Christmas, Halloween, Easter… er… well, there you go. The point proves itself. Our festivals are growing ever less and less in number, and we should surely take some care to see that the few we have left are as much fun as possible. The myriad of old ';holy days'; and festivities that Britons of days gone by used to indulge in were a great glue for family and community life – we can, perhaps, see the results of that glue coming apart in the lack of ';getting together'; that we collectively engage in these days.
The harvest festival, mothers'; day, All Hallows Eve, Pancake Tuesday… there is a lot to be said for these charming little events in our collective life. It is surely worth taking a bit of time to pass on their magic to future generations. Here is a great way – why not celebrate with a good old bout of arts and crafts?
Some of my fondest memories involve cutting up sheets of coloured paper, stapling things together badly, getting modelling clay everywhere. In retrospect all this seems charmingly innocent, but in the process it seems to have cemented within me a great deal of affection for the family life we lived back then, and the quirky ways that we all got together to celebrate that life as a wider society. A bit of muddy-ducks was always a great way to engage my young mind, as a child, in this celebration. Here are a few suggestions for carrying on the tradition. And they are all based on the theme of making your own decorations – so you even save yourself a trip to the shops!
First of all, there is the good old paper chain. This is a classic – coloured paper, scissors, staples, figuring out that you have to loop the rings together… but some of those chains got really quite sophisticated. Youtube is now a good place to find this ancient art, wisely preserved by conscientious parents, and if you and your kids get good enough at it you can come up with some really impressively elegant designs with a few deft flicks of the scissors. Of course, the Mill Hill cleaners or anywhere employs will collectively moan at the thought of all the mis-stapled scraps of paper that will find their ways under sofas, behind drawing boards and in every other conceivable nook and cranny in your house. But then, that';s all part of the fun, too.
There are plenty of other ideas. A bag of modelling clay can be transformed (via a ruined tablecloth, perhaps, and some vicious carpet scrubbing) into candle holders or Christmas tree decorations. Pumpkins, Squashes and even fruit can become ghoulish Halloween decorations. Eggs, the centre carefully removed and long since gobbled for breakfast, can make truly lovely Easter decorations. There are as many ideas out there as there are days of the year. The only thing you need to do is to find the time to do them.
And that time, once found, will quite probably be remembered fondly for decades to come. Now, isn';t that a thought that';s worth a few misplaced staples?