Saturday, December 19, 2015

Self-indulgent Sat. & Sun. #7 Christmas Past and Present

As Christmas is rapidly approaching #7 in this Self-indulgent series is going to be a re-run of a post I wrote in 2008 - it almost seems tailor-made for today. For links to previous posts in this series see #6 where earlier links are included.
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, I shall call them 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 (all 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 chairmen.

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 (below), usually at our home.
Tensions arose more frequently during these years. There was almost always one scarily 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 have 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 like to take a drive to Mount Scott with a pack of cheese sandwiches, some fruit and soft drinks, and 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. Our new tradition!

Aquarius Christmas? Well, maybe the Christmases I've been blogging come into this category. Or perhaps my Aquarius and Pisces Christmases are still to come.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS (when it comes) Y'ALL!!
I hope all your Christmases are as happy as my happiest ones.
Know that any less happy ones will give way to joy again.


Sonny G said...

thank you for sharing your Christmas memories and all the great photos too...

wishing you a Very Merry Christmas and a most Wonderful New Year.

mike said...

Call me insensitive, but I don't view any of my past, the good-bad or happy-sad, as emotionally disturbing sentimentality. I've mentioned prior the unknown author's line from a poem, "Life is like coral, growing upon the dead". My past isn't the "me" that I am now, but is the foundation that supports this moment. I now view all of those moments from the past with affection, saccharine and bitter alike. Of course, my Gemini ascendant and Virgo Moon may allay the vast sentimental possessiveness of yesteryear's hold that clings onto others...LOL.

I'm pleased that you are currently presented with merriment and fondness at this time of year. Your extant, extended family has the younger generation with their little ones, and children make this season very special. It's interesting that as we age, we move from anticipating-expecting gifts, then mature toward being the provider of those notions. Exceptional holiday, food delights always seems to be a remembrance for us all, too.

Thanks for the stroll through your nostalgic years of Christmases past!

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Thank you, too, for taking the time to look in. :-) Every good wish to you and yours for the season about to descend upon us, and for 2016 too of course.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thank you. I feel similarly. Past experiences both pleasurable and painful all form part of "the now", and "the now me". These memories are precious to me.

I came from a very small, tight-knit family group, none of whom was any kind of social butterfly (including myself). My new family circle, via Anyjazz's four offspring, their offspring and now their offspring! It's a much wider group and quite different in general "atmosphere" - has been, and continues to be, the whole USA experience! :-)

Twilight said...

mike ~ (OFF TOPIC) Will you be able to watch the Dem debate tonight? It's on ABC I think. Part of it clashes with a concert to be aired on AMC - tribute to John Lennon with all manner of music stars taking part. We'll probably watch the first hour of the debate at least, then channel surf a bit.

The current storm in a teacup about the breach in data accessibility and Bernie's sticky fingered staff is tending to overshadow things. I, very unusually, watched an hour of MSNBC last evening to see what was being said. It'll likely blow over soon enough, but the DNC chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz appears to have various conflicts of interest with members of the data company involved. Not good!
I shall return to my former Independent status once the primary is over I think, unless DNC fire her. She's currently doing a stellar job playing the part of Wicked Witch of the West. ;-)

mike (again) said...

Yes, I'll tune-in ABC's debate coverage. ABC is the only standard TV broadcast station I receive via the NBC or CBS. With no reality star to headline the debate offerings, I doubt many of the electorate will be watching.

Of course it's unfortunate Bernie's staffers took advantage of the DNC server that lacked security measures, but an open back door is an open advantage. Not like they hacked their way into Hillary's data. I would call the incident a low-grade ethic's violation. I saw this morning that Bernie has his DNC database privileges returned to him. I haven't heard how the Bernie-staffers were caught, but perhaps Hillary-staffers likewise viewed Bernie's data and it hasn't been realized and-or divulged as yet.

I don't know how party choice works in your state, but here in TX, I remain an independent and can vote for any party I desire, but I choose to vote the Democratic primaries, which locks me into voting a Democratic presidential election ticket. There is no requirement for me to re-align as an independent voter.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Re OK's primary voting, it seems that after I'd changed my Independent status to Democrat the Okie Dem party decided in July to open their primary to Independents as well

Oklahoma Democratic Party delegates voted 314-137 during a Saturday meeting at Oklahoma City Community College to open primaries up to the 261,000 voters in Oklahoma who are registered as independents.

I shoulda waited!

Bernie's campaign reported the dang breach themselves - they were not actually caught by Clinton's campaign. and reportedly an earlier breach had happened in October and was reported to Clinton's campaign and nothing was done about it then. There's more to the story than we know - as usual! Anyway, it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good (or so they say)- Bernie's name and face has been seen more in the past 48 hours than in the past 6 months!

mike (again) said...

I made it through the debate and truly enjoyed the moderators and candidates. The whole affair was SO much more mature and informative than the GOP debacle. I thought all three performed successfully, with our man Bernie in top form. No surprises, but some good sparring and bantering. O'Malley intrigues me...I like him and his responses, yet he appeared a sophomore compared to the more polished and comfortable other two.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ We saw a fair proportion of the debate, and I agree with your assessment. After the first 30 mins, when the John Lennon tribute concert began we hopped back and forth a bit, mainly during commercials. It was really odd because so many of the songs, and feelings generated, fit so well with what was being said in the debate! It was almost a custom fit! :-)

Sonny G said...

I watched every minute of it and thought they all did very well.
of course I'm bias and will remain so:) Hillary is my candidate.

I agree they were all very mature-- informed-- and even at times complimentary of each other.

If folks tuned in hoping to see a dem version of the republican circus-- they would have been very disappointed.

I went to bed Prouder than usual to be a Democrat.

Unknown said...

Merry Christmas to all.

Twilight said...

Robert Nicewander ~ Hi, thank you - and the same back atcha! :-)

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ Yes, any of the three would be very acceptable as president, but my preference is to see the beginnings of change from the rancid establishment politics of past decades(as you know), so it has to be Bernie for me. :-)