Every Christmas Eve at 6pm there is a carol service in our local church and it really is a wonderful spectacle.
There is a huge twinkling Christmas tree and the adults are there proudly with their offspring, who are beaming with excitement. The organist gives it some welly and a mix of tuneful and toneless renderings of the various carols fills the air, led by an exuberant Rector who sings loudest of all, whilst everyone smiles indulgently enjoying the occasion.
A long-held tradition is that parishioners take a Christmas present for someone less fortunate and these gifts are distributed later during Christmas Eve evening. Each present is wrapped in Christmas paper bearing a gift tag that identifies the recipient by age and gender – such as “Merry Christmas to a boy aged 6 – 8” or “Happy Christmas to a girl aged 12 – 14”.
The choice of gift, age and gender of the recipient is left entirely to the discretion of the donor. It brings a tear to the eye to see the little ones taking these gifts up to the Rector to place under the Christmas tree for children less fortunate than themselves.
When I was chatting to one of the Church wardens a few years ago about this tradition, Helen told me that although the needy children were catered for abundantly, the Mums were left out. So being blessed with a big mouth that sometimes opens at the right time, I told my same-age friends whose kids have also flown the nest and we all decided that our Christmas Carol Service gifts would be for the Mums.
So this year, I’m wrapping up a modest range of Occitane bath goodies with a tag ‘Happy Christmas to another Mum’ and I hope that she’s able to pamper herself for a change.
I think it’s about time that I had another chat with Helen – because I’m now wondering who caters for the Dads? I find that men are notoriously difficult to buy for – or does that just apply to my husband?
This year I’ve had to tell him not to renew his slippers, his scarf, his gloves or his socks yet, because they’re on his “Christmas list” that has been given to the grandchildren. Last year in November, he decided to ditch the entire contents of his underwear drawer along with his slippers because “it’s all looking tatty” which prompted me to look in the mirror and put some lippy on, in case I was consigned along with everything else into the bin! He then replaced every item at full price – of course he did, pre-Christmas sales never start in November!
So this year, although there will be few surprises, at least he can show his gratitude sincerely with the words … “Just what I need”.
Merry Christmas everyone!