(Sorry I don’t know who to attribute this to, but it made me smile!)
“Christmas comes but once a year!” my grandfather would declare, stretching and sitting back in his chair.
Thank goodness for that, I hear people up and down the country chorusing. Once is quite enough!
A quick search shows me that there was a short film of that name released in December 1936 – about the right era for my grandfather to be paying attention (he’d have been 26!), but I also see there is a poem from the Victorian era which repeats that mantra in the last line of each verse. Knowing Grandpa, that was where he took the line from. (My family have all been interested in books and words!) You can read it in full here.
Christmas comes but once a year. Turkey and sprouts. I don’t think my family eat these at any time other than Christmas Day. Similarly with Christmas pudding, which my husband adores and the rest of us tolerate. He has decided that this year he’ll buy up all the 1-person puds in the supermarket on Boxing Day and eat them throughout the year.
Christmas comes but once a year. The Queen’s Speech: her address to the Commonwealth, broadcast at 3pm on Christmas Day. Her 10 minutes of talking to the nation and world. Growing up, our day stopped so that the entire family could crowd around the television to watch it. Marriage changed all this, as it wasn’t part of their tradition, and for many years I never watched it… but it is creeping back in to my routine. Perhaps it is personal sentimentality, as I long for my children to have fantastic memories of childhood Christmas, just as I do.
Christmas comes but once a year. A midnight service, quietly welcoming in the Christ-child. I love this time – time to reflect and be peaceful, when the rest of Christmas (wrapping presents, food preparation, family to organise) is running riot all around me. Here is half an hour when the real reason for Christmas is allowed, not with pomp and ceremony but that incredible joy that comes with a new birth.
Christmas comes but once a year. And I can’t wait!
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE
AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
soaring past on wings of light.
It steals away your life,
moulding all the things that could be done
into those that have to be done;
forsaking dreams and
And time stops.
Every millisecond is recalled
in minute detail,
as the skier tumbles,
or the car rolls,
or a loved one dies.
Elastic time. Allotted time.
A time for everything,
and time for nothing.
(c) Catharine Withenay 2014
A reflection on half term