Christmas Honours

Christmas Eve is upon us! You know what that means… only about 36 hours until the Boxing Day sales lunacy begins, and hot cross buns go on sale. 

I was one of those “whoops I forgot something” shoppers who ventured out this morning to pick up another bottle of pesto, a different shape of pasta, bread rolls and additional chocolate (the last item being the only one not connected to Christmas feasting). 

As I wandered back past the supermarket, I said hello to a lovely older gent who caught my eye. I don’t think it was Santa, but he did tell me, with a glint in his eye, that he was recently awarded an OBE. 

With impeccable timing, he then announced it was for being Over Bloody Eighty. 


Gosh I want to be like that when I’m OBE. Twinkle in my eye, witty line at the ready. And great legs! 

I told him all I’d managed was an OBF, and I was pleasantly relieved when he picked forty not fifty. 

That kind of interaction typifies what Christmas can be for us once the thrill of writing letters to Santa and counting down sleeps passes us by. 

I always try to balance the frustration I feel when people seasonally lose their ability to navigate car parks, with smiling at people, letting a person with less items than I have in my basket go ahead of me at the check-out, or stopping for a quick chat and a laugh with a twinkle-eyed octogenarian. 

Two days ago, as I stopped for a coffee in David Jones, I decided to pay for the coffee of the next person to sit down. I can’t remember precisely how the lady I made the offer to described it – impressive, or something like that, but the thing is, it isn’t really. 

It was just a cappuccino and a yoyo biscuit. 

And it wasn’t “random”, it was deliberate. Can we retire “random acts of kindness” please, and make them every day acts? 

We can forget how simple it is to be kind, especially if we let all the shoulds of the “most wonderful time of the year” overwhelm us.

Isn’t that kind of backwards? 

Isn’t Christmas about stopping to chat with a fellow traveller – goodwill to all style? 

Isn’t it about togetherness with those we love, and those knowing, phew, we made it through another year glances we exchange? 

I think it is. 

I don’t know a single family where anyone storms away from Christmas lunch because there were only three side dishes, or just ham and prawns, and not ham, prawns and turkey, or the cranberry sauce was store bought. 

If anyone in your family does these things, please have them contact me for a much needed arse whipping seasonal adjustment.

This Christmas, I know people who are nursing recent and raw bereavements, and not-so-recent but still raw grief. 

I know people who won’t be with the one they thought they would wake up beside every Christmas morning.

I know parents navigating tricky shared custody issues, and those for whom the idea of family togetherness is enough to have them booking last minute tickets to Hawaii. 

I also know people filled with Christmas joy, celebrating as families for the first time, beloved babes in arms. 

There are those who will be seeing loved ones they miss like crazy all year long, and then there are all the in between folks, busy making salads tonight, chopping spuds and basting hams, checking on the pav and wrapping gifts at midnight after everyone’s in bed. 

Wherever you are on the spectrum, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, even if Christmas isn’t your jam. 

I want to wish you the sweetness of fond memories of past Christmas mornings with loved ones gone too soon.  

I wish you strength as you “keep calm and Christmas on” in front of the kids. 

I wish you friends who will text you, and say, I’m thinking of you babe, and who will bring you leftover pav on Boxing Day. 

I wish you joy as you enjoy (or endure) the obligations that tomorrow brings. It’s just a few hours, and if it’s too much, I wish you the strength to remove yourself from anything that isn’t good for your soul. 

I wish you quiet moments, and signs that they’re still with you, and yep, I even wish you great presents. 

That’s allowed, right? 

Merry Christmas my friends. 

Festive love, 

Annette xx


PS  Please rock, paper, scissors for designated driver duties before anyone picks up a glass in celebration, and take your time on the roads. 





What Wenceslas can teach Scott Morrison

I’ve been ruminating on the lyrics of my all-time favourite Christmas carol a lot this week. I don’t really know why it’s my favourite, but it always has been. I think I learned it as a child, and something about it has just stuck in my ‘favourites’ folder.

There is SO MUCH to be taken from these words, from this ancient story about a good Bohemian king who was known  for his kindness. What an amazing thing to be known for – ruling with kindness. That’s pretty Christmassy in my book.

So I just wanted to share the lyrics to the carol with you, and tell you that my Christmas wish for you is that something in this carol resonates with you, even if you have to read it twice to get through ye olde language, and that you’ll see what I see, especially as the song progresses – a story about a king, and a page, and their journey to assisting someone in need.

Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel

“Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know’st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather

“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

Without wanting to take away from the message of Good King Wenceslas, I also want to say that I value each and every one of you that visits here, whether you’re a regular reader or an occasional reader, or if it’s your first time here – hello, thank you for visiting I Give You The Verbs, and thank you for making this one of the best years I’ve had in a really long time, even though I’ve needed my own Wenceslases, quite often. I’ve been so blessed by people’s generosity and kindness.

Merry Christmas, or have a great Thursday. Don’t forget Good King Wenceslas.

Much love,

Annette x


How to look at a painting

I’m not sure if this book “How To Look At A Painting” is a ‘stand with your knees slightly bent, arms by your sides, eyes relaxed and feet shoulder width apart’ kind of book or a ‘the reason Impressionists love blue is…’ kind of book – I’ll let you know.

What I do know is that being at the library, picking out another armful of books about art makes me happy.

Here’s the thing I’m reflecting on today…

This week there was a horrifying siege in a Sydney coffee shop, where people going about ordinary, everyday, mundane things – like buying a cup of coffee on their way to work, or working in a coffee shop, got caught up in some lunatic’s attempt to… well, we don’t know…. and then after a long day and night of communal anguish, he died, and two of his hostages died too. They went to work, they stopped to buy coffee or some chocolates, and now they are gone. Forever.

Within 24 hours of that horror unfolding in Sydney, we heard the news of a horrific mass shooting in a school in Pakistan… 132 dead children… they went to school and never came home. Just unfathomable.

People respond to these tragedies in different ways – with fear, with anger, with tears and tributes, with trending hashtags like #IllRideWithYou, with recriminations about how the authorities handled things (already!). Editorials are written, bloggers/mothers cry in supermarkets, we are urged to hold our children a little longer.

We are reminded how fragile we are.

We feel ourselves looking over our shoulders. It makes us jumpy that such evil acts can happen so close to home, and so far from home. We have no answers.

Here’s what we have. We have this moment. That’s it. Just this moment.

I am spending it writing a blog, at the library, someone is sniffing and it is driving me a bit spare…

Last week I had a job, this week I don’t.

So if it is all about that, I am in trouble. Thankfully it isn’t all about that!

What do we have, really?

Special people get taken from us, jobs too. Health falters, friends move away, the kids grow up and move out, eventually.

Whether things feel solid as a rock, or completely untethered, we still only have this moment.

I am not writing this from a perspective of wringing my hands, woe is me, but I am mindful of how much stock we put into the status quo, into just expecting safe, cocooned, “not in our backyard” stability.

When I go home, I expect it to still be there, that there will be water and electricity, that I will sleep soundly tonight, feeling safe and secure.

I expect to enjoy the next week, and to consider my options for finding a job. I want to sit around with my family on Christmas Day and maybe share a few laughs.

I expect that pretty soon though, we will forget how fragile we are. Again. That’s kind of incredible, isn’t it?Is it a survival mechanism or the simply denial about our fragile place in the world? I’m not sure – perhaps it is a little of both.

I want to remain mindful of my fragility, but not in a doomsday prepper kind of way.

I want to paint, and to look for and find another job. I want to write, and watch my nieces and nephews open their gifts on Christmas Day, this year and the next and the next and the next and the next and the next. I want eat my mum’s pavlova, and give my sister the crunchy parts of it that set my teeth on edge. I want to hear my dad laugh. I want my mum to enjoy her family being together, and not to stress out about the plates and potentially spilled drinks.

Drinks get spilled, jobs come and go… it is the LIVING that matters. And I don’t mean the momentous things, but the every day things. How do we treat others, how do we treat ourselves, are we kind?

So, I’ll press publish, borrow these books, smile at the librarian, and head for home.

How are you? What are you doing with your moment?

Big hugs, friends. Big hugs.

Annette x

Christmas Creativity

Perhaps it’s living without kids, perhaps it is pushing back against the idea that Christmas has been “on sale” in the major department stores for more than 100 days already, but I can be a slow adapter when it comes to festive feelings and matching home decor. 

This week one of the girls at the office dug out their big box of tinsel, and decorated the office in a sweet, haphazard way. It made me happy, so I got out my calico bag of baubles earlier in the week and got my Christmas on. 

This week has also been a cracker (see what I did there?) for my letterbox. 

Three days running I have received beautiful gifts, sweet cards and encouraging words. 

A really fun parcel arrived from my Blog With Pip Secret Santa! Thank you Ammber ❤️

As Wednesday is the end of my working week, today has a distinct “Saturday” vibe – pjs, coffee and toast at 10, laundry, dishes… and tree painting! 

No, not the trees outside, the ply Christmas trees I bought last year. They’re coming up a treat and I’m thinking next year this might be a great gift idea for friends – perhaps a new take on giving Christmas cards? 

I’m expanding my ideas of what creative skills and gifts I have. I’m busting out the sketch pad, the watercolours, and the words here on my blog. 

At 46 and 3/4 it really encourages me that I sat and drew something today, for the first time in decades. I enjoyed it, even though I don’t really think I’ve got much creative skill with the pencils. 

It leaves me wondering, if we approached Christmas as an opportunity for creativity, rather than a slog through credit card driven consumerism, how much less stressful might it be? 

Today, I’m painting trees and feeling uber relaxed, and mildly chuffed with myself. 

How’s your Christmas shaping up? Do you decorate the house? Make gifts? Spill! 

Jingle all the way, 

Annette x