Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas Club (5)

And so we've come to the last Christmas Club of the season. It's sort of good (because it means Christmas is nearly here); and sort of not-so-good (because we've reached the end. For now). But, in any case, I hope you've had as much fun as I have.

I wanted a special finale; and so I've reached across the Ocean to bring you - my brother! He can't make it home for the holidays this year so this is my way of having us celebrate the season together. Please, give him a big, warm, blogging welcome as he shares his Christmas memories today...


Now, it's been said that I'm not exactly one of Santa's most willing little helpers, and sad to say that's largely true. No one seeks me out to recharge their own supply of festive cheer, and currently my office is decked not with boughs of holly but essays waiting to be marked.

When I've looked back into the past I always thought I found justification for my disinclination to celebrate. There was, for instance, the Christmas spent far away and largely alone in Taiwan, where I was woken very early on Christmas morning not by Shengdanlaoren (Santa) but by the landlord who wanted to remove my door and windows so that they could join the toilet out in the street. Yes he would put them back, but not for a few days.

And there was another Christmas much more recently when, with a job ended and no new employment in sight, the festive season seemed to bring little cause for celebration.

But as I considered these and other Christmases, I realised a mistake I was making. So used to reading books (well, it is my job) I'd come to confuse the fiction of a holiday with the real thing. After all, nothing does Christmas like a novel. Think of the end of  "A Christmas Carol": a wonderful, wonderful story and I recommend it; but of course it never actually happened.

So I looked again at the Christmases Past, in particular at the ones I felt had failed to satisfy, and instead of seeing my draughty and stable-like accomodation in metropolitan Taipei I remembered that, later on in the day I had joined friends to make mulled wine. We bought the spices not at a grocers, but at a traditional Chinese medicine shop. And as the Taiwanese Government had conveniently designated a Constitution Day, we all had the 25th of December off.

The Christmas of Unemployment too changed on re-examination. I remembered standing at the beach in Los Angeles on Christmas Day, watching a trio of Santas speed by on rollerblades, as only Southern Californian Santas can.

The thing is, whether you've just finished quietly observing Hannukah and are now looking forward to the festiviteis of the New Year, or whether you're still in the midst of hectic Christmas preparations - our holidays are ours, and we needn't feel ther is anything wrong if they don't meet the standard of some book, film or magazine. So even if you have no doors or toilet, or if the purse is a little empty, or if anything is less than perfect, you have every right to seize whatever little moment seems special and call that your Christmas. It may even be sharing a favourite chapter of a book with someone - and yes, even a chapter about Christmas. I'll recommend - in fact, I'll almost insist on - "Dulce Domum" from Wind in the Willows, in which a Mole and a Water rat make a Christmas out of next to nothing. Find it here

Many thanks to Sian for allowing me the opportunity to go on a bit. Things will be back to normal next time...

Thanks, bro - and Happy Christmas! Now, link your Christmas Club story for us all to enjoy



20 comments:

Amy said...

Thank you Sian and Sian's brother :-) I've loved having the chance to read lots of Christmas stories over the past few weeks, thanks for organising and inspiring us all.

S said...

Thanks for sharing. A good lesson to all of us to be sure to make eggnog out of eggs (you know, like lemonades from lemons) this Christmas season. I'm off to read that story now.

Miriam said...

Thank you Sian & Sian's brother for a truly wonderful Christmas story. I have loved this story telling so much. Please please do it again next year?
x

helena said...

I totally agree with your brother - I've had some 'different' christmases in various parts of the world but what makes them christmas or not is attitude. Great piece in yesterday's Guardian family section on simillar lines http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/dec/18/india-knight-traditional-family-christmas

humel said...

YES we've had so much fun! :-) Hello, Sian's brother *waves* - clearly good writing runs in the family! Oh, that 'Dolce Domum' passage makes me weep buckets every time....

Karen said...

I wish I had gotten my act together to participate. I have really enjoyed everyone's Christmas Club posts. I hope you'll do it another year! Thanks to you---and today, to your brother, for bringing us such wonderful reflections on the holidays.

JO SOWERBY said...

it's so nice to meet u the brother, we thought u were a figment of sian's imagination. what a wonderful piece, wish i was in ur classes. loved these stories especially santas on rollerblades, heehee.
thanx sian for all the work and i have loved christmas club. what shall we club about next year?
Jo xxx

scrappyjacky said...

Have so enjoyed the Christmas Club....thank you so much for organising it,Sian....and thanks to your brother for his contribution today.

Ginger said...

Thanks Sian & Sian's brother for a wonderful post! I have enjoyed the Christmas stories :) I agree with Mel, it's obvious you share good writing genes!

catrin said...

Like the blog today and am shocked just how like little E, my little bro is!! keep up the great blogging next year, big sis! xxx

Kirsty.a said...

Do you have a receipe for Guiness ice cream? (replying to the comment you left on my blog) I have an ice cream maker so I have just made my Baileys and white chocolate ready fr Christmas Day

Louise said...

It's lovely to read a man's reflection of Christmas. i've enjoyed your stories and look forward to reading more in the new year. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas xx

Deb said...

Dear Sian's Brother ~ Thank you for this wonderfully written account of the true meaning of Christmas! As I've struggled to find the perfect stories to submit for your sister's Christmas club, I clearly missed the little things about Christmas's past that still make it something to celebrate. Thank you for this lovely reminder to find joy in the simple things this holiday season.

And, Dear Sian, thank you for organizing this Christmas Club activity for all of us. You have brought us together in harmony even though we are miles and miles apart. Much love and happiness to you and your family this Christmas season. My heart is so full this morning. ♥ xo

Maria Ontiveros said...

Thanks for your story today! Off to check out the Wind in the Willows (will start grading my exams tomorrow).
rinda

debs14 said...

Dear Sian's brother - what a fab blog post. Entertaining writing obviously runs in the family! What you say about comparing what we actally have against that fictional 'perfect Christmas' is so true. Having good friends and family, a sense of humour, the ability to find something good when it is hidden behind something bad and good health is so much more important.
I missed the Christmas Club posting yesterday due to family commitments and totaly inability to schedule a post in time but am going to claim that Hertfordshire runs on a different time scale to the rest of frozen Britain ....

Rachel B said...

This has been a lovely feature Sian, I'm sorry I couldn't have participated. December just seems to have slipped away from me this year! :)

Jimjams said...

Another great writer in the family! Does he craft too????
Thanks for a great series of stories Siân - haven't been able to join in, but they've been lovely to read.

Gail T said...

Sian & Sian's brother thanks so much for reminding us that Christmas doesn't have to be the fictional kind.
I've really enjoyed reading & participating in the Christmas Club. Hope we do it again.

Cheri said...

Thanks for Christmas Club Sian! I really enjoyed participating and pulling up some old memories.

And thanks to Sian's brother for this wonderful post!

Becky said...

Thank you Sian's brother! I loved reading your post, it really made me think and I love that chapter from Wind in the Willows - one of my favourite books.

Sian - thank you so much for Christmas Club. I have thoroughly enjoyed joining in and sharing everyone's memories.

Merry Christmas to you and your family and a happy new blogging year!

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