Does the idea of that time of year that the Americans call “The Holiday Season” excite you? Does your mind tingle when Halloween is past and November creeps in with All Saints and All Souls and soon our minds turn toward our most central Festive Feast: Christmas? The decorations, the tree, the wreath, the choosing and wrapping of presents, the writing of cards, the sharing with others of the year, good or bad? The table setting, the stairs, the hall, the door…to say nothing of the church.
I have been lucky enough to have been doing many of these things since I was very young and always relished the things others may regard as tasks…for me they have become the very essence of Christmas.
What will you eat, who will you see, where will you stay? I can never think about Christmas though without also sparing a thought for the homeless or lonely too, so try to give something little at least to help, be it man or beast!
I love choosing the theme of each Christmas, white or red, chic or shabby, real tree or lovely stored old garlands…we do a window at the front of our house early in December so the children going to school can see a Christmas window with the Deer and the Fir and Snow and twinkling lights that remind me every year of one of my favourite carols “The Holly and the Ivy.”
In these posts I shall describe week by week how I approach this season which is always such fun; I think one of my favourite days of the year is Christmas Eve…the magical tree, the unopened presents under it, the delicious food, the music, who cannot quiver to that ethereal sound of the choirboy at King’s College, Cambridge opening with “Once in Royal David’s City”? The first note for me signals from far off the true beginning of the festival after all the preparations and planning and thinking and rushing and long days and short nights. (In my job you work longer days doing everyone else’s Christmas than all year, but it’s even better when you get to celebrate your own.)
I like to be organised for Christmas and I can hear some of you groan, but it does have its’ pitfalls…one year I had wrapped all the presents and placed them under the tree. Just before the end of term I had to go out in the evening to my daughter’s carol service and it was rare for me to leave my then Lurcher, Robbie, alone for a dark Winter’s evening.
On our late return I put my daughter to bed and went into the sitting room to be met by an extraordinary sight: all my carefully wrapped presents had been unwrapped with equal care and redistributed around the tree but open.
I eyed up Robs, who gave me that “Lurcher’s Rights” look and burst out laughing, which made him even more miffed. The moral of the story is: never leave an unattended tree with an annoyed dog!
But first we have to pause and remember on November 11th ….