THANKSGIVING IS A MARVELLOUS CONCEPT—AND HOLIDAY—BUT CHRISTMAS IS WHERE MY HEART LIES
I would love for Thanksgiving to really resonate with me, but it just doesn’t—despite the good offices of various friends over the years who have invited me to their various tables. My Anglo-Irish origins will out.
I enjoy it, of course, because a holiday always lifts one’s spirits, but the occasion that I warm to most emotionally is—and always has been—Christmas. In particular, I recall the excitement and pleasure my kids both felt and showed. This was the time of year when they all received serious presents—but what were they? The suspense was fundamental to the occasion; and opening presents was the highlight of the day.
As for the Christmas meal when I was a kid, I loved it, but was most excited by the lighting of the plum pudding with brandy—a ritual that was normally carried out with more vigor than wisdom. Quite how none of us went up in flames is a good question. Still, since there were twelve of us children in all, I guess we could have spared one. Though maybe not. The younger ones, in particular were, very sweet. Some still are. Others, sadly, are dead before their time—Rex, Desiree, Martin and Christian. All were younger than me. Eight of us are left.
Christmas also guaranteed that I would be home from boarding school, and what is more, the Christmas vacation—which typically started around December 20—meant meant five glorious weeks of freedom. That was beyond wonderful as far as I was concerned, because despite the fact that school I went to was widely regarded as excellent—which it was—I thoroughly disliked boarding school, its rules and restrictions, its complete lack of privacy, and the overarching fact that one was, in effect a prisoner. In my opinion , such a restriction of one’s liberty was just plain unacceptable—and I never either got used to it, or accepted it. Accordingly, just to be away from school was bliss. Most of my peers quite enjoyed the place, particularly because it was heavily sports oriented, but I have had this fondness for freedom since I first escaped from my playpen.
But enough of Christmas, for the moment—one holiday at a time. Perhaps the best thing to do on Thanksgiving is to focus on everything one has to be thankful for.
Which, of course, brings me back to writing. After all, this is a writer’s blog. But surely I have much else to be thankful for? Family, friends, the many wonders of this world—the list is endless. All true—but you see here is the thing: Writing, apart from being the engine of my life—and vastly pleasurable—is freedom.
Later in the day, I shall be having a meal with friends. They will be serving—wait for it—chicken; or as I used to say to my kids: “Dead chicken.” Turkey is for Christmas as far as I am concerned; and it tastes far better if it, too, is dead.