Merry Christmas


Mark Baker

Monday, November 18, 2019

I know it's a little early, especially with magazine schedules being what they are, but the festive season is soon upon us, so let me wish you all the very best for Christmas. I always find it a strange time of year. The holiday period is either a welcome relief and a time to unwind, catch up with friends and loved ones, a time when it's all too easy to overeat, or it is a time of year that people do not enjoy and avoid as much as possible.

I must admit I walk a tightrope between the two. I want the hustle and bustle of catching up with friends and family on Christmas and Boxing days, but then I want it all over so I can do other things on the days I take off over the festive period. Going fishing and having workshop time spring to mind. I am sure I am not alone in this.

I also want seasons to be seasons and winter, to me, should be cold and if possible snowy and icy on some of the days. I hate the wet and windy stuff. I know snow and ice can cause problems; the heating bills go up and finding money to pay for extras is always tricky, especially with the cost of Christmas items already taking a big chunk of any money available, but I love to see the white stuff. Maybe this is from my childhood. OK, don't snigger here, I know it was a while back – but I remember some cold winters and snow and one Christmas it certainly did snow and it was wonderful.

I was fortunate to be able to visit friends in Canada some years back over the Christmas break and I loved it. They live on the edge of Banff National Park and the image you see on this page was taken on a walk just outside their house. The frozen lakes and snow covering made me feel like the young child I was way back when. The wonder of it was breathtaking – seeing such mountainous wonders, lakes completely frozen over, ice fishing in -25°C... I loved it all. I also loved getting back to a log fire, a warm drink and spending time with my wife and friends. I saw lots of caribou; all I was missing was Santa. That said, I wouldn't want the same all year round. Everything has a season and I love the transitions from one season to another.

I think this is much like my hobbies. I love fishing, but would get fed up if I did it every day. I think the same about carving and my other woodworking. I want variety, I need to develop and I also need to have fun. Is the fun and expectation magnified by the anticipation of undertaking a hobby? When we get to carve or do whatever other hobby or pursuit we venture to do, does the reality of actually doing it match the expectation? I think the anticipation and excitement is, in the main, fully met when undertaking my hobbies. Yes, I can have disappointment, but the joy far surpasses the negatives.

My wife and friends say I am like a kid in a candy store. I remember as a child, when travelling to a place with family, I was told I would frequently ask: ‘Are we there yet?’ I don't think I have changed that much really. I am still in some ways that small child who loves winter, the transition of the seasons, the anticipation of holidays, workshop and fishing time and so much more. There is a wonder that has never left me.

I hope you have a great Christmas and will catch up with you all again soon.

Have fun, Mark

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