There are so many things I have been wanting to write about but I have been a Christmas misery this year. For the first time in my life I had to work Christmas day. I LOVE Christmas. But this year the run up to it just kept on reminding me that I would spend the late afternoon walking the three and a half miles into work. In the dark. And then walking the three and a half miles back at 10:30pm – in the rain – before I could breathe and truly enjoy myself.
So I thought today, after my fixed weekend off giving me the opportunity to eat my weight in satsumas and mince pies, I would share some Christmas cheer.
Christmas at Margaret’s house means Comrade Santa! He has an interesting biography having been part of a Christmas window display in the quirky gift shop Margaret used to work in. Christmas scallywags smashed the shop window and stole Comrade Santa! After an article in the local paper condemned this behaviour, Santa was anonymously returned in the night. Seeing as he was more than a little shop (and street!) soiled he eventually came home with Margaret. The first year I was here for Christmas I leapt on him. He has been a marvellous custodian of the gifts under the tree and always makes me smile when I walk into the livingroom and see his enervated expression leaping to attention.
And he had a remarkable package to watch over:
Top marks for effort. My mum and sister teamed up to purchase a present they had delivered direct to the house. The Boy managed to squirrel it away and conceal all identifying features leaving me guessing at what on earth they could have got me.
No guessing was added to the list of interdictions. I was thinking electric piano? – not long enough; Bicycle? – not wide enough for the wheels (although Margaret pointed out that it could be a fold up bike and teased me about going out to ride it before our Christmas lunch).
With the excitement growing, I tried to throw myself into the usual Christmas build up but the bizarre working hours thrown into the mix scuppered anything approaching normality. The beauty of this time of the year, with the winter solstice shrinking the daylight hours to nothing, is to curl up snug in the darkness and quietly glow in our little bubbles of winter warmth. Working in a government call centre I would spend the daylight hours indoors and as darkness falls find myself bustling out the door and onto public transport then into a huge fluorescent tubed office straining my eyes at computer forms with people from places I have never been to or heard of on the other end of the phone sharing their small disasters and the accompanying panic in a flurry of contextomied words.
I did ‘get glam for Santa’, as one sister put it:
But I couldn’t bring myself to make the batch of Christmas eve mince pies. It’s not the same without collapsing into a chair afterwards with tea and and satsuma. And the obligatory feast of nine lessons and carols just depressed me. Perhaps it doesn’t help that the parade of Draco Malfoys and patriarchal scripture seems to become less anachronistic each year we endure a Conservative establishment and their media minions. But chiefly I am missing the music. Christina Rosetti always makes me maudlin – I love the ‘proper’ version of ‘In the Bleak Mid Winter’ so much! – and this year being away from my mother’s house for the whole of Christmas it really ramped up the stinging nostalgia for childhood Christmases. These were always a clutter of choir practices, carol and Christingle services all swathed in the smell of the thurible mixed with oranges, mulled wine and candle wax.
So no pies dusted with icing sugar, no smell of turkey giblets with half a carrot and onion and 6 cloves, no church, no music, no pine needles. I guess I was a misery on Christmas Eve but I did get a gin and tonic after work on Thursday and that put a little crackle in my Christmas spirit.
And then on christmas day this little guy arrived:
Let me introduce you to Phil! Well he is not the original Phil but another instantiation of the little action figure found at a bring and buy sale when we were at school and part of a youthful hide and seek game – Where’s Phil? – which ended with him being decked in wrapping paper and tinsel and settling on the top of the christmas tree. Very happy Jem.
And lest you think the crafts are being neglected, The Boy gave me a roll of pattern paper and the latest Yoshiko Tsukiori pattern book! (comprehensively reviewed here!). First impressions though bring a little disappointment as the sizing doesn’t range as wide as the original. There is a reason The Stylish Dress Book gets around so much! It transpires that none of the others have the sizing of the original Tuttle translation. I think I will be alright though. Time to get that “boy’s brain” out, which a (female!!) maths teacher accused me of having, and start problem solving…
And that surprise present:
It turns out they sent me a guitar! So I did get some music for Christmas after all. I used to play on an acoustic that went walkabout, although it took me till after dinner to remember how to tune the thing. I blame the violin interference.
And as for vegetarian Christmas dinner:
The Quinoa pie was a triumph. The Boy is blogging it as I type. Tandem blogging. The quinoa makes for a consistency very like a pork pie when cooled. I have requested quinoa and apple mini not-pork pies next!
Heading off to work I was informed that The Boy would be walking me all the way in, returning home and then walking back out again to meet me coming out of work at half ten. Isn’t he lovely!
Work was not. But there was some consolation in the tonally erratic funnies gifted me by my sister:
My favourite, as a fan of internet cats and goats, being the following:
The background sound of community care alarm calls was appropriate. Not that I take any of those yet – so my being there on Christmas day wasn’t even particularly useful!
Never mind though, it’s over for another year. Thank you for all my wonderful presents! I shall be writing more about the beautiful japanese fabric Margaret bought me soon. And I shall try to write something on paper too and get it in the post. Or saving that at least an email. I just haven’t got round to it yet. I guess I was trying not to think about it.