And so happy Christmas and what have you done?
I suppose it would be easier to start with what I haven’t I done! Eat and drink too much. That’s a good one. It doesn’t mean I haven’t splurged, orb over indulged, but merely I have enjoyed without the hedonism of far flung Christmases.
As if a little self-control wasn’t a sufficient ‘a pat on the back’ in this season, I am proud of my meagre attempts at philanthropy.
My first escapade was to don the magical red tunic and visit some ‘young un’s’ whom had been poorly and missed out on the obligatory interrogation whilst perched upon “Santa’s Knee”.
Bringing a surprise and wonder to the most magical of seasons, made for my own piece of magic – the ability to walk a few short steps unaided.
I said ‘the magic of the season’, for I firmly believe that Christmas requires us to accept what our eyes are seeing, not what our innards are telling us. Sure, you won’t see St Nicholas coming down your chimney, however the true meaning of the mass for Christ, is the story of a humble, peaceful, descend from the Creator, into a world of tyranny, despair, and fear. The Three Kings – men of science came following a celestial anomaly. Knowing as Arthur C Clarke described in “2010”, “Something wonderful is going to happen!” And every year it does – if you open your eyes, and your hearts.
A year ago many people believed Christmas had been cancelled. Entering into a lockdown period in order to preserve the resources of our wonderful NHS, and attempt to slow down the transmission of the plague known as COVID-19.
How can you cancel Christmas? Did Jesus get the memo?
Another gift that we take for granted is the basic human need for companionship. Here in Burry Port, we are blessed with the shop on the corner, aka “The Carmarthenshire Coffee Company”. For a pound you can enjoy a drink and a chat. Its a place where you enter as strangers and leave as friends.
On a recent visit, I met a new friend who described Christmas 2020 as one of the best. An evening of Zoom activities with the all the family. Something that would not have happened with a ‘normal’ Christmas.
A while later new friends joined the table, & talk turns to kindnesses and charity towards the local kids who hang around. I share a table with our Catholic priest and we agree on God and humanity. Proof, if needed, that a Catholic and a Protestant can be friends, and agree – as if I didn’t know that! My friends are my friends – the little idiosyncrasies of our formal worship are like snowflakes hitting the ground. Visible for a heartbeat but soon disappear.
That’s the joy of living in a town like Burry Port, small enough to care about people, but big hearted enough not care about our differences.
Podcasting, I am revisiting some of the people who helped get “Body and Soul” with followers from UK, sure but India and Poland, to name 3 of the 25 territories reached. Time with good characters with a back story to tell.
The countdown continues… Birthday gifts to remember. Blessed to be a part of the 40th anniversary of “Dare” and yes I sang my heart out. Its The Human League – its the law!
Before mine there’s another birthday celebration – the boy is now a man. I get to do the one thing I wanted to do all my life; to buy my boy his first legal pint! And I did, and his second and third!
Christmas Eve, and I’ve reached early retirement age with no plans to. There’s brandy shandy’s and other ‘in jokes’. 80s vinyl and gin galore. Star Trek encyclopaedia and Greek coffee pots. I’m somewhat humbled by the thoughtfulness of the gift haul.
I awake in the morning and my first thought is “happy birthday Lord”. Lazy morning as the call to church never came so no early morning dashes. Breakfast of Scottish smoked Salmon and Welsh scrambled eggs washed down with copious amounts of Greek coffee, before the gift exchange.
My Gin shelf buckles under the weight. Then I discover what the 3 brought. Not wisemen but step children. From the eldest a paddle serving board inscribed with “The Latest Supper”. I later discovered it was homemade. In the middle, it a traditional Welsh cook book, and I am salivating as I read, and from the boy aka the man, Y Bibel Cymraeg. I am humbled and quite emotional to be the proud recipient of such meaningful and appropriate gifts.
As a couple we are blessed with diverse hampers and not as much ‘smellies’ as you would expect.
As the days merge the missus and I make a pact to do coffee at the coast and we are grateful for a mild period of stable weather and get out.
Before you can say “Spit the dog” its New Year’s Eve and were are stepping out. She’s debuting the dress from Cadno I got her and I’m black tied and silver tuxed up.
Why the formality? Nikolaos is presenting a fine dining experience. Being involved in the menu planning I know how much hard work has gone into the evening, and the sheer amount of stress and uncertainty thanks for governmental hinting and press speculation on turbo boost. Christmas has been slow. Everywhere you go you hear people saying the same thing, all they dont want for Christmas is COVID. A potential No1 for Christmas 2022 for Mariah. No offence but I have had a belly full of sausage roll inspired auto tuned crap, and Z-LIST FACTOR!
A very dark and quiet Stepney Road, is the venue for a capacity crowd – socially distanced, of course, all ready to sample the artistry of “Nik the Greek”. I am not going to review the menu here. Merely say it was worth every single penny.
New Year’s Day and I realise that in a slightly happy state the previous evening I have accepted the challenge from Nik to bake a Vasilopita – the traditional New Year cake. So I bake, sample and head back to the scene from the previous night’s shenanigans. Coffee, gyros, and ice cream are ordered. I sit reviewing my sermon for the next day, the first Sunday of 2022.
Returning home my nostrils are filled with a welcoming aroma. The Honey Lamb dish from the Welsh Cookbook that Hari got me, is ready. We eat as a family and wish each other ‘deliverance from evil’ for 2022.
Sunday arrives and an early start – Three Crosses in the morning and Cefncaeau for the evening. There’s no talk of resolutions or nostalgic meanderings of years or even days bygone – no a somewhat hardened edge. Ponding the questions centred upon one key thought, “how much can we or do we take before we say enough is enough?” My arguments backed up with scripture are accepted and the feedback is as I prayed for, “you’ve given us something to thing about Andrew, thank you”.
Bank Holiday Monday and it is house work. The tree is down and stowed. The bed is changed and alarms are set for the return to the day jobs. One last opportunity to have a family feast. A Mediterranean menu. Turkish pizza with Greek meats and cheese, couscous and salad. Washed down with a couple of bottles of Corfu FX Dark.
And the truth? One of the better Chistmases ever! As always it was never about what was on the plate but who was around the table.