Pictorial blethers

By blethers

Still Christmas ...

This was not a day that encouraged outdoor photography - by the time I was out it was pouring with rain, and when the rain stopped it was dark. In fact, I had to take this photo more or less at bedtime - which it is now, only I'm blipping - and use it as the prompt for a seasonal rant ...

I've been reading posts on social media of people taking down their trees, rejoicing in going back to "normal", packing Christmas away for another year. Only it won't be a year, not for many of them, the multitude whose trees start twinkling away before the end of November. In vain does one try to point out that they don't tend to celebrate the birth of a child for a month in advance, let alone forget all about it a week after the birthday. Instead, everything is brought forward, the hype starts earlier every year, the whole thing is diluted and made ordinary by being, as it were, stretched.

I'm not even mentioning the religious side of the festival - and of course trees are nothing to do with that, let alone fairy lights. But I do look back at the magic of an understated post-war Christmas, when we always had a big tree to fill the bay window of our Glasgow top flat but a small number of presents, carefully chosen and received with such glee. I remember the anticipation on Christmas Eve brought on by the smell of giblets boiling to make the sauce for the big chicken we'd have for Christmas dinner (we didn't tend to have them at other times, though we did have beef and lamb joints: were chickens more expensive in these days?). I remember my mother singing carols, the sound of church bells on Christmas morning - on the radio and in reality outside - and the ritual visits to my grandparents and other relatives in the afternoon, to taste other people's cakes and compare them with the one my mother made. None of that lying around stupefied in front of the telly - we were out in the cold, walking the relatively short distances to the relatives' houses. 

And one Christmas sticks in my memory. I would be seven, perhaps, or eight. And on Christmas Day I had a cold, a bad enough cold to rule out these ritual perambulations through the chilly streets in the dark. So my mother took my sister visiting, and my father stayed at home with me. We sat in the front room - this at a time when I was rarely in there in the evenings - with the radiogram playing, and we ate Christmas cake off our knees without bothering to eat any bread first. It was such a break with normality, and we shared our gleeful secret, my Dad and I, and the fact that he declared it the best Christmas he'd had in years.

And all this stirred up by looking at my wee tree and knowing that it's going to stay there till the Magi have come ...

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