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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.


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.
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!
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.
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.
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.