As seasons go, it certainly is one that leaves an imprint on the long memory. There are the distant rays of childhood, the prayer-filled run ups to expectant sleep, and then the day of turkey breasts and legs, of crackers, of pressies, of warmly dark afternoons that grow towards a speech from the Queen.
Then Christmas became youthful kisses, sneaky beers, and a boozed-up walk for the journey home. Those Yuletide feasts were closer to the original non-Christian mid-winter solstices. They were pubescent paganism, an explosion of pent-up desire, a gift to the wild side. Christmas Kisses, they never misses!
After that it was a more movie-based festival with the etching of distantly related Christmas classics such as Die Hard, Three Days of the Condor, and It’s a Wonderful Life. I hated it when others jumped on my one-man-band-wagon. When the ordinary man or woman in the street became aware of Gabriel and his bells, it was time to change.
For a while the deepest darkest detour from the constantly cold feel out of favour. I sneered at it and its trite message. The Christmas hits horribly herded out for another stampede, were as poison to my veins. I had become an old fart, a lover of the miserable, a non-participant. And I had forgotten about the time when cold nights could create their own magic.
The daughters came along. My wife showered them with all the glitter that she could muster. She would buy and wrap and buy and wrap and buy and wrap. And when that was done she would buy and wrap some more. We have photographs of them on Christmas Day, smiles pushing the sides of their excitement to further margins. We talked of Father Christmas, left out carrots and cake and sherry. And I had to rid the scene of any left overs. We had afternoons at carol concerts, nativity plays where teachers got to be the director and secret stars. We sang in careful carefree verse under the ancient watch of the Minster and something told me that there was something else to think about. Doctor Who.
Yes, Doctor Who had replaced the Queen. He had replaced the festival’s founders, God and Germanic tribes and Romans. And Doctor Who, a being like man, could travel just as fast and illogically as Santa Claus. He could defy the questionability of the Virgin Birth and give a little hope in the Bleak Midwinter.