Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Christmas Carol Concert

Sometimes I feel glad for short days and long nights with bare branches of trees blossoming white bulbs of light and soft fringes of yellow fairy lights fluttering like the epaulettes of dress uniforms stretched from first storey windows

and here a single Christmas tree - multi-coloured and signalling the entrance to the town hall

with its marble columns and pink Cheshire sandstone blocks. Then inside a great wooden staircase, stained glass windows, a chandelier and a smear of green garland. It is Christmas

and time for brass bands and choirs singing carols, and joining in (because I know each word) and feeling that at just that moment I am happy. All the recent cares fall away and I remember how it was when I was young that I meant every word and I too could 'sing in exultation'

as if I too were an angel dressed in a swan-white dress

praising God or blasting the last trumpet or wishing I had been a shepherd with the other shepherds blowing on my fingers against the cold

or, better, in with the wise men smelling of frankincense or myrrh following a star to a stable smelling of a sweet fug of hay and a child mother too young to be anything but innocent and beautiful.

And then the music stops and winter sets in and I remember other Christmases - that time in Manchester when a woman seemed so raw with grief that it hurt to see her from my window on a train, and then, more recently my parents determinedly laughing over unfunny jokes, and last year my mother-in-law delightedly opening presents from a large man dressed as a fairy - and then opening exactly the same presents again with just as much surprise and happiness a few seconds later.

Outside Father Christmas oversees his kingdom and the choir marches past. 'I hate Christmas' one of the altos told me last week - with such a quiet intensity I did not ask why.


Blogger Anne S said...

It is remarkable how some images of Christmas remain with you.

One Christmas day a couple of years ago we were driving out of the city towards the highway which takes us to my brother's place on the coast.

At a turn off there had been an accident and there was a smashed up car with its passengers standing dolefully around it and the Christmas presents, destined for some Christmas get together,lying scattered on the road around them.

I thought it looked really tragic.

Anyway Clare all the best for Christmas and may your memories of it be happy ones.

Sun Dec 23, 10:43:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the way you have described it here makes it seem very poignant to me too. I suppose part of this is because something intimate is on display.

Thanks Anne - and all my best wishes to you too.

Sun Dec 23, 12:06:00 pm  

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