Christmas is all but over – the big day has come and gone and although my front room still has candles and tinsel, it is all starting to look a little bit tired and sad! Yes, we still have New Year; yes, we still have the rest of the twelve days of Christmas to go but the January sales are with us, the world is moving on.
Every year it is the same – so much anticipation, so much prior preparation and hard work, so much potential stress. The TV adverts show us the idyllic Christmas of huge roast turkey, smiling families, happy children, peace and contentment throughout the world – and we so want to live up to the expectations. And then it’s over so quickly!
|Christmas is great - you get just what|
you've always wanted!
It all sounds a bit doubtful to me – but the thing is we all do it in our various ways. And why? Because it is Christmas! We want it to be the “best one ever” and anyway, “it’s only for the kids”.
So what has my Christmas been like? What, twelve months down the line, will I remember of these past few days?
It didn’t start at all auspiciously. Early last week I went down with a dreadful cold which slowly took its toll - a non-stop cough and wheezy chest meant that lying down to sleep was impossible. For several nights I slept not a wink and, so, felt dreadful next morning. We managed to entertain one or two friends for coffee and a glass of sherry, we got the last minute shopping done and the car cleaned (a “must do” for Christmas!) and by Friday afternoon the shining car was packed with presents, food and drink to take to our daughter Kate’s in Manchester. We were to spend Christmas there with her and her family, plus our son John and his family. He would make the trip from Reading to Manchester on Christmas Eve as would we from Nottingham. Unfortunately that night my cold got worse and in the end at 2 a.m. in the morning we found ourselves in Accident and Emergency at our local hospital. It was not the cold that was the problem but the fact that my dodgy heart was beginning to show its hand and we feared a build up of fluid on the chest. As always, the A & E dept was overworked but kindly and hard working. I slowly progressed through the system and at just after 4.30 a.m. following heart traces, blood tests and e-rays found myself given the all clear but with the much appreciated rider “With your heart condition, Mr Beale, come straight back if you have any worries”. We are, in this country very, very lucky.
|Waiting for our star parts as |
Mary & the Angel!
|The tableau is growing|
|Opening presents is great|
Well, certainly, all of the things that I mention above but especially our trip to the local church on Christmas Eve afternoon to join in the nativity service. We always feel welcome there – a full church, the usual humorous and warm welcome from Fr Clarke and the expected songs and carols to accompany the great words of the Christmas story and the building of the nativity tableau as children excitedly and noisily take their places as shepherds, kings, sheep, Mary, Joseph and angels. We’ve all seen it hundreds of times before – we know the words, we can predict that the shepherds will wear tea towels on their heads, we can be almost certain of the songs we will sing..............and yet, year after year people all over the world will turn up to see something they have all seen before. It’s the ultimate “repeat show”. And we loved it! It's Christmas!
What other image will stick in my mind twelve months hence?
|I like Christmas|
And on Christmas Day much unwrapping of presents and a lovely Christmas lunch together. As lunch time approached it all reminded me of Dickens’ wonderful description of Christmas at the Cratchit’s in a Christmas Carol: “Such a bustle ensued......Mrs Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah.
|And so do we!|
|Everyone waitng to tuck in!|
|And, just like the Cratchits, we all gathered around......|