Saturday, 9 January 2010


So it wasn’t Adeste Fideles that did it in the end.

And we did have a few sprinklings of snow here over Christmas, enough to hold little Snooks up to the window and show him the falling flakes while The Snowman magically mirrored the scene on our television screen. I only wish someone had warned me about the ending. I have watched it before, many times, in those days armed with a little niece of some sort, but had somehow forgotten the whole melting thing at the end.

Anyway, it wasn’t that. And it wasn’t Christmas Day Mass where Snooks said he wanted to dance to the (rather good) rendition of Rejoice Greatly O Daughter of Zion.

And it wasn’t when Snooks lay down his sweet head on the floor of the lounge to get a better look at how the wheels of his new train ran along the new track Father Christmas had brought him.

And it wasn’t when my brother and sister both texted to let me know that they too were listening to the King’s College Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at 3pm on Christmas Eve.

And it wasn’t when we were driving back from Somerset on New Year’s Eve and a giant full moon shone down through the car window, both illuminating and entertaining Snooks for the journey.

And it wasn’t when the Engineer, wearing his swanky new shirt and Christmas undies, cooked up the best Christmas Day Dinner I have ever tasted, which was eaten by candlelight to the delicious sound of Nat King Cole, accompanied by our son’s repeated calls for “More chicken!”

Neither was it the glorious harmony of the shared silence in which Snooks and I watched the ducks, geese, swans and coots negotiate the ice floes on the pond in the freezing early morning of New Year’s Day.

Nor was it when, rigged out in full Liverpool FC tracksuit - a gift from a fellow of the northern cities - our future first division striker proudly poured the ‘tea’ using his newly acquired set, including a cup for Clairebear (and a few other unseens clearly present at his tea party).

And even when, on Twelfth Night, we religiously removed all signs of festivity to ward off the bad luck I have always been told would follow if they were allowed to remain into the Epiphany, it still had not really struck home. In fact the thought occurred to me, that day as the country went into a mini ice age:'You would have thought that Joseph could have found a room by now, almost two weeks after the baby was born. Why were the Kings still heading for the stable instead of a nice double with en suite, clean towels and a warm bed for poor old Mary?'

No the moment came at the 11th hour, when all the brightness and magic looked as if it would soon be over and our spirits were flagging a little. It came when I had resigned myself to loving Christmas only as a pagan, for the food, the winter cheer up and the sales. It came, prosaically enough, as I drained the pasta for lunch while the boys (father and son) danced to a song which had been playing in my head for weeks but which I had been unable to find on any of our cheesy and less cheesy Christmas CDs. Even the stash of cassettes I keep under the bed, some dating date back to 1984, had yielded nothing.

As it turned out, it is included in a medley of Christmas songs sung by the big names of the day, which the Engineer had dug out from his vast vinyl collection and, by coincidence, decided to play as a last tribute to the season.

As Whitney’s voice drifted into the kitchen … “He will bring us goodness and light” … it came with Biblical force and lodged somewhere between my heart and my windpipe.

Who knew that the Queen of Schmalz and the star of a spectacular fall from grace, would be the one to get me back into the fold?

Well that’s God for you.

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