Tuesday, December 25, 2007

In a draughty old midwinter

The first Christmas-related religious event of Christmas Eve was the Crib Service at the Anglican Chruch, where the Rector and Curate chose actors for the slightly deconstructed Nativity scene on the spot, which avoided scenes of stars stomping off to their trailers - and not just stars, but also shepherds, kings, inkeepers et al. Maxima and I proudly watched Minima play the inkeeper with space in the stable, while Minora sulked fashionably. All the little girls wanted to hug baby Jesus in his plastic glory while the boys stepped back. It was a pity there were no feminists of a certain outlook in the audience, I should have liked to see them spontaneously combust. Really.

We went to the RC Mass at Addenbrooke's Chapel later that evening, where many of the staff went to the Christmas vigil Mass. predominantly Philipinos. It annoys me when people grumble about "immigrants" in relation to the Philipinos, as most of them, in Addenbrooke's and environs at least, were specifically recruited from their country by the NHS and nursing-home owners.

The choir was unrehearsed but still professional. One of the songs they sang during Mass was "When a Child is Born". This surprised me somewhat - it is a wonderful. beautiful song, and my domestic Christmas would be a little diminished if it were absent from the radio: but it is not a hymn. They redeemed themselves, however, with "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" by the great hymn-writer Charles Wesley.

At the Anglican Service that night, the sense of holiness was amplified by the sense of community. Anglican communities are still small enough, because they have enough clergy - so far - to keep it so. The twin attritions of stress and time are harvesting RC priests at a rate of knots, at precisely the time when Eastern Europeans, predominantly Catholics, are flooding into the country (something we know about because the news articles, with agendas more richly layered than a WAG's wedding cake, have been bleating recently about the imminent rise in population in the UK because of the fecundity of foreigners).

But it was good to be able to kneel at altar-rails to receive a blessing during the Eucharist, albeit heartbreaking not to receive the Host while my friends were receiving it around me. May we be one as You are one. Pretty damn quick.

Stayed up late to start this blog, very enthusiastic, but discovered that I'd forgotten my tablets in the morning, naughty naughty.

Up earlier than planned, Minora and Minima had woken up to their presents. Far be it from me to say that escape to the Service in the Village was a blessed release, but by the time of my return Maxima had borne the brunt of the mania.

By the time the girlgoyles had to go to bed, Maxima's soap operas had shown scenes of everybody getting upset and depressed, so it was good to see that Britain plc was running as normal.

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