strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Well, the little children slumbering upstairs do not know it yet, but Santa has been!

2016-12-24 22.27.10.jpg

Personally speaking, I'm hoping this will be the sort of Santa who comes down my chimney tonight:

chris santa.jpg

Look at his beautiful face! Such a fetching shade of green...

Merry Christmas, everyone. :-)

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strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
OK, so my Christmas experience this year may have been pretty miserable, but I answered 23 out of 25 questions on this meme before family dramas intervened, and now I am damned well going to finish it.

I've given some indication of my answer to this question in the post for Day 15, where I explained the religious element which Christmas has for me, through the syncretism between Santa Claus and Saturn. It feels important to have a midwinter festival to cheer up the dark days of winter.

Christmas is also important to me because it is important to so many other people around me. I like it for the same reasons as I like the monarchy, and in fact looking for past LJ posts in which I have explained my reasons for liking the monarchy, I find that I have actually drawn the comparison between it and Christmas before. Whether we like either or not, and however we choose to relate to them, all of us in the UK (and many of us beyond) have those things in common. I don't think that means we need to treat them as sacred cows, but I do think it is valuable and useful - for example by giving us all a central point around which to position ourselves in relation to the institution itself and the other people who also feel some sense of a relationship with it.

Finally, Christmas is important to me because it is something we do every year, in more or less the same way. That makes it comforting and familiar, and helps me to maintain a sense of connection with my own past. The last few Christmases may have been pretty grim, but they haven't all been like that, and I want to remember the ones which were good by continuing to celebrate the festival. Also, the unchanging and cyclical nature of a festival like Christmas helps to set off the gradual changes which take place between one iteration of it and the next. Sadly for me, what it has shown this year is a sharp reflection of how much and how badly things have changed in the life of my family since Mum became ill - but while that has been painful, I think it is something I needed to see.

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strange_complex: (Me Yes to Fairer Votes)
This morning I got up bright and early, and headed off to spend the day campaigning for fairer votes in Skipton. I wasn't even sure I'd be able to get there when I set off, but as I got into town I realised that the snow was starting to melt at last, and my train left perfectly on time without the slightest problem. There was still plenty of snow lying in places where it hadn't been disturbed, though, leaving this statue of John Harrison (a local clock-maker) looking like he had a pair of festive angel wings:


In Skipton itself, I joined our campaign stall in the town hall, where there was a craft fair going on. It was much quieter than the organisers had expected, presumably because of the weather, but we talked to plenty of people - including Santa!

It was quite a different sort of event from the bonfire we went to at the start of November - that was mainly about shouting slogans and dishing out leaflets to students as they passed, but today we had more time to talk in detail about the referendum to people who were milling around at their leisure, most of whom were in their fifties or older. About two thirds of the people we spoke to still had no idea that there is a referendum on the horizon, or what it is about - but on the whole most of them were interested and enthusiastic once we explained what it involves. We got a few who just went "Oh, politics - I'm not interested in that", and one or two who said they preferred the current system, or didn't think the change would make any difference. But I'd say that in total about 80% of the people we spoke to were positively inclined towards AV by the time we'd finished with them.

Not all will actually take that positivity as far as bothering to turn out for the referendum, of course, but it seems quite encouraging to me. It also fits with the findings of a YouGov poll which concluded that people are more likely to prefer AV over FPTP if they understand how AV works. We've just got to keep on getting out there and making sure that they do.

Finally, here's a list of a few AV links which I've seen or shared on Facebook and Twitter recently, but haven't posted here yet:
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strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
I'll probably never be Santa again after tonight. I don't ever intend to have children of my own, you see. But tonight - for one night only - I am he.

I'm 29 years old, and it's finally been decided in our house that it really is time now to let go of the Christmas morning stockings. And for this one last year, as a way of marking the passing of the practice, we decided to invert it (very Saturnalian!). So Charlotte and I have just spent a lovely half-hour sitting together in the lounge, sipping Rémy Martin, chatting, and stuffing chocolates, hankies and satsumas into big fluffy socks. One for Mum, one for Dad. They're laid out now on either side of the fire-place, ready for the recipients to come down and find them in the morning.

I suppose this is the growing process in a nutshell, isn't it? As a child, you experience the magic. As a young person, you see the reality behind it, but still play along for the sake of its more prosaic benefits. Finally, you become the source of the magic yourself. I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Well, Christmas has been toasted in with mulled wine microwaved from last night, and Santa has a mince pie and a tot of whisky waiting for him on the hearth.

Downstairs the tree is a-sparkle with lights and with baubles, and a generous spread of presents sprawls beneath it.

The night is still and cold, and if you listen very carefully, you can hear the sleigh bells tinkle.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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