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Monday 4 January 2010

Red Letter days

"Winter arrived in my garden", January 3rd, 2010

A reflection upon Christmas

I have been discussing the Bah-Humbugness of Christmas with two of my friends over the holy days.

One of these friends actually celebrated Christmas Day just a little bit this year along with his wife. Their slight change of heart came about because his son brought his future wife to visit for a few days. Perhaps they felt that they had something to celebrate!

Although they did not go as far as to decorate a tree or hang up the paper-chains, Christmas didn’t sound quite as Bah-Humbug in their house as it often has sounded in the past. I believe they said that a bottle of beer had been opened, maybe even two!

The other friend remarked how nice it was to have the last of the bank holidays over so the world and its people could work as normal again.

I would be thinking the same if I still lived in a country where no public transport runs on Christmas bank holidays. I find that quite unbelievable, at a time when people want to visit friends and family!

Twelve lords a-leaping

So it seems things have got back to normal in England now, with the roll of the drummer’s drums. Not so here!

“Christmas” is still not over here in Bavaria. We and two other states in Germany, still have one more Red Letter Day to come. January 6th, Epiphany. This extra holy day comes after the twelve days of Christmas, which means that in many places of work and schools, Christmas only officially ends when the twelve lords stop leaping!

On January 7th the children can leap back to school, the factories can re-open, physiotherapy practises can get back to work. The wheels of the world start turning again.

If I stuck to doing nothing for the twelve days of Christmas I would have been leaping or even hopping days ago. I have been working between the holy days but still very much enjoying the few (Red Letter) days off.

The second “humbug-to-Christmas” friend said that, although he can do without it, he knows that I love all sorts of aspects of this holiday.

He is right, I do, but that is only because I do Christmas my way.

I do love many aspects of Christmas and doing them all how I choose, either alone, or with friends or with family. Just as the fancy takes me.

What aspects did I love this year?

I loved buying my tree and having it carried home for me.

I loved decorating it over a few days then spending many hours sitting beneath it reading, writing and model making. Sometimes I sat there doing nothing except looking at the lights and the tinsel.

Now I am loving un-decorating it and lovingly packing the treasures away.

I loved to sit in the kitchen beside the Advent’s crown, making hundreds yes, really, hundreds of hand-made sweeties, 250 in all, to give as presents.

I loved to work on the Christmas market stall, selling for charity stars made by children.

I love to go to work now when so many people are on holiday. I enjoy the quietness of the streets and the emptiness of the trams.

I loved it at New Year at precisely the moment when the church bells began to ring and I imagined that ships would be sounding their sirens, if there were any near enough to be heard.

This year I loved to hang out of the window and commune with the neighbours at midnight.

I also loved, this year, to eat the Christmas biscuits, of which I was given a great many.

I loved the presents that I received, especially as amongst them there were lots of things to play with and read!

I loved collecting rocket sticks on the first day of January when the streets where still quiet and sleepy. I will love using them in my models and in my flower pots.

Yes, I really do love some aspects of the holiday.

I enjoy these aspects because I do what my Mum suggested when I left home at nineteen. At this time she encouraged me always to spend Christmas wherever and however I felt happiest. Many of my happy Christmases were spent with my Mum and my Dad, but just as many other happy ones have been spent elsewhere, either alone or with others.

I think that I might possibly have said “Bah! Humbug” to Christmas too if I spent it in a country with no public transport on the public holidays and no car of my own!

How would I get to visit people I want to be with?

I got my bike out on Christmas Eve to visit my German family but I could just as easily have gone on the tram. It rained later so I travelled home at midnight, on not quite the last tram, with my bike!

I used the same weekend ticket all over the holidays, on trams, buses and trains with and without my bike.

I feel no need to say Bah! Humbug to a Christmas like that.


Bah! Humbug

1791 – student slang for a hoax or jest
1843 -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, spoken by Ebeneezer Scrooge

The Twelve Days of Christmas -

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