I wrote this before recent events tarnished the Christmas sheen a little, I wanted to post it because it does remind me of what Christmas should have been.

I will not countenance Xmas until at least December. Not because I’m an old Scrooge actually I really like Xmas, and that is why I don’t want the commercialised version rammed down my throat for 2 months it just means by the time you get to Xmas it’s somewhat lost its lustre.

Fortunately with young children they reinvigorate Xmas, they remind me of the way I used to look forward to it. Xmas for me is a small family thing (only because I have never had the most close-knit of families – I am like my Dad in wanting to be the Victorian style patriarch warming the coat tails at the hearth in a big stovepipe hat with a plethora of children and gradchildren all of the place) and it tends to follow a more continental teutonic style which is very much based around the adults organising for the enjoyment of the children.

Of course there is also the food, now I suppose I’m going to have to start watching myself but I do really love my family’s Xmas food. For many people Xmas means turkey but we never really tended to do that. First my Ma does a ham for Xmas Eve she roasts and glazes it herself and it’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted, s’a family receipe passed down by the matriarchs. (Irish Mammmy’s come into their own at Xmas they rule everything and they are entirely responsible for the success of Xmas.) and then is one of my favourite parts of Xmas which is breakfast, a tradition I instigated after I came back from Holland 15 years ago. It’s modelled on the Uitsmijter and comprises 2 healthy slabs of fresh white bread (a good bloomer is best) on top of them you put some large chunks of the Xmas ham and they are smeared with a strong smooth mustard and then topped with a poached egg yolk just soft and freshly cracked black pepper. I love that breakfast and tho’ I do try to have it a few times a year no ham is as good so it tastes best accompanied with all the Xmas smells and stuff.

Xmas to me is about warm dark colours crimsons, holly greens and golds as well as warm dark smells like cinnamon and nutmeg and clove. It is the very ambience of this and the people around that make up that Xmas. Gifts are there but never the be all and end all, we’ve always been broke so we’ve always gone for significant things rather than any flamboyance in presents. I always buy most stuff late and I just go round until things jump out and it becomes clear what is for whom.

Likewise I do not like too many decorations, a good selection and in every room including the loo is nice, lights on the outside of the house is ludicrous and for showing off to others, I don’t hold with that side of Xmas in the same way that I dislike the over-commercialisation.

Do I have any right to celebrate Xmas as an atheist, well it would be a little less defensible if it were in Sept/Oct when Jesus is actually likely to have been born but having picked a pagan festival for it’s useful timing in breaking up the year I feel that by the end of December I am in as much need of a break as anyone else and I would encourage people of different or no faiths to take the same line. If the Christians begrudge you Christmas then tell them to give up the tree because it has no religious significance. I’m all for Christmas being acknowledged as a secular holiday and if the Christians want to celebrate the state birthday of Christ then well that’s fine as it is for the Jews to celebrate Hannukah (I nearly called it Honnecker there for a moment, sorry about that, wrong tangant entirely!) and the Muslims Eid and I don’t know if the Hindus have something in December after Divali.

Anyway I wish everyone a very happy festive period whatever they wish to celebrate, let’s put differences aside for a moment, ditch the political correct bullshit and just be human for a while. Let’s remember the Christmas of 1914 on the Western Front a brief flicker of humanity in the most inhumane of environments. I particularly love the fact that all the men in the trenches did something that the toffs back at the HQs would have despised, they’d call them all communists these days!!

I wish you all out there some peace especially for those of you who rarely see it. Take care all of you and as Dave Allen says “May your God go with you.”

Song Of The Day – The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl – Fairytale Of New York

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