Saturday, 24 December 2011

Twas the night before Christmas...

And I've been admiring the trees outside Tillypronie, as well as the glorious one inside the house. There has been time to walk across the hills -- such a luxury, to feel the Highland air upon my cheeks -- in between the wrapping of presents and the eating of chocolate brownies and meringues. My beloved sons are with me -- the best present of all -- and I feel blessed to have reached this point in my life; to be here, after five decades of previous Christmases. To be 50 -- how did that happen? -- and to love and be loved... such a simple blessing, such a miraculous joy...
If you have a chance, please do read Carol Ann Duffy's 'Another Night Before Christmas' before you go to sleep tonight. It's wonderful, and here's the opening verses, to bring you good cheer:
'On the night before Christmas, a child in the house,
As the whole family slept, behaved just like a mouse...
And crept on soft toes down red-carpeted stairs.
Her hand held the paw of her favourite bear.

The Christmas tree posed with its lights in its arms,
Newly tinselled and baubled with glittering charms;
Flirting in flickers of crimson and green
Against the dull glass of the mute TV screen.'

I love this poem, and Rob Ryan's illustrations for the Picador edition; do look up page 18, of the hare, if you can...

'Then a shooting star whizzed down the sky from the North.
It was fizzing and sparkling as it fell to earth,
And growing in size. A young hare in a field
Gazed up at the sky where it brightened and swelled.'

As for my own Christmas message to the lovely readers that contribute so much to this small community; I am so grateful to you all, for friendship and insights and the best ideas on what to read, and why to read it. If Christmas is a time to remember that life is made up of the small yet precious moments of communication -- only connect, as E.M Forster reminded us -- then tonight is a moment to cherish. Christmas -- like life itself -- is imperfect, sometimes jagged, and all the better for it. Our griefs and disappointments are present, but so too are our hopes and expectations and pleasures. Tonight, I hope you are happy, my friends and comrades, whatever the unhappiness that might have beset you in the last year; courage, mes amis... and let us celebrate the threads that we have woven together, in this, another year...


Mystica said...

Have a wonderful Christmas.

jaywalker said...

Thank you for those lovely thoughts, Justine. It's Christmas Day here in Tasmania and I'm just waiting for My partner's two sons and one's girlfriend to arrive for Christmas lunch.It's 23C and rather muggy so eating a turkey dinner is not quite as cosy as in England or Scotland.
Yes, I wonder where 67 Christmas's have gone - early ones spent in Yorkshire as a child, some spent in magic places such as Sweden and southern France, some happy and one or two quite traumatic - why do such good and bad things happen then?
Anyway, like you I'm counting my present blessings with gifts and emails from my sons interstate and a huge pile of books from my partner who I suspect is looking at some of them and wondering when he can get his hands on them too.
He's really spoilt me this year - the new Penelope Lively, the new P D James, the Real Downton Abbey, the new Karin Fossum, Sense of an Ending and a new biography of Victoria and Albert, Magnificent Obsession.

What a treat to look forward to!! Happy reading everyone and a great New Year.

kairu said...

Thank you for the lovely words, Justine! Merry Christmas to you and yours! I am in Taipei with my parents for Christmas, but tomorrow my mother and I are off to Myanmar (with possibly nonexistent internet). I won't be back until after the new year, so a very Happy New Year to you and everyone here as well.

I got a Nook ereader for myself as an early Christmas present and have it loaded with classics and a few new things to read as well. Those look like a wonderful selection of books, jaywalker, perhaps I'll get them when I return home next month.

Karen, Surrey said...

On reading your words the words of the following Carol came to mind. "Our hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight". As you have summed it up, Christmas is a marker, a turning point, a time of review and reflection.

Thank you for your interesting blog, your fashion insights and literary reflections. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Love Bakery said...

Merry Christmas Justine. Christmas is a great way for me of remembering what really is important. Family and friends make my world happy and for that I am eternally grateful. With best wishes, Sam xx

enid said...

Merry Xmas to all and what beautiful words as always Justine. You are the needle which binds all our threads together - sharp and sharing. It is such a privilege to blog with you and we have all been on sucgh a wonderful blogging tour with you so may it continue and may 2012 be the best year for all. Regrads to Philip too and my favourite words to you
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth. ”
― Raymond Carver
tags: life-fragment-love

enid said...

speaking of threads I like this and please excuse spelling errors in previous message
My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold

Bette said...

Merry Christmas. What a lovely message. Perfect. Hope you are enjoying Spark's poems. I'm writing this in a huge queue for Grand Palais and the family Stein exhibition. But what bliss: I have wifi and can read your lovely message. A week without emails, google and my fav blogs has been a challenge. Remember to watch Midnight in Paris for a bit of magic...

jaywalker said...

As always, the many threads bind us together on here. I had just got up from reading the first chapter of Graeme Robb's "Parisians - an Adventure History of Paris" - which I can highly recommend - when I immediately saw Bette's post from that city.

The first tale is about Napoleon's first visit to Paris as a young lieutenant and the brief manuscript he left about his liaison with a young prostitute at the Palais Royal.

And, yes, Midnight in Paris was well worth seeing even though I think his experiment with the colouring wasn't a complete success.

Just about to take up "The Sense of an Ending" so OH can read 'Paris' which I actually bought for him!

Rose said...

what a lovely description of Christmas- so prescious though as you say not always perfect, but perhaps all the better for that ultimately. Happy Christmas

Justine Picardie said...

Thank you to everyone for commenting, and hope you had a good enough Christmas (I always think that Donald Winnicott's concept of the good enough mother is a helpful one in these and other circumstances). I love the Carver fragment -- I've read his short stories, but never come across these lines until now, so very grateful to Enid, and to all of you, scattered around the world, and yet gathered together here again.

StopTurbinesonPressendye said...

"And I've been admiring the trees outside Tillypronie, as well as the glorious one inside the house. There has been time to walk across the hills -- such a luxury, to feel the Highland air upon my cheeks ...whatever the unhappiness that might have beset you in the last year; courage, mes amis... and let us celebrate the threads that we have woven together, in this, another year... "

I hope in your meanderings you had time to open your eyes to the destruction of the Aberdeenshire countryside by the hundreds of vanity wind turbine schemings which are destroying your and my precious hills. In the case of the Tillypronie Estate's turbine proposed for the prominent Gallows Hill, you may consider it more yours than mine but but many of your neighbours will continue in our unhappiness to fight for yet another year against one fashion we can certainly do without.

Silver Fox said...

Hello Justine,
I just heard your interview about Coco including Hal Vaughan. We are reading his "Coco" book in our Book Club (in Charlottesville, VA Jan 30, 2012). Your comments were very much in keeping with my feelings; as I am reading his book. I would appreciate asking you few questions. Many thanks, Kirby North Ancona