It’s advent and so Christmas is beginning. Unlike almost everyone else I know (I’m different, I am), I really like Christmas. It was the one time when things felt properly convivial and harmonious chez nous when I was a child and, like many other diaspora refugee folk, we did the whole thing with tree, baby Jesus in the manger close by and recordings of German carols sent by my grandma from Hannover. And we had the double celebration of traditional German Christmas Eve followed by the English one the next day – double the presents and conviviality, all good as far as I was concerned, and I still feel the same even though one is obviously energy-challenged and yes, the commercialisation etc. But there’s something at the heart of this winter festival that feels necessary and restorative. My mother’s partner is virulently anti-Christmas and she has finally capitulated and pretends she never really liked it, but she was the one who gave me my early Christmasses and I know the truth of it.
So anyway, I try not to moan overmuch when people put the flashing lights and galloping reindeer in their front windows, though it’s getting bad when even an unmade country road like mine is livid with one vulgar display after another and each year it gets worse. It’s a festival of light in darkness after all and each to their own. But yesterday Mr. Signs came in and asked if I’d seen the house over the road. “It looks like a police station,” he said. Today I saw what he meant. There are nasty blue lights all across one side of the house - you feel as though a siren might go off at any moment and it won’t be proclaiming peace and goodwill. If the darkness is banished too efficiently how can the candle properly shine?
I’m going to London tomorrow to see the daughter in a dress rehearsal of this. She will be a-singing and performing, being decently paid to do it, and I am delighted. She is one of those who works hard for every single break that comes her way.