It's taking a while but I am gradually getting into the Christmas mood. I suspect because we are pretty much having Christmas delivered by eBay and Amazon, and I am therefore not out in the shops much, it takes longer for it to really sink in that Christmas is almost upon us. There is something about hearing Slade drilling remorselessly into your ears that really brings it home that the festive season is nigh. Not surprisingly, we don't play that particular song on a loop while we surf the net so haven't succumbed to its insidious charms.
On Friday I attended First Born's P4 and P5 Christmas concert at a church near his school. He wasn't doing anything particular - I mean he was there and singing with the rest but not doing a solo or playing an instrument or anything. (He has not, it would appear, inherited his father's musical aptitude. Or if he has, he is keeping it very quiet.) A girl we have known since she was 4 as she used to be in FB's nursery class opened the proceedings by singing Emmanuel. Solo and unaccompanied in front of a couple of hundred of her schoolmates, assorted teachers and hordes of parents and grandparents. She's not my daughter but I still got a lump in my throat. God help me if one of mine ever does something similar - I will dissolve so fast they will need to scrape me off the floor and send me home in a bucket.
The singing of various carols, finishing off with "O Come All Ye Faithful", got the Christmas spirit going at long last. I used to sing (badly) in choirs all the way through school and every Christmas sang in the Christmas concert. The sound of those carols and Christmas songs (we used to do a very jazzy medley of stuff like Frosty the Snowman and Winter Wonderland) takes me right back in an instant to my childhood.
My mum and my gran would always come to those concerts and either really enjoyed them or did a splendid job of pretending. My dad worked abroad in Saudi Arabia so more often than not was not around for Christmas itself. We spent many hours on various Christmas days struggling with the frankly Kafka-esque Saudi telephone system trying to get through to speak to him for a couple of brief minutes. My Christmas memories therefore do not always include my dad, which is a shame.
They do however include my mum outside in the garden raking through the bin because my brother tore through his presents like a tasmanian devil (the Bugs Bunny incarnation of course) and invariably missed the little card from my other granny with a £5 postal order in it which then went out in the bin with the wrapping paper debris. Christmas wasn't Christmas unless my mum was up to her armpits in the bin, outside in the freezing cold, shouting "What colour was the wrapping paper??????" Makes me wonder what our own children's memories of Christmas will be when they are grown up. Mostly the Dr Who Christmas Special, I suspect.