Saturday, 15 December 2012

Thoughts for Christmas and a Review of ‘Christmas Poems BC-AD’ by U.A. Fanthorpe from Pauline Chandler

I love Christmas. It’s so nice, in the darkest time of the year, to see shops and houses lit up with fairy lights and bright with Christmas trees. I love sending and receiving cards.  I like ones with stars and angels, and animals, especially hares and donkeys, but my favourites are snowy scenes with robins. It's a lovely way of getting news of people I don’t meet on a regular basis, but would still like to keep up with. (I LOVE round robins!)  Christmas puts me in a different place for a while, with different priorities. I know it’s sometimes hectic and fast, but I try to be well organised, so that I can make time for what matters.  I love baking and eating, so there’s the food aspect too, about which I could blog forever, so I’ll stop now!  

So, yes, I love Christmas. It’s time to kick over the traces and find your inner child. Shift that load of adult life from your back: your work, that Philip Larkin called ‘the toad’, other people’s expectations, your own ridiculously high goals, the bills, the washing machine on the blink, the insoluble problems of teenagers, whatever strings pull you, whatever prods push you, every which way. It’s time to get out the crayons and the colouring book. Look at the lights.  Remember a friend. Dress up! Dress down! Time to find ‘simple’.  Time to get back to your primary colours.  

The story of Christmas is a simple one. Once upon a time, there were two people having a baby in a stable. The man, Joseph, is a carpenter. A maker, then, with skill in his hands. The woman, Mary, a young girl, having her first child. She isn’t in hospital, nor is she at home. Her mum isn’t there. There’s no doctor or midwife, nor any other women. Or men, for that matter. Only Joseph.  There are animals - well, it is their shed – and it isn’t long before some shepherds turn up. Shame they weren’t there for the birth, really. With all their lambing experience, they might have been able to help.

The baby, in the story, turns out to be no ordinary baby. Important and wealthy wise men visit him, with valuable gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Strange gifts for a little one. Why did they not give him a cuddly toy? Or a rattle, or something to chew on? There was a big star too, shining right over the stable as if it were a sign, to show that here was a special place. And, by all accounts, there were angels. How lovely. Angels!  Whether you believe all this really happened or not, doesn’t matter, does it? The Christmas story is brilliant! Everyone can understand it straight away and we can all feel sympathy for this family, who go on to be in terrible danger when the king sends his soldiers to kill all the children under two years old.  One thing is certain. This is a very old story, yet it's as new as today.  Set down within the Christian religion, it's not exclusive. It's a story for everyone, religious or not, without exception. This is about ‘Peace on Earth’ and ‘Goodwill to All Men.’ It’s simple. It’s Christmas. I love it!

If you’re looking for seasonal poems, do take a look at ‘Christmas Poems BC-AD’ by one of my favourite poets, U.A.Fanthorpe.  The collection includes both serious and funny poems, so something for everyone.
I love ‘Reindeer Report’ – (excerpt)

Children: more
And stay up later
Presents: heavier.
Pay: frozen.’

And ‘What the Donkey Saw’ – (excerpt)

No room in the inn, of course,
And not that much in the stable,
What with the shepherds, Magi, Mary,
Joseph, the heavenly host,
Not to mention the baby
Using our manger as a cot,
You couldn’t have squeezed another cherub in
For love nor money.’

My absolute favourite is this one:
‘Christmas in Envelopes’

Monks are at it again, quaffing, carousing;
And stage-coaches, cantering straight out of Merrie England
In a flurry of whips and fetlocks, sacks and Santas.

Raphael has been roped in, and Botticelli;
Experts predict a vintage year for Virgins.
From the theologically challenged, Richmond Bridge,
Giverny, a lugger by moonlight, doves.     
Costs less than these in money, more in time;
Like them, is hopelessly irrelevant,
But brings, like them, the essential message


To Everyone on ABBA! Happy Christmas to you and yours! Love Pauline, x


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