Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Joining the Post-Christmas Chorus

Snowdrops in the garden on Christmas Day.

Today was the first (almost) ordinary day after the Christmas holidays. Many of you have expressed joy at life returning to normal, may I join you? Here in the UK the holidays aren't quite over, shops are open, of course, but many offices remain closed. Before I retired, my last working day was Dec 23rd and we didn't return to work until Jan 2nd. In fact, it was even better when the official holiday fell on a weekend, like this year, we had an extra day or two added in lieu. In those days I was glad of the extra (paid) holiday, but now I usually just want it over.

I shouldn't complain, it was lovely, all of it, really. Beloved and I were left to celebrate Christmas Day in our own fashion, in the end nobody made any demands on us, and the one friend we invited, fell ill. We started very leisurely, revved down to a slow pace during the day and had come to near comatose by evening. It was all most civilised, we didn't even make ourselves sick overeating and drinking.

I hand delivered the last cards around the village on the afternoon of the 23rd. I leave it as late as that for two reasons: a) those who don't 'do' cards cannot possibly feel obliged to send us one at this late stage, and b) those who 'do', but have left us off their list for the year, must scrabble around madly to get one into our letterbox before Christmas Day itself. The latter means that we must then keep them on our list for the following year. Such fun!

Every year we go to a drinks party on the morning of Christmas Eve. Over the years the guests have become more and more ancient - I don't know why the hosts don't refresh their guest list occasionally - and much of the conversation is concerned with health matters. "How are you" invariably elicits an update on the latest health scare during the past year - many of these people we only ever meet on this day. My mother and her cronies used to have conversations like that; I swore then that I would never follow in her footsteps. Strange, how we turn into our parents eventually.

At the party, a couple in their early eighties told us they'd like to buy our house, cash buy, if and when we moved. We have, during the past year, vaguely moaned about the difficulties we have managing a house and garden larger than we strictly need. What makes this elderly couple think they can manage better than us, defeats me. Admittedly, they live further up and deeper into the hills; they really should move into the village soon. After their offer, I am, of course, totally convinced that we must struggle on, at least for the moment. Perhaps gardener will come back in the new year, at the moment his wife is making him move house. She'll probably kill him in the process. Apparently, moving house is high on the list of contributing factors to heart attacks.

The best part of Christmas was a dinner party on Boxing Day, given by my favourite host. He had a house guest, the same delightful lady writer with whom Beloved is mildly in love (not lust). Actually, I like her almost as much as he does, but I am secretly very fond of the host, a highly sophisticated man about town when he's away from Valley's End. Gushing? Who, me?

The conversation flowed as merrily and generously as the wine and the food was excellent. We talked about poetry - even reading some out loud -, the theatre, music, literature, people in the news in the arts, the media and literary circles (the three of them are given to name-dropping; not me, sadly, I don't know anyone worth showing off about), and we even had crackers, the very superior sort, of course, with fillers like tiny tea-filled caddies, a shot glass and one silver earring. The jokes were no better than they should be, here they are:

What did the plate say to the other plate?
Lunch is on me.

What has a bottom on its top?
A pair of legs.

Why do dragons make bad managers?
Because they fire everybody.

How do you clean a flute?
With a tuba toothpaste.

I think we may have fractionally overstayed our welcome. Beloved and I are nightbirds, for us the night is always young, and this was the sort of party I never want to leave. The host and his friend gallantly saw us to the bottom of his drive and the road, the night was starless and we'd probably have fallen into the cattle grid on the way out without their help. There are no policemen in Valley's End, and very few street lights. Both facts helped to get us home safely and with the minimum of fuss. Or disturbance of the peace.

Our Christmas Day friend finally came to dinner last night, which rounded off the festivities nicely. Now I've had enough, certainly until next weekend, when a little more celebrating is on the cards. That is, if Im still standing by then.


  1. Probably one of the most silent Christmas celebrations I lived so far; the day after food from yesterday and a glass of wine.
    Kid happy with a Book, and me with a new Pullover.
    A kind year ahead for you.

  2. The party you described with poetry reading sounds like great fun, and your village must be a grand place to live. This Christmas I learned what Boxing Day is and how it began. Isn't retirement great? I love it.

  3. It all sounds lovely. It shows how long I've been gone, I was trying to understand how you could hide things in a cracker (of the kind most often topped with cheese). Now I get it:)

  4. Just watch that cattle grid on new Year's Eve, Friko. That's all I ask of you ;)

  5. I long to enjoy a dinner party like the one you described. I don't move in the right circles though. And have a partner who'd rather eat a take-away in front of the TV!
    I love to host, maybe I should invite some bloggers to dinner.
    Christmas for us is a waste of time and money. I certainly don't 'do' cards. My mother drew all sorts of conclusions last year - Alan must be dead, Robert and Angela must have split up. This year, she had a card from each. How I laughed!

  6. Friko,
    This is the gayest (in the old use of the word) that I've ever heard you sound. Christmas was good to you.
    It's very convenient that you both get to spend time with your crushes at the same time, and under the watchful eye of each other, eh?

  7. Sounds like a lovely Christmas to me, especially that dinner party. I don't "do" Christmas cards either - but I do sell them, and I teach classes on how to create them! Go figure.

  8. ha the jokes are entertaining...smiles. glad you had fun at the boxing day seems this last week has been all about parties here as well...about wore out...

  9. Friko, it sounds like you got exactly the sort of Christmas you needed this year - enough quiet, little entertaining and a lovely bit of being entertained. Your choices in food and drink see to have been sufficiently abstemious to allow you a little flurry this coming weekend....

  10. The Snowdrops are beautiful. Everything sounds so good Friko, even the jokes. Valley's End sounds like the place of dreams and your holidays the very same.

  11. Friko, although your Christmas has been in many ways so different from mine, all that you've written in this post again convinces me of what a fine time we might have chatting away when we do eventually get to meet.

    I hope it's not too early to wish you and yours a very Happy 2012? The wish has been sent! xo

  12. Ah, the snowdrops opening into bloom are such a welcome sight--thank you for sharing their progress. We, too, had a "feet up" and quite Christmas day, and after to-ing and fro-ing around the "big city" the week before, it was quite delicious just to relax. I was quite amused to read your second round of Christmas cracker jokes--somehow, in the context of what sounds like a bright and lively evening, they seem better than the first lot. Context is all, eh? May the remainder of your holiday season be bright, and onward to a great New Year!

  13. Hope blogger is treating you better now.

    Happy year to come, you and The Farmer- "No policemen aiding the peace." Caught that, you subtle rebel (after mine own heart)

    Aloha from Waikiki
    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >


  14. Bonza jokes especially the dragon one :-).

  15. habe schon sehnsüchtig Deine Christmas-story erwartet! Ich lese gerne, was Du so machst und wie Du über andere Leute denkst. Sehr interessant...!
    Ich habe wieder nicht geschrieben... bald!
    Alles Liebe

  16. It all sounds quite lovely and relaxing Friko. I have been running a "hotel and restaurant" all Christmas. My last guest left yesterday but new arrivals are expected for the New Year weekend.


  17. Sounds like a perfect holiday celebration!! Good for you!'
    Now on to the New Year! Woot!!'

  18. Snowdrops!!!! Not a hope in my garden - lucky you!

  19. We also had a quiet Christmas – I had gotten up too early and fell back sick in bed again. In France we mainly send New Year’s cards, till the end of January. Christmas cards are usually sent to close families with children or the very religious. So I don’t feel too bad that I am late sending mine. I would love an evening with interesting people and conversation – you are lucky to have such friends. Being sick though I have already read 6 books, so it made it better. I hope your New Year will be fun and I wish you a great 2012. We were supposed to drive to Nashville today to celebrate belated Christmas and the coming New Year with my daughter – but am still sick. At least it is sunny and in the 60s (17C.)

  20. What a lovely description of your holidays. I enjoyed every last little bit, including the snowdrops blooming on Christmas Day. I am the opposite of a night owl and while you were revving up, I was winding down. :-)

  21. ...the best part sounded so happy...almost happy that you had such a treasured gathering of crushes....
    even that gave me a smile across my face......have a fun New year

  22. My what a busy holiday. We had many fewer adventures and no parties unless you count our visit to my daughter's home after Christmas. Like you, I am just as happy when the holiday ends. I also liked the holiday better when I worked fulltime outside the home. NOw every day is Christmas. Dianne

  23. My Christmas was full of food and grandchildren. A wonderful time, actually. But I'm glad for the peace and quiet to be here again.

  24. Well, your celebrations sound so quaint and I use that term in a complimentary vein...although I did pause at the 'jokes.' Other than celebrating with sick grandchildren and then coming home to spends days and days in bed getting sick...not much to write about from this end.

  25. That sounds like a very enjoyable and varied Christmas celebration, Friko. The snowdrops are beautiful and my grandsons will love the cracker jokes. :-) All good wishes for the New Year.

  26. Sounds like you had a good time :)

    Don't talk to me about health though as I've been ill since Christmas. Urgh.

    Anyway, all the best for 2012! :)

  27. Your Christmas sounds delightful, and I feel envious of the snowdrops. They are hard to find, here.
    Despite all the commercial hype, it seems that very many of us just want peace, joy, family and friends, and the special meals for such celebrations that we all so lovingly prepare.

  28. What a lovely Christmas you had!!! And I lovely groaners you had!!! I'd be proud to have them on my GOTW posts!

  29. dick·er/ˈdikər/

    Engage in petty argument or bargaining.
    Treat something casually or irresponsibly; toy with something.

  30. Sounds like a wild and wonderful celebration!! :):)

  31. Your Christmas sounds just about perfect -- snowdrops and all! Happy New Year, Friko...

  32. What a beautiful way to celebrate!!! Wishing you a new year filled with creativity and light!

  33. Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas, Friko. I have survived another, but, frankly, I am looking forward to the return to normalcy, a highly idealized concept, but one to which I cling nonetheless. Happy New Year, and I join Robert in his warning about the cattle guard on New Year's Eve.

  34. Your Christmas sounds wonderful, Friko, and I admire your sense of humor. I may just go ahead and do up some Christmas cards from other years that were unused for my friends and deliver them this day as you did. What fun!

    You made me chuckle aloud with your rendition of your Boxing Day dinner.

    In answer to your blogger question, we have iMac that are real troopers, but, I've had problems getting onto blogspot posts as well as leaving comments for a few weeks. It seems to have abated the past two days (but, then, I haven't been online much with our children and grand here).

    At any rate, happy New Year. Your snowdrops are lovely.

  35. You have described a wonderful time. (Well, except for the continually health concerned, maybe!)

    You live in such a charming place, and I loved the photo of the Snowdrops.

    Wishing you continued joy in 2012!

  36. What a delightful Christmas. Our crackers had fairly enjoyable jokes and fitting crowns but the real fun was trying to figure out what the melted bit plastic model was supposed to be!

    And A Happy New Year to you and your family, Friko...!

  37. Hi, Friko! I enjoyed reading how you enjoyed your Christmas holidays. Your way of delivering cards to the villagers is thoughtful. Though Christmas in Japan is no more a seasonal event and is very commercialized, some people (including me) respect its significance and spend joyous time. Culturally New Year Day is the most important festive occasion, we are having a family party on the 1st and extended family party as reunion on the 2nd. I’m writing this between the household chores which is almost done.

    It was so nice to get to know you and your blog this year. You’re so creative and productive that I can’t catch up with you, however, whenever I visit this blog, I’ve enjoyed reading your nice storytelling with wit and humor, though some humors are not instantly funny to me because of my lack of background knowledge and my poor English comprehension ability. BTW, how about trying this joke at the next party?

    “What do you call a deer without eyes?” “No idea.”

    Wish you and your family good health, love, and peace for 2012!


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  39. Hi Friko .. very English village and community way of life .. I can quite easily see it .. and the slip on the cattle grid without added host making sure you'd left the premises safely ..

    Happy New Year - which is almost here .. bowling agedly along to 2012 ..

    Hope Gardener comes back .. but moving house .. poor chap! Cheers to you two .. Hilary

  40. For some reason those snowdrops reminded me of little choirboys. Must be the festive atmosphere. Hope 2012 is good for you!

  41. Sounds like you had a busy, satisfying, happy holiday week. Wishing you more of the same for all of 2012!! :)

  42. Happy New Year! Best wishes for you!

  43. Gosh I do wish you lived closer! Sounds like my kind of Holidays, capitalized.
    Boxing Day was very similar for me, enhanced mightily by the presence of the son of a dear friend who is wonderfully eccentric and comes up with incredible plots for my novels. I am secretly in love (not lust) with him. He is young enough to be my son, alas. It wouldn't stop a man I know but it certainly stops this woman.

  44. Everything about this posts warms me in so many ways and I simply adored hearing about your holiday, your village, your hosts. I love the idea of hand delivering the cards in the village. It's so personal and that's lovely.

    Your festivities sound simply wonderful, good friends, interesting conversations, warmth and camaraderie. So pleased.


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