"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Monday, 10 December 2012


This year my anticipation of, and for, Christmas seems to have been missing in action.  I guess with all the building work we lived through these past few months, then the all painting and varnishing, and unpacking, and preparing our home to welcome visitors, I am excited - but drained.  Creatively drained that is.

RMan is of German decent - his parents were both born there.  And he has always followed their Christmas traditions.  I have tried to cater for that - in fact, we join both his traditions with my UK born ones.  But, last Sunday, being the first Sunday in Advent, all I had the energy for was to plonk four candles on the table, with a bit of greenery round them.  A half token.  Not good enough, and I knew it.  My inspiration just wasn't there.

Someone knew that :)  And very kindly inspired me.  That someone was Diana.
Now that looks a whole lot better than what I
had on the table before :)
Bless you, Diana, you gave me a wonderful idea.

We currently have a plentitude of Kooigoed from the Helichrysum species growing on our land.  So, on Friday during the dogs evening walk, I had a pair of secateurs in hand, and I snipped and snipped to my hearts content.
A close up of the result
I placed the willow ring on a tray, and threaded a few wispy bits of Kooigoed through the top of it.  Then, taking a branch of the Kooigoed plant in one hand, I drew it through my fingers thus removing the leaves, which were then placed just inside the willow ring.  Filling the vase with sand in order to hold the candles securely, I layered the top of the sand with the flowers from the Kooigoed plant.  Instead of copying the traditional European Adventskranz and going for greenery, I have chosen to take what is available right here and now and work with that.

Now our room is filled with something more appropriate for the festive season, as well as the lovely smell of the Kooigoed which greets us every morning.  Not as chic and elegant as Diana's.  But it is simple and befitting of where, and who, we are.

Do you have an Adventskranz?  What are some of the unusual traditions in your household leading up to Christmas?


JaneofVirginia said...

My husband's family was Swiss and then lived in Germany for a time before coming the the US State of Pennsylvania and then eventually to Virginia. My father in law made us a lovely adventskrantz of wood, decorated with greenery. We used it when the children were small, but after he passed we deemed it "too special" to risk in the crazy holiday season, so we stopped using it.
I too have had trouble getting into the spirit this year. I think this year we are going to set aside the traditions we had when we had young children, and allow new traditions to form with our adult children. I still can't believe that everyone grew up so quickly.

Mrs. Mac said...

I had trouble this year too .. as it seems in the U.S. Christmas is commercially started in October .. I want to fully enjoy autumn and our Thanksgiving celebration first. Growing up we did not decorate until the week prior to Christmas .. it was always such an anticipated event bringing excitement and wonderful church outings. This year I read on a friends blog (American woman living in Japan) practically cry because nobody celebrates there.. and she had to remind herself that (as Christians) it is Christ's coming that we need to remember. Reading her post made a difference as I sat with boxes of ornaments thinking .. should I or shouldn't I bring out the festive decor .. and chose to change my heart/outlook to remember why we celebrate .. now the house is decorated and the mood has lifted greatly.

garden girl in SA said...

Love both yours and Diana's traditions. Being SA born and bred for over 4 generations, we no longer have any of our German or Irish ancestors habits. I often think about the fact that there are no real hard and fast SA Christmas customs.

Frugal Living UK said...

I need similar inspiration for my candle centrepiece. At the moment it is a candle shoved on a silver plate. I had ideas of finding some fircones and maybe some greenery, but in spite of searching I haven't found any fircones at all. This week I will do something!

DFW said...

So glad you got inspiration. The snowman I put up is about as far as I gotten this year.

Diana of Elephants Eye said...

Kooigoed is a plant I battle to grow. And I do so love that smell. There is this hedge I see in my dreams ...
Wonder if it would grow like that for you?

Dani said...

Jane - I, too, have items which I have inherited and which I have put away to use on a "special" day. Why??? Every day is special I have come to realize. Thus, I so understand your putting away the kranz that your father-in-law made, but creations are made to be enjoyed, especially handmade ones. And it is a way of bringing your husband's dad into your home at Christmas.

May I suggest that you combine a few of the older traditions with the new one's your children are introducing - sort of mix and match - if only for their memories sake (and the sake of the next generation). :)

Dani said...

Mrs Mac - Yes, I agree that Christmas is a celebration of Christ's coming. And I find it difficult to align that occasion with the commercial venture it has become.

We have always tried to make the decoration a family affair - so I guess once they're all here the mood will change and we'll get down to "preening" the house as befits the occasion :)

Dani said...

GG - Sad, isn't it. Unless one counts a Boxing Day boerie braai as a tradition LOL

But, all those ancestors from Europe who arrived on these shore eons ago - they must've had Christmas traditions. Which have all seemingly been forgotten. A loss of roots? Such a pity.

Dani said...

Frugal Living - That is a tradition I remember from when I was a little girl :) Crisp air, snowflakes drifting down - perhaps enough to cover the branches of the fir trees - and the smell of my grandmothers Aga stove.

Go for it...! :)

Dani said...

DFW - Just love that snowman :)

Dani said...

Diana - No - our Kooigoed is a very scraggly plant. A pity because Monty Dons' are beautiful :)

Thanks again for the inspiration :)

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, I think I will !

Country Life said...

We have always put up the tree and ornaments 10 days before Christmas and I am usually so ready by then but this year I am not as excited I hope by the 15th my mood has changed. I am not saying I am in a bad mood or anything its just Christmas has become sooo how should I put this....more about what are you giving me? and less about who can I help? its like the reason for Christmas has fallen by the way side in our over spend bigger and more is better society. Sorry for the rant I do love this time of year and we make every present we give from quilts to soaps and telling story's the morning of Christ birth....This year more than in the past I just have to zone out all the commercials etc that seem to be everywhere and remember the reason we celebrate this time of year and enjoy family and friends that we are blessed to have with us. :)

Dani said...

Country Life - Welcome - and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment :)

I couldn't agree more - Christmas has become so commercialized that the true meaning is in danger of being lost. That is why I try and involve my grandson in as many of the preparations as possible - from stirring the Christmas cake mixture (and making a wish LOL), to deciding which decoration goes where (especially the Christ in the Manger set I found many years ago and painted) to decorating the tree, etc :) Hopefully he will grow up knowing that Christmas is a time for sharing - and not just a time when his latest desire hopefully manifests itself.

Good on you for making your Christmas gifts - I'm sure every recipient feels the thoughts you had of them whilst you were making them. And thinks of you in return, every time they use them :)

Leigh said...

I love that you adapted your Advent wreath to a more local theme. Makes you wonder why you didn't do it before, doesn't it? Christmas has become so commercialized here in the US (they started pushing it on us in September in the stores this year), that it's hard to be enthusiastic anymore. Our granddaughter will turn 2 in April, so that is a true motivator to make the time special however. :)

Dani said...

Leigh - Blogger gave you a Christmas gift LOL For the first time in ages your comment didn't land in my spam box.

They only started in the shops here at the beginning of November. But, I believe that if you keep Christmas simple, especially if you have little ones - that way they, too, will hopefully appreciate the Joy and the wonder of it all.

And grandkids at Christmas - that is my best gift - love MKid to pieces :)