On the kitchen table is a blooming winter rose in memory of my mum, who always brought them cut fresh from the garden and wrapped in tin foil for Christmas Day.
The fridge is crammed before we even pick up the turkey. The sherry bottle is full because Dad liked a sherry with his mince pie. And there is even the obligatory box of dates which will undoubtedly still be there on New Year’s Day unopened on the coffee table.
And in the hallway is the most over-decorated, mismatched Christmas tree, real of course, that I have ever had. Not my usual, perfectly colour coordinated, themed, work of art, with its symmetrical decorations. This year the tree is crammed full of anything and everything that glitters. And as much of it as possible.
Where have all the Glenda Jacksons gone: Anthony ClavaneAs for the colours, well let’s just say they are eclectic. One side is rather more adorned than the other and the Christmas angel definitely has a bit of a lean on. But for me it is simply the best Christmas tree we have had in ages, because I decided to let three little girls aged three, eight and 20 months have free rein.
OK I am not going to lie. There were times I made ever so slightly stressed out helpful suggestions as to what looked best where. All ignored of course. And so far I have resisted the temptation to sort it out while they are asleep in bed. Because to them it is beautiful and perfect. And so it is. If you close one eye and squint a bit.
The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has written a new book about Advent. He talks to Chris Bond about faith, the importance of God and his love for the people of Yorkshire.The three children are my grandchildren. The house quite frankly looks like disaster zone. The puppy has taken a shine to the Beanie bears meaning I have to try to sew on the sequinned unicorn horn before they discover his savagery and I am sending my husband out for a drink with his friends because they are beginning to call him grumpy grandad. With some justification.
But in the past week my grandchildren have provided a welcome interlude from what has been months of the most divisive, bitter and vicious squabbling between grown men and women there has been in my lifetime. Even after the election result it has continued in much the same vein.
What ever happened to democratic reasoned debate? I read one Facebook post congratulating the turkeys who voted against what they believed was the right result. Well I tell you what’s been a turkey in this run-up to Christmas – politicians who believe that vitriol is the way to regain respect for a political system that has been broken for too long.
We are just sick of hearing the same old soundbites. Well now the public have had their say. Just as they did at the referendum, the result of which I respected, even though I was a staunch Remainer. But I lost. So to those who won on all sides now is the time to prove you are worthy of the people’s trust. Because that, I am afraid, has to be earned.
Adoption should be about how much love you can give not the colour of your skin, says Christa AckroydSo, I will say to all politicians something I have found myself saying to my three grandchildren this festive season. If you can’t play nicely and fairly then don’t play at all. I am not listening to your squabbling any more. I am not interested in who said what about whom. And if you have our children’s best interests at heart then lead by example and earn your reward. You are old enough to know better.
For some, the figure on top of the political tree this year may be a little wonky but at least we put him there. It is called democracy. Respect it.
So Happy Christmas to you all. And it is Happy Christmas not Happy Holidays. Christmas is not about presents or over indulgence or who has the best decorated Christmas tree, especially when there are so many for whom luxury would be a roof over their heads or friends and family to call their own. Christmas is a religious festival for those, like me who believe in Christ.
That is why my friend Kathy and I will go going to the local church for the Christmas Eve service, to count our blessings and pray for those less fortunate than ourselves.
Of course we respect all others with opinions different to our own. But please respect mine. You cannot take Christ out of Christmas for me. No matter how unfashionable it is to say it.
As for the men and women who now find themselves top of the political tree we expect you to at least try and be civil. So can we, for the next couple of weeks at least, have a Christmas truce? I for one have some important family time to enjoy.