Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Circle of Life and of Christmases

The Christmas wreath signifies or symbolises different things to different people. For me the wreath symbolises the turning of the year, as does the zodiac circle.

Some ten years ago I wrote a Christmas-time post on such a theme - it's time for another look, slightly updated.

Looking back over the years - and I have lots to look back over - Christmas stands as a kind of milepost. It's a focal point when a pattern of change can be identified. In some ways, the pattern could be equated to the cycle of the zodiac, as of course, can our whole life's cycle.

The earliest Christmases I recall, the Aries ones, were spent at my maternal grandparents' home in a tiny village, where I was sent during the worst period of the war years in the UK, safe from the bombing of the city where my parents lived and worked. My parents would make a last minute bus journey the 20 miles or so on Christmas Eve so we could all be together for "the day".

My grandmother (right) was a wonderful cook. With the few facilities she had in those days, I can hardly imagine how she managed to put such delicious meals on her table. She often said that she and I had a "special bond" - it didn't extend to inheriting her culinary prowess though! Water came from a pump in the yard, direct from an underground spring. The only oven she had was at one side of the big black fireplace, powered by coal and wood fires, at the other side, a tank for heating water.
No refrigerator, food was kept out in a building called "the wash-house" where a boiler for boiling water and equipment for washing clothes was also kept. Earliest memories come from a time before the grandparents had electric light, when I went off to bed with a candle, and rooms were lit by oil lamps. I used to be given an early present each Christmas Eve, a book - the "Rupert Book" into which my little head was thrust for hours on end, reading about the adventures of a little bear and his friends, as I waited for Mum and Dad to arrive.

As the cycle moved around to Taurus and Gemini, Christmases evolved into bigger family gatherings, accompanied at times by school friends, both sets of grandparents, occasional aunts and uncles. Sometimes there was carol singing with a group of friends around the town on Christmas Eve, attending midnight service, or a Christmas morning service, then back to Dad's excellent cooking - he was the head cook of our family, after grandma retired from her post. Traditional, sociable, predictable - Christmases then were all those things.

Cancerian Christmases were fewer in number - they involved my retiring into a shell, for a variety of reasons. Working in hotels for a brief period in my life, I'd find that after all the hard work and long hours put in during the run up to Christmas, we staff were often to be found exhausted and alone in lowly staff accommodation, too tired to get together. I remember one particular Christmas evening walking out alone around the city where I worked, gazing longingly into the windows of houses where families celebrated together. I'd be home in the next day or two though, when my parents and I enjoyed a delayed celebration, also in honour of their wedding anniversary on 27 December. Another Christmas day around this period, I clearly recall, was spent alone in a cramped apartment, with a can of chicken breast a loaf of wholemeal bread, and a radio. I remember that much, but have no recollection of how it came about - something connected with my disastrous first marriage I think. Best forgotten!

So.... on to the Leo Christmases which developed as my life changed, accompanied by a new partner, a new job, and an altogether brighter frame of mind. Christmases at the office were fun - always. Some years we'd have a fancy dress party (that's me, under the clock, as Dick Whittington!) Sometimes we'd organize a special quiz or other years just a buffet with plenty of wine. One Christmas a bright spark in the office persuaded the chairmen (well respected lawyers) to act in our version of a pantomime - "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp". A few in-jokes were included in the much-adapted scripts to further engage an already enthusiastic audience of staff and uninvolved charimen. This is one of my favourite treasured Christmas memories. Magical! They were all such good sports. Most have now "gone before" to the great tribunal in the sky, others are High Court Judges.

Virgo/Libra/Scopio Christmases cover a long period of very mixed flavours. My parents were growing older, they lived at a distance for much of the period, but my partner and I always spent most of Christmas time with them, as much as my job would allow. Tensions arose sometimes, as they are wont to do among most family groups.

But many years saw beautiful Christmas-times, trouble-free and filled with love and good humour. We'd spend hours singing songs and carols and recording them on a tape machine. I still have a couple of the tapes but I find it difficult to listen to them even now, so many years later. Photographs are fine - but those so familiar, long gone voices always bring on the tears. After my Dad died in 1992, we spent each Christmas with my mother (right), usually at our home. Tensions arose more frequently during these years. There was almost always one passionate argument, where I found myself in the middle, loving them both, trying to appease both sides. Eventually things would calm down to an uneasy peace. After my mother died in 1997, my late partner and I spent quiet times together at Christmas, some gentle and precious memories of his last years remain, his health began to slowly deteriorate. Then death visited once more, not long after my last Scorpio Christmas.

Sagittarius Christmases found me here in the USA - 5000 miles from Christmases of yore, with a new husband and family. Christmases here are bright and happy. A family get together on Christmas Eve, then, weather permitting the husband and I have sometimes taken a drive to Mount Scott with a pack of cheese sandwiches, some fruit and soft drinks, to eat our version of Christmas Dinner surveying the Oklahoma countryside from 2000ft up, followed by a leisurely drive home through the wildlife refuge, hoping to greet some buffalo or long horned cattle, or even a colony of prairie dogs.

Aquarius Christmas? Maybe the Christmases when I was astrology blogging come into this category, with Pisces Christmases, perhaps still to come.

I hope all your Christmases are as happy as my happiest ones. Know that any less happy ones will give way to joy again.


Wisewebwoman said...

Oh how lovely T. I got quite teary reading this, the transitions, the good, the bad, the wonderful.

I love how you and Himself do this private thing every Christmas.

Our one is quite full this year with the addition of Grandgirl's partner and the restoration of a beloved niece and her family.

The fluctuations of the company is quite interesting, isn't it?

Happy times to you and yours.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ Thank you WWW - and the same good wishes to you and yours. I hope your health issue wains sufficiently not to worry you too much during festivities.

I feel sure, too that we both shall send positive thoughts and wishes to our longtime blog friend RJ Adams and Mrs RJ. xx

Anynomus said...


Twilight said...

Anonymous ~ Cheers back atcha! Thanks for the link - I always enjoy a bit of Stan Freberg.

R J Adams said...

Many thanks for your kind thoughts, and those of WWW, Twilight. You've had your share of grief. Enjoy your new life (well, not SO new now!) and hopefully many more joyous Christmas's to come.
A Very Happy Christmas to you and Anyjazz, and all best wishes for the New Year.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Thank you, RJ. A few more Christmases would be nice, but at our age we can count on nothing - but we can hope!

My sincere wish for you and Mrs RJ is that there will be future Christmases for you both, when you'll look back on today with some sadness, but with gratitude for so much more time together, which sadly had to be earned through suffering.