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The ghost of Xmas past

I get the strangest feeling that Boxing Day is upon us...and that can't be right. Hell, we haven't even waved goodbye to Saint Nick (we've hardly said hello), and yet, riding on the bus today, I saw this year's first Xmas tree all sparkly and twinkling away in someone's window.

Ah! but they don't make Xmasses like they used to. Or rather, I don't make Xmasses like my Mum did when we were little. I wonder how she managed it? Work, a family...and yet she never got caught out failing to prepare Xmas dinner. Granted, there was that time when the chestnut pudding hadn't set and ran and dripped all over the table and chairs, and that other time when she'd served a cow's tongue and no one would eat it (ewww, just remembering that spectacle makes me shudder), but on the whole, and year after year, between Xmas and the New Year, our house would smell of pine needles and cookies; the rooms would be festooned with holly and other types of evergreen, and Bing Crosby would dream of a white Xmas for bloody ever. The table would be laid with her own hand-embroidered Xmassy tablecloth and napkins, the best china and crystal, and between the candles and table pieces she'd serve that year's roast (or goose or venison or boar) with great aplomb and not a small measure of pride. It was also her job to get the tree in, up and decorated (although my sister and I helped of course, mostly by stuffing our faces with the edible decorations that she'd just put in), and wrap and arrange all the presents to their best advantage. And I remember that I used to think that I would do it just the same as her when I grew up and left home.

I never did. I tried, but once you've had turkey for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week, you sort of lose the incentive to do it ever again. Wrapping your own presents isn't much fun, either; and you'll only set up a Xmas tree full of artsy glass decorations from Harrods' once when you share your quarters with several young and rowdy kittens. So my Xmasses have mostly been treeless (I tried the plastic kind once; that got me so depressed) and while I may snack on duckbreast filet when at home, I usually spend the holidays somewhere else; I've never yet had a goose in my oven. And as to all the baking and decorating: I wouldn't know where to find the time.

Oh dear, it sounds like I'm getting all maudlin! I'm not. There's nothing wrong with the way I celebrate Xmas -I go to church, I am with friends, I drink more wine than is good for me- but I'm just saying: some way, somehow, it was better in the old days.

Comments

( 16 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
bogwitch
Nov. 28th, 2004 09:46 am (UTC)
I get the impression it's really about a lack of someone to do it for. I've felt that way since you nan died. No one is really that bothered - except my mum and her designer, themed decorations.
gamiila
Nov. 28th, 2004 09:53 am (UTC)
You're right: it is the lack of an appreciative audience that prevents me from pulling out all the stops. Why bother, when it's just me? I'm happy enough curled up on the couch with a bottle of champers, a box of fine chocolate and a selection of romantic comedies within easy reach.
bogwitch
Nov. 28th, 2004 10:09 am (UTC)
As long as I don't have to cook a roast, I'm happy.
hesadevil
Nov. 28th, 2004 01:35 pm (UTC)
I'm lucky, MWNN has always done Christmas dinner - the whole thing, right from scratch. I used to bake but with so few of us (used to be three, sometimes it's four)I've reduced that to a batch of mince pies. Italian neighbour always gives us one of those huge Italian cakes. It's a struggle against temptation.

I do still decorate the house, though. Everygreen wreath from sis-in-law in Germany on the front door, cards strung from string around the walls. I stuff cut glass vases with shiny baubles and we long ago stopped getting a real tree. I treated myself to a fibre optic one two years ago - I like it. It shimmers and does away with the need for fairy lights. The decorations make the house glow and feel cosier. We do light a fire at Christmas and, although it's not a yule log, I sprinkle it with pine cones for the smell.
gamiila
Nov. 28th, 2004 02:14 pm (UTC)
That all sounds lovely -- do you know, I feel inspired now to put a little bit more effort into it this year...maybe I should hunt around for a fibre optic tree as well. Don't know what the cats will make of it, but maybe they'll leave it alone if I only decorate the top bit...I think the angel isn't too badly damaged from last time it was up!
hesadevil
Nov. 28th, 2004 02:25 pm (UTC)
My tree's a white one. It stands on top of the fiing cabinet. I don't put anything else on it. Just switch it on and turn all the other lights in the room off and watch the colours swish across the walls, changing hues and intensity. The cats shouldn't be frightened. Mind you, we put all the presents underneath it, just like a real tree and the little terrier always finds his eatable one.

The Angel (made it myself) stands on the mantlepiece beside the Waterford crystal vase full of golden globes.

Not putting anything up until the last weekend this year. I'm too busy.
gamiila
Nov. 28th, 2004 02:50 pm (UTC)
The cats shouldn't be frightened.

If only they were! They'd stay away from it then. No, my housemates like to take a running jump and swing from the branches if I get a tree in. Broken glass everywhere!

If I do decorate, I usually don't do it before Xmas Eve -- but I won't take anything down until after Twelfth Night, whereas most people here chuck their trees on the bonfires with New Year.
bogwitch
Nov. 28th, 2004 03:04 pm (UTC)
A Yule Log wouldn't look right on my radiator, sadly. :)

I decorate, but hardly anyone will see it, so I don't if I'll bother.
gamiila
Nov. 28th, 2004 02:18 pm (UTC)
Got any plans for this year, then?
bogwitch
Nov. 28th, 2004 03:01 pm (UTC)
I'm staying at my parents. All I have to do is turn up. You?
gamiila
Nov. 28th, 2004 04:12 pm (UTC)
No definite plans yet, but I daresay my Mum will expect me to come to hers one of those days...what usually happens is that I have 1 absolutely brilliant day with friends, and 1 requisite number with the family.
db2305
Nov. 28th, 2004 10:30 am (UTC)
I used to hate Christmases and everything surrounding it, and yet, with a passel of young kids, getting a tree, decorating it, filling the house with the nice piney smell...I even iron my one table cloth because my eldest daughter likes things neat.
But first, there's Santa Claus to get past!
gamiila
Nov. 28th, 2004 02:16 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, I imagine Sinterklaas must be very big in your house! Do you go the whole hog with surprises and poems and stuff, or is it just the handing out of presents to the kids?
db2305
Nov. 28th, 2004 11:39 pm (UTC)
The whole hog, baby...
vegmb
Nov. 29th, 2004 02:02 pm (UTC)
Christmas has always been *my* time of year because it is so close to my birthday. When I was growing up we always had a real tree and I would sneak up at night and sit for hours watching the lights. Now we have a nice artificial tree and have made it a tradition to have family over the day after Thanksgiving to decorate it and drink eggnog. It is so much fun to watch the kids decorate. (I never get to have any holiday meals at my house, they all have to be done at the mother-in-laws, but I get to enjoy the decorations for the whole season.)
gamiila
Nov. 29th, 2004 02:43 pm (UTC)
Your tradition sounds like a lovely way to start getting in the mood for Xmas. It'll take a little time for us here in Holland to get caught up to you and turn our thoughts to Santa Claus, because we first have to deal with another present-giver in the form of St. Nicholas ('Sinterklaas' in kiddie speak) on Dec 5 and/or 6.
( 16 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
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