A Yorkshire Christmas

Christmas Eve was spent collecting Ammonites on a cold, blustery but magnificently beautiful day on the Yorkshire coast. We found lots of these whirly fossils in the lower Jurassic of Ravenscar and the walk down and then back up the cliffs was refreshing and invigorating. This experience was topped off with a delicious cream tea at Raven Hall Hotel. It couldn’t have been any better.

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As the three of us trooped down the muddy path, I reflected on the many trips around Yorkshire fossil hunting I had done with my late Father. Not only did we hunt fossils but we explored the area in depth. Roman roads, ancient burial sites, viking villages. You name it, we did it. We even found a whole bunch of iron age pottery that we donated to the Yorkshire museum – Staxtonware – from the valley just at the Scarborough side of Staxton hill. I was back in my element and enjoying that.

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We took a look at the Alum works and I tried to explain to my daughter that the rocks above us were brought down to this place and treated with gallons of human pee brought by ship from Hull to the south. I asked her the question my Father had once asked me, “Can you imagine how it would have smelled here?” By the wrinkled nose look she gave me, she probably could.

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After the cream tea, it was back to Beverley to finish the trifle we had left there that my Mother had made at my request. Delicious!

My daughter had never experienced Santa delivering presents. In the Czech republic, they are delivered by Jezisek and on Christmas Eve conveniently just after dinner. She enjoyed ripping open the presents that morning and she opened everyones just for good measure. She was also fascinated by the Christmas crackers and managed to go through a couple of boxes of them! Just the thing for her, little plastic novelty gifts and party hats in everyone!

Christmas dinner followed and she enjoyed traditional turkey and trimmings followed by Christmas pudding and rum sauce. Actually, she didn’t much care for the pudding which meant I got double helpings….

It was a brilliant experience for my daughter but it was also nice to be with my Mother and family back in the place I was born for Christmas for the first time in over 30-years. Hull City even managed an away win on Boxing Day……

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Christmas is Just Silly!

Christmas has many facets. One of them is the never ending commercialization of what really should be a simple family Christian religious celebration. Of course, christmas has in its central theme, much for non-Christians to peruse and consider in terms of its greater spiritual meaning and in terms of other non-Christian celebrations at this time of the year. However, the endless commercialization has really spoiled for me what used to be a happy and beautiful time of the year.

In the Czech Republic, christmas decorations generally still go up around the 1st December. Some of the chain stores with HQ’s overseas start earlier though. In other places like the US and the UK, christmas basically now starts in October or even earlier. It is no longer a religious holiday unless your religion happens to be shopping! Even more bizarre is that the sales begin now before christmas too. Walking around London in late November, I was surprised to observe many company Xmas parties taking place already. The commercialization extends to the internet too of course and the internet begins to be lit up like a christmas tree by mid-October too. I really detest this.

By making christmas last 3-months it’s specialness has been erased. It was a special few days when I was growing up and now its a season all in of itself!

I also have to reflect on Christmas in another way these days too. As we celebrate what is the birth of the Christian savior or avatar and reflect on the values taught by Christ, contrast that with the downright lies we tell our own children! Every year, as parents we concoct a litany of lies about big merry men in red and white sliding down chimneys bearing gifts. He is carried there by a sleigh that flies pulled by several reindeer that can also fly. Apparently, this man lives at the North Pole with Elves and other strange creatures making toys (I think actually, this part is incorrect, it is plainly obvious these days that Santa lives in a place called China. It says so on all of the toys he brings). Any rational and sane person would deeply distrust a man who liked to dress up and be surrounded by elves and children!

OK. I get it. It is fun and it is part of the whole charade we play at this time of year but eventually our own children come to understand that, despite telling them not to lie and fib and make things up, their parents have happily been doing it to them for years… What kind of example does that set?

Then we have the christmas movies, songs and so on. Cynically, just a bunch of people making money out of the holidays.

No, Christmas, is a strange and bizarre time of the year if you really stop to think about it and these days, its a long way from what Christmas was supposed to be. However, I am no Scrooge and I will do my very best to celebrate the holidays this year….

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Meanwhile, here is another view of Christmas – a short story written last week and as a seasonal gift, please do download Moon whispers for Free today before its too late….

The Meaning of Christmas – A short Story

The scene was a familiar one. The street was filled with people hustling and bustling and jostling with each other from time to time. Their breaths hung in the freezing air like little trails of smoke. The street was lit in the darkness of the winter’s late afternoon by the colored christmas lights hanging from each lamp and in the shop windows. With just a few days left until the holiday, these were the last minuters – those who were ever increasingly desperate to grab their last few bargains and presents.

Phillip watched in silence. The scene had a surreal quality about it. The anxious faces of people who in some instances, could ill afford the presents and gifts they were trying to purchase. He watched with increasing understanding of each individual’s dilemmas. He felt sorry for the single mother, loaded down with two young children. He knew she had little money and little confidence and yet her kids eyes shone with excitement. It would be a meagre christmas for them, but they were excited anyway.

He observed an older man silently gazing into the window of a jewelry shop and he understood that he was crying. He was crying inside because he faced his first christmas alone in over 40-years and he had noticed a ladies watch that looked very much like the one he had bought his wife for christmas the previous year. She had been dead four months and the pain still wracked his heart. He hadn’t a clue how he would get through the holiday without her.

He watched the street entertainer playing the guitar and singing and understood how cold his fingers were in the freezing air. He was hoping that these shoppers could spare enough change for him to have a hot meal. There would be no Turkey and trimmings for him this year. No sitting in the warmth around a brightly lit tree. He would be lucky to find a warm place to sleep and maybe a small bottle of rum to keep him warm through the night.

And yet, in all of the mayhem and the personal stories of life – sadness, happiness, stress, worry and all of those other emotions, Phillip understood something else watching that scene play out in front of him that night. He understood the meaning of christmas. He understood that it wasn’t about gifts; the giving or receiving. It wasn’t about the lights, the trees or the big movie on TV. Christmas, he now knew, was about hope. It was about the hope and the faith that people could learn to love each other. It was about the little things then that came from love and hope and charity. It was about the humanity behind humanity and its potential for good.

He could see this now in the light of love that he could see glowing more strongly or weakly around those people in the street. The brightness of it gave him hope. Even now, the brightness was growing and in that light he could see his father smiling. It was time to go.

He took another look at his body, crushed and deformed by the tram that had hit him moments ago, and at the people gathered around it trying to revive him. Then, he moved towards the light. He grasped the hand of his father and was pulled into a hug as the light enveloped him and the scene faded for all eternity.

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