This handful of days between Christmas and New Year is one of my favourite times of the year; time seems to slow down and it’s easy to forget what day of the week it is. The rush and intensity of Christmas is over, but the abstinence of January is not yet upon us; the fires are lit, the cake tin is full, the corks are still gently popping, and there’s nowhere else we need to be – it’s blissful.
My family arrived on 23rd, so I added a few final festive touches to their rooms, including laying out our nativity set atop the butcher’s block in the guest room;
Three old temple bells also now hang from a pole in the bay window; junk shop finds which are now a permanent feature of the room but do look especially good at Christmas..
We travelled to the magical Royal Chapel of St Georges in Windsor for their carol service; a mixture of carols sung by choir and by congregation, interspersed with readings by members of the royal household staff and clergy. The music was magnificent, and the combination of celebration, contemplation, prayer and song was the perfect start to Christmas ‘proper’…
St. Georges Chapel and Choir, ℅ College of St. George
On Christmas Eve there was great excitement when we discovered a telegram from Father Christmas in the hearth of the fireplace in Harry’s bedroom, containing new pyjamas and promise of a visit later that night (and thank you to those who received a telegram from me in November’s competition and wrote to tell me of the reaction it caused; wonderful to hear!)
As darkness fell we scattered our reindeer food on the lawn and even managed a momentary glimpse of Santa’s sleigh which lit up the sky briefly with blinking points of light to the west. Harry shrieked in awe. A greater cynic than I might have mistaken it for a plane stuck in a holding pattern over the airport, but Harry is adamant and who am I to disagree?
And at bedtime, Harry diligently laid out a platter for Santa with milk, mince pie and a VERY large carrot (‘it has to feed all the reindeer, not just Rudolph!’ he pointed out, helpfully…
I have to tell you, several large bites of raw carrot are not the best thing to eat late on Christmas Eve night after a large meal and plenty of wine, but these things have to be done..
Christmas Day dawned bright and clear so we interspersed the eating, drinking and gift-opening with time outdoors; walking in the park enjoying the rare winter sunshine. I was given some wonderful presents, like these books I’ve had on my must-read list for a while, and a lovely simple wooden tissue box holder that just makes me smile…
And a poignant and lovely gift; one of the poppies from the installation that ceramic artist Paul Cummins created at the Tower of London to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War (you can read more here). Definitely a contender for best-present-ever-that-I’d-never-have-thought-to-ask-for.
And now we’re back to just the three of us, and are gradually returning the house to its usual state; the tree will stay up with its twinkling lights for a good few days more, but the bonfire is going now, fuelled by bags of gift wrap and empty boxes, agitated by an excitable small boy with a long poking stick. Later we’ll be recycling some of our favourite Christmas cards, cutting out the pictures and making things for next year.
And everywhere now, touches of green as the New Year approaches. Bulbs on the sills, promising a heady burst of scent within days, and warding off the gloom that the end of the holidays can bring.
I hope that you had a lovely, lovely break, even if today signals a return to work and the world at large… I’ll be back again very soon.