I love the build up to Christmas, which is just as well as small daughter has been practising the Christmas songs that she will be singing in her class assembly for some weeks now. Now that big daughter’s at high school, the days of watching her doing the actions to The Twelve Days of Christmas are long gone, so it’s great to get another chance to watch them all over again. Having said that, it is rather unnerving to listen to small daughter singing with her best friend’s strong regional accent, but nonetheless, it’s lovely to hear them sung with such gusto. I can still remember my frustrated class teacher insisting that it was ‘We Three Kings of Orien –T Are’ not Orien Tar, as if we expected several heavy plant vehicles to rumble into the school hall.
My favourite time must be Christmas Eve. Everything’s bought that needs to be bought, and if it’s not then it’s too late. The reindeer food has been sprinkled on the grass. And the path. And any other place where Rudolph might possibly spot it, though not as one friend did, on the carpet in front of the fire place where it sparkled for the rest of the year and evaded her best attempts to vacuum it up. We’ve been watching the Track Santa website (www.noradsanta.org) to see where he is and if he’s in Russia now then he’ll be here any minute so it’s definitely time for bed. Big daughter is not so easily fooled but usually she’s headed upstairs by the time he’s reached Germany. My Dad has come over to spend the night with us, the cats are curled up in warm places and the door’s locked. It all satisfies what my husband laughingly calls my inner sheepdog – I like to know that everyone’s rounded up and safe.
Of course, this isn’t the way Christmas is for everyone. One friend without family spends his Christmas at a homelessness shelter with others that he sees as less fortunate than himself. Other friends seem to spend all their time avoiding their families. Christmas for many can be a stressful time of over-hopeful expectations and financial worry. I’m not sure that Christmas was any less stressful for Mary and Joseph, struggling to find somewhere to stay and then delivering a baby to the world in a stable. (Unlike the Mary and Joseph in an infant nativity play who were told by the innkeeper that they could s*! off, they weren’t staying in his stable because he had wanted the part of Joseph!) But despite the modern tensions and bickering over the TV remote control, Christmas is a time of hope and new beginnings and the New Year just around the corner offers a whole year of opportunities undiscovered.
I hope you have a peaceful Christmas and a New Year full of wonderful possibilities.