Posted by: Valerie | December 24, 2009

Happy and Merry


Little church near here

Let’s all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – or, hang on, maybe it would be better to have a happy Christmas and a merry new year. On consideration I think that’s the better way around. Having a happy time at Christmas is certainly desirable but not always attainable as families feud and nerves get frayed so we’ll wish for that and concentrate on the merriness for the whole of the coming year. I like being merry.

Now that we’re “mature” the thrill of the season is gone. Although of course I am looking forward to playing with my toys tomorrow, it’s nothing like it used to be. I don’t remember too much about Christmas when I was small but I do remember the incredible pent-up excitement as the day got closer. I can remember one perfect Christmas Eve, taking gifts to a neighbour’s house. It was dark, beginning to snow and there were carollers on the street. On the other side I also remember the bitter disappointment when I was perhaps six, opening a most interesting looking present and found three padded coat-hangers inside. I hated my Auntie Maggie at that moment.

Then there were the Christmasses when my own kids were little.  Richard would be nauseous with excitement for several years (I think that came out wrong, but I’m sure you know what I mean)  and I remember Anna throwing up for the same reason. Christmas was very social in our village in the north of England and there were sherry parties and dinner parties, all very “dressed up” dos.

In Canada in the early days it was very different without the base of family and good friends and then there were the divorce years which were always more difficult with early Christmasses to accommodate both parents’ plans. I used to go to Bragg Creek at those times and there were some very enjoyable Christmasses there. I vividly remember that all of us had to take turns walking a horse with colic pretty well all through the night in minus 40 weather one year. And then there was the year of the blood when everyone cut themselves on the new knives I bought for my sister.

Warren and I used to do an orphan’s Christmas – every year we invited a couple of single friends who would otherwise be alone and that was generally a very merry time indeed.

The Christmas of 1999 was probably the worst ever as it was just a month after my husband died. Pass on those memories. To balance that though, a couple of years later on Christmas Day I flew into Abu Simbel in Egypt with my friend Janice for the start of a Lake Nasser cruise on a boat exactly like something out of Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. Seeing the temples turn blood red at dawn is something I will never forget. Nor will I forget noticing that there were spider webs hanging off Ramses’ nose in the great hypostyle hall. On Christmas Eve Janice and I had taken tea on the terrace at the Old Cataract Hotel where the great Dame Agatha had also sipped  just a few dozen years before. I shall also never forget that that trip was a gift from my three kids. That was overwhelming, truly.

Generally good things have happened at Christmas though. Last year James and Angela announced their pregnancy at Christmas and this year it’s the baby’s first, although we won’t be seeing the new family until the New Year. So this year it will be a Bradford occasion with Stephen and crew coming on the 27th and the Likuski division on the 29th.

To everyone who reads this, please have exactly the kind of Christmas you desire and deserve – even if,  like our friend Don Cox, it’s a bah-humbug hermit occasion.  So Happy Whatsit and Merry Times to Come.

"So when do I get my manger back, huh?"


  1. Tonight I went to the airport and picked up an old friend who was coming in from Germany. It was great to see her, and I delivered her to her daughter’s house. This has nothing to do with Christmas which is still a lot of HumBug.

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