I am currently on the M42 (not in a literal sense, I am in the back of a vehicle on the M42 using a mobile connect card) as part of the annual visit family extended Christmas, that this year involves a trip to Paris which will include staying at Paris Disney (my wife loves Disney and enough said).
Like last year this is a few days journey to several places, which always involves Boxing Day (or near to) in Wales, New Year's in either London-area or Lancaster-area and post New Year with family near Edinburgh. Unlike last year though I feel more Christmassy, and I am wondering why.
I think I can trace this backwards in post-chronological order:
Yesterday: RATM became the Xmas No.1, I am not really going to cover why I think this is a good thing or a bad, I downloaded the single and support the Shelter charity so that explains my sympathies. I have read a lot of material from the papers and enjoyed the whole debate, but it is a good xmas thing, for once the odd nature of the British public voted with its cash and made a song No.1 in the charts when for one reason or another it didn't deserve to be. Just like Christmas songs of my youth, Mr Blobby and Sir Cliff included. Christmas is all about singles races, it always used to be between the standard Christmas crooners and the outsider who releases something mad (Iron Maiden – Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter anyone?), so this highlighted that to me. And yes Simon, we are all Scrooges. But at least he learned humility and humanity at Christmas, how will you fare?
Saturday: It snowed in Lancaster. That may not seem odd to a country covered in the white stuff, but Lancaster traditionally stays wet when all about it is white. Something to do with closeness to the sea, prevailing winds and a curse. So the covering of white gave a lovely Yule feeling to the town and brought a glimpse of xmas to the world. It felt like Christmas, the world is white.
Thursday: This was the start. We had carol singers. Now for years I have despaired of these annual scroungers with their off-key voices, manipulative pleading stares and wishes of Merry Christmas in one tired and oft-repeated verse. Give me a different hymn, or a better song I would often bemoan, not this tired wishing me of a merry time, I am a grumpy sod, I don't want to be wished happy. Part of this stems from a youth spent in a choir, when we went on the Xmas scrounge we borrowed surplace and hymn book and gave each house a separate song, but we were gits that way. But this year was a pleasant surprise. Two girls, no more than eleven years old, dressed in christmassy garb, sang the whole of Away in a Manger with actions and in sync. True their voices were still not mature and their motives for cash, but who cares. They gave me effort. They gave me a whole hymn. They had actions. it was a performance and it was rare for recent years. I felt lifted by this and I rewarded them well. They probably learned this for some School performance, but that mattered not, what was similar was the extra effort, it reminded me of the past.
Maybe I am getting old and harkening for a time gone by?
Nah, am I bollox. I like the modern age. I like computers and video games, I like lasers and a Bond with balls and HD screen and all. But I also like a personal touch. I like there to be a sense of community, of people caring and acting on that care. I also like when it snows at Christmas. I like this time of year. Of seeing family and friends and drinking perhaps a little too much beer. So these little things makes it a little more Christmas, a little more special.
Oh and Mr Cowell, Bah Humbug sir, and a Happy Christmas.