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Christmas thoughts - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
Christmas thoughts

The mince pies are finished.  (There are some things a man wants to do for himself.) 

 

 

 

It has been an interesting month, with acute and worrisome health problems for the two chronically ill old relatives for whom I am most responsible.  Even so, this remains a season of hope.

 

The world goes from bad to worse, in many ways: the current government – this is a season of hope, after all – is falling apart, which may be a blessing in disguise, and things are worse still abroad.  Iran, by way of minatory example, remains crescent under its mad dictators, whilst plucky, gallant Israel remains under the gravest of threats.  Yet there are signs of hope in this season, even so.

 

The widow of the great and gallant man who was rector of my childhood parish died this past weekend: as her late husband would have said, she, in the last week of Advent, had ‘made her Easter’: and the funeral was held on Saturday, a gathering of the parochial Old Guard.  The daughter, cool and incisive and elegant; and the sons, John unchanged by the years from his superlative undergraduate beauty, Wills a second edition of his father, saturnine and witty; led the family in, rank on rank, to the youngest public schoolboy: an incarnation of an England that was, and of the Special Relationship as well, for the Rector’s Widow had once, long ago, been an American war bride.  Old Rector himself, a senior member of my own college, came of a Naval Family (and those initial letters are chosen with care), whose surname was shared with a notable admiral and a warship named for that admiral; Wills followed both family traditions by becoming a chaplain to the Senior Service.  This is the season of hope, and no one can claim to understand the meaning of Christmas, or of the faith that celebrates it, or of any feast of the Church, who cannot comprehend how a funeral, even at Christmas, is an event of great hope.

 

I shared my pew with two old friends of my mother’s, septuagenarians who had made a long journey to be present.  Mr H’s father was a very senior policeman indeed; Mrs H, who taught me theory, was a musical friend of my mother’s, a protégée of Sir John Barbirolli’s, and for a time the interim music and choir director of the parish in Old Rector’s time.

 

Mother always loved Christmas.  As a daughter of the rectory herself, she was aware, intellectually, that Easter is the most significant of the festivals of the Church.  As a practical matter, she, like anyone who has been involved in parish life, was aware that the Harvest Festival and similar celebrations bulked far larger in the yearly round of most parishioners.  Musically, maternally, in her heart, however, she regarded Christmas as the high point of the year.  And one can see why she felt it so.  Christmas, like Easter, is the season of hope: Christmas, of hope restored after long despair, Easter, of hope fulfilled, the promise satisfied and accomplished, and hope renewed for the future, for all time.

 

A few weeks past, now, I saw a fox as night fell.  I had been to see the Old Cavalryman in his illness, and was returning home.  I was just approaching the bridge that precedes the ford that borders the gates and the lodge.  The fox was not in peak condition, and I have my own ideas as to why he was not.  But whether or not the solicitousness certain MPs feel for foxes is misplaced, and ultimately detrimental to the species, it is beyond question that a similar solicitousness for the elderly and the poor is lacking.  HMG make the right noises, and do nothing about, for example, fuel for the aged in winter: there’s more self-satisfaction and better press in banning foxhunting.  The C of E, which has gone from being the Tory party at prayer to being the outreach department of NuLabour and whatever likeminded socialists it can round up, acts as if Christian charity is now solely the business of the State.  Christmas is meant to be, and in its nature and essence is, a season of hope.  Foxes preserved like pheasants, living lives without challenge, degenerate, and, weakened, ‘die soft’ and in long misery; pheasants not preserved are the prey not only of foxes and others, but of impersonal natural forces.  So too is it for us.  Without challenge, we rot; without care, we succumb.  It has, as I have mentioned, been a rather tiresome month, with acute and worrisome health problems for the two chronically ill old relatives for whom I am most responsible, in whose failing health I see these two principles writ large.  Even so, this remains a season of hope: as witness the longevity – may it long continue – of that wondrous woman, HM the Queen, whom God preserve.

 

You have each of you in your own families – whether the family you recognise as being such, or the family that is formed of your neighbours and fellow men – the young and infirm and halt and old, persons who require and to whom your duty impels attention and care: challenge, to keep them keen, and aid, to soothe their hurts and smooth their ways.  In this season of hope, balanced between the recognition that life is a positive good and death a grace, do you go forth and bring Christmas hope to these your family members in need. 

 

As for me and mine, the mince pies are done, the ham and the beef await the morrow, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.  In the larger family, the Baker’s Daughter and her sprogs will take their Christmas ease, yet redolent of spice and flour and yeast; the butcher and the greengrocer will know at their own boards that their good work has lightened the labours and fed the hungers, both physical and spiritual, of their neighbours; GP and PC, smith and farmer and draper and sub-postmistress, will all in their degree know the satisfaction of having done honest labour that has been a grace and a very present help to the extended family that is our fellow man, and the bells will ring out in the cold and rain to call all to a warmth that is more than material.

 

A very happy Christmas to you all, in God’s grace.

 

 

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6 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
tekalynn From: tekalynn Date: December 24th, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Beautifully spoken. Thank you.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 30th, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank YOU, love.

I hope you had a happy Crimbo, and that yr new year will be super.
penhaligonblue From: penhaligonblue Date: December 25th, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
A merry Christmas to you, as well.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 30th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

And the happiest of new years to you.

In this and every coming year.
froganon From: froganon Date: December 26th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC) (Link)
[quote]You have each of you in your own families – whether the family you recognise as being such, or the family that is formed of your neighbours and fellow men – the young and infirm and halt and old, persons who require and to whom your duty impels attention and care: challenge, to keep them keen, and aid, to soothe their hurts and smooth their ways. In this season of hope, balanced between the recognition that life is a positive good and death a grace, do you go forth and bring Christmas hope to these your family members in need. [/quote]

You said this better than Charles Dickens did.
Thanks muchly for this one.
spike
wemyss From: wemyss Date: December 30th, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Obliged to you.

I trust yr Christmas was happy and yr new year will be superb.
6 comments or Leave a comment