Often on Christmas,
I wait until a glow
From a colored pane of glass
Slides across the snow...
Christmas begins early in our house. Scarcely have we removed our pumpkins, gouged and still grinning from the doorstep, than my thoughts turn to the next seasonal celebration: Advent. The shop windows are calling, awaiting their magical makeover and my kitchen floor is already littered with berries and baubles and foliage. Our new Christmas stockings hang by the fire; even my terriers have bits of red ribbon tied to their collars. I overhear little voices in the hall-way, one remarking authoritatively to the other: oh yes, it is always Christmas in Grandma's house.
It is one of the inevitabilities of working in retail, that the seasons are always front and foremost in our minds and the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve are the busiest in our calendar. Our shops are situated in regional market towns, where high streets still the focal point of festive spirit for the community. Between now and Christmas the calendar is bulging with engagements: Christmas decorating demonstrations and open evenings; mince pies and mulled wine. There are demands at home too. Apparently, because it is always Christmas in our house, there are calls for gingerbread and wreath-making and the dogs are sneezing for the amount of cinnamon, cardamom and juniper in the air.
Whilst so much of life is change, Christmas is a reassuring constant; the same rituals year in, year on. One of my grandchildren regards our Christmas catalogue thoughtfully and tugs at my sleeve: will Christmas be white this year Grandma? I have no answer. The health of our planet is a worry for little ones and the time-honoured idea of snow at Christmas is surely a perilous one. So, this year, we are recycling our decorations and re-using artificial foliage; we are filling our advent calendars ourselves, with jokes and favours and home-made biscuits. We have to do something, urges my youngest, as we lay the table together. I nod in agreement: indeed we do.