sleep in and lounge around in dressing gowns and fluffy slippers lovingly knitted for each of us by our dear friend Sarah.
- Consume mountains of nut bikkies, yoyos, shortbread and mince pies. Remember to make a wish on the first mince pie for each of the twelve days of Christmas.
- Complete Wentworth wooden jigsaws - 'Koi Carp' by B Lee, and 'An Early Taste for Literature' by Charles Conder this year. Very satisfying, jigsaws, don't you think?
- Tidy, weed and water the children's garden.
- Pick bunches of out-of-season sweetpeas for the kitchen table. Why did the pink ones survive best, do you think?
- Make elves from old wooden clothespegs with a creative Auntie.
Jemimah's on the left; Auntie Kay's on the right
- Assemble, decorate and eat gingerbread house with a creative Grandma.