Was great. My extended family are all completely mad as March Hares, which means that our family Christmases are noisy and shambolic and warm and shouty and loving and baffling; there are injokes, new and old, and actually, we enfold new people as fast as we know how – W, my sister’s boyfriend, came up for boxing day. My uncle will wander into rooms and bellow at whoever is sitting there peacefully reading, ‘so, what do you know about [something obscure]’ before going off on a crazy, rambly, but probably fascinatingly esoteric lecture. I am an absorber – I am interested by almost anything and I will quite happily sit just listening to him, or to anyone else who thinks that something completely random and complicated and unusually geeky that they know is interesting enough to talk about at length. I may not have anything to say but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested – and in my family not having anything to say is probably a good thing. I came out with one or two great one-liners and sometimes I was as loud as anyone else, but to be honest, no-one can compete with my uncle and cousins, they’re a comic team, unstoppable, bowling along and sweeping the rest of us up with them. It’s surreal but beautiful and in my mind the way Christmas ought to be. Meals full of far too many people at one table all shouting for the sprouts and the butter and the turkey all at once whilst drinking and holding three conversations each and constantly topping up one another’s glasses. A sitting room full of people shrieking and bellowing their way through a million madrigals, a smattering of Tom Lehrer, and Flanders and Swan, most especially the Hippopotamus song, and probably spending a good half of that time in fits of laughter. And afternoons surreally quiet because we’re all also voracious readers when we get the time so suddenly everything stops and everything is quiet because we’re all a bit tired, so we get out our books and there is peace, for once, not for long.
Meanwhile the Christmas service was hysterically funny. My cousin C and I were the only two to sing the descants to carols which Got Us Noticed, and we wre complimented by the priest, which was nice, given that ‘singing’ would be a fairly generous description of what we were doing. It’s a slightly happy-clappy church (or as my uncle says, ‘A bit Zinger Zanger’, after his son’s mishearing of ‘Sing Hosanna’, surely the ultimate in middle-class school-assembly happy-clappy-ism, as a small boy), so we did of course sing ‘Come and Join the Celebration’ which is probably my mother’s least favourite noise ever. For this all the children in the church were invited down to shake various bells and rattles about a bit and have a nice fun time, but as it happened all the children were in fact very small, still babies really, so what actually happened is their various mothers picked them up, stuck a rattle or some bells or whatever into one or both of their child’s hands, and then shook said child jauntily in time with the music. Honestly, imagine the spectacle: very simply a row of men and women solemnly standing in the front of the church vigourously shaking their babies. Surreal. The children seemed to enjoy it, anyway, or at least not mind too much.
As for presents I got a lot of books, most notably a bible, an ESV study bible in case you’re wondering, a pair of jeans, some nice new bedside lamps (one for Uni, one for Home? Or one for each side of my bed wherever? I have yet to decide) – and, my one non-family present, the most beautiful shiny shiny silver cross, which I wear every day, and have been obsessively taking off and replacing in its box every night just in case sleeping on it will somehow damage it (we are talking to the girl who got through five watches in two years and probably has more unmatching earrings than matching ones so it’s not a completely paranoid notion. Although my current watch has sadly lasted nearly two years, which is a shame because it’s the cheapest and most horrible thing… anyway). My old cross was from a junk shop and cost me a fiver, so I never cared too much about it and it showed after a while. This one… it’s perfect; it’s staying that way.