Earthly hopes

I’ve just had breakfast on Christmas morning, some poached eggs with mushrooms on toast, and opened the few presents I’ve got (though more than last year), and Christmas carols are playing. Soon enough Rigby and I will go for a walk down by the beach, which might become a tradition. He received his gift this morning too and happily gobbled it up, but I don’t think he has much idea about Christmas.

There was a patch this morning of about five minutes when I felt a bit sad. I had reflected on years past, how from too early the phone would be ringing, and it would be mum on the phone as happy as a child wishing me a heartfelt Merry Christmas. It would be all action after that, preparing for the day ahead, then getting in the car with my bag of pressies and bottles of bubbles that were always my responsibility. I’d be at mum’s by 11, and earlier if I was going for breakfast. I’d be greeted exuberantly, but then put to work helping with the grandiose preparations. Gradually the house would fill and resonate with happy voices and the cries of excited kids. Eventually, we would sit down with a drink in our hand, and whoever was the designated Santa of the year would hand out presents from under the tree. I figure it’s a familiar scene a million times over.

Around noon today, I’ll be setting off for a Christmas lunch in Canterbury. I intended to have this day alone but was tricked into this. Probably not a bad thing. I gather it’ll be pretty low-key, but with some drinking.

Listening to the carols this morning, there was one that I stopped to listen to closely. Carols are so familiar as to be muzak, and it’s rare even as we mouth along with the lyrics that we really listen. Most of the lyrics are idealised, good-natured, but hardly intimate. An exception is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – at least to me. Perhaps it’s the times, but I listen to the lyrics, and they’re something I want to believe in, and therefore become more personal for me. It’s a quieter, less exuberant song, smaller in scale and therefore more earthly. I have an excellent version of it by Nora Sagal.

Otherwise, I like Carol of the Bells, purely for the melodic purity of it. There’s a lot of good versions of this, but the a capella version I have by Pentatonix is hard to top.

That’s my Christmas. How’s yours? Hope it brings you wisdom, compassion and joy.

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