Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Besides being a Christian festival, and whether or not it was an usurped pagan festival date, Christmas in our modern world, to my mind, is for children. When my own children were small we tried to add to the wonder and magic that attends the festivities. Presents were hidden before the day, decorations transformed the house overnight on Christmas Eve, stocking were hung for Santa Claus and we did what we could for mutual fun and enjoyment. And of course there was the Christmas lunch. Prepared with care and a great deal of hard work, mainly by The Wife, the repast was enjoyed (sprouts and all) in mid afternoon. Games were played thereafter, charades, board games and others. Children grow, of course, and we had to adapt our traditions and practices accordingly involving the children in the preparations as their ages dictated, but trying always to create or maintain that sense of magic which attended our family Christmases.

As the children left home to begin their own traditional Christmases, our arrangements necessarily shrank but the ethos prevailed. Eventually our last child left home and our Christmas dynamic changed irrevocably. Two of the children, now adult, are still within visiting range and so we tried initially to perpetuate our traditions as far as possible, the late onset of the decorations, the after-dinner games and so on, but for various reasons it was not a success. This year we thought that major surgery was necessary; we decided to dine out for Christmas lunch.

The great day dawned with The Wife feeling at a loose end with no dinner to cook, but the family arriving for breakfast. After breakfast came the present exchanges and coffee with much delight and laughter and the time until needing to depart for lunch passed very pleasantly. The Wife doesn't drink so she volunteered to be the taxi driver and we arrived at our chosen venue in good time. The place was packed, unsurprisingly, many apparently just drinking.

From then on Christmas lunch turned into a very poor imitation of a pub lunch. From waiting 40 minutes beyond our booked time for a table, through inedible turkey and tired vegetables, to inadequate dessert portions the experience was lamentable. However, the company was exceptional, the conversation entertaining and there were laughs aplenty. In some unfathomable way the shared vississitudes served to unite our party to the extent that this Christmas was at least as enjoyable as the best of them, the ghost of Christmas past. 

We are considering a similar venture for 2015 but the venue and the details may change as there will be a new infant on the planet, and Christmas is for children first, isn't it?

Happy New Year!

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