Monday, December 22, 2008

My Christmas Quintet

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone

So wrote Christina Rossetti in 1872 in the opening verse of her poem In The Bleak Midwinter. This emotive piece when sung to the magnificent music of Harold Darke lifts my spirits, and for me sums up the Christmas message in just five short verses.

2. I can’t claim to be a regular church goer, but there is one service which draws me into God’s house each year. It's the Midnight Mass when folk converge on the church from every direction to see in Christmas. There we witness the blessing of the crib, we sing carols, pray and ponder on the magic and mystery of this very special celebration.

3. Christmas day is a series of smells! From the smoky aroma of bacon and sausages which wafts from the kitchen at breakfast time, to the cinnamon scent of mulled wine. The air is filled with the smell of roasting turkey and the sweet bouquet of mince pies and cake.

4. Phone calls from family members in faraway places bring back memories of years ago when as children they unwrapped their gifts at our feet. Innocent times when they had not a care in the world, when we were one happy family gathered around the Christmas tree.

5. Since the early 1400’s the English meal has finished with a Christmas Pudding. This rich desert is thick with raisins, sultanas and currents. It is normally made weeks before the big day, and tradition demands that the children of the house stir the mixture whilst makin a wish. Silver coins are often added to the pudding before it is lowered into a pot of boiling water and cooked for hours and hours. When the pudding is about to be served, the house lights are turned out and the pudding is carried into the dining room enveloped in the purple and red flames of burning brandy. Topped with rich brandy butter, it makes a perfect end to the most important meal of the year.

I would like to end as I started with more words from In The Bleak Midwinter, this time the final verse.

What can I give him
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him
Give my heart.

A great big thankyou to my special friend Jadey who suggested I write this piece


  1. May you Sir enjoy this season with my best wishes and my love, for all the joy you have brought since I was blessed to find your blog.

    ****A Merry Christmas Mr Hillman and a Happy New Year!*****

  2. your christmas list is like a magical wishlist...

    merry christmas to you and your family!

  3. Keith sweet traditions, smells, familiar memories, family, friends and the cheer the days see in.

    Things to ponder as the day draws near, when many rejoice good tidings and cheer.

    Have fun with family and friends my dear sweet friend. XOXOX

  4. Great Post about X mas Keith. I also remember singing carols & enacting in the birth of Jesus Play!

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Keith so beautifully done. I hope you and your family have a Very Merry Christmas, and may all those things that make you happy continue to do so. Hugs and kisses to you

  6. I love the midnight services. Hopefully when the kids are older and Santa Claus doesn't have so many presents to assemble we can go back.

    This is a lovely piece and made me feel very Christmasy, even though it's 3 weeks into January. (And how did THAT happen?)



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