Wednesday 25th. December, 2013 – A Happy Christmas Day 

Guess what I got for Christmas

Woke and it was still very windy – we had been promised that the wind would drop overnight but here it was still exceedingly blowy and I was relieved that we still had all of our slates, the boat was still covered by its tarpaulin, the roof was on the summerhouse and the fence was still more or less in place. I showered and then walked Mix with Rachel and Rowan – everywhere was deserted and it was very quiet. Came home and changed and we set off for church.

It was a good service and the folk who were there seemed to be in families, as if parents had brought those staying with them for Christmas along to church for the service. Ann retold the manger story from the standpoint of the baby – the purpose being to underline the wonder of God choosing to be born into our world as one of us. Of course we sang all the old favourites and came out of church feeling that Christmas had arrived and that the world was a better place as a result.

A view of Holyrood Palace from Carlton Hill

Back home, Rachel and I had a snack and opened our Christmas presents. Rachel gave me a ukulele (a retired person should take up a new interest and what better than learning to play a new instrument); Tom and Dorothy gave me a tool bag (clearly they foresee a more useful outlet for my new energies)! I gave Rachel a jacket which she really fancied from the awfully posh Tweedside Tackle (which we had visited in Kelso last week). Presents opened – the dogs had their own gifts, as well – we set off in the car for Edinburgh to join the family at Jeffrey and Devon’s home.

Jeffery is my nephew. He met us when we arrived and to settle the dogs we walked up Carlton Hill which is just minutes away from his home. It was busy, lots of folk were out for a Christmas walk. We overlooked Holyrood Palace and at the other side of the hill got a grand view of Edinburgh and the Forth behind.

Custer and Jeff -- a dog and his man

In Jeff’s home we were treated to a feast – turkey, goose, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, sausages wrapped in bacon, cranberry sauce, bread sauce, two kinds of stuffing, gravy and all in such huge quantities. Afterwards there was an extended break – we needed it – while presents were exchanged and then we started again with a huge Christmas pudding which flamed for fully three or four minutes before the brandy was consumed, and a glorious trifle (my favourite and made with me in mind). It was wonderful. It was also wonderful to meet Steve (Devon’s Dad) and Nicole and Nicole’s daughter Torri, as well as Jeff’s special friends Keith and Lee – along with Mum, Olive and Digger that provides a complete rundown of everyone present.

Looking north from Carlton Hill

We set off home just after eight. Rachel had undertaken to put the chickens to bed to allow Digger and Olive to stay overnight in Edinburgh. It was a good journey home, eighty minutes door to door. I lit the stove and we watched Mrs. Brown’s Christmas on tv and a bit of Michael MacIntyre whose discussion of a visit to the dentist made me laugh out loud so much that I still have a sore chest more than two hours afterwards – I laughed, I wept, I rolled on the floor. It was so funny – the humour turning on his inability to speak properly with his mouth numbed by a dentist’s injection.

We had intended to watch the news and come to bed but before we knew it we got caught up in the Vicar of Dibley. The writers have a wonderful knack of presenting ridiculous humour but bringing it all around to something quite profound and I went to bed, having walked the dogs (the wind has now dropped), feeling that I had got a lot out of today. It has been quite, quite special and everything has contributed to that: the service in Church, the family celebration in Edinburgh, the television we watched when we came home (there was a lovely five minute slot on the BBC where the Gospel was read and ‘On Christmas night’ was sung), and the texts I received during the day from important friends. And to add to it all, Mix was on his best behaviour everywhere we went. He has become a real star.

I hope that all those who read this diary have had a really special day. Don’t let Christmas stop when the clock strikes midnight. Let’s keep it going as long as we can! I also hope that the message of the need to make our society a fairer one -- both in terms of our own country and the world as a whole -- a message proclaimed by the new Archbishop of Canterbury and also by the Archbishop of York is not lost amongst all of the celebrations. Mary's song, which we read in the lead up to Christmas, presents a vision of the world as it is meant to be and we can't welcome the baby without working for the dream.

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