Just popping my head over the parapet to affirm that there is life after the dissertation…
I always knew Advent was going to be busy in parochial ministry. Now I really KNOW it is busy.
That being said, I have a relatively clear day today. The Vicar and I are off to the local old people’s home this afternoon to bring seasonal cheer and the Sacrament, but after that (and evening prayer), I think I may have a free evening. Tomorrow we make the Christingles (with the help of the Brownies and Guides – eep!) and then Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve is a bit of a marathon. Two of the Churches have joined together for their evening service, but that still leaves three ‘midnight’ services running from 8.30pm to 12.30am. The Christingle is at 4.30pm and may be the biggest service of the year. The puzzling thing round here is that people don’t want a Christmas morning service. We only have one Christmas Day service, at 9.30am and then that is it.
Advent has been lovely – watching the candles in the Advent rings light one by one, (I think we lit the pink one in the wrong week, but no-one seems to mind), going through advent reflections and services. The really jarring note has been all the Christmas services and concerts – I love Christmas carols and definitely value the integration with the community, but it is the mental effort to return to an advent frame of mind over and over again that is the struggle. It is sort of like – “He’s here” “No he’s not” “Yes, here again” “Still waiting for Him”. But then on a larger scale, I suppose that is what happens with every turn of the season. Bit different when it happens twice a day for a month.
What can we do as a Church? Do we give in and announce Christmas early? Put the twelve days of Christmas starting on the 14th? If we ban all Christmas carols and celebrations until after the 25th then it becomes difficult for people to see the joy of Christmas within all the ‘stop that’. A previous incumbent here tried that approach and it did not go down well. There is part of me that wants to object that Christmas is ‘ours’ – it belongs to the Christians. In reality, of course, the midwinter feasting is probably older than Christianity, so the secular celebrations are as valid, if not more so. The only way that I can see to be Christian about it all is to join in, be glad that people still ask ‘the Church’ to be involved in celebrations and take the opportunity to share the good news. Waiting for Jesus is not meant to be easy.
I went on my annual cheese quest to find some white stilton. No joy at T*sco, even when asking at the cheese counter. After several other cheese shops, I ended up at a very, very nice shop stocking many fine cheeses including Stinking Bishop. After sampling (and then buying) some smoked Caerphilly and some goat’s cheese called Rachel’s V, I asked about procuring some white stilton. Not having any in stock, and not being the first person to enquire, the proprietor rang up her supplier. It turns out that “artisan cheese makers don’t approve of white stilton” and consider it rather inferior cheese. Ah well, I shall look forward to telling Ma that. It is her influence that makes me go in search of it. There really is no better cheese to accompany mince pies. We’ve made do with Lancashire, but it isn’t quite right.
On Christmas morning Rusk and I were the only ones up and there was a fair bit that needed doing to food before Church. I therefore found myself sitting on the living room floor, peeling vegetables, surrounded by pans of water, toys and a small boy. Quite surreal.
Rusk’s favourite toy from Christmas was a rattle costing 50p. He chooses it above all other toys. He has figured out how to stay sitting up for a while by himself and is starting to get frustrated at not being mobile. People keep telling me that crawling won’t be far away.
On Boxing Day, the turkey was waiting to be disassembled, having been stashed in an absent neighbour’s fridge overnight. The only place that the cats don’t go is by the kitchen sink. For some reason they completely ignore that part of the kitchen. I now discover that Nemesis Cat, Es and Seph’s mortal enemy, has no such scruples. The turkey was surrounded by muddy paw prints. Thankfully it was well wrapped so Nemesis Cat made only a small incursion before being discovered red-pawed.
My lovely sister-in-law gave me some port in a wooden gift case. It took Mr F and I nearly half an hour to get into it. Is this some kind of plot to prevent alcoholics from getting an easy fix? We finally figured out that you had to slide a piece of wood to a particular place and then bend another piece of wood. Voila! The first piece sprang aside and the bottles were accessible.
I will post a picture tomorrow of my present from Ma and Pa. I know that it will make one particular person drool or covet. And on that note I think I will bid you all good night.
Various commitments are taking my time away from blogging. The essay writing has now reached the turn-the-internet-off-and-write-400-words-an-hour stage. Mr F has had a week off work and has been looking after Rusk. Much more exciting spending time with them than with my laptop! Oh and Christmas appears to be upon us. Hurrah!
This evening I have been sitting and watching the snooker, having wimped out of a 60 mile round trip to my current placement church’s carol service. After my fortnight of enforced rest I am trying to be a little more realistic about what I can achieve.
One of our achievements in the last week has been to move Rusk into his own room. It was meant to happen at half term, but we thought we would wait until he was well. Seven weeks later… it has been quite an ordeal, even if nothing more than the usual routine stuff of childhood illness. I have tried to explain to him that the list of illnesses with which he is banned from nursery is not a tick-list.
Anyway, other than that I have been gradually sorting out food for Christmas. The fruit for the no-fat Christmas Pudding has now been steeping in Brandy for 2 days. I do wonder if no-fat pudding is a bit of a hollow gesture, but it is the traditional family recipe so that is what I am going with. Definitely helps making your own puddings and cakes when there is a nut allergy around.
I am looking forward to meeting the turkey on Christmas Eve. I managed to go with my principles, curb my astonishment at the price, and get a free range turkey from the local organic butcher. It had better be good… Nice to know that the meat you are eating has had a happy life.
Right on cue,* the little one is stirring ready for his late night bottle. I had better go and see him.
Always slightly worrying when you can sum up the weekend using phrases from a sketch. Was it Harry Enfield where the aliens came to earth and ran around calling out names of things they saw?
So anyway, we have a tree! A Christmas tree, with decorations on it. I have just watered it (having remembered to turn off the lights first) and it is looking really rather lovely.
A fair amount of driving this weekend. First over to my local yarn shop to pick up my Christmas present from Ma & Pa. Ma seems reluctant to do internet shopping, but has proved willing to phone up a shop and buy something, leaving it for us to collect. She even upgraded what I had asked for. Not that I have seen any of this, since Mr F has of course spirited it away until Christmas. Then today off to placement church, followed by a wonderful lunch and meeting with the vicar. You know how some churches make you feel welcome? Well, this church makes us feel really welcome and totally part of their congregation despite only going out there on Sundays and knowing that we are only there until June. Their generosity is a real blessing.
Which brings me to Baby Jesus. I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year, and enjoying advent too. I remember this time last year I felt quite uncomfortable when hearing the Christmas story. I had just started telling people I was pregnant and felt as if all eyes were on me whenever Mary or Elizabeth’s stories were mentioned. This year, with Rusk being six months old now, it is all rather different. I may write more later, but I have just noticed that it is more than time for his feed.
This morning I was upstairs having some extra sleep while Mr F looked after Rusk when the postman knocked at the door. Ah, I thought, I wonder if that is a WISE parcel. An hour later, when I next was aware of being awake I wandered downstairs and discovered that it was!
Thank you very much Steve, for some fantastic choices of decorations.
So, WISE receiver, expect something pretty and something ornamental (with the emphasis on “mental”)
So here, I think, is the something pretty:
It is made of stiff card and collapses flat to make it postable. When folded out it can be placed over a table lamp to add a festive glow to the proceedings. I have made a note that it is not for use with a naked flame.
Which means that this must be the something ornamental, with the emphasis on “mental”.
What a fantastic reindeer, and the matching card is a lovely touch! I am a little disappointed that I will have to put him away by twelfth night. Perhaps he can be an all-year-round decoration. I think I will call him Horace.