Ghosts of Christmas

Image1236“Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow … “ seems to be the theme tune for this Christmas. I pity those travelling, and wish you all safe journeys there and back. My personal instinct today is to go to bed and pull the covers over my head, hibernating till spring arrives.Image1239

Somehow, it doesn’t feel like Christmas this year at all. We had a Carols-by-Candlelight service on Sunday evening, and have been exchanging cards, gifts and greetings with family and friends for the past fortnight. Brightly wrapped presents are piling up, a CD of Christmas music is playing, candles are burning and the little carved wooden nativity with its angels is on display – but the true Christmas atmosphere somehow remains absent.Image1237

We are going to a restaurant for our Christmas dinner this year, something we have never done before. My mother is quite excited and a little apprehensive about it: it isn’t often a 97-year-old does something pleasant for the first time (there are sadly quite a few unpleasant firsts). I hope the restaurant chef is up to her high standard.

I made the Christmas cake as prescribed before Advent, have fed it with brandy and it now sits with its marzipan on, waiting for the royal icing and decorations.Image1233

I also need to make some mince pies. Perhaps doing that will trigger the right mood?Image1234Image1235

On reflection, I think that must be the key: it’s the yule smell that is missing. Most of my Christmases have been Germanic, where a vital part of the atmosphere is olfactory: the scent of the fir tree and candles, cinnamon, nutmeg and stern anis in the Glühwein and Christmas cookies, often a crackling log fire, plus in our family we follow the English custom of having a turkey with all the trimmings bringing the aroma of the bird roasting in the oven on Christmas morning. Usually, too, in Switzerland the weather behaves itself appropriately, so there is that indefinable almost-odour of snow. There is none of that here this year.

Perhaps I am just a little bit homesick, then? My daughter, granddaughters and respective spouses together with the little ones and a few in-laws will be gathering tomorrow for the traditional turkey dinner at my granddaughter’s, and we shall not be there to share in their festivities.Image1238

Ah, but I am forgetting the magic of modern technology: with our laptops and tablets, we can not only speak to one another, we can see one another and exchange smiles and chuckles, as well as virtual hugs. What a blessing! And this evening there will be the beautiful timeless service with carols from King’s College Cambridge on TV.

Christmas embroideries by my daughter and me

Christmas embroideries by my daughter and me

It’s beginning to feel a little bit like Christmas after all.

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6 thoughts on “Ghosts of Christmas

  1. All will be well tomorrow !A dear friend of mine wanted me to go to a service at King’s when we were staying in Cambridge once and I declined. She never forgave me but I did buy her a CD of carols at Kings when in Hong Kong so she forgave me (a bit). Have a good and peaceful Christmas the two of you. Love , Marie

    • Of course it will – just a touch of nostalgia :-). I think it’s because I really haven’t had any pre-Christmas tasks this year – no shopping for presents, wrapping them and getting in supplies for an army! But I have made and iced the cake, and may yet bake another batch of mince pies … Have a blessed Christmas with your loved ones xx

  2. Merry Christmas!! We’ll look forward to your virtual presence at the table later on…
    Hope your meal is lovely and you can all really relax and enjoy xxx
    (not even cold enough here to think of snow – yesterday warm and sunny, today dull and mild :o)

    • Thank you Claire – we were not disappointed, had a delicious (and very copious) Christmas dinner, and loved ones weren’t totally absent. Plus some very welcome gifts – including lots of Thornton’s chocolates (the word has obviously got around!) Feeling much fatter today 😀

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