The tree’s gone up …

Some cards have arrived, the stores are full of things with which to part us from our money, and we’ve dotted a few festive ornaments about the place … it must be Christmas. Actually, I’m not that much of a Grinch about Christmas (just Halloween!) and spent last Saturday wrapping gifts for posting and doing some cards while listening to suitably Christmassy music.

Click here to listen to one of my favourites, a classic by Eartha Kitt from 1953.

The next day we went to lunch with my extended family. And I do mean extended – second cousins, third cousins and even a woman I’m not directly related to but who’s part of “the family” (which she can also say about me). Oh, all right. She’s my grandmother’s brother’s wife’s sister’s daughter!

The past couple of years have not been kind to two of the older women, but another has bounced back after surgery and looks better than I’ve ever seen her. Everyone, even the now largely mute cousin, was in the Christmas spirit and there was plenty of chat and laughter.

And I think that’s what makes Christmas special – the gathering of people, whether related or not, and the warmth that follows. Haiku Husband and I spent many Christmases in foreign lands and always managed to be among friends. My favourite Christmas song from the 1980s when he was arriving home, at that time in London, from overseas just before Christmas. (The lyrics are a bit loopy but the sentiment and the music are lovely.)

So spare a thought for those who will have an empty place or two at the table, whether through loss of a loved one during the year, or loved ones being too far away to make it home. I’m in both boats this year and, while I have a certain amount of sadness, there is also a renewed awareness of the love that surrounds me. A smile and a hug can mean so much.

To close, a traditional Christmas carol from an unlikely source – Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Heard about the group’s 2003 Christmas album on the radio this week! Or, my favourite carol, Good King Wenceslas, performed by my favourite Christmas group, a brass band. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one that I liked enough so instead I’m linking to a version by Bing Crosby.

Good thoughts, prayers and blessings to everyone.