Saturday, December 15, 2018

Some Thoughts at Christmas

We have had a wonderful year of topics for our Round Robin blog and we are winding up 2018 with short stories or excerpts from a longer story that highlights the Christmas spirit. I have only ever written two specific Christmas stories, both for my grandsons, and which have over the years sunk without trace. Maybe that's a good thing! I couldn't think of any passages in any of my books which could really be likened to the spirit of the Christmas season but have to say that after moving around so much as an army brat, Christmas to me has always meant a family gathering, wherever it happened to take place.

During the war years, this was always at my grandmother's house where a blackout curtain had to be draped across the windows in front of which stood our live tree. My cousins and I looked forward to decorating it, including clipping the holders for real candles onto the branches. We never knew which dad or uncle might be home on leave, but if none of them was, then my grandmother lit the candles. Health and Safety today would have a bird about those candles! Decorations were always branches of fir, mistletoe, and holly. I don't remember who started it, but it became something of a tradition to outline the edges and veins of the holly leaves with silver paint and this kept us kids occupied while my gran, my mum, and aunts prepared food. 
Ivy Cottage

For a number of years, I lived in a 300-year old Cotswold house. When I first saw the house I thought the living room, with its exposed oak beams and open fireplace, would be the ideal place for a family Christmas, and it was. One year my boys took charge of acquiring the tree. I never asked where it came from, I don't think I really wanted to know, but it was so tall they had to take about 3-feet off the top so we had a tree and a bit. Another Christmas my daughter bought her eldest brother a beanbag and packed it in a big appliance box. Give cats and kids a box and they will have endless fun with it. I laughed myself silly as my son converted the box into a bus and his sister and one of the dogs squished in behind him. As they were young adults at this point there may have been some alcohol involved. 

A few years ago I was pet and house-sitting at a lovely country home in England. That year was wild and wet and with so much flooding washing out roads and leaving debris everywhere, I decided to not risk the trip to visit my family but stayed put. I've never minded being alone but appreciated the phone calls with my children even more on that particular Christmas Day. To keep the flavor of the season I had my table decoration and a
Christmas dinner from Sainsbury's grocery store and finished the day curled up on the sofa with the two dogs watching TV.

For me, Christmas is not so much about giving gifts as spending time with family and friends and none more so than when I can spend that time with my nearest and dearest. My DDH (dearly departed husband) and I did not buy each other big gifts but instead donated what we would have spent to charities of our choice and simply spent the day alone together. One year we binge-watched all the Star Wars movies. Another year we had a turkey and trimmings picnic on the living room floor, never to be repeated as it proved too much of a temptation for our two dogs. 

Christmases come and Christmases go, and now I'm happy to enjoy a gentler side of the season. I don't worry anymore about the commercialism of it all as that's something I have no control over. It's up to each individual how they choose to celebrate, or not, after all. What I like is having come to a place in my life where I am happy to celebrate the joy and peace of the season and so I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.