I can hear rain against the windows, but the shutters are closed, candles lit, MasterB asleep on the chair, his nose tucked into his tail. We are cosy and warm. I am listening to A Mediaeval Carol Service from St Bartholomew the Great. It took place a few days ago, but is available to listen to and watch online courtesy of YouTube. I recommend it. Earlier I went for a walk before seeing Michèle for a glass of wine in her flat. She’s been home for over a week now, her ankle getting stronger daily, and she’s obviously loving being back in her own territory.
While I walked I was thinking about Christmas, this year and last, both shadowed by COVID but feeling very different. In 2020 we were making the best of things, not allowed to travel, so nearly all the neighbours were around. We were in it together. It was cold but dry and bright. We could meet outside, observe social distancing, exchange cards and gifts over a glass of something bubbly. But COVID has become a virus of attrition and it feels this year we are wearier, less inclined to find ways to be imaginative in our celebrations, more inward looking.
Some people are travelling cautiously. Many of us are not. We will be quiet. The day will be marked but the anticipation we had a year ago that we would be through the pandemic in the coming months has gone. At the start of the pandemic it was common to hear it being compared to war. Particularly the Second World War. The word fight was deployed with numbing regularity. Now the similarity with war seems to be more that we do not know when it will end. We endure, we become accustomed, we lower our expectations.
So I am grateful to those in Loughborough Junction and Denmark Hill who have shared their Christmas decorations, decorations which made me smile, even gave me a sense of wonder.
If you were reading this page last year you may recognise the window in the last two pictures. It was a different, equally wonderful display then, and the scene of one of my favourite photos of Celia leaning rapt over the railings.
May wonder be yours this Christmas.