Alexander Averin

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Just a few seasonal thoughts

A Painting by Pollyanna Pickering

Dear Diary,

Once in royal Davids city,
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby,
In a manger for His bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall:
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us, He grew;
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles, like us He knew;
And He cares when we are sad,
And he shares when we are glad.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love;
For that Child so dear and gentle,
Is our Lord in heaven above:
And He leads His children on,
To the place where He is gone.

I’ve been thinking about Christmas, well you can’t escape it really can you? As I drove home from work last night I heard the carol Once in Royal David’s City on the radio, it was sung so beautifully by a choir, I forget which one. I found it very moving, a story plainly told with due relevance and reverence, it was all there. The line where a mother laid her baby has always brought a tear to my eye. Perhaps thinking of an unmarried mother, homeless in a strange land, reliant on charity is something close to my heart. I got to thinking about the story of the birth of Jesus, the nativity tale that we are told from childhood and I wondered again about its truth in historical fact. We know Jesus existed but how can we be certain about the circumstances of his birth? I believe he was a healer, a holy man, a mystic, a psychic, a prophet indeed , but not the only one that has walked the Earth amongst us. And what he preached was quite simply love and that is all there is. We should take heed of this all year, not just at Christmas.

There are things I hate about Christmas but when I started totting up I discovered that there were many that I love.

Shall I start with the negatives?

Things I hate.

The pressure on women.
The pressure on everyone to consume.
The element of competition that creeps in, the need for everything to be perfect just like in the magazines and now the TV programmes that have popped up with Delia, Nigella, Kirsty and even Rick Stein.
Music in shops (if you can call it music).
Tackiness everywhere you look.
The loss of its true meaning.
The hijacking of the Winter Festival by the Christians many many moons ago.
Enforced jollity.
The Queen’s speech.
Repeats on TV.
Crackers, far too expensive, always disappointing.
Pressure to conform, I have always resisted that.
Most of all I hate the fact that it all starts far too early.
The phrase Are you ready for Christmas?
The very people, the over-zealous types who start Christmas far too early are the very ones always moaning just after Christmas and cannot wait to take their decorations down! Don’t they know that Christmas starts on Christmas Eve and that is the proper day to bring in the tree and decorate the house?

Things I love?

Snow, a white Christmas is magical, I love it when it starts to snow on Christmas Day for the first time, alas that won’t happen this year but it might well be a white one.

Carols, their words are pure poetry and the music heavenly.

Red candles.

Fairy lights indoors and understated outdoor lights in trees, I am going to look for some solar lights today. I have fairy lights up in the parlour and will probably keep them up all year. The spirits love them as much as they love bright colours.

Evergreens, holly, ivy, laurel and pine.
Holly wreaths on doors.

Spicy smells. I had a lovely essential oil last year, a special Christmas blend, I must try and track it down.

Brown paper parcels, bright ribbons, hand made labels written out in beautiful italic script.

I love those nativity cribs, I don’t own one but one would look nice on the cottage windowsill.

I don’t send cards, I donate to a charity instead but I always pick a favourite from the ones I do receive. This year’s winner features a picture of a country kitchen with a Rayburn, below which is a sheepdog like mine and a tiny lamb curled up together. It is from a painting called Keeping Warm by Pollyannna Pickering, great name. The winner is usually an angel so this will be a change.

I would like to say I enjoy the alcoholic drinks associated with Christmas but I have had to give up the demon drink because of my migraines. I will so miss Baileys, sherry, brandy, whisky, mulled wine. Not all at once though…. I will be content with grape or cranberry juice or tonic water.

Same goes for chocolate but I will get vicarious pleasure from watching the men in my household tucking in to chocolates.

Christmas pudding I will enjoy, just a wee bit with custard as I shall be too full of roast dinner, rib of Welsh beef, Yorkshire puds, roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, carrots, horseradish. Yes I know I said I abhorred overindulgence!

Mince pies are nice too with a blob of cream.

Children make Christmas for me, I love to feel their excitement and see the happiness on their faces.
I miss Father Christmas, he used to visit when the children were small. That was the time I really loved Christmas because with children ‘therein the magic lies’ but sadly those days of childhood went too quickly.

I love watching others opening presents, that always brings me joy. But I would rather give spontaneously than feel it is an obligation at Christmas.

I don’t want any presents and have asked folk not to buy for me. I don’t need anything and am trying to simplify my life. Just lately I have been getting a good feeling from getting rid of stuff, I certainly don’t want to accumulate more.

But I am having the best present I could wish for this year - my fourth grandchild is due any moment, s/he was expected on the Winter Solstice. I can’t think of anything that will bring me more happiness than holding the new baby in my arms.

I wish you all great happiness over the Christmas period too and not just for Christmas, let’s keep the goodwill and the love going for each and every day.

Thank you for visiting my blog and if you have read all of these ramblings…..congratulations.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Marcheline said...

I must say that some of your "hates" are some of my loves.

* Tackiness - I adore the tacky store displays, and as far as outdoor home decorations, I love driving around and looking at the crazy stuff people put up! It's only once a year, and it brings out the kid in me. (You know, the kid that actually stays out all year!)

* Crackers - I have only ever read about them in British stories, Harry Potter included. But have never had one. They don't sell them here in the USA, so they've always been something I wished I could have... just like Christmas pudding with the flames and the holly sprig. Sigh.

Thanks for the great post, and I think the picture at the top of your blog is amazing!

Ivy said...

Merry Christmas Cait, hope to hear more about a healthy baby soon. Best wishes for a good and speedy delivery and not on Christmas day...

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Hmmmmm, yours is the second sort of a 'blow off steam' entry I've read just now. And I certainly posted one myself, yesterday. :-) I'm saying Hooray for all of us, for so doing. And also finding it interesting... That we are doing it, at this time of year. Ding-dang-holiday-stuff does get to us, hu? ,-)

Oh yes, the pressure, pressure,pressure. And the hijacking of the Winter Festival by the Christians many many moons ago. And the fact that neither you nor I, see the historical Jesus as divine. And the way that so many Christians more or less tell us that if we don't, we are ... doomed I guess.

I'm tired of it.

And I don't want more stuff either. :-)

There! We both feel better, don't we?

Gentle hugs...

Lane said...

Happy Christmas Cait.
What a special gift - a new grandchild! I hope he/she makes a speedy and safe appearance.

pinkfairygran said...

Well I agree with most of your hates, but not all your loves! I am getting less Christmassy as I get older, and am immune to the pressure that women feel, to the false feelings of bonhomie that abound and I don't subscribe to it in any way, to the pressure to have everything just right. I have halved my Christmas card sending, stopped the present thing years ago and have given to charity instead for some time now. I do not conform either, despite the unrest that causes amongst family and friends. This is my life, most of it is behind me now, little left in front in comparison, and I intend doing it my way. Happy Christmas to all.

Frances said...

Cait, may I wish you a very Happy Christmas!

I love this post, and so agree with you about mixed feelings about much that goes on around this time of the year. I definitely agree with you about the beauty of Once in Royal David's City ... and how that song can bring tears.

Thank you for the many posts that you have given us throughout the year. Each has given me much to consider.


Vee said...

Perhaps we could start with who Jesus says he is. He said that he was the son of God. C.S. Lewis once wrote that Jesus either is the son of God or he is a "raving lunatic." We get to decide from there, which pretty much removes all that middle ground.

Oh, I do dislike quite a number of the same things on your list. (I could probably add a few more.)

Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Cait! I do love that Christmas does make us think again.

CAMILLA said...

Dear Cait,

I have always loved that painting by Pollyanna Pickering.

There is a lot on your list of loves and hates for Christmas that I certainly do agree with.

Love to have tiny fairy lights in tree's here in the garden and will be putting some near the pantry window-sill later.!

My best wishes for a safe delivery for your new Grandchild arriving soon, a baby the most wonderful gift of all.

Thank you for sharing with us this past year your truly wonderful posts Cait, along with all your lovely pictures, Poems and Music.


Exmoorjane said...

Lovely Cait - heartily agree with nearly all your likes and dislikes..
Happy New Year to you...Janexx