To take the clear-eyed view, it’s not very Christmassy in England at the moment. It’s green, grey, mild and the land feels squelchy like a sponge that’s been taken out of the bath and left dripping on the side. It’s been almost exactly the same since April, quite honestly, the whole concept of seasons seems to have gone out of the window.
In our nomadic lives we’ve celebrated Christmas in places as diverse as Berlin (freezing cold, sparkling white, serious Christmas trees) and Adelaide (swimming in the warm Pacific, Christmas pudding flavoured ice cream). We’ve bought the boys tasteful wooden toys in Hameln Christmas market (footnote: the boys rejected the tasteful wooden toys and fastened on cheap tubes of plastic cars instead. We’ve kept the TWT and intend to inflict them on as yet unborn grandchildren at some distant date). We’ve gone carol singing in driving sleet in Belfast. But for sheer, unadulterated mind-over-matter you just can’t beat an English Christmas.
We hosted a village Christmas drinks party a couple of nights ago and reality was suspended. We served warming mulled wine, although outdoors it was just as mild as the unpleasant June that is still a recent memory. We cooked mountains of comfort food type drink eats – sausages, devils on horseback etc – the high calorific sort of thing designed to see you home through the blizzards. Except there was only mud to trudge home through.
People wore big, jolly jumpers, and silly Christmas hats, and gave each other Christmas cards with pictures of snowmen, and sheep in snow, and cottages with snow on the thatch. And everybody pretended that we’re in the middle of some Victorian memory Christmas season, where you blow on your frozen fingers and drag a Yule log home through the snow drifts.
And in a sort of way I’m all for it – indoors the house looks wonderful, with the Christmas tree full of decorations, and holly and ivy everywhere we could shove it. Outdoors is one huge mud bath filled with muddy animals, but at least their water troughs aren’t freezing over, and we don’t have to worry about burst pipes.
I’m going to go with the village flow, and wear Nordic jumpers and pretend that I need to eat vast mountains of calorific food to keep the cold out. Merry Christmas one and all! Ho ho ho! Mud, what mud?