Solstice solace

Now that I come to think of it I’ve never actually spent Christmas on my own. As a nurse I worked both day and night shifts, as a child celebrations were always either at home or in Fife with the great aunts until my brother had the invidious honour of being a chorister at a cathedral school. That meant we spent Christmas in a seedy Midlands hotel while he processed into the cathedral in his cherubic finery and we all sat in the ancient pews opposite. After the service brother was released and my father drove maniacally home (know doubt over the limit as well having had a ‘good’ lunch at the seedy hotel).

The real fun was Hogmanay as despite being in the English shires my father claimed his Scots ancestry and there was a big party. Brother aged about 10 and now resplendent in a kilt, ran the bar – he was meant to just pour the drinks but he was overly influenced by his frugal mother and so if people left something in their glass, he would drink it rather than through it away. I do vaguely remember seeing him sitting slumped behind the bar (really just a table covered with a white cloth) and thinking that wasn’t quite right but wasn’t really sure what was wrong.

As an adult I tried to avoid being with family but that rarely worked as mother always required my presence and usually a whole lot more. My best Christmas ever was last year with the six of us just very warm, relaxed and filled with love. My second best was the year before, it was extremely cold in a minute caravan on a campsite in Alsace but it was just Jane, me and the very irritable pussy cats. It was joyous and hard in equal measure but felt very special, more so now.

Childhood memories of adult tensions – my father invariably caught the flu bug of the day, my mother was harassed by her self-imposed pressures to do the full turkey with trimmings meal – have left me with a vague feeling of uneasiness and no worries for this year’s solo affair.

In actual fact for many years I’ve preferred the winter solstice as the noteworthy day – the prospect of lengthening days and Spring is quite uplifting. My self imposed prudence couldn’t quite run to a Saturnalian celebration but that would be serious fun, maybe another time. I decided to forgo the local Christmas parties this year at the Lit and the Gardening Club. We went to both last year and although they were quite entertaining, once was quite enough. To me what is really important is being with family and friends if possible (and that includes the wonders of skype), having a few food treats for the darkest days and ignore the commercialism wherever possible. I believe the great aunts only partook of Christmas festivities once small children started to arrive but that was Scotland in the good old days – austere warmth and an old chap with an accordion. Here’s some local winter views …

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PS – While writing this post I was multi-tasking as usual and attempted to send a number of festive emails. They included a wee picture I had done but irritatingly it seemed to have vapourised in the Cloud. To save boring everyone with another one of my cheery attempts at staying in touch, here it is:

Seasonal Greetings

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