December 24th, 2011


Christmas Thoughts: My nightmare before Christmas

I woke up slowly in the middle of the night, my brain feverishly working on an urgent coding problem. It was only after about ten minutes of forcing myself slowly towards wakefulness that I managed to reach the realisation that I didn't have any urgent coding problems, and that whatever I'd been working on made no sense. I wandered to the toilet and then back to bed, thinking that I'd sleep better after thirty seconds of being awake, but as soon as I closed my eyes the sense of urgency and stress came back, a sureness that I had to solve this problem, and a greasy odd sensation over my whole brain, like a fever dream.

So in the end I turned the laptop on and woke myself entirely by surfing the web for fifteen minutes. And, once I'd cleaned out the diseased cobwebs from the corners of my brain, I closed the lid, and my eyes, and fell fast asleep almost instantly.

To be woken at 8-ish by a small boy deciding that "Uther was staring at my door, so he must have wanted to come in and see me." and a five stone alsatian climbing onto my chest to wish me good morning with his tongue.

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Does that mean anything?

Christmas Thoughts: The Meaning Of Christmas

An hour ago it rained lightly, and afterwards the air was heavy with moisture, not quite thick enough to be mist. The setting sun, reflected through dust and clouds, turned a quarter of the sky pink, and lit the moisture from within, causing everything to glow in technicolor, as if I was living in The Wizard Of Oz. The hills and trees were supersaturated and everything was, for a moment, magical.

We were discussing in work last week what people associated with Christmas. And to one person it was having a large tube of Smarties and a large tube of Fruit Pastilles. Because her parents had given her one of each every year when she was a child, and they still did, even though she was now in her 40s with children of her own. And every time she got them, and with each one she ate, there was an explosion of childhood memory, from when Christmas was more magical to her.

In a few minutes* I shall go and have a shower, and put on something smarter than I am currently wearing. And I shall gather with my family at around the time that the first star appears, and we will turn down the lights, and play Christmas carols**. We will hug, and wish each other "Happy Christmas". And then we will pull out presents from under the tree, and pass them to the person they are intended for, until there is wrapping scattered all over the floor. And then we will tidy it up and eat the food that my father (with help from a variety of family members***) has spent hours preparing today.

And that's what Christmas means to me. To be inside, in the warm, with family, while outside it is cold and dark. To hear the music of my childhood Christmases, and to see the looks of happiness on people's faces when they open their presents.

What does it mean to you?

*We do presents on Christmas Eve, due to my paternal grandmother, around whom Christmas used to revolve, being from Austria, and that being the habit of _her_ childhood. I wonder how many generations are built on traditions designed to recreate the childhood of people long since dead.
**To which some of us will sing along, but it's not mandatory. Unlike the families of some my less fortunate readers my parents are not believers that if The Rules Of Christmas are not closely followed then Christmas Will Be Ruined.
***Not me. I spent the day installing Windows on my father's computer, a tradition in and of itself. It launches pretty damn fast from his new SSD. I'm envious!

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