strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Oh, plural form of the word 'tradition' in this title, how I love thee! Because now I can just list all my favourite traditions without having to choose between them. Here goes:
  • Buying everyone candles to mark the Saturnalia, because I can, and people indulging me over it.
  • For the thirteen years that we did it, the annual Christmas dinner with my Bristol buddies.
  • Decorating the family tree with my sister while listening to CDs of cheesy Christmas music and trying to stop the cat chasing after all the decorations.
  • Going out into my parents' frosty, wintry garden to find sprigs of greenery, berries and winter-flowering plants, slot them into a log drilled with holes which my Dad made me for the purpose and make a winter display for the top of the fireplace.
  • Helping to host a Christmas party at my parents' house, including taking charge of the mulled wine, singing carols and enjoying getting all dressed up and into the festive spirit.
  • Staying up until midnight on Christmas eve to toast in Christmas with my sister.
  • Putting sherry and mince pies out for Santa, which I still do even though we stopped having stockings any more in 2005. I'll say more about why I do that when we get to day 15, 'Do you still believe in Santa Claus?'.
  • Bringing the presents from underneath the tree and into the lounge, sorting them out into piles according to who they're for, and then taking turns for each member of the family to open one present at a time, while sipping delicious coffee and eating chocolates.
  • Having angel chimes on the table during Christmas dinner.
  • Everything about the dinner itself.
  • Setting fire to the pudding! I'm not sure when this became 'my' job, but it is now, and I love doing it.
  • Sitting around afterwards with a roaring fire in the grate, drinking more coffee and playing with new presents.
  • Watching Doctor Who.
  • Staying up late after everyone else has gone to bed watching TV and catching up on other peoples' days, and opinions of Doctor Who via the internet.
  • Going to see my oldest friend Amy and her family on Boxing Day.

Now wouldn't it have been a pity to have to choose just one of those?

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Deck the halls

Saturday, 23 December 2006 18:11
strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
Tonight is the final night of the Saturnalia, the Solstice has been accomplished successfully, and tomorrow is Christmas Eve. What could be better?

I'm up in Brum at my parents' house, and, as in some previous years, we are holding a Christmas party tonight. We've spent the day preparing, and now we've entered that lull where it's not yet worth getting dressed up and attending to the last-minute tasks like taking things out of the fridge and putting them on the table, but we've pretty much finished all the medium-term preparation. We have ham, pâté, salmon, cheeses, salads, olives, peppers, quiches, pizza, ciabatta, mulled wine, chocolate brandy cake, fruit salad and about a dozen other delicious things I can't remember now. Seasonal music and musicians are on standby (I shall mainly be playing the recorder this year), silly crackers are waiting to be pulled, the tree sparkles beautifully in the corner, and I have a lovely new dress hanging in the wardrobe. It should be a good 'un.

Going out into the garden this morning, I found that the mild weather we've had this autumn / early winter has meant a real profusion of interesting leaves, berries and even flowers which I could incorporate into the display of winter greenery that I normally put together to go on the mantlepiece above our fireplace. And, at long last, my Dad and I together also came up with a solution to the logistical problem I usually have when putting the display together - that the mantlepiece is rather narrow, the greenery gets quite heavy once you've got a few holly branches and bits of variegated bushes in there, and a blob of blu-tack just isn't adequate to hold it all together. Instead, this year, I picked out a suitable log from the wood-pile, and he split it in two and then drilled some holes in it for me, so that it could sit on the mantlepiece and have twigs poked into it. It works very well - and is making me wish I'd brought my digital camera up here to photograph it. Oh well - I'm sure it will be appreciated by the party-guests tonight, and maybe I'll be able to borrow the parental camera for blogging purposes? Yes - I'll go and enquire about that right now, I think!

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: (Default)
I shall have to resort to numbered paragraphs.

1. I spent the weekend in a cottage near Ledbury, enjoying the 10th Annual Winsley Road Posse Christmas Meal. The choice of Ledbury was pretty random, really, based on reasonably equal travelling distances for all of us, and a nice-looking cottage within taxiable range of a railway station. But it was a good choice. The cottage exceeded all our expectations, while the lady we were letting it from had even left us a real live Xmas tree, a plate of mince pies and a lovely fire smouldering in the grate when I arrived. It was fabulous to catch up with everyone again, and enjoy the cottage, the grounds and the crisp but sunny weather together. We were all a bit bemused to find ourselves smoothly and professionally cooking a fabulous meal, eating it on an antique oak dining table and passing round port afterwards: all something of a contrast with meal number 1. Anyone would think we were grown-ups now, or something! But it was great, and so great in fact that we unanimously decided the book the cottage up again for the equivalent weekend next year before we left.

2. Last night was another jovial Christmas gathering, this time with the [livejournal.com profile] oxgoths in the Chequers. Presents aplenty were distributed amongst the assembled company, chocolates munched and silly hats worn. We even attempted to play Christmas carols in chorus, with Spiky Neil conducting us and each person blowing on a differently-pitched whistle. Just one of those evenings that makes you feel really glad to have the friends you have.

3. And, finally, isn't Radio 3's Christmas Bachathon a stroke of genius? I don't tend to listen to Radio 3 all that much, but now that it's offering 100% Guaranteed Bach every time I switch it on, things have become quite different. I even threw over the Today programme this morning, setting my alarm to wake me up with one of his cantatas instead. Chatting to friends, I think a lot of people are doing the same sort of thing, and I don't doubt it's doing their audience figures a world of favours. Now, how about a Handel New Year, eh?

4. Ah, it's time for Futurama! Bye. :)

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