Merry Christmas to all..

Head down in heavy revisions of a forthcoming novel of mine (Malvolio’s Revenge, a supernatural/mystery/melodrama of a story, set in 1910’s New Orleans, with a cameo appearance by one of my favourite artists and cultural heroes, the great Louis Armstrong) I’m afraid blogging’s had to take a back seat. Christmas is coming along fast, and already the spirit of deadline inspired by the work on the novel is giving way to the spirit of relaxation and well-being which I always think is one of the nicest aspects of a family Christmas!
I love Christmas. Always have. Probably because my parents, and especially my father (who’d had some pretty awful Christmases in his childhood, singularly devoid of hope and love) were absolutely determined that it would be a special and wonderful time of the year for us kids.

We did Christmas French-style: we had a ‘reveillon’ on Christmas Eve. We’d have to go to bed on Christmas Eve at about 6pm, and then at about 11 pm, were woken into a dark night, and taken to the living-room to see the tree in all its glittering glory. Lined up around it were our shoes–and piled up on them, the presents ‘le pere Noel’ had left us while we were sleeping. We weren’t allowed ton open our presents then–just gaze on them, and smell the gorgeous piney smell of the tree, and watch the glittering lights and baubles..We were allowed to come close to the creche scene that Dad always set up on the mantelpiece, under two pieces of bush rock (because, as he told us, the ‘stables’ in Bethlehem were most likely caves). There was the Holy Family, and the shepherds, too, with their flocks–but not the Magi, who had set off on the beginning of their journey across the mantelpiece, but would not reach the creche till January 6, the Feast of the Kings, Epiphany, Twelfth Night, what you will. (Every day, Dad moved the little plaster Magi that bit closer–Persian-looking Melchior in front, then black Balthasar, then blond Gaspard. The day they reached the creche, we had another celebration, sharing the cake of the Three Kings, a crystallised fruit affair that contained within it one broad bean–whoever got it was King or Queen for the day).
Then we had to go and get dressed, ready for Midnight mass. After Mass–which was always a wonderful experience, so different from normal daytime Mass, and so full of music, light, and good smells) we would go back home and then we were allowed to open our presents, before sitting down to a sumptuous meal. We didn’t often have turkey–every year it’d be something different: a saddle of venison, a fillet roast, a goose, roast hare, duck, and so on as well as the occasional turkey–lots of vegies, salad, followed by Mum’s marvellous Buche de Noel, or Christmas log, adapted from the French original to Australian conditions and her equally delicious Amandines (almond sweets) and chocolate truffles. We didn’t go to bed till 2 or 3 in the morning, so christmas Day was rather subdued–but even so, we kids would often wake early, just so we could begin to enjoy our presents..
It was no doubt tiring for my parents, but it gave all of us Christmases we would never forget–moments of sheer magic. I have never forgotten the joy and pleasure that they gave to us, and have always been determined that our children would be able to enjoy the tradition as well. And so they do, though I’m far too much of a sleepyhead to do the full reveillon, Christmas Day to us is still a day of poignant beauty, joy and love.
And so a merry and peaceful Christmas to all Troppo Armadillians..

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2024 years ago

Merry Christmas Sophie! And it’s nice to see that there are some bloggers out there who aren’t competing in the ‘Bah! Humbug!’ stakes.

Will be eagerly awaiting your first post-book post next year. Your posts are great, especially the last one about the Supernatural in film. Don’t feel down if you’re not getting too many comments – the most prolific commenters are usually guys like me, who come looking in search of argument more than anythign else.

Oh, and you should visit my blog sometime. ;)

2024 years ago

It’s wonderful picture you paint Sophie. Merry Christmas to you!

2024 years ago

Thank you to both of you! And a wonderful Christmas..and New Year..
Thanks muchly for your comments, Tim(yes, it can feel sometimes like writing on water, when one gets no response!). And prompted by your post I did go over and visit your blog–very interesting, and funny too! (Guess I should have put this comment on your blog, though!)

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2024 years ago

Sophie, don’t forget to check out Tim’s parodic poetry!

An excellent Christmas to you – having my own looming writing deadline for my phd in late January, I’m envious of your ability to segue from the spirit of deadline to the spirit of relaxation.

And I agree that it’s really nice to celebrate the whole of the twelve days of Christmas. At my place, we also light the Advent candles each Sunday prior, and keep the tree up til the 6th of January. For those who are interested, tomorrow is Gaudate Sunday – where the purple of Advent is temporarily eclipsed by the rose colour of joy and anticipation. Have a happy one!