Monday, 24 December 2018


Christmas is remorselessly creeping up on us like an expensively dressed mugger. There’s plenty of conspicuous consumption going on. The amount of sugar in the stollen, panettone and mince pies that I’ve casually scoffed over the past week would have made the government spokespeople on obesity writhe in horror.  (Have you noticed the way people say “All good….anyway it’s Christmas” as they dive into a Yule-Hyper-Calorie-Log.) And I haven’t been too clever on the alcohol front either. A weekly unit or whatever abstemiousness (given half a chance) they’d mandate is beyond my weakening will.

But it’s the music at Christmas that makes my skin tingle. So of full of joy and great lyrics.  I want to shout aloud:

“Let the organ thunder
While the choir with peals of glee
Doth rend the air asunder”
(Unto Us a Boy is born – Mediaeval possibly 12th Century)

Isn’t a peal of glee just wonderful?  Not enough glee around, not nearly enough. I’m told I have a loud voice so I’m rather more familiar with rending the air asunder.
Christmas is, if nothing else, cheerful and a relaxing time when we should heed these words

“Let nothing you dismay”
( God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – 16th century)

After the past few weeks of the dismaying Brexit debate that’s a tough call. But maybe the spirit contained in it can be taken to heart. They can sing it in the Commons in 2019. When they aren’t snoozing of course.

In the aftermath of Christmas we can address the curse of today. Bigger even than Brexit. Yes it’s insomnia. 36% of the population have it and another third don’t sleep too well or nearly long enough. Every time I hear “O Little Town of Bethlehem” these four words resonate:-

“a deep and dreamless sleep” 
(Philip Brooks 1868)

The idea of hibernating after Christmas, healing my battered brain by cuddling my wife (and Orpheus) and hiding from the bleak midwinter that they say is coming soon makes me feel wonderful.

After the parties, the feasting, the drinking of Armagnac, Green Chartreuse and Tequila (only at Christmas does anyone drink stuff like that) we have opportunity to replenish our  souls and reboot our minds. Rest is a good thing and we don’t do enough. The real curse of today’s world is unproductive rushing around and nagging anxiety about almost everything. Take the advice of that wonderful, too seldom performed carol, Jesus Christ the Apple Tree:

“I’m weary with my former toil
Here will I sit and rest awhile”
(Richard Hutchins? – 1761)

The resting starts on Wednesday; before that we can afford to let our hair down, tell silly jokes, pull crackers, drink mulled wine and try to be as nice a person as we always should be. Because if it doesn’t work its magic what can? A very happy Christmas.

“Bring me food and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither….”
(Good King Wenceslas – John Mason Neale 1853 based on 10th century Bohemian story)

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