Jeeves was in the other room hanging holly, for Christmas would soon be at our throats. --P.G. Wodehouse
And indeed it is. So a few hours of mad shopping and preparation are left, followed by a day that still holds its measure of magic for me. I stand revealed here as an unabashed sentimentalist, for once squarely in the conservative camp, looking around uneasily, marking the exits and hoping not to be noticed by the grim celebrants of all things reactionary.
I will not hide my Christmas under a bushel. This is a day of wonder and delight. Just take a look at the kids. Many decades have not made my enthusiasm waver. Am I, er, religious about it? Not really. In fact, not at all. It's in my cultural bones, though, the whole nine yards of tree, dinner, presents, stockings, fluffy snow, mandarin oranges, fireplace, and everybody (really) being nice to each other. A fresh turkey awaits us, and a dreadful tofurkey for the Vegan in the family, and I simply must dash.
But here is a poem about the other side of the equation, because we leftists can always be counted upon to spot the skeleton at the feast. Celebration without empathy is not our thing, and the struggle continues.
his favourite colour is mauve
he's got a horse in a distant valley
and a pied-à-terre in london
he wakes at the first squawk of light
calling his beasts by name: thunder! lightning!—
until he remembers, and sleeps
and others remember too:
out of tune with the times, he is,
a streak of ruby in the polar sky
set to the common music,
a patient man, snowed under,
labouring at his bench
in wood and plastic and gold
i saw him hunched in the crowds
at the corner of two windy streets
needing a bit of change, so he said,
it's the season of rough weather, it's rough all over,
and his voice was a thin sing-song>
why not? he sang, why not?
i loved you once
in the days i could call
my crazy name to my mind;
but all that's left of me now
i gave i gave i gave
Here I leave my new-found...what? Brothers and sisters? They won't be having that. Coalition partners? Never mind. Let's eat, drink and be merry, those of us who are fortunate enough to do so. And to all a good night.