Thank you for all your kind Christmas wishes and this is by way of covering all bases for the card that we meant to send to so many of you and somehow Christmas Eve is upon us already.
We are decorated, the tree is an over-laden confection as usual, so nothing designer about it but still very special...
An accumulation of thirty-five years of our own family additions and some from my childhood too... that fairy at the top given to me at the age of three months as a Christening present, December 20th 1953.
And the bough has happened in the corner of the kitchen, thanks to the Gamekeeper who chooses and cuts it, and Bookhound who manouevres it into position whilst silently mourning the once-pristine state of his ceiling which always takes a direct hit ...
And decorated this year thanks to Offspringette and a Skype video link to some sleepless friends in Christchurch, New Zealand where she had spent the first half of this year. There had been two more earthquakes in quick succession a few hours previously followed by a night of aftershocks, and the fear and anxiety of 'what may happen next' something that Offspringette understands only too well. New Zealand suggested the bough 'needed more on the right' and so that is what it got... what a lovely collaboration, and our thoughts and good wishes are with them all.
The turkey, having lived that happy free-range life is now deceased and pending, and we've had a lovely calm run up to Christmas since last Sunday evening.
Me: 'I'd really like to go to Nine Lessons and Carols tonight...'
Bookhound : 'But I'll miss Country File...'
So we wrapped up warm (good decision) went to call for the Tinker and walked down to the candlelit Parish Church and nabbed our pews early which was good thinking because the church was packed to the rafters (and it's huge) with extra seats at the back and standing room only. We wondered whether it is a sign of hard times and people wanting to feel part of their community. Anyway we sang our hearts out and I hit the high notes now I have done three years back in a choir and got my breathing sorted, and the church choir (the one I sang in for many years until I lapsed) sang a lovely selection of my favourite John Rutter carols too. With indecent haste we shot out after Hark the Herald and the Vicar's blessing, first in the queue to shake his hand and say 'Happy Christmas', before zooming across to the Bedford Hotel for our window seat and a pot of hot chocolate, and decided that we did indeed feel exceptionally seasonal.
Stage Two of the process will commence with Carols from King's this afternoon.
We are having another one of our £1 maximum or Home Made Christmases with extra points for innovative wrapping (expect feed sacks from the Gamekeeper) having agreed that for us Christmas has become a much anticipated mid-winter solstice time of respite from the day to day, time to stop work and hunker down as a family with some nice food, keep the home fires burning, read books, watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Danny the Champion of the World and The Railway Children and see if we can all say 'Daddy, my Daddy' at the same time, go walking, play daft games and generally re-charge our batteries. This rather than an extravagent party and present fest... we are hopelessly anti-social at Christmas. One of those years when all 'children' will be home, as in sleeping here, but I doubt we will see much of them as they catch up with friends also back in the Shire for Christmas, and the Tinker will join us on Christmas day as usual.
So how about you... all safely gathered in and as ready as you need to be??
I'll be here with the odd festive post over Christmas through to New Year because I still have books from 2011 to share, and I know every year I get e mails from those of you who may be on your own, or miles away from family and friends, saying thank you for still being there. So here's raising a glass (or cup of tea) to every one of you, and wishing you all a gentle and peaceful Christmas season with books of course.
See you on the other side of the giving, the sprouts, the Queen, the snooze, the Monopoly fight, the turkey sarnies and Downton.